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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman gets another shot in CFL

Roy Cummings

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The odyssey of Former Buccaneers first round pick QB Josh Freeman has resumed, and this time, it’s north of the border. Freeman agreed on Friday night to a two year deal with the CFL’s Montreal Alouttes.

A TSN (Canadian version of ESPN) reporter broke the story of his signing:

It has been quite a fall for Freeman, who turns 30 years old on Saturday, was the former potential franchise QB of the Buccaneers, but who has been completely out of the NFL the past two seasons.

Freeman’s success came in his second season in Tampa Bay, after having been drafted with the 17th overall pick out of Kansas State, he took over as the starter in 2010. He led the Bucs to a 10-6 record throwing 25 TD’s and only six interceptions that season, as the Bucs missed out on the playoffs in a three way tiebreaker.

The following season, Freeman and the Bucs crashed back to the bottom of the NFL, as he threw 16 TDs but his INTs skyrocketed to 22 that season. Tampa Bay fell apart mid-season, lost their final 10 games to finish 4-12 and coach Raheem Morris was fired after that losing streak to end his third season.

Then, when the Bucs hired former college coach Greg Schiano, Freeman enjoyed some more short lived success in 2012 as he threw for 4,065 yards for the only time in his career, 27 more TDs, but still 17 INTs. The Bucs went on a win streak midseason of four games to get to 6-4, but then promptly fell apart, again losing five straight and missing the playoffs.

Rumors of too much partying and possible drug use dogged Freeman in the Tampa Bay market.

It was at that point that Schiano made it apparent privately and, even publicly, that he and the Buccaneers were not going to invest franchise money in Freeman long term. The team drafted Mike Glennon out of N.C. State in the third round of the 2013 Draft and from the beginning of training camp that year, Schiano looked to rid the Bucs of Freeman.

After poor play and an 0-3 start that year, Schiano benched Freeman for Glennon in week four, as the Bucs played the Cardinals at home. They lost that game, too, but more importantly, and amazingly, Schiano convinced the Glazer family to outright release the quarterback, who had started 56 out of 57 games over the previous five years.

The Bucs did so, two days after the Cardinals loss still owing Freeman $6 million guaranteed and the Minnesota Vikings quickly picked him up after he cleared waivers.

The Bucs lost the next four games to drop to 0-8 and eventually fired Schiano the day after the season ended.

Meanwhile, Freeman never caught up from joining the Vikings in October, but their ownership wanted him to get a chance to play, and he did start in one game on Monday Night Football at the N.Y. Giants. Freeman was terrible throwing just 20-53 for 190 yards and a pick. He also suffered a concussion at some point in the second half of the game, and never played again in 2013 sitting the bench behind former #1 pick Christian Ponder.

The Vikings let his contract expire. The Giants themselves, picked up Freeman in April of 2014 as a potential backup to Eli Manning. However, another indication of not putting the work in or not being focused on football was him lasting just one month of the off season before being released by New York.

Freeman didn’t catch on anywhere else and sat out the 2014 season.

In 2015, the Dolphins gave Freeman his fourth different NFL shot and had him in training camp, where he was shaky at best. He played sparingly in the preseason and was released on their final cuts and sat almost the entire 2015 season.

That’s until, the Colts gave him his fifth NFL chance, signing him for the final game of the 2015 regular season, while they rested Andrew Luck. Freeman played in that final game coming on in the first half in relief and threw 15 of 28 for 149 yards one TD and one INT, as the Colts won the finale’ over the Titans at home 30-24.  However, he didn’t stick in Indy either and was released that off season.

And that ended his NFL career, to the moment.

In summation, Freeman has played in one regular season NFL game in the last four years and it was believed that he was basically finished.

That was until Montreal, who had worked him out in the summer of 2017 at a tryout camp, decided to work him out again recently this month, and signed him to a two year deal.

The Alouttes new coach is former Packers boss, Mike Sherman, who was just hired in December after the season ended.

As for Freeman, with the poor track record above, you have to wonder if he even makes it out of the Alouttes’ training camp and to their regular season later this summer.

If he cannot, you would have to think that the career that looked slated for stardom for Freeman with the Bucs in 2010 is completely over.

Once, and for all.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs staying with Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t appear to be Koetter decision only

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers are staying with veteran backup now starter Ryan Fitzpatrick for this week’s game with the Giants. But, the bigger story Monday was surrounding the announcement that coach coach Dirk Koetter made, and it appeared it isn’t only his decision.

That’s because, anyone with any experience in watching body language and how questions are answered, could tell that Kotter was not exactly convincing that it was only his decision. Judge for yourself, if you like early in the press conference here:

“We’re going to go with Fitz this week. Yeah. That’s how it’s going to stay,” Koetter said with his voice trailing off at the end.

He was then asked to follow up of how long it was going to stay that way? And, his answer was unconvincing with a simple, “Til we change.”

Finally, he was asked about why he was sticking with Fitzpatrick? And Koetter said, “I just think he gives us the best opportunity, (to win) right now.”

Fitzpatrick was 29 of 41 for 406 yards with no TDs in Sunday’s 16-3 loss to the Redskins, but continued with the Bucs recent trend of turnovers from the quarterback position with three more of them Sunday. And, they were all killers.

The first interception came as the Bucs had moved in the red zone on their opening drive of the game. The 35 year old veteran overthrew his intended receiver and was picked off by Josh Norman.

Later in the second quarter, the second turnover was another bad interception thrown, while locking onto a receiver over the middle and it led to a Redskins field goal and a 6 – 3 lead.

Fitzpatrick could not not be completely blamed for the final turnover, when he was blindside sacked by Patrick Smith and fumbled in the fourth quarter after the Bucs have driven inside the 10-yard line trailing 16 – 3.

Nonetheless, if the primary reason that Jameis Winston had gone back to the bench after three starts was his turnovers, which were abundant, the same argument can be made about Fitzpatrick.

He has five turnovers in the last two games and both are losses.

Still, this seems to be an overall strategy by the Glazer family that owns the team and it may even have the input of general manager Jason Licht, too. A strategy that the team has moved on from Winston for the future and will utilize Fitzpatrick in the short-term. And then, perhaps they turn to young back up Ryan Griffin for some playing experience at the end of the year, if the Bucs are officially eliminated from the playoffs soon.

Again, Koetter did not get into those kind of details at this news conference, but it’s rather obvious but if the belief was that Winston had a chance to help them and had a future in Tampa Bay, they have all the reason you need to go back to the former #1 overall pick now and stick with him.

Yet another complication in the decisions being made is: the Bucs have picked up the fifth year option on Winston rookie deal. That option is only guaranteed for injury in the event that he cannot pass a physical next March. And with Tampa Bay now 3 – 6, the discussion may be centered around “no need to risk it” in that scenario with a team that is not going to end up making the playoffs, anyway.

It’s entirely possible to Fitzpatrick could be really bad next Sunday in New York and if he is, we will very quickly find out whether Koetter alone can make a decision during the game to put Winston in. However, if that scenario plays out and he doesn’t bench Fitzpatrick during next week’s game, then you definitely have the answer that it’s not just “best chance to win” with Winston.

And it isn’t only Dirk Koetter’s decision.

No, the bigger question that would asked would be: have we seen the end of Jameis Winston, as a starting quarterback in Tampa Bay or not?

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Redskins take classless social media “dig” at Bucs coach Koetter

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Buccaneers suffered through the humiliation of having 500 yards of offense and scored only three points in a loss to the Redskins Sunday, Washington’s digital staff decided to “rub the Bucs and their head coach’s nose in it,” even more.

Koetter had jokingly tossed “Bit-o-Honey” pieces of candy to members of the media saying that it was his favorite candy and he had gotten so much of it after Halloween that he wanted to share it with them by tossing it to them.

As you can see above in the doctored “spoof video,” the Redskins decided to insert an “L” for losses that Koetter would be tossing.

Most will view it as a childish classless move that is usually reserved for “wacky morning radio shows” and fans to put something like that on social media.

UPDATE: Sometime after 8 p.m. Eastern time the Redskins digital team, probably on orders from owner Dan Snyder, deleted the tweet.

Still for over two hours, the Redskins, who pulled out the victory to go to 6 – 3 on the season apparently, felt they needed to gloat about it and had the tweet out there for tens of thousands to see.

As of 9:00 p.m. Eastern time Sunday night, four hours after the social media dig, the Buccaneers still had yet to react publicly to their opponent clowning them on Twitter.

Maybe, they just decided to take their medicine and let their defeat (their fifth in six games) sink in Sunday, and figured the Redskins would take it down, which they did.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Remember – Give us 17 points and we’ll take care of the rest?

Roy Cummings

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Nov 11, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Matthew Ioannidis (98) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Back in the good old days, when Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch were protecting the Buccaneers end zone and the Bucs won more often than they lost, the Bucs defense made a weekly promise.

 “Give us 17 points and we’ll take care of the rest.”

The current Bucs finally played a lot like those Bucs of old on Sunday. Now, they weren’t special in any way, but for the first time all year, the current Bucs gave up less than 21 points.

And guess what?

They still lost. The final score was a very un-Buccaneer-like 16-3 and it came despite the offense racking up 496 yards. So how did they manage to drop this one?

Here we go

This game came down to red zone play. In particular, it came down to the play of the Bucs offense in the red zone, where we’re going to say Tampa Bay went 1-for-6 on the day. And it was a bad 1-for-6.

The Bucs first red-zone opportunity, which came on their first possession, ended with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing an interception on a ball he underthrew for running back Shaun Williams at the goal line.

Their second red-zone opportunity ended with kicker Chandler Catanzaro missing a 30-yard field goal. Their third resulted in Catanzaro actually making a 33-yard field goal, but then the real fun began.

On their fourth trip inside the Redskins 20, the Bucs got as far as the 16. Then on third-and-7, center Ryan Jensen fired his snap past Fitzpatrick for a 14-yard loss to the 30. Catanzaro then missed the ensuing 48-yard field-goal try.

Nov 11, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro (7) kicks a field goal during the first half against the Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 11, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro (7) kicks a field goal during the first half against the Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs next advance into the red zone won’t go down as an official red zone possession because they never ran a play from scrimmage inside the red zone but we’re going to call it a red zone opp anyway and here’s why.

On a first-and-10 play from the Redskins 28, Fitzpatrick hit running back Jacquizz Rodgers with a short pass over the middle that Rodgers ran 10 yards with to the Redskins 18.’

It was there that linebacker Zack Brown came up from behind and popped the ball out of Rodgers arms so hard that the ball rolled in and out of the end zone for a touchback.

Finally, Fitzpatrick finished off the kind of game that got Jameis Winston benched as the Bucs starting quarterback by losing a fumble at his own 7 with a little more than three minutes left on the clock.

Score there and the Bucs have a chance to win this game, but that ended all hope of the Bucs winning what was yet another winnable game against yet another beatable team, which doesn’t bode well for coach Jason Licht’s future.

The Bucs are a team that simply can’t seem to put all the winning ingredients together on the same day. If it’s not their defense that lets them down, it’s their kicker and if it’s not their kicker it’s their red zone offense.

On Sunday it was the kicker and the red-zone offense, and given that Fitzpatrick was responsible for two of those blown scoring chances, you have to wonder if the time has come to go back to Winston.

The belief here is that it has. The switch back to Fitzpatrick has not provided the Bucs with the spark it was designed to and he’s not playing any worse (better) than Winston was when he was benched.

Granted, the Bucs lost on Sunday for reasons that stretch far beyond quarterback play. But that’s been the case all year.

So why not go back to Winston right now?

It certainly can’t hurt.

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