Schiano disappointed, not discouraged in offense
Poor protection, dropped passes and a wobbly quarterback chucking them wildly is not the picture of the Bucs' offense Greg Schiano envisioned for the preseason.
But with few if any starters expected to play in Thursday's exhibition finale against the Washington Redskins, that's the protrait the Bucs are left with until they open the regular season against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
"A little disappointed. Not discouraged, though,'' 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.
"So turn up the stakes a little bit and hopefully we’ll perform. That’s what we’re banking on.''
Schiano had hoped the Bucs would be sharper in the second season under offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
Quarterback Josh Freeman is 12 of 26 passing for 101 yards passing (46.2) with no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 56.7 efficiecy rating. He has been sacked nine times and fumbled once. Worse yet, his yards per attempt is 3.88, 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).
Schiano reviewed the tape of Saturday's 17-16 win over the 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.''
Because of injuries, the Bucs offensive line has been a turnstile at guard. Joseph made his first appearance in any game Saturday since tearing his petellar tendon in the third game last preseason against the Patriots. Nicks, who is battling a MRSA infection in his foot, is out indefinitely.
On Saturday, the Bucs played tackle Gabe Carimi at left guard for Nicks. Freeman was under constant pressure again by the Dolphins he compounded the problem by fumbling in the final two minutes of the first half, a turnover that led to a go-ahead touchdown.
"As always, it’s not just one part of it,'' Schiano said. "Receivers have to get open, we have to protect better at the running back position, the line has to block better. It’s a combination of things. I think Josh (Freeman) has done a good job of moving up in the pocket, but a couple of times he moved right up to the rush, that’s the problem. If the middle isn’t firm, then the theory of sliding up in the pocket doesn’t work. We have to firm up the middle whether it’s back protection or center-guard-center protection.''