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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Freeman's bad night brightens Bucs' day

TAMPA — It was the first break the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had in months.

It was Greg Schiano's first win this season.

For those of you who saw all of it Monday night, our condolences.

Me? I switched back and forth on TV between MSNBC's Lockup: Folsom Library Shiv Fight and NFL Network's A Football Life: Lawrence Tynes.

Josh Freeman's Minnesota Vikings debut was amazingly bad.

Schiano said he didn't watch. He's up to his eyeballs with Carolina and 0-6.

But I'm sure word of Freeman's New York debacle got to him, maybe by code.

Victory Formation to Scarlet Knight, come in ... Alarm Clock high and to the left, high and to the left, another incomplete ... repeat: incomplete.

Look, it's nothing personal.

How do you wish anything bad on Josh?

But if you're the Bucs, anything that quiets things down, even for a day, is music. Freeman's ghastly 20-for-53, 33 incompletions, all those overthrows, an interception, and no points, in a loss to the previously 0-6 Giants was all that and more for Schiano and the Bucs brass.

It isn't vindication. Far from.

But it wasn't doomsday.

Imagine if Freeman had gone out there and gone off, three touchdowns and a win. It would have been like “The Walking Dead” at Bucs headquarters. Fans would have been scaling the iron fences.

Instead, Freeman was awful.

Here was former Bucs employee and current “Monday Night Football” rock star Jon Gruden, again and again:

“These are just inaccurate throws.”

“Once again, Freeman had an open receiver.”

“This is a game Minnesota could have won if they were functional at all on offense.”

“I just don't know how much longer they can stay with Freeman, in fairness to the rest of the Vikings.”

And there was the ESPN After Party, with former Bucs employees Steve Young and Trent Dilfer.

Young: “It was brutal to watch him try to run a pro offense.”

Dilly: “It was a total lack of discretion and wisdom to put Josh Freeman in there.”

I think Schiano and GM Mark Dominik are going to have all those quotes embroidered on a quilt.

An oversized Freeman debut was the last thing this organization needed.

Don't count Freeman out. Or excuse the Bucs for how they botched handling him.

But Freeman was terrible.

Gruden didn't flinch in his assessment.

“You have a quarterback who has lost nine of his last 10 starts, he's completed 19 of 50 passes and you've got a short week against the Green Bay Packers coming up.”

The Bucs also have a short week.

It would already seem like a long one if Monday had gone differently.

Josh came through.

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