With only one game left in the season we no longer have to worry about paces and extrapolations when discussing certain Buccaneers and the milestones they could reach. Now it’s simply a matter of “will they?” or “won’t they?” Michael Bennett will be the team’s first 10-sack player since Simeon Rice if he gets at least one Sunday in Atlanta; if he doesn’t, he won’t. Josh Freeman has one more game to hit 4,000 passing yards, Vincent Jackson one more to break the team’s single-season receiving record.
So…will they or won’t they?
Here’s our list of eight potential team records or significant milestones that Buccaneer players may reach on Sunday in the season finale, ranked in terms of how likely we believe they are to be fulfilled. Watch the game Sunday and see if we’re right.
1. Josh Freeman needs 157 passing yards to be the first Buc to crack 4,000 in a season.
Freeman is averaging over 256 passing yards per game this season and hasn’t finished a game below 157 since Week Three. Even in the Bucs’ last two games, their only two losses by more than one score all season, Freeman threw for nearly 700 yards combined.
2. Josh Freeman needs one touchdown pass to set the team’s single-season record.
He has already tied Brad Johnson’s 2003 record with 26 touchdown passes, so the record is right there for the taking. Freeman has thrown at least one TD pass in 13 of his 15 games this season, so the odds would seem to be in his favor.
3. Vincent Jackson needs 89 receiving yards to break the team’s single-season record.
Jackson’s marvelous first campaign with the Buccaneers has produced 69 catches for 1,334 yards and eight touchdowns. So far. One more good-but-not-even-great outing for him and he’ll top Mark Carrier’s 1989 record of 1,422. Jackson needs 89 yards. His per game average this season: 89 yards.
4. Michael Bennett needs one sack to be the first Buc to hit double digits since 2005.
This one would be higher but for the unpredictable nature of sacks. Save for players having special seasons, such as Houston’s J.J. Watt, sacks don’t tend to be a stat you can count on from game to game. Bennett has had pretty steady pressure on the QB all season, but he has a pair of two-sack games on his way to a total of nine. He had two against Philadelphia in Week 14 but none in the two games since. Bennett is often in position to get sacks, but they don’t always come. It’s a toss of the dice this weekend.
5. Mike Williams needs 69 receiving yards to get to 1,000 in a season for the first time in his career.
That’s not a very big number for Williams; he had roughly twice that last Sunday against the Rams. What gives one pause is that Williams’ per-game average this year is at 62, a little short of what’s needed for the mark. He has had 90 or more yards in four games this season but has also been held under 30 three times in the last six weeks.
6. Doug Martin needs 134 yards from scrimmage to get to 1,900 on the season.
Conversely, that looks like a big number but it’s really not out of Martin’s normal range. He has 1,766 combined rushing and receiving yards this season, which is already the second-best total in team history and works out to about 117 per game. It’s certainly not hard to envision him going a little bit above his average on Sunday. The flip side: Martin has been close to that 134-yard total several times in recent weeks but only over it once.
7. Doug Martin needs two touchdowns to tie the Bucs’ single-season record.
James Wilder set the mark at 13 way back in 1984, as part of the only season in team history that, overall, was more productive than the one Martin is finishing up. Martin has 11 so far, and three times this season he has had two or more in a game. Still, it’s a bit much to expect a two-touchdown game out of any player.
8. Lavonte David needs 19 tackles to set a new Buccaneer rookie record.
David has a team-high 133 stops already, which is about nine per game. Obviously, that would seem to make his chances at this mark an extreme long shot, as would the fact that his highest single-game total so far is 16. Still, if he can get to 16 (and he’s also hit 14 twice), it’s not a stretch to say that he could get a few more and hit 19. Hugh Green’s team rookie record is 151 tackles, set in 1981. We can’t really say we expect David to catch it, but we can say it’s within the realm of possibility.