While their playmakers on offense all had pretty good years last season, the quarterback position was a huge area of frustration in Tampa. The Bucs have all the ability to be a good bet in the NFL odds, but unless Josh Freeman can improve on last season, things will still be below average on offense.
The biggest bright spot last season on either side of the ball was the play of rookie, Doug Martin. Martin had a spectacular year, and was a legitimate contender for offensive rookie of the year behind Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck. Martin rushed for nearly 1500 yards and 11 touchdowns. What was even more impressive he only fumbled once the entire season, and even though he wore down towards the end of the season, a huge Week 17 game against the Falcons pushed him up to a very good 4.6 yards per carry on the season.
Vincent Jackson was good as well. He had 1384 receiving yards in 2012 and 8 touchdowns, all on only 72 receptions. He probably could have had more, if it wasn’t for the inaccuracy by Freeman. Jackson and Mike Williams had 147 and 127 targets respectfully, but only reeled in a combined 135 receptions on 274 targets. That is not very good. Freeman completed less than 55% of his passes, and if that doesn’t improve, this offense will once again have very limited upside, despite the wealth of talent.
Freeman is the only main question on offense for this team, but the real question is, if he starts to falter again, will he be pulled for rookie Mike Glennon. Head coach Greg Schiano has stated that Freeman will be the starter, but how long will he stay with Freeman. The Bucs have a tough first half of the season, playing the Patriots and Seahawks, along with their first three divisional matches in their first eight games. I could easily see the Bucs falling to 2-6 SU to start the season, and I doubt Freeman would survive a start like that. It is the final year of his contract, so he is playing for his career.
If the Bucs pull Freeman for Glennon, they are giving up on the season offensively. I can’t see much upside in a Glennon or Freeman-led offense this season in Tampa, and I have a feeling we might find that out sooner rather than later.
Also read our full NFC South Offense Report here!
Along with the quarterback issues, the Bucs haven’t done much to change that this season. Sure they were still 10th in the NFL in passing last season, but Freeman had 17 interceptions and eight fumbles to go along with his sub-55% completion percentage.
All they have done this offseason is add some depth to both sides of the ball through the draft and free agency, but unless they make a big change in their quarterback play from a season ago, that depth will mean absolutely nothing. Watch out when adding to your NFL picks.
My Grade: C
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