No question that Bucs QB Josh Freeman had his worst performance since his 10-completion game in a Week 3 loss to the Cowboys. He was 14-of-34 for 189 yards, and 40 of those came on one throw. He didn't throw an interception, but that was because many of his throws weren't close to ANYONE.
"It just seemed like he wasn't in synch," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said.
Even great quarterbacks have an off day, but what's disturbing is that Freeman now has had back-to-back stinkers and really hasn't been sharp in three of the past four games. Maybe the depleted offensive line that has Freeman under constant pressure has something to do with it.
Freeman, of course, wouldn't say that. That's not his style. That's what makes him a good leader. He would be a great leader if he would have taken a little more of the blame for the sputtering offense. I wish he would use the word "I" more than he does "we."
When you think of the great players in Bucs history, you think defense: Derrick Brooks, Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp. But the more you see WR Vincent Jackson, the more you ask where he fits on the list of "Most Talented Buc Ever."
He already is among the best offensive players this team has ever seen. Jackson caught six passes for 131 yards Sunday — his fourth game of at least 100 yards and his seventh of at least 80. The Bucs' best play is telling Jackson to go downfield and throwing it in his general direction.
Schiano will be second-guessed for his decision to run on third and 8 with just less than three minutes left. But here's the lesson that should be learned from it: Nothing is more important in today's NFL than possessing the football. It doesn't matter how good or bad the other team is, how good or bad your defense is, how good or bad your quarterback is. Nine times out of 10, you're better off doing what it takes to keep the ball instead of giving it to the other team. In today's NFL, even no-names such as Nick Foles are good enough to beat you if you keep giving them the ball.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Anyone out there still have questions about Bucs DT Gerald McCoy? He had two sacks and five tackles Sunday and is playing lights-out even though his best linemates are on injured reserve.
2. This game might have been lost in the first half when the Bucs had nearly twice as many punts (seven) as first downs (four). You can't go seven possessions without at least one score.
3. It's funny. If the Eagles had converted on a two-point conversion with just more than four minutes left and cut the score to 21-18, they might have kicked a field goal and sent the game to overtime on the last play of regulation.
You cannot lose a game in December to a team from a city whose baseball team (the Phillies) had won more recently than the football team.
Tom Jones can be heard from 6-9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620 and reached at (727) 893-8544 or [email protected]