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Sunday, Nov 19, 2017
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Freeman is top priority for next Bucs coach

TAMPA - It's time to go on the offensive. Raheem Morris' job ended Monday, the day after a Bucs team he couldn't teach or even reach ran out of games. There are big names and smaller names out there, big minds and smaller minds. Here's what I have in mind:
Offense, offense, offense. Reaching out and rebuilding Josh Freeman has to be the No. 1 priority for any new head coach, whether it's Mike Sherman or Rob Chudzinski, whether it's Brian Billick or Mike Mularkey or any of those names being tossed about. Restoring Freeman, giving him the supporting cast the Glazers and surviving (huh?) GM Mark Dominik refused to give Freeman – and Morris – is up there with restoring discipline and accountability. Give me an offensive mind, the best one out there, the best one available, then open up the Glazer purse strings – or use an acetylene torch to get in there – and let him go get what he needs, or draft what he needs. Stop sitting on your hands. It's one reason Morris was coaching with one hand tied behind his back. Look, if Josh Freeman isn't any good, if he's as lousy as he was this season, this whole thing is going down. So, let's find out, shall we? A wise man once told me that you basically need two things in today's NFL: You need that quarterback, and then you need a bunch of guys to go and tackle the other quarterback. In that sense, the Bucs might not be in as awful a state as their putrid 10-loss finish implies, provided all these draft picks amount to a pass rush – and Josh Freeman is rescued. Was this season a glitch, or was his rousing 2010 the real anomaly? The Bucs need to find out – Now. Offense, offense, offense. That's why I'm not that enamored with finding the next Tony Dungy. First, there's only one of him. Second, I mean, who's to say he won't bring the next Clyde Christensen with him? Offense, offense, offense. I know that seems a bit strong, given this team's historically bad young defense this season, those franchise worst 494 points allowed, and given that there will be linebackers and any number of LSU and Alabama cornerbacks available. Offense, offense, offense. It's the wave in this league, with no better example than the division in which the Bucs are now firmly ensconced as cellar dwellers. The NFC South is all about offense, from New Orleans to Atlanta and now in Carolina with Cam Newton. Great defenses have given way to offense. The Saints went 13-3 with the 24th-ranked defense in the league. The Bucs finished 30th{+,} by the way. The only teams that finished behind them? The 15-1 Packers and the 13-3 Patriots. Think about that. It's like that great old defender Warren Sapp said Sunday night. "This isn't the old NFL, defenses everywhere," Sapp said. "Those days are over." Find me an offensive coach, then hire a strong defensive coordinator and have Mr. Offense leave Mr. Defense alone. Back to the offense. I'm tired of watching a fleet of No. 2 and No. 3 receivers. Get in that draft and, if you can, grab Oklahoma State fly guy Justin Blackmon. Go into free agency and find more offense, go find your Darren Sproles. First, find a head a coach who knows offense when he sees it. I love what Rod Chudzinski has done in Carolina, though Cam helps slightly. Still, pressed for time, hemmed in by the lockout, with a rookie quarterback, Chudzinski and Carolina's offense hit the ground rolling. Mike Sherman is a veteran who isn't enough of a name right now – he was recently shown the door at Texas A&M – to have any real power brokerage over Dominik, who dodged the purge this time around. Sherman was a solid offensive guy in Green Bay, though who wouldn't have been with Brett Favre. Still, speaking of the Packers, Aaron Rodgers rested for the playoffs Sunday, so Matt Flynn stepped in at quarterback for Green Bay and only threw for six touchdowns. Not to take anything away from Rodgers, but what does it say about all the pieces the Packers have? The Bucs need to find some offense, some pieces. The first would be to find a head coach with ideas. Otherwise, what in the name of Josh Freeman is going on here?
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