LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up prior to the NFL International Series match between Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 23, 2011 in London, England. This is the fifth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
I suppose this doesn't come as a huge surprise after the four interception disaster that was yesterday, but I still can't wrap my head around it. How has Freeman gone from only throwing six picks all of last season to currently leading the NFL in interceptions through the first seven weeks? Not only that, but Freeman is very near the bottom of starting quarterbacks in standard quarterback rating with an abysmal 73.1. Say what you will about the merits or demerits of the rating system, but the fact of the matter is it paints a fairly accurate picture of the quarterback landscape.
I'm sure if we could get a QB rating for simply the fourth quarter then the picture would be a little less bleak. Freeman shined again late in the game yesterday and almost led the team back to another win. I was pleased to watch the offense finally click, but what in the world is going on with this team in the first three quarters? Did the Bears defense simply start going with a prevent that Freeman picked apart more easily? Did he finally get rid of the jitters? There has to be some type of tangible explanation for drastic turnaround in effective play.
The day was also fraught with injuries. Don't get me started on the turf at Wembley Stadium. It is clearly sub-par and not fit for the NFL. Earnest Graham's injury came before he was even tackled as he tried to cut on that joke of a playing surface. It looked like the injury to Price may have also been caused by the field.
Kregg Lumpkin looked less than fantastic as he took over for Graham. Rumor has it that Graham tore his achilles and may be out for the rest of the 2011 season. With Blount's return up in the air, the backfield is looking very weak at the moment. Hopefully Chad Spann can step right in, but I doubt it. Perhaps a phone call to Clinton Portis is in order. I know a few teams kicked the tires on him earlier this season and came away impressed. Even if Blount isn't ready to go after the bye week they need to bring in at least one more back. Whether that's Portis or another player that Dominic poaches off a practice squad is up to them. If Graham is indeed done for 2011 this team needs depth at the running back position, especially with the way Blount runs the ball and is likely to become injured again at some point.
Speaking of Blount, did anybody see him in street clothes on the sideline yesterday? Dude has to have gained 25 pounds since last season. Come to think of it, Freeman is looking a little portly as well this year. Is conditioning an issue for this team? I'm not saying anything definitively, but just throwing the issue up there for conversation.
All in all, we almost snuck out a win against an average team. If we are truly the playoff team we claim to be we should be beating teams like the Bears emphatically. I'd like to believe that it would have been a different story had Graham not been injured, but I'm not so sure. Graham doesn't play defense, and Matt Forte and Marion Barber simply did whatever they wanted to do yesterday. What do you think Bucs Nation? Would we have won with Graham playing? Is conditioning an issue for this team? Can Freeman turn it back around or has he truly regressed back to 2009 form?