Last season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their last ten games in a row to finish the season with a 4-12 record which eventually led to the firing of then head coach Raheem Morris. One of the problems in the 2011 season was lack of offense.
Quarterback Josh Freeman finished the season only completing 62 percent of his passes, while throwing only 16 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions. Tampa Bay also suffered from the lack of a running game with LeGarrette Blount finishing the 2011 season with 781 yards, five touchdowns, and two lost fumbles.
After the end of last season Tampa Bay hired a new head coach in Greg Schiano, and made some good personnel moves which included new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks, cornerback Mark Barron and running back Doug Martin.
After a sluggish start in the first four weeks of the season, Tampa Bay’s offense has not only improved but are also gaining lots of yardage an putting lots of points on the scoreboard.
Tampa Bay has six games this season in which they have scored 20 or more points and have scored 144 points in their last four games.
In the last four games Freeman has thrown for 1,257 yards, while having 11 touchdown tosses and only one interception. Additionally, Freeman’s longest pass in the game in the past five games has been for 60 yards or more which attests to the new found confidence Freeman has in himself and with his receivers.
Overall this season Freeman has thrown for 2,047 yards, 16 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Rookie back Martin has exploded onto the scene as he has rushed for 387 yards and five touchdowns, and has accumulated a 100 receiving yards and a touchdown all in Tampa Bay’s last two games. For the entire season, Martin has more rushing yards, 794, then Blount had all last season while also racking up seven rushing touchdowns, 245 receiving yards and the receiving touchdown.
Receiver Jackson has made his presence felt as well having three games where he has accumulated 100 or more passing yards with one of those games being a 216 yard day. On the season Jackson has 710 receiving yards, and six receiving touchdowns.
Another receiver that has stepped up this season is Williams who currently 504 receiving yards, and six touchdowns.
With New Orleans and Carolina doing poorly this season in the NFC South, I think Tampa Bay realistically take second place in the division and earn a wildcard spot for the playoffs.
Tampa Bay has four games left this season against teams that currently had a winning record or are at .500. Tampa Bay will take on San Diego in week ten, before back to back matchups within their division against the Carolina Panthers and the undefeated Atlanta Falcons.
Tampa Bay’s offense has arrived, and Freeman should be considered much improved and if he can keep it up will finally allow people to stop questioning Tampa Bay’s choice of picking the quarterback in 2009.
I know that Andrew Luck and RGIII were supposed to be the big time offensive rookies this season, but Martin should definitely have his name in the discussion of who should win the offensive rookie of the year honors.