Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman reflected on the 2010 season and looked ahead to 2011 while cleaning out his locker at One Buccaneer Place Monday morning. PewterReport.com has the full transcript in this Q&A with Freeman and the local media.
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman had a remarkable second season while throwing for a career-high 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions, and compiling a personal-best 95.9 QB rating in leading Tampa Bay to a 10-6 season. Freeman’s ascent to NFL stardom was the catalyst in the Bucs’ seven-win turnaround from a 3-13 season in 2009. The second-year quarterback from Kansas State has been selected as an alternate to the Pro Bowl this year and is one of the many bright spots in Tampa Bay heading into the 2011 campaign.
Freeman, who was 21-of-26 passing for 255 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against New Orleans after throwing for a career-high five TDs against Seattle a week earlier, addressed the media as he was cleaning out his locker at One Buccaneer Place on Monday.What is your approach heading into the 2011 offseason?
“It’s just a mentality. Going into the offseason it’s going to be a big part being a young team. We’ve been playing well lately, but unfortunately we didn’t make the playoffs. It all starts in the offseason in building a foundation for the next year. I think these guys get that. I’m definitely going to do a lot of work with Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and [Dezmon] Briscoe and Preston Parker – all these young receivers. And LeGarrette [Blount], I’m going to work with LeGarrette. We’re definitely not taking this offseason lightly.”Where were you when you found out the Bucs didn’t make the playoffs and what was your reaction?
“We were on the plane and it was like, ‘Dang.’ You are looking at the games and you were thinking, ‘Well maybe the Redskins can pull it off.’ I was hoping Chicago would, too. It’s just a shame. The odds were against us all along. We were going into Week 17 and we did our job.”
Are you going to take some time off this offseason or are you going to get right back to work like you did last year?
“I’m going to relax and take a little time off. I played an entire season. Last year I didn’t do that. It definitely wears on you a little bit. At the same time I’m sad to see it end. I’m going to take a little time off, relax and spend some time with my family and then get back to work.”Are you going to Hawaii (as an alternate for the Pro Bowl)?
“Hopefully.”If there is no offseason program to come back to because of a potential work stoppage, how do you adjust to that?
“For me the offseason program is just staying in shape, working out and running. For a number of guys it’s a big aspect of the offseason – to stay in shape. Me personally, I’m going to do what I did last year, get some work, and probably go back out to California to work on my game and fine tune it a little more to try to come back and play the whole season like I finished up this year. Hopefully they resolve the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and we can get back to work.”If the CBA doesn’t get resolved, do you envision gathering up your receivers, backs and tight ends and working together during the offseason on your own?
“Yeah. We’ll be ready as the season starts next year. Trust me. Regardless, we’ll be up to speed and ready to go.”Is it too early to say which areas of your game you want to work on during the 2011 offseason?
“It’s going to be the same. I’m going to work on my footwork. I’m going to work on understanding defenses and throwing the ball – everything. All around I’ll be trying to improve on all aspects of my game.”
Are you proud of your touchdown to interception ratio (25:6)?
“Yeah, it was good. We set out a goal of mid-20s with five interceptions. It was six. You set lofty goals and we were that close but it says a lot about the guys I have around me. I had a good season, but I had Josh Johnson and Rudy [Carpenter] right there working with me everyday, watching film with me, and obviously, Alex Van Pelt. It is always a point of emphasis in our room to avoid interceptions and it started in training camp and a high completion percentage.”How do you feel about the team's strong finish to the 2010 season?
“It is very encouraging to look at the way we played down the stretch. Obviously, the Lions game was a setback. We feel like we can go in and compete with any team and win those games, and win those tough games. For a young team that’s half the battle, getting over that hump and realizing that you are a good team. You have the talent to go out and play with these teams that have made the playoffs this year.”How did you like the creative playcalling from offensive coordinator Greg Olson?
“Olie is awesome. He is very creative. He mixes it up and keeps a defense off balance. He really does an awesome job. I couldn’t imagine playing for another offensive coordinator.”Does missing the playoffs provide more motivation for next year?
“It would be there regardless of if we were in the playoffs. It is frustrating, man. It definitely is going to add a little lead to our pencil for next year. To get that close and fall short, there is so much that we can work on for next year to try and prepare to be ready.”Did head coach Raheem Morris need to send the message that the team won’t be under the radar next year?
“Yeah, and I think it was well received. The guys, they understand that. We are a young team this year. People say ‘The Bucs are young and some of their wins are flukes. They can’t perform week in and week out.’ We feel like we are competitive every week. For a lot of these guys the length of the season is something they’ve never experienced. The way Mike Williams performed from Week 1 to all the way until the end was tremendous. It is definitely a good message from Raheem because next year teams are going to be looking out for us.” How gratifying is it to send that message after nobody thought the Bucs would have a playoff contending team this year?
“It is kind of cool flying under the radar. But we are still frustrated. We are frustrated at not making the playoffs. It is a good start. That is all it is. It is a good start for something that we are going to be in the future.”~ by Scott Reynolds and Charlie Campbell
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