Then he said the same thing again and again. I heard Freeman give the same answer at least nine times after Sunday’s 13-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Mike Glennon threw a TD pass and two interceptions in Tampa Bay's 13-10 loss against Arizona.
This is what it has come to: Freeman, who once was considered the franchise quarterback, was the first player out of the locker room. He was chased through a tunnel by a large group of media members and, after at least the 10th “I’m not commenting at this time," Freeman put in ear buds to get away from the noise.
Freeman, who was benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, didn’t even play in the game. But he’s still a huge part of the story of what quickly has become one of the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchises. He previously told ESPN he wanted a trade. He didn’t even get to spend the game on the sidelines with his teammates.
According to coach Greg Schiano it was a “mutual decision" to have Freeman sit in a suite with the other inactive players. That sounds to me like “We don’t want this guy anywhere near the team. We’re going to get rid of him one way or the other during our bye week."
Schiano made his point with his power play on Freeman. He started Glennon to prove a point. Schiano has coveted Glennon ever since he unsuccessfully tried to recruit him to Rutgers. When the move was made, Schiano said it was because Glennon gave the Bucs the best chance to win.
The irony here is that it really didn’t matter who the quarterback was. The Bucs, who controlled the game most of the way, were destined to lose this game no matter what.
The problems run much deeper than the quarterback.
“It starts with me," Schiano said. “It’s everyone. It’s our coaching and our playing. The quarterback’s part of that, but there’s a bunch."
Yeah, there’s a bunch of something, and it’s not good. The Bucs sent a pretty strong signal that they were ready to win this year when they signed safety Dashon Goldson and traded for cornerback Darrelle Revis.
But, one month into the season, the Bucs are 0-4 and there are signs of disarray that go way beyond the rift between Freeman and Schiano.
“I know this team will stay together," Schiano said. “These first four don’t count any more than the next 12. We’ll take them one at a time. We’ve got good football players, a good team. We’re just not playing very well right now."
The Bucs head into the bye week with the prospect of Glennon as the starter for the rest of the season, and it sure feels like Freeman will be traded or released.
Does it really matter that the Bucs now have a Schiano “guy" playing quarterback?
I don’t think it does. This is a very flawed football team. The Bucs made some late mistakes to lose the opener to the New York Jets. They made more the following week in a similar loss to New Orleans.
These guys know how to lose the close ones. But this one was particularly painful because it started with some promise. Glennon played well (not great, but not bad) for the first 56 minutes. Led by a defense that played well all day, the Bucs held a 10-3 lead.
With 3:12 remaining, Glennon had a pass intended for Vincent Jackson intercepted by Patrick Peterson. That set up a quick Arizona touchdown to tie the game. With 56 seconds left Glennon, again throwing for Jackson, was intercepted by Peterson to seal the loss.
“Mike stepped in there like he was supposed to step in there,’’ left tackle Donald Penn said. "I thought he handled it very well. He took control of the huddle, took control of the offense, and we have to help him out more. We have to make more plays, we have to finish our drive better and make it easier. We need to help this defense out. They’re playing their butts off, and we have to pick it up."
First it was Freeman vs. Schiano. Next, it could be defense vs. offense. The Bucs head into their bye week with a slew of problems.
“I am concerned because we’re not doing it, so we have to find a way to get the tide turned and get to playing the way we’re capable of,’’ Schiano said. “That all starts with me. As the head coach, I’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything that we can within our power to perform better."
Schiano is right in saying it starts with him. If nothing else, Sunday showed it doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback for the Bucs. The issues start at the top, and are running in a lot of different directions.