Bucs GM credits Freeman for sparking turnaround

INDIANAPOLIS — The Buccaneers’ concerted effort to have a younger roster centered around QB Josh Freeman worked out well, allowing them to improve from 3-13 to 10-6. But the swift turnaround didn’t shock general manager Mark Dominik.

“I’m proud of the team; I’m not surprised by the team,” he said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I think it started with No. 5, Josh Freeman, with him bringing the team together and rallying around him.

“We put some playmakers around Josh Freeman to give him a chance to succeed and the players believed in him,” Dominik added. “It was very encouraging all the way through.”

Freeman improved in every statistical category during his second season, completing 291 of 474 passes for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Dominik sees that as the beginning of something special in Tampa Bay.

Mike Williams led all rookies in receiving yards and catches, LeGarrette Blount led all rookies in rushing, and Josh Freeman’s younger than both of them,” Dominik said. “He’s just touching what he can become in our team. Any chance you have the ability to keep him healthy, if that’s protecting him, or getting him more toys or weapons to work with, we’re going to do that in Tampa.”

Now the key is building off that 2010 success.

“You can’t be complacent,” Dominik said. “There’s 32 teams that are trying to get better this week, and we’re one of them. If you start to get complacent where you’ve got it figured out and you know what you’re doing, you’re in for a pitfall. We’re not being complacent. We’re being as aggressive as we have been over the last year, and we’re going to continue that same mindset.”

— Matt Florjancic, Special to NFL.com

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