As the debate rages regarding quarterback Josh Freeman's competency and value, the offense he directed this year is on the verge of becoming the most productive in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history.
When the Bucs take the field for their season finale against the Falcons on Sunday at the Georgia Dome, they will need only 3 yards and 22 points to break the franchise records for total yards and points in a season.
The franchise yardage record of 5,456 was set in 2008 and the points record of 388 in 2000.
Oddly, the Bucs' desire to maintain their record pace might be among the reasons the offense fell into a slump the past month.
Freeman threw eight interceptions the past two games, the same number he threw the first 13 weeks of the season. Through some "soul searching,'' he concluded he was trying too hard to make plays.
"The position of quarterback is such that when you try to play better and try to do things and play as well as you can, it doesn't always work out that way,'' Freeman said Thursday. "Point blank, we just have to run the offense.
"And I hate to say slow it down, but that's what we need to do, because if you look back at the stretch where we were so explosive, the stuff we were doing really wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We were just doing our stuff and guys were making plays. But we were letting the system create the plays. And you have to keep that in perspective because sometimes you feel like you've got to go out and do something extraordinary, something above and beyond.''
Despite Freeman's recent struggles, Tampa Bay is on the verge of producing numbers that go above and beyond.
This Bucs team already is the first to have a 3,500-yard passer in Freeman, a 1,300-yard rusher in rookie Doug Martin and a 1,300-yard receiver in Vincent Jackson. If Mike Williams gains 69 yards receiving on Sunday, it will be the first time the franchise had two 1,000-yard receivers in a season.
Tampa Bay, which ranks 10th in the league in total offense with a franchise-best 363.6 yards per game, also is on pace to set a franchise mark for average yards per offensive play at 5.8.
Freeman already set the franchise record for passing yards in a season with 3,843 and needs one touchdown pass to break two more franchise records. He currently shares the single-season mark for touchdown passes (26) with Brad Johnson and shares the career touchdown passing record (77) with Vinny Testaverde.
Freeman is also on the brink of becoming the most prolific running quarterback in franchise history. With 901 career rushing yards, he needs 5 yards to pass Testaverde for the most rushing yards by a Bucs quarterback.
Jackson needs 89 yards to pass Mark Carrier's single-season record of 1,422 receiving yards set in 1989.
Freeman, however, is not interested in breaking team or individual records. He's interested in righting the offense, the key to which is playing with the right mentality.
"You have these big games, these huge numbers, and you're scoring all these points, and you feel like to maintain that, to keep scoring those points and to one-up your previous performances, you have to go out and put together some sort of Herculean effort. But you really don't.
"All you have to do is run the offense and that's kind of what we've been preaching this week: 'Let's get back to the basics and let's get back to the details, whether it's route running, progression, whatever it is for everybody. And doing that and us being ourselves, going out and just playing, it's good enough to win ball games.''
INJURY UPDATE: LT Donald Penn missed a second straight day of practice Thursday while attending to a family matter. G Roger Allen (groin) did not practice. All other players fully participated.