EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 24, 2013

Winless Bucs remain upbeat after loss to Pats

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are winless and have scored one touchdown in the past two games, yet coach Greg Schiano remains confident the team has what it takes to be successful.

Schiano reiterated Monday that Josh Freeman is his starting quarterback and that he also has the “utmost confidence” in offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

The Bucs (0-3) have lost eight of nine games dating to last season, when they failed to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

History says it will be difficult to snap the streak this year. Since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978, just five of 161 teams that have started 0-3 have gone on to earn a postseason berth.

That includes the 1982 Bucs, who finished 5-4 in a strike-shortened season. The 1998 Buffalo Bills, who went 10-6 before losing in the wild-card round, were the last team to do it.

“The NFL has a lot of ups and downs, and starting off 0-3 is not one of the downs you want to get caught in,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “It’s definitely difficult, but we have 100 percent confidence that we can bounce back from this.”

The have scored 34 points in three games, 27 by the offense. The team’s last offensive touchdown — a 5-yard pass from Freeman to Kevin Ogletree came during the opening quarter of a 16-14 loss to New Orleans, and the scoring drive covered just 35 yards.

Schiano said the team’s offensive woes aren’t solely related to the play of the struggling Freeman, who was 19 of 41 passing for 236 yards, no touchdowns and one interception during Sunday’s 23-3 loss at New England.

The Bucs are tied with Jacksonville for fewest offensive TDs in the league with three. Oakland also had three entering its game last night against Denver.

“He’s done some good things, and he’s done some things he’d like to change and we’d like to,” said Schiano, who didn’t fly home with the team Sunday, remaining behind to check on his dad, who became ill during the game.

Freeman threw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 TDs a year ago, helping the Bucs set a franchise record for points scored. So, the slow start to this season was unexpected.

This is the 12th time the Bucs have started 0-3, and the 1982 strike-shortened season was the only time they’ve rebounded to finish with a winning record.