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Bucs' Freeman needs lots of help

The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman did very little to silence concerns this preseason. His teammates also did little to help him.

Freeman went 12-of-26 passing for 101 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 56.7 efficiency rating. He has been sacked nine times and fumbled once. Worse yet, his yards per attempt were 3.9, or just more than half of what it was in 2012. The Bucs also have been horrendous on third down, converting 31.8 percent (14 of 44).

"A little disappointed. Not discouraged, though," coach Greg Schiano said. "That's the point, yeah, I wish we would have played better on offense. But I can see how we're going to. The worst thing is that you can look at that vision and say, "I don't know how we're going to do this, you know?' I do see how we're going to do it. Like I said last night, we have to do it. And the reality is we may not get a chance to do it a game now with that crew, that cast, until we get up to Met Life Stadium and that's the way it is."

But as Freeman noted Saturday, in 2010 he went 6-of-8 passing and missed the final two preseason games with a broken thumb. That year, he went on to win 10 games and throw 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Schiano said he hasn't lost any confidence in Freeman.

"I'm confident," Schiano said. "We need to get to work, though. Confidence and doing are two different things. We need to do it. We've got to catch the ball, we've got to protect better -- all those things."

Schiano reviewed the tape of Saturday's 17-16 win over the Miami Dolphins and said, while Freeman missed a few throws (6-of-16 passing for 59 yards), he made a lot of good decisions with the football.

"I thought he actually saw things pretty well," Schiano said. "When you look at his progression, why he did what he did, he saw it pretty well. You sit there from the sideline and say, 'What are we doing?' Then when you look at what he saw, yeah, there were a couple of decisions that I didn't agree with and John (McNulty) didn't agree with and Sully (Mike Sullivan), but we're never going to agree on all the decisions, and I'm not back there with mad men coming at me so it's easy to say, 'Yeah, I would have gone there.'

"But protection breakdowns, (we) didn't uncover sometimes. We have to beat man coverage. Just because they're playing man doesn't mean, oh, we're covered. You have to beat man coverage one on one, that's matchup football. And then some of the things that, technically, the ball sailed on him. That one, you wish you had that back. But far too many drops. Far too many drops. And it's not just this week. So we have to get that cleaned up. Well, it's not in sync. We just have to get in sync."

Like Schiano, Freeman is disappointed by the offense's performance in the preseason.

"Preseason is not quite the level of game plan, not quite the level of preparation," Freeman said. "Still, you want to go out and put a good product on the field. I personally want to go out and make some things happen."

But now Freeman and the Bucs will have to see if they can flip the switch in two weeks when it counts.

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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