Bucs’ Schiano Sees Consistency on Offense as Big Issue, Not QB

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano

It was business as usual for Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano once he got to One Buc Place Monday, but getting there took some  extra effort. Schiano did not travel home with the team Sunday night after the Patriots game, staying behind in New England to tend to a family emergency.

“During the game, my dad became ill and I felt it was necessary to stay back with him until some other family members could get up to Boston,” said Schiano, whose father is still in Boston undergoing further tests.

Schiano still was able to review tape on the plane ride home Sunday night and into the wee hours of Monday morning. He believes the biggest issue he saw from Sunday’s game wasn’t solely on quarterback play or drops from wide receivers, but consistency on offense as a whole.

“I think it’s spread all around. We have some new guys and we have some returning guys and everybody’s making their share [of mistakes]. I go back to that we have to do a better job of communicating exactly what we want and then we need to hold people accountable. [Those are] the tenets of this program, it’s the foundation of what we do. We’re not doing a good enough job of it, starting with me, so we have to do better.”

The offense struggled particularly inside the opponent’s 40-yard line, an area Schiano’s felt very confident in.

“You know, in the tight red I actually feel good. But again, in that zone, the extended red, the fringe of the red, we had plenty of opportunities, [but] we made some mistakes. And you have to give credit to New England, they defended. So when you make a mistake and they defend, then it’s a double whammy.”

He doesn’t believe the issues have to do with offensive play-calling either. “I have utmost confidence in Mike and the offensive staff. We all need to do better, but [I have] the utmost confidence.”

Schiano backs Freeman

For the third-consecutive game, starting quarterback Josh Freeman completed less than 50-percent of his passes. Sunday was also the first time since Week 15 of last year that Freeman failed to throw a touchdown, and the offense failed to score.

When asked about the quarterback position, Schiano responded, “Josh [Freeman] is our starter.” He reiterated it again when asked what it would take to make a change at the QB position. “Josh is our starter. That’s where we are.”

“He’s done some good things and he’s done some things that he’d like to change and we’d like to. But it’s the whole offensive unit – we need to be more precise. We need to coach more precisely; it’s everybody involved.”

Schiano believes Freeman is comfortable in the pocket and in his delivery, but when things start to break down around him, he hasn’t been as sharp as before, particularly for a player who’s strength is extending plays.

He cautioned those trying to put all the blame on him.

“There [are] 10 other guys out there, [and] without getting into specifics, and certainly everybody has some of the responsibility for us not scoring points right now, starting with me,” said Schiano. “But it wouldn’t be right to [blame him], obviously it does happen because he touches the ball 73 times on Sunday, but there’s a whole bunch of us that have got to get our stuff straight.”

Nicks returns

Left guard Carl Nicks made his return to action Sunday, playing for this first time since Week 8 of last year, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn plantar plate in his foot, an injury that required surgery.

Nicks was poised to make his return to action in the Bucs’ second preseason game against the Patriots, but his recovery efforts were derailed by a MRSA  infection. After undergoing treatment with antibiotics, he began practicing with the team Sept. 11.

“He looked like a guy who practiced for a week, as far as all the little details, but he’s just so big and strong that you can feel his physical presence in there,” said Schiano. “I just look forward to him getting more practice and fine-tuning his game.”

Up until this point, Nicks has only practiced on a limited basis, making Sunday’s game a true test for his foot and for his stamina.

“It felt good. I didn’t really have too much pain. I was more fatigued than anything but it felt good to be out there with my teammates,” said Nicks, who agreed with Schiano that consistency is the offense’s primary issue.

He told reporters, “We have flashes and sparks of greatness, but we’ve just got to be more consistent. We’ll make a play and everybody will be like, ‘Wow,’ then the next play will be a minus play. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”

Nicks gave full support to his quarterback.

“Josh is our guy. We’re going to ride-or-die with Josh.  He’s the starter, he’s always been the starter. We support him 110 percent.”

Kicking woes continue

For the second-consecutive week, kicker Rian Lindell missed a field goal.

On the Bucs’ opening possession Sunday, he missed a 27-yard attempt. He made his second attempt on the Bucs’ next possession, a 30-yarder, to give Tampa Bay its only points of the day.

Last week, he missed a 47-yard attempt with 1:07 remaining against the New Orleans Saints, which set up the game-winning drive for New Orleans.

“Rian [Lindell] is our kicker,” said Schiano. He would not discuss the possibility of trying out kickers this week.

“I’m not going to get into that. We’ve never got into who we’re bringing in. That comes out on the wire.”

Jackson, McCoy, and Williams injured; Crabtree progressing

Schiano said it’s too early to tell if wide receiver Vincent Jackson will play against the Arizona Cardinals this week after sustaining a rib injury Sunday. He left the game in the third quarter and did not return.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy suffered an ankle injury but doesn’t believe it will affect him this week. “I’m alright, man. I’m good,” McCoy said.

Wide receiver Mike Williams also suffered an upper leg injury.

Tight end Tom Crabtree, who returned to practice last week after suffering a high ankle sprain in the preseason finale against the Washington Redskins, could possibly return to action.

The Bucs could certainly use him. Fellow tight end Luke Stocker was placed on season-ending IR with a hip injury. The Bucs  activated Jeff Demps to the 53-man roster to fill his spot.