- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Bucs are 5-4. For a young team with a rookie NFL head coach in Greg Schiano, it is hugely significant to be over .500 in the second half of the season. A week or two ago, it was easy to look at the Bucs and say they were a team that could be on targeted for the playoffs next season. Now, you have to start wondering if the Bucs can make the playoffs this season. At the moment, they’re definitely in the mix.
The kid has grown up: Look at what Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has done in the last five games. He’s thrown 13 touchdown passes with just one interception. After it appeared Freeman’s career was crashing last season, the new coaching staff has turned him into a quarterback that doesn’t make many mistakes. Maybe Freeman needs to sustain this pace for the rest of the season and lead this team to the playoffs, but it sure is starting to look like the Bucs have their first franchise quarterback since Doug Williams (if you think William’s brief tenure qualifies) or the first franchise quarterback in team history.
Plenty of help: The best thing about this team, as opposed to the 2010 team Freeman led to a 10-6 record, is that the quarterback doesn’t have to carry this team. Freeman got help Sunday as Adam Heyward scored on a blocked punt and Leonard Johnson returned an interception for a touchdown.
More help: It’s easy to look at Doug Martin’s 68 rushing yards and say the Chargers cooled him off after he went for 251 yards against the Raiders the previous week. But Martin’s much more than just a guy that can run the ball. He’s an all-purpose back and he finished with 119 yards of total offense. It’s the sixth time this season that Martin has had at least 100 yards from scrimmage. It’s also the fifth consecutive game he’s had at least 100 yards from scrimmage.
What’s next: The Buccaneers travel to Carolina next Sunday.