Bucs' Freeman: "We are unified"
The Bucs would appear in a free fall, having lost four straight games, including a 41-0 drubbing by New Orleans Sunday.
In the process, Tampa Bay has gone from in the playoff hunt at 6-4 to playing for pride.
Aside from the expected frustration, there was a report in Pro Football Talk that one unidentified Bucs player said privately after the game, "Can we send these coaches back to college?"
But quarterback Josh Freeman, a team captain, believes the team is "unified" and "heading in the right direction," saying they'll learn a lot about themselves in how they finish the last two games. Freeman said coach Greg Schiano gave them today off, telling them to stick together.
"We are unified," Freeman said in a conference call today. "I think that we still have a lot of young components, we still have a first-year system. We had some success. But at the same time, we've got to find a way to take it to the next level. You hate to see it come down to a game like that, but I think this is going to be a great time for our team to come together. We had a rough one. We dropped the ball yesterday. But it's how we respond to adversity. When everything is going great, anyone can stand up and go to practice and have a high energy level and be up tempo, go home and want to study film, because you're doing great. . But it's times like these where you really (find out where you are). Judging by the number of guys that are in the buildoing on this off day, I think that mentally guys are not only unified, but heading in the right direction."
Freeman was asked if he was "surprised" the team has gone from playoff contention and 6-4 to where they are now.
"In this league, nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed," Freeman said. "You've got to give it all you got every week. Having been at every game, been on the team the entire time, nothing is surprising. You look through it, you understand exactly what happened and when it happened. At the end of the year, when you look back and reflect, there's going to be a lot of stuff that we're going to look at, 'Man, we were that close.' But, at the same time, you've got to focus on the process, focus on the now... I think we're going to be just fine."
Though Freeman had five turnovers Sunday, including four interceptions, he continued to maintain some were due to "miscommunication."
"There was one play, Dallas lost the ball in the lights," Freeman said. "(There's) stuff we really got to iron out. We play good teams like the Saints and we make mistakes like we made yesterday, it's hard to compete as you seen yesterday."
Rookie linebacker Lavonte David echoed Freeman's sentiments about the team sticking together. He said he didn't know anything about what the unidentified player said in the PFT report.
"I don't think anyone has fallen apart, I think everyone is sticking together," David said. "That's the type of team we have, everyone has a close relationship. Everyone supports one another. .. We're just trying to finish the season strong, we've got two more games left, two more great opponents and we're trying to go out with a bang and just put our stamp on the rest of the season."
-- JOE SMITH