Tag:Tennessee Titans
Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 4:07 pm
 

Colts beat Titans, 27-13, for first win of season

There is a God: Indy finally gets a win. (US PRESSWIRE)


Follow all the Week 15 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games: MIA-BUF | SEA-CHI | CAR-HOU | TEN-IND | GB-KC | NO-MIN | WAS-NYG | CIN-STL
4 p.m. ET games: DET-OAK | CLE-ARI | NE-DEN | NYJ-PHI



By Ryan Wilson

The Colts' 2011 nightmare is over. For the Titans, it's just begun.

Indianapolis was a perfect 0-13 heading into Week 15 with no real chance at avoiding a repeat performance of what the Lions accomplished in 2008: 0-16.

Instead, to everyone's surprise, Indy took it to division rival Tennessee Sunday, 27-13, intercepting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck twice (Jacob Lacey returned for a touchdown -- it was the first interception by a Colts' cornerback all year).

While Indy gets their first real victory of 2011 (they've had several moral victories), the loss is a disaster for Tennessee's playoff hopes.

The Titans came into Sunday one game behind the Jets for the final wild-card spot. The matchup with the Colts was supposed to be a formality; Tennessee would get to 8-6 with Jacksonville and Houston left on the schedule. Instead, the Titans now need the Jets to lose two of three and pray they can find a way to win out.

Other notable storylines: Dan Orlovosky, originally drafted by the Lions in 2005, earns his first NFL victory. He went 0-7 with the '08 Lions and was 0-2 with the Colts this season prior to the Titans' unwittingly spreading holiday cheer.

As for that '08 Lions team, they can break out the champagne '72 Dolphins style, since it appears their record will be safe for at least another season.

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Posted on: December 18, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 3:29 pm
 

Colts lead Titans, 20-6 early in 4th quarter

By Ryan Wilson

Indy CBs finally get first interception of 2011. (Getty Images)
The Colts are 0-13. We just all assumed that by Sunday evening they'd be 0-14, probabilities working the way they do, not to mention that the Titans are in the AFC wild-card hunt.

Well, through almost three quarters, Indy leads Tennessee 17-6 after cornerback Jacob Lacey returned a Matt Hasselbeck pass 32 years for and a touchdown to give the Colts the lead, 17-6.

It was the first interception by a Colts cornerback all season. Hasselbeck's pass was intended for running back Chris Johnson, who has reverted to worst-back-in-the-league form Sunday. As of this writing, he has 14 rushes for a whopping 20 yards.

If the Titans go down, so too in all likelihood will their playoff hopes. As for the Colts, a victory will possibly save Jim Caldwell's job (no way), avoid the ignominious distinction of being as bad as the 2008 Lions, all while guaranteeing their pole position in the race to Andrew Luck.


Follow all the Week 15 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard 

1 p.m. ET games: MIA-BUF | SEA-CHI | CAR-HOU | TEN-IND | GB-KC | NO-MIN | WAS-NYG | CIN-STL 
4 p.m. ET games: DET-OAK | CLE-ARI | NE-DEN | NYJ-PHI



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Posted on: December 15, 2011 7:20 pm
 

Rob Bironas' Pro Bowl 'My Bironas' viral video

By Will Brinson

OK, maybe Rob Bironas' campaign to make the Pro Bowl isn't "viral" yet, but we're gonna try to help. As did Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who tweeted out a good-natured jab at Bironas along with a link to his website (RobBironas.com).

"Talk about a shameless pro bowl vote request video," Hasselbeck tweeted on Thursday.

As you can see in the video below, Bironas is soliciting a little help from his friends, many of whom are famous and all of whom want you to vote for Bironas to make the Pro Bowl.

Naturally, it's set to "My Sharona" ... except it's the "My Bironas" version, which is exceptionally better. (But really, it's just the same.)



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Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 14 NFL preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The Steelers handled the Browns on Thursday night, but it was a bizarre game -- on today's podcast we break down Ben Roethlisberger's injury, how he managed to keep playing, whether the Steelers should be concerned, and if James Harrison is going to get fined and/or suspended.

Then we take a spin around the NFL action scheduled for Sunday, wondering if Oakland is a sleeper to take down Green Bay (no, really!), if Chris Johnson can keep running against the Saints, whether the Falcons are playoff-worthy, if Tim Tebow can take down the Bears, if Jim Schwartz can wrangle the Lions and whether we'd rather have Tony Romo or Eli Manning for the rest of their careers.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:36 pm
 

Titans coach wants defense to put 'fear in guys'

Tennessee has to find a way to slow down New Orleans' high-scoring offense. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson


The Titans are 7-5 and one game out of the playoff picture, trailing the 7-5 Bengals (Cincy beat Tennessee in Week 9).

The Titans started 3-1 the season, then went 1-3 before another 3-1 run over the last month. Their recent success has been a combination of Chris Johnson's resurgence coupled with a friendly schedule. And if they're to challenge for a wild-card spot, they'll need to continue to play well in December. They face the Saints this weekend, then it's at Indy, Jacksonville, and at Houston to wrap up the regular season.

You have to like Tennesee's chances if Johnson continues to round into form. Football Outsiders' Ben Muth, a former offensive lineman at Stanford has been impressed with the Titans' o-line play, as well as Johnson's return from obscurity.

"What sticks out most for me while watching Johnson recently is the sense of urgency in his running style that was absent in the first half of the season," Muth wrote Thursday. "Earlier this year, Johnson seemed too willing to take a very short gain and get back to the huddle to fight another day. He seemed to be waiting for that big play to come, and just trying to make do until it did. Well, big runs in the NFL aren’t just given to you. Sure, you’ll occasionally catch the defense with the perfect call and pop one untouched for forty yards, but that happens maybe four times a year. Big plays, more often than not, are the result of great downfield running or blocking, and neither of those things are provided solely by the offensive line."


Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will look for their fifth win in a row when they take on the Tennessee Titans at LP Field this Sunday. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan for a preview of this matchup.

Since there are no guarantees that Johnson will revert to his 2010 form, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray is doing his part to motivate the troops. Specifically, that means owning the middle of the field, even if it comes at a price.

“The biggest thing I think in this league is you have to start putting fear in guys from throwing the ball in the middle of the field,’’ Gray said Wednesday, according to the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt. “And if that means getting a letter from the commissioner on Monday, that means getting a letter from the commissioner."

In related news: Gray should expect a letter from the commissioner. (We're kidding because Roger Goodell, whose disciplinary worldview seems to be "no violation is too small," has a history of liberally meting out punishments. But we wouldn't be shocked if, you know, Gray got a letter.) 

“A lot of times you have to be able to let these guys know: You are not going to be able to throw the ball in the middle of the football field," Gray said. "This is not a basketball game; it is a football game. So the ball doesn’t go down the middle of our field. And that is what safeties should do in this league.”

The Titans' defensive coordinator also made it clear that he's not telling his players to violate the new safety rules the league put in place this season. And the basketball reference? That's for Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, suddenly one of the NFL's best pass catchers. He played hoops at the University of Miami before a season with the Hurricanes football team changed his career plans.

“Just do a clean hit, hit a guy clean,’’ he said. “And the good thing is, [Graham] is 6-foot-7, so you are not going to hit him in the head anyway.”

This will be a stiff test for the Titans; the Saints are one of the league's most explosive offenses. With how well the o-line line protects Drew Brees, Tennessee's best strategy might be to get physical with his intended targets. Through 13 weeks, that's been easier said than done.

"I don’t think we’ve covered a 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7 tight end, but the thing is the safety has to come down and hit him and help out (the linebackers),’’ Gray said.

When asked if the Titans have been delivering enough big hits to make would-be pass-catchers wary, Gray responded, “Of course not. They wouldn’t be throwing the ball down the middle of the field if we had been doing enough of it.”

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:09 pm
 

Film Room: Titans vs. Saints preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


While we weren’t looking, the Tennessee Titans got to 7-5 and in the thick of the AFC playoff race. This week they have a widely televised game against the New Orleans Saints. Perhaps it’s time we get to know Mike Munchak’s club.

Here are some tidbits on one of this week’s showcase games.


1. Saints O vs. Titans D: 31 flavors vs. vanilla
Sean Payton has been known to use 15 different formations on his first 15 plays. As offensive variety goes, the Saints are boundless and peerless. The Titans defense, under Jerry Gray, is the polar opposite. They’ve been the easiest unit to watch on film this season because they line up in base zones, they rarely move before the snap and it’s always clear what each player is trying to do. It’s an execution-based defense.

In this model, the Titans try to make opponents play conservatively and methodically. Instead of trying to beat the offense big once or twice and risk having the offense beat THEM big, the Titans would rather make the offense beat them small again and again, without making any bad mistakes. This formula works against middle-tier offenses – like the Broncos, Browns, Colts, Bucs and Bills, all of whom the Titans have held below 20 points. But unless an execution-based defense has a few top-level playmakers – like the Bears with Brian Urlacher or, in past years, the Colts with Dwight Freeney – it won’t hold up against upper-tier competition.

The Titans have a mobile, fairly athletic defensive line but one that’s devoid of premium pass-rushers. Their linebackers are reliable but not sideline-to-sideline players; it might even be considered a weak unit when outrageously overrated middle ‘backer Barrett Ruud is in the lineup (he’s been out most of the past month with a groin; rookie Colin McCarthy has been an upgrade in his stead). The secondary is sound but not ball-hawking.

The way to beat Drew Brees is to confuse him (which isn’t easy). He’s far too sharp as a progression-read passer for a defense to simply line up and play against. Unless luck intervenes or a few Titans defenders play the game of their lives, we’ll see Brees lead four or five ABC-123 type clock-eating scoring drives Sunday.

2. Chris Johnson
Pilloried for the destruction of fantasy teams nationwide the first 10 weeks of the season, the $30 million running back has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four outings. Not until these past two weeks did Johnson show his old acceleration and burst. We may never know what got him off track early in the year, but he appears to be on track now (he’ll have to stay on track a little longer before we fully trust him again).

One theory people floated was that his offensive line was struggling. That’s simply not true. It’s easy to blame the linemen because they’re big, faceless cogs in a unit. But ask yourself this commonsense question: What’s more likely? That one player (Johnson) suddenly stunk, or that FIVE players (the line) suddenly stunk? Johnson’s line wasn’t bad – Johnson was bad. He was stopping his feet to redirect, looking for holes rather than reading the movement of defenders and spinning mud when hitting the gas.

This isn’t to say that Johnson’s line has been sterling this season. Until they started consistently landing blocks on the move last week, guards Jake Scott and Leroy Harris looked very average (Scott maybe even a cut below that). Gritty veteran right tackle David Stewart has at times relied too much on grit and not enough on technique. Even steady Pro Bowl left tackle Michael Roos has struggled a bit (though more in pass-protection than run-blocking). But inconsistent means good AND bad. Until recently, the Titans line had been a tad inconsistent, while their running back had been just plain bad. We’ll see if Johnson can maintain his rhythm against a fast Saints run defense.

3. Titans O vs. Saints D: manufacturing big plays to compensate for a weakness
We’ve covered before how Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams dials up so many risky, complex blitzes in part because he does not have a good enough pass-rushing front four to simply line up and play. On a similar note, Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer has done a good job generating big pass plays this season through design.

With Kenny Britt injured, the Titans do not have any receivers who can consistently burn one-on-one coverage. Thus, instead of dictating the terms of engagement and just attacking through the air, the Titans have used route combinations in response to specific defensive looks. That’s good coaching.

Some examples that stand out: in Week 4, the Titans killed the Browns’ man coverages with a litany of natural pick plays (Nate Washington’s 57-yarder to set up a late first half touchdown being the highlight). In Week 13 they found ways to isolate Buffalo’s untested seventh-round rookie cornerback Justin Rogers with presnap motion.

In Week 3 they used a deep crossing route with unassuming tight end Craig Stevens:

The Titans knew that outside cornerback Cassius Vaughan was responsible for covering the defensive left third of field. So they sent wideout Marc Mariani on a fly route to carry Vaughan deep. That temporarily left an unoccupied void that Stevens’ crossing pattern was timed to hit. 

When Stevens caught the ball, Vaughan was out of position and facing the wrong direction. This well-timed, clever approach compensated for Stevens’ lack of speed.

This is quality stuff. It’s not necessarily sustainable – at some point, talent becomes a requirement in pro football – but it’s making the most of your resources.

4. Defending Graham
When facing the Saints, your defensive gameplan often centers around how you decide to defend Jimmy Graham. As the best receiving tight end in football, Graham, frankly, deserves a cornerback’s attention. But most teams can’t afford to sacrifice their run defense by playing a third corner on every down. So, they compromise by using a safety.

Then there are the brave teams that try to stop Graham with a linebacker (like the Giants two weeks ago, who put Jacquian Williams on Graham so that they could have one of their faster safeties defend Darren Sproles).

The Titans play a lot of zone coverage. Even a lot of their man coverages have sprinkles of zone concepts with cautious safety alignments over the top. Because of this, the Titans will likely be stuck in a few linebacker-on-Graham scenarios. Perhaps they’re comfortable with this.

In base defense, Will Witherspoon has been a savvy pass defender over the years. He’s not super savvy, though, as he comes out in nickel. Of course, that’s partly because rookie linebacker Akeem Ayers moves well in space, particularly near the inside flats. Ayers, however, is more inclined to make a tackle that merely prevents a run-after-catch, as opposed to actually breaking up a pass.

Expect Graham to get his usual touches, especially given that the zone defenders will constantly be peaking at Sproles coming out of the backfield.

5. Film Tidbits
Some miscellaneous trends for your viewing pleasure:
--when Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins creeps down into the box, it’s almost always to blitz.

--if the Titans do have one specific target they try to get the ball to, it’s tight end Jared Cook. He’s far from a go-to guy (inconsistent fundamentals, not as good a runner as his athleticism suggests), but he’s well-built and can create a mismatch once or twice a game. It usually comes when he detaches from the formation.

--The Titans like to use backup running back Javon Ringer in hurry-up offense. Ringer can catch and, more importantly, he’s a better pass-blocker than Chris Johnson. (We’ll see if Ringer’s hurry-up reps continue now that Johnson has gotten back to his normal self).

--The Saints almost always throw to the inside receiver in a given formation. It’s not often that the ball goes outside. (This tidbit came from film guru Greg Cosell, executive producer of the NFL Matchup Show.)

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 2:25 am
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 13

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 13 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman  Cam Matthews Tolbert Coughlin
Judge  Tebow Harrison   Brown  Kubiak
Prisco Rodgers  Houston  Brown  Kubiak
Brinson  Cam Harrison  Brown  Kubiak
Katzowitz  Rice  Smith  Brown Munchak
Wilson  Cam Harrison  Brown  Carroll
Week 13 is a wrap and that means awards time!

Props to rookie quarterback Cam Newton for his first-ever division win, his first-ever NFL winning streak and now, his first-ever Eye on Offense Award!

On defense, we had a tie between Clay Matthews and James Harrison. Since Harrison's picture scares me more (my defacto tiebreaker these days), he got the nod for our Eye on Defense Award. Sorry, Clay.

Antonio Brown, who returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown as the Steelers whipped the Bengals, nearly swept the Eye on Special Teams Award.

And Gary Kubiak provided the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with its first start at quarterback by an alumni in the NFL ... and got the win with rookie T.J. Yates. That's worth something, right?

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Cam Newton Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Newton scored his 13th rushing touchdown this season. He ran for three alone against Tampa Bay on Sunday but did you see how he jumped over the Bucs defense on one of them? It was like a Michael Jordan dunk. It was crazy.

Tim TebowTim Tebow, QB, Broncos
People said he can't throw, so he puts up a passer rating of 149.3. They said the Broncos couldn't win with him, but they're 6-1. Maybe it's time to start looking for what's right with the guy instead of what's wrong ... and what's right is that he has Denver in first in the AFC West.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tony Romo Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
He completed 28 of 46 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants. He also drove the Packers to the game-winning field goal in the final minute. Give him this award every week.
Cam NewtonCam Newton, QB, Panthers
Newton set an NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback on Sunday with his 13th on the season. Three of those came Sunday as Newton had arguably his best game as a pro, also throwing for another score. It was his first win in the division.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Ray RiceRay Rice, RB, Ravens
Remember how we criticized the Ravens for not giving Rice enough touches (and somehow John Harbaugh defending the strategy)? Yeah, this is what happens when Rice gets plenty of opportunities – 204 yards on 29 carries and a TD. Hopefully, Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron have learned their lessons.
Cam Newton Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Not only is Newton the rookie of the year, you could make a good case that he's a top-10 NFL quarterback. Against the Buccaneers, he was 12 of 21 for 201 yards and a touchdown, but he also scored three more times on the ground. Oh, and he hauled in a 27-yard pass, too. This ain't your Jimmy Clausen Carolina Panthers.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Clay MatthewsClay Matthews, LB, Packers
The Packers defense isn't great and it can be had but every week it seems Matthews makes some sort of huge play. He did it again against New York with a pick-six. No, the Packers defense has holes but Matthews continues to make offenses pay.
James Harrison James Harrison, LB, Steelers
He had a team-high three sacks in the Steelers' 35-7 shredding of Cincinnati, keeping Pittsburgh on track with Baltimore in the AFC North. The Steelers' defense was supposed to wear down as the season went on. Instead, it's getting better,  allowing 16 points in its last two starts.
Prisco Brinson
Justin HoustonJustin Houston, LB, Chiefs
This rookie from Georgia had three sacks and spent the day in the Bears backfield. Houston gives the Chiefs another option on the other side from Tamba Hali. Three, zero, zero and three sacks, respectively, in four games.
Clay MatthewsClay Matthews, LB, Packers
For as much as junk as the Packers defense takes for giving up a ton of points, it's important to remember they've got a pile of playmakers -- Matthews proved that with a pick six of Eli Manning that ended up being the difference in the Packers shootout win over the Giants.
Katzowitz Wilson
Aldon Smith Aldon Smith, LB, 49ers
Aside from the fact Smith recorded two sacks against the Rams, his celebration after his final sack was awesome. Instead of dancing like a maniac, he sprinted to the sideline, tried not to touch anybody and just sat on the bench. It was awesome, sort of like Smith’s performance.
James Harrison James Harrison, LB, Steelers
Harrison missed four games in the middle of the season with an eye injury but since returning to the lineup in Week 9 he has six sacks, three coming against a Bengals offensive line that had done a good job of protecting Andy Dalton all season.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Mike TolbertMike Tolbert, RB, Chargers
The play he made on kickoff coverage wasn't the kind of play you will see on highlights across the country but it was damn impressive. Tolbert completely annihilated a kick return by the Jaguars. I mean, it was a textbook, single-handed destruction. And remember: Tolbert is one of the key cogs on offense and he still sacrifices his body like that.
Antonio Brown Antonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
H His 60-yard punt return for a touchdown finished off Cincinnati in a game that was supposed to be closer than it was. One reason it wasn't: Antonio Brown. The guy's been a productive receiver all year, but he pushed the Steelers to their third straight win and seventh in eight games with a nifty punt return. Hey, the more you can do ...
Prisco Brinson
Antonio BrownAntonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
He has emerged as a big-time receiver this season, but he's still a good return man. He had a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 28-7 at the half against the Bengals.
Antonio BrownAntonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
Brown's one of the more underrated all-around performers  in the NFL. A big sleeper coming into his second season, the Pittsburgh wideout's begun blowing up as of late and doing it all over the field -- Sunday he took a punt 60 yards to the house to finish off the Bengals by halftime.
Katzowitz Wilson
Antonio Brown Antonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
Aside from his 45-yard catch that helped set up the Steelers first score, Brown also finished off Cincinnati late in the first half. After the Bengals scored to get some momentum and cut the lead to two touchdowns, Brown took a Kevin Huber punt and returned it 60 yards for the score to give Pittsburgh a 28-7 lead. And that was basically ballgame.
Antonio Brown Antonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
Pittsburgh hasn't been known for their coverage or return teams for some time but young players are changing that. Brown is not only an emerging talent at wideout, he's a dangerous return man, too. His 60-yard punt return against the Bengals capped a 28-point second quarter for the Steelers.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Bill BelichickTom Coughlin, HC, Giants
I know, unusual choice, but seeing the Giants against the Packers after they were debacled the previous week, was interesting to see. Coughlin had his team ready and I don't think there's going to be a Giants collapse. For once.

Gary Kubiak Gary Kubiak, HC, Texans
He wins without his top defensive player. He wins without his top offensive player. He wins without his starting QB. Now he wins with a rookie third-string QB, beating Atlanta behind T.J. Yates. Kubiak was supposed to be fighting for his job. Instead, he's jockeying for playoff position.
Prisco Brinson
Gary KubiakGary Kubiak, HC, Texans
Kubiak, after losing both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart to injury, beat the Falcons, who are a good team with rookie T.J. Yates making his first start. That's impressive. 
Gary KubiakGary Kubiak, HC, Texans
The meltdown is supposed to happen, because this is the Texans we're talking about. But no matter who goes down for Kubiak's team, he keeps the ship righted and Houston steered towards the franchise's first playoff berth. A win over would-be contender Atlanta was especially impressive.
Katzowitz Wilson
Jim Schwartz Mike Munchak, HC, Titans
Tennessee went to Buffalo and beat the fading Bills, and if you wanted to know why, you could point to Chris Johnson’s 23-carry, 153-yard, two-touchdown performance. But considering Johnson has had about two strong games this year and yet, the Titans are 7-5 and in the AFC wild card race, Munchak deserves plenty of credit.
Hue Jackson Pete Carroll, HC, Seahawks
Beating the Eagles in Week 13 doesn't carry quite the cachet as doing it earlier in the season but the Seahawks are one of the league's most improved teams over the last month. They steamrolled Philly last Thursday and if the 49ers hadn't run away with NFC West, Seattle might be in the running for another 7-9 division title.



Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Josh Freeman injured thumb at shooting range

Posted by Will Brinson



The Buccaneers continued their slide backwards from 2010's 10-win effort during Sunday's 24-18 loss to Tennessee. Josh Freeman looks like a quarterback regressing from his outstanding performance last year, but now it appears he's got an excuse for his recent poor play: Freeman injured his thumb at a shooting range on Halloween.

That's according to Bucs spokesman Jonathan Grella, who confirmed to the Tampa Tribune that Freeman aggravated a thumb injury he suffered against the Bears in London while at a shooting range on Halloween.

According to the Bucs, Freeman received five "cosmetic" stitches following a "gun mishap" on October 31, an incident that occurred just eight days after Tampa Bay's loss to the Bears.

Freeman's been pretty bad this year, but I'm not sure it's fair to simply attach his lack of success to the thumb injury. His completion percentage has actually gone up in the Bears game and going forward, although he's thrown 10 interceptions since Week 7, and only six before.

Additionally, Freeman's had some pretty putrid games, including a Week 9 matchup against Houston where he completed just 45.5 percent of his passes and threw three picks. But that game's sandwiched against nice efforts against New Orleans and Green Bay, so it's fairly difficult to simply point towards his injury.

But that inconsistency could certainly be a result of an injury -- CBS Sports Rich Gannon opined as much prior to that Houston game.

"I don't think he's healthy right now," Gannon told the Tribune then. "That's my personal opinion. I watched Freeman practice Friday and I don't think he's 100 percent. I don't see Josh Freeman driving the ball. Quarterbacks are very funny about having any tape on their throwing hand. I could tell in practice that it's bothering him."

As you'll recall, Sean Payton turned the Bucs into the league for a misleading injury report after the Bucs quarterback showed up on NFL Network with a splint on his hand.

So maybe he isn't healthy. That would make a lot more sense than Freeman's wild inconsistency this season. Or getting all up in arms about him getting hurt at a shooting range.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com