Fearless Prediction: Bucs-Seahawks
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Artificial turf
TV: FOX (Ron Pitts, John Lynch, Nischelle Turner)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bucs are scaling back the offense to
help struggling rookie QB Josh Freeman, who has thrown eight
interceptions the past two games. They also want to put more of the
offensive workload on the ground game, and coach Raheem Morris
called out the offensive line as an area that needs to improve.
Seahawks coach Jim Mora has been far blunter in the assessment of
his own offensive line. With QB Matt Hasselbeck often taking hits
even on three-step drops, Seattle will try to work significantly
against a Bucs defense that gave up 175 rushing yards last Sunday.
FAST FACTS: Tampa Bay has lost 16 of its past 17 games. …
Hasselbeck is 3-0 in his career against the Bucs.
- WR Michael Clayton (knee) did not practice Thursday and is
not expected to play against the Seahawks. But Clayton hasn’t
officially been ruled out.
- RB Cadillac Williams (back) returned to practice and had full
- TE John Gilmore (head) did not participate in practice
Thursday and is not expected to play against Seattle.
- DT Roy Miller (ankle) had full participation in practice
- WR Sammie Stroughter, who did not play last week with a back
injury, had full participation in practice Thursday.
- QB Matt Hasselbeck told reporters on Thursday that his sore
right shoulder feels fine and he’ll be ready to play on Sunday.
- LB Aaron Curry (hip) was a full participant in practice on
Thursday and could play on Sunday against Tampa Bay.
- WR Nate Burleson (ankle) is out for this week but is a
possibility to return to the field before the season ends.
- LB D.D. Lewis (knee) was a full participant in practice and
should be available for Sunday.
Inside The Camps
Josh Freeman said he has to demand more of his teammates,
which is tough to do as a rookie quarterback.
“As a rookie, you kind of don’t want to rub anybody the
wrong way,” Freeman said. “But yeah, I definitely think for me to
improve and maybe take that next step, I have to be more demanding
on the practice field, more of a vocal leader on this team.”
Freeman, 21, is trying to rebound after throwing eight
interceptions in the last two games. He said he was ‘confused,’ by
the blitz-happy New York Jets’ defense but that throwing a pick on
the game’s first play did not affect his confidence.
“I wouldn’t say it crushed my confidence,” Freeman said.
“It’s really the whole day, that defense had me confused. There’s
not a whole lot more to it. I mean, that first pick, obviously, I
was disappointed in myself. The captains trusted me with the ball
and I threw a pick on the first play. But yeah, the defense did a
good job of confusing me, whether it be what pressure they were
going to bring, what protections. I’ve got to do a better job of
learning and figuring that out.”
Bucs coach Raheem Morris said Monday that the Bucs need to
scale back the offense to take the pressure off Freeman.
“We’ve got a lot of different weapons. I think the game last
week is kind of the exception because it was a really good
defense,” Freeman said. “You can’t look at last week’s game and
just be like, ‘Man, we can’t throw it, we can’t run it, we’ve got
to just reevaluate everything we’re doing.’ We’ve got to get back
to the basics of what we’re being successful with and that is
running the ball, maybe it be the zone run or the power and the
play-action game or the quick game. There’s a number of things
we’ve shown we can do successfully. We’ve just got to get into a
groove and a rhythm and go do that week in and week out.”
An offensive-line coach in the National Football League for
over 30 seasons, Mike Solari is experiencing a rough patch in his
second year serving in the same position for the Seattle Seahawks.
His team’s head coach, Jim Mora, basically blamed Seattle’s
failings on offense on the struggles and the lack of cohesion of
the offensive line.
Mora questioned the toughness of the guys up front, saying
he needed more players who brought with them a “dirt-bag” mentality
on the field.
“You’re either tough or you’re not,” Solari said about the
toughness question. “It’s not something that you develop. It’s
something that you work on in training camp. You hit, you pound and
so forth, and it’s something you build on. Again, these guys are
competing and working hard, we just have not been effective.
“We’ve got to do better as an offensive line, and I’ve got
to do better as a coach.”
Seattle has had its share of injuries up front, with the
projected starting line missing a combined 23 games so far this
Offensive guard Rob Sims, who missed two games with an ankle
sprain, said the fact that he and other linemen have not been
credited with playing through injuries is an issue.
“Everybody at this time, their bodies are beat up,” Sims
said. “I’m not sure. I don’t see how much you can get tougher.
Spence (Chris Spencer) has a broken thumb and is snapping with his
left hand and has a messed-up elbow that is probably my fault.
“I’m going to have to ask Coach Mora exactly what he means
by toughness. But I know my guys up in that (offensive-line) room,
we play with pain, we don’t get much credit for what we do, and the
stuff we do bad we get ridiculed for.”
However, the Seahawks have started the same five players up
front for the last five games, but they’ve been woefully inadequate
in protecting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
In order to rectify the situation, Seattle has had Spencer,
who has struggled snapping the ball with his left hand while
playing with a broken right thumb, switch positions with right
guard Max Unger.
Unger, a rookie, has started 13 games at right guard this
season. But he was drafted as a potential future starting center,
with Spencer becoming a free agent at season’s end.
“Chris has done a commendable job going from a right-handed
snapper to a left, and it’s really a difficult thing to do,” Solari
said. “Your steps and angles change dramatically. He made that
change going into the Arizona (Nov. 15) game, and it’s just
something where we’re not getting consistent snaps, so it’s
something we’ve got to do.”
PREDICTION: Seahawks 24-13