All of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ losses this season have come by less than nine points, however, Sunday against New Orleans proved to be quite different from any Bucs game this season. Drew Brees threw four touchdowns and was only sacked once en route to blowing out the Buccaneers, 41-0. Josh Freeman was the opposite of Brees by throwing four interceptions and possibly had his worst game as a pro.
On the very first drive of the game Brees led the Saints on a seven-play 74-yard drive for a touchdown that was a showcase of Brees’ pinpoint accuracy. Tight end Jimmy Graham was injured in the first meeting between the two division rivals and proved to be a huge difference in the game on Sunday, he finished with five catches for 70-yards to lead the team. Brees was able to distribute the ball to all of his receivers and connected on touchdowns with four different players, Josh Morgan, Darren Sproles, Dave Thomas and Lance Moore all helped demoralize Tampa Bay’s pass defense.
Tailback Mark Ingram ran for 90-yards and a touchdown to complete the thrashing.
Tampa Bay’s offense has hit the wall. The heights of what Freeman and company had been able to do earlier this season have been figured out by opposing teams, and without a solid defense to back them up the team is spiraling out of control. Doug Martin was held to 16-yards rushing on only nine carries and the running game was completely useless by the second quarter. Freeman threw 47 passes and 279 yards, but the four interceptions are the only number that matter. His first was particularly bad due to the fact that it came inside New Orleans’ redzone, Saints cornerback Jabari Greer jumped the route of Dallas Clark and intercepted Freeman’s pass. The play was particularly bad because the Bucs had ran the exact same route two plays before, Greer wasn’t fooled and the Saints took advantage of the Bucs young and inexperienced coaching staff.
Last week’s last-second loss to Philadelphia was devastating but the loss to the Saints is demoralizing in many ways. The style of play and coaching by first-year Head Coach Greg Schiano will take a major hit after the complete loss that took place in New Orleans. The confidence that Josh Freeman has gained over the first 12 weeks of the season is now almost completely washed away by the last few losses and his performance against the Saints calls into question whether or not Tampa Bay should re-sign the 24-year-old quarterback when his current contract expires. Freeman is young and has had different offensive coordinators the last three seasons but in the high-demand world of the modern NFL a great quarterback is imperative.
Tampa Bay drops to (6-8) and will host the St. Louis Rams in their final home game of the 2012 season.