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Sunday, November 20, 2011
Suggested reading on the Buccaneers

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

If you haven’t seen it already, I strongly suggest you take a look at this story by Rick Stroud that explores different theories on what is wrong with the Buccaneers.

It includes some really strong comments from Herm Edwards, now an ESPN analyst, but a former assistant with the Bucs and a head coach for the Jets and Chiefs.

Some of what Edwards had to say is similar to some things that have been written in this space. Let’s start with quarterback Josh Freeman. I have written several times that, although Freeman certainly deserves part of the blame, most of it should fall on the guys around him. I’ve heard from a few readers who suggest I’m “coddling" Freeman.

I stand by what I said about his problems being due primarily to the poor play of wide receiver Mike Williams and running back LeGarrette Blount. Edwards said pretty much the same thing.

"I feel a little for [Freeman] because he's a good player," Edwards said. "I look at the personalities he has to deal with -- Kellen Winslow, Mike Williams, LeGarrette Blount. He's looking at all this mess saying, 'Really?'"

I’m not sure if Winslow really belongs in there. The tight end hasn’t been putting up big numbers and he’s been accused of being a selfish player in the past. But he’s behaved pretty well since he joined the Bucs. Winslow spent most of the lockout working out with Freeman. That can’t really be said about Williams and Blount. Each of them showed up for workouts at times, but they weren’t regulars.

Edwards also criticized the Bucs harshly for picking up defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

"Why bring in a guy who doesn't like football?" Edwards said. "You want that guy influencing your young football team?"

That leads to another hot topic. There have been suggestions from many corners that the Bucs have some players who are not strong character guys and don’t have any very strong leaders.

"I see that [Coach] Raheem [Morris] got on them for not giving effort," Edwards said. “But when you have players who have some character flaws in the locker room, there's no steady force. When you're winning, it's okay. When you hit tough times, they take over. And when you lose, it's magnified."

It’s been kind of a crazy stretch for the Bucs. Morris has sniped at several writers, publicly and privately. He’s also pointed to a difficult schedule, which has led some people to say he’s making excuses. The past week or two has reminded me a little bit of the days when Sam Wyche was coaching the Buccaneers.

Let’s just say there never was a lot of stability when Wyche was running the show. I’m not quite ready to say the current Bucs are out of control, but there certainly have been signs they might be headed in that direction.

If the Bucs go into Lambeau Field and somehow beat the undefeated Green Bay Packers, everything suddenly will be fine with Tampa Bay. If not, the strange times might get even stranger.