3 Bucs Players That Should Join Their Coaches in Going Back to College

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IDecember 17, 2012

Dec 16, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano watches his team get shutout 41-0 during fourth quarter of their game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Here's an idea—some of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players get sent back to college for poor play.

"Can we send these coaches back to college?"—an actual question posed by an anonymous Tampa Bay Buccaneers player following the team's 41-0 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints in Week 15, the club's fourth consecutive loss (h/t ProFootballTalk.com).

While frustration has rightfully mounted on the sidelines, Greg Schiano and his staff are clearly not the sole reason the Buccaneers have floundered down the stretch. 

Let's look at the three players who, if they followed their teammate's suggestion, should be sent back to the collegiate ranks.


Leonard Johnson

Johnson has been among the worst cornerbacks in 2012. 

According to ProFootballFocus.com, Johnson has been "targeted" 50 times and allowed 33 catches for 509 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Furthermore, quarterbacks have averaged a 101.2 QB rating throwing his way. 

No team has given up more passing yards than Tampa Bay, and they've surrendered 331 more aerial yards than the New Orleans Saints. 

He's an undrafted rookie, so growing pains should have been expected, but Johnson is at the root of the Buccaneers' pass defense problems.


Donald Penn

On the surface, everything has been fine across Tampa Bay's offensive line. The unit has allowed a mere 21 sacks on the season, the third-fewest in the NFL

However, Penn has been a liability as the team's blindside protector. 

Per ProFootballFocus.com, he has allowed 46 total hurries on 516 pass plays in which he's blocked for this year. 

Only eight tackles have allowed more hurries. 


Josh Freeman

This may be a bit harsh because Freeman has flashed moments of brilliance on many occasions during his professional tenure in Tampa Bay. 

But, now nearing the end of his fourth professional season, has he made any progress? 

Since an ultra-efficient 2010, the Kansas State product has thrown 41 touchdowns against 34 interceptions and has an average QB rating of 80.1. 

Sure, there are worse quarterbacks in the NFL today, but Freeman has struggled to move forward when many of the game's younger signal-callers have succeeded much earlier in their careers. 

The receiving talent around him is more than adequate, and Doug Martin proved to be the ideal, new-age running back in his rookie campaign.

Freeman deserves much of the blame for the Buccaneers' inconsistent ways.