Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' turnover battle persists

TAMPA — Josh Freeman changed his diet, trading the midnight runs to Taco Bell for grilled chicken and broccoli and losing 20 pounds with the leaner cuisine.

On the field, he also learned how to eat the football.

A year ago, Freeman tossed 22 interceptions and fumbled nine times, the Bucs recovering only two. That contributed to the team committing a league-high 40 turnovers and having a league-high minus-16 turnover margin.

It wasn't all Freeman's fault.

Protection from the offensive line was poor. The defense usually dug too deep of a hole — forcing Freeman to throw often — and his receivers didn't get much separation.

But during the offseason, new quarterbacks coach Ron Turner went to work on Freeman's fundamentals, making sure the fourth-year player holds the ball higher with two hands, especially when on the move.

So far, so good.

In last week's 16-10 win over the Panthers, the Bucs did not turn the ball over.

Ball security will continue to be a key to success, particularly this afternoon against a Giants defensive line that features Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul.

"We know it's going to be a game we're going to have to go out and get the ball out of our hands and take care of the football," Freeman said. "Dropping back, keeping two hands on the ball … ball security is going to be a huge point of emphasis.

"With the Giants, when they're even or they win (the turnover battle), they usually come out with a win. But when they lose the turnover battle, it kind of shifts."

Complicating matters is the Bucs already are beat up on the offensive line. Right guard Davin Joseph is lost for the season with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee and has been replaced by Ted Larsen. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood sprained his left ankle in practice Wednesday and is questionable for today.

Even Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks is nicked with a sore right big toe (though he is probable).

"You are not going to have a lot of time to get the ball off," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "I don't care what you do. Those guys are relentless, and they are good. We've really got to be smart because not only do they get to the quarterback, but they cause some really bad things. They sack/fumble you. They really are very good at it. We need to be at our best."

Last season, the Giants forced 13 fumbles and 20 interceptions. Pierre-Paul, the former USF star, had 16½ sacks. Tuck (45½ career sacks) and Umenyiora (69) are among the best pass rushers in the league.

"You have to take into account they're disruptive ability," Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. "It's not just the sack. It's the sack/fumble. It's the big momentum-type plays, and the crowd feeds off it. And the rest of the defense feeds off it."

Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected] and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.

.Fast facts

Giving it away

The Bucs' 40 turnovers last season, 24 interceptions and 16 fumbles, were the most in the NFL:

Opp. Int.Fum. Tot.Res.

Lions1 1 227-20 L

Vikings1 0 124-20 W

Falcons2 0 216-13 W

Colts0 0 024-17 W

49ers2 2 448-3 L

Saints0 0 026-20 W

Bears4 0 424-18 L

Saints0 0 027-16 L

Texans3 1 437-9 L

Packers2 0 235-26 L

Titans1 4 523-17 L

Panthers1 0 138-19 L

Jaguars3 4 741-14 L

Cowboys0 1 131-15 L

Panthers1 3 448-16 L

Falcons3 1 445-24 L

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' turnover battle persists 09/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 15, 2012 8:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play


    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  3. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  5. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans


    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.