Schiano to evaluate Josh Freeman

  • ESPN.com news services | January 1, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. -- Josh Freeman became Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first 4,000-yard passer and also threw for more touchdowns in a season than any player in franchise history, but he'll still have to compete for the starting job next season.

SchianoThe one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback, so I want to have as many good football players on our team as we can at every single position.

-- Greg Schiano

Coach Greg Schiano said Monday that he's going to evaluate every aspect of the team in coming weeks, including Freeman, whose inconsistency contributed to the late slide that knocked the Bucs out of playoff contention.

Freeman has one year remaining on his rookie contract.

"Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowls in this league? ... I do ... I hope that happens," Schiano told reporters. "But at the end of the day, I have to evaluate everything before I can say, 'Boom, that's what we're doing' ... The one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback, so I want to have as many good football players on our team as we can at every single position."

Dan Orlovsky backed up Freeman at quarterback this season, appearing in one game, throwing seven passes in the fourth quarter of a 41-0 loss to New Orleans.

"... I like Josh Freeman. But I don't want to get ahead of my skis here and really evaluate every single thing about what's best for this organization," the coach said.

Sunday's 22-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons stopped a five-game losing streak and enabled the Bucs (7-9) to finish with three more wins than they did a year ago, when a season-ending 10-game skid led to the dismissal of former coach Raheem Morris and the hiring of Schiano.

"Ending the season like this and not making the playoffs, it's unacceptable and it's not where we want to be," said Freeman, who threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns en route to also becoming the team's all-time leader in TD passes with 78.

"Obviously, it's what you play for. If you end the year without winning the Super Bowl, your season can't be considered a success," the fourth-year pro added. "But certainly I'm optimistic. We've got a lot of pieces and a number of guys we'll get back on the team this offseason. Looking forward, I'm really excited."

Schiano met with the team collectively on Monday and said he planned to meet with Freeman individually.

"It was an up and down year, but ... there's a lot of positives, though. Certainly when the expectations level is what we make it and then you don't reach that, there is also disappointment," Schiano said. "Josh is probably his own toughest critic. So I don't know if anything I'm going to tell him is going to shock him."

The Bucs set club record for points (389), touchdowns (44) and yards gained (5,820). They also led the NFL in rushing defense, allowing a franchise-low 82.5 yards per game.

General manager Mark Dominik said he feels the team is headed in the right direction, despite fading after a 6-4 start. The Bucs last earned a playoff berth in 2007, and haven't won a postseason game since winning the Super Bowl 10 years ago.

Schiano, who left Rutgers to take over the Bucs last January, thinks there's been progress in changing the culture of the organization.

"Pro football is a little more difficult to do that because you constantly have turnover. You're bringing guys in from other places in the middle of the season, so what you need to do is make your culture so strong that anybody that comes in from the outside, whether it be a rookie, a free agent, in-season signing, that they just get swept up in the way things are done," he said.

"We're not there yet, we're getting closer."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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