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June 11, 2013 @ 7:10 am
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

Sullivan: "Freeman Is Our QB, And He's A Heck Of A Player"

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Despite setting a number of franchise records last year, Josh Freeman is under the gun in 2013, which is a contract year for the Bucs QB. And despite some might who have lost confidence that Freeman can become a playoff quarterback, Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is clearly in Freeman's corner.
Perhaps no one single position in all of professional sports attracts more scrutiny than an NFL quarterback does.

For Tampa Bay starter Josh Freeman the spotlight will be shining even brighter than most, as the former first-round pick in 2009 enters the 2013 campaign without a contract beyond the upcoming season. If the Buccaneers make the playoffs Freeman will likely get a hefty raise, if not, most likely, Freeman will be wearing a different team’s uniform in 2014.

Last year, Freeman set the Bucs' all-time record for yards passing (4,065
yards), touchdown passes (27) and total offense (4,204 yards). Despite
setting franchise marks in a number of categories, Freeman is still
under the gun with many around the league, including a segment of Bucs
fans that aren't believers. Yet second-year offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is not wavering in his
confidence for Freeman.

“Josh Freeman is our quarterback, and he's a heck of a player,” Sullivan said. “While there were some
disappointments at times last year, whether it was a decision on a ball
that was intercepted or just some inconsistencies – you can’t take away
the numbers that he put up – the franchise records offensively. I think
he is so much more comfortable with what we are doing right now having
had that experience.”

And while the questions will remain until Freeman fully proves himself capable of becoming a playoff quarterback, Sullivan thinks he will make the necessary strides in his second year in Tampa Bay’s offensive system.

“[There] has been a lot of improvement from Josh, and really all the offensive players the second year in the system,” Sullivan said. “This time last year – it is like a foreign language – just learning the formations and the calls. Now we have a complete offseason, a training camp, a preseason and 16 regular nd things are much smoother and we are really excited abut where we are at."

Sullivan was asked on Monday what – from a coaching standpoint – the Bucs have done to help Freeman improve.

“We went as a staff and took a hard look at everything, every run, every pass, every situational football decision that we made and efficiency of every play,” Sullivan said.  “And based upon our personnel… based upon some of the things we were doing, what’s ultimately best for us. Certain aspects of our game we have advanced and tried to take advantage of and manipulate by formation or personnel. Other things maybe we put on the back burner. So it was very helpful for us to do that analysis.”

General manager Mark Dominik, who said most likely the Bucs will carry three quarterbacks in 2013 due to the presence of rookie Mike Glennon, who was Tampa Bay's third-round pick this year, also chimed in on the Freeman discussion on Monday.

“Even last year, he had Vincent Jackson, who he really hadn’t worked with very much,” Dominik said. “Now he has had a full season. To have those two receivers (Jackson and Mike Williams) out there ... and Doug Martin, and know him and to get a better feel for him, and know where he is going to be for the dump offs and the flares. I think all those things are big advantages going into his second year – then obviously the terminology and feeling more comfortable in the huddle when the play is called, and calling protections. I think that makes a big difference for any player. I think that is why you can throw a rookie in the league and it can be a struggle sometimes. A second year in any system is better for any quarterback.”

Sullivan also told PewterReport.com what Freeman and the entire offense need to work on to make 2013 a successful season.

“Clearly third down,” Sullivan said. “Third down is an area that we finished 26th in the NFL – clearly not good enough. And really [it was] two-fold. Because some of the issues we had weren’t necessarily on third-and-2, or third-and-4 to third-and-6, in those two categories we were pretty close to 45 percent or above, and we were very solid. The issues we had were on third-and-7 [through] third-10, and third-and-11-plus – 29 percent efficiency, 15 percent efficiency. Those are always going to be challenges but definitely not where we wanted to be. And part of that was a systematic problem that occurs on first and second down. We need to stay out of those negative plays. The penalties, the negative plays and so forth so we have less third-and-7-plus [situations].”

Tampa Bay’s second-year offensive coordinator said that Freeman clearly has a better grasp on his complex offense so far this spring than one year ago.

“If there is something that is immediate, I try to hit him right with it,” Sullivan said. “The thing that has been exciting this spring is often times he hits me with it before I hit him with it. He will say, 'Yeah I got it,' or 'What did you think of this?' So the dialogue is so much more accelerated than it was last year, again, because of the experience we have in the system. I see a command in the huddle, a command of the language, and the ability to have the plays flow just kind of flow off of his lips and be able to go out there and execute at the line of scrimmage.”
Last modified on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 07:12

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  • avatar

    I think the biggest decision we'll have at the end of this year is not whether or not to keep Freeman...it will be whether or not to fire Schiano and promote Sullivan to HC...I think Sully will get the best out of Josh and I think he'll be a HC next year....I think his attitude, approach and knowledge are what are going to make our O this year, not Schiano's....I really like Sully's comments above about Freeman and really have hated ever wishy-washy comment Schiano has made about Freeman...here's an early vote for Sully as the next Bucs HC!
  • avatar

    If given the chance, Freeman will become the Bucs greatest QB in franchise history. What a mistake it would be to cut ties with him after so much has been invested. I do agree with letting him play for his next contract this year, but it should be more about the dollar figures he is to get rather than IF we will give him an extension. You never know what you have until it's gone, and QB has not been our biggest issue these last couple of years. Sign him now while a discount can still be had!
  • avatar

    There were games last year when our young QB was playing like one of the so-called elite signal callers. There were a few others where he teetered between greatness one play and mediocrity the next. Then there were those three or four games where he and the offense just seemed totally out of synch. One of those was the Saints game in which we had no chance with the defense unable to even slow down Drew Brees. Two others were the Eagles and Redskins games that had the defense held up the lead would have been victories. I believe much of the blame for the less than desired results lies with Josh and the offense in general trying to compensate for the defenses inability to stop teams from passing at will. Why some people want to single out Josh Freeman as the sole culprit for the 9 losses is just a little tunnel vision in my view. This season will tell the tale. Let's hope we aren't looking for the savior next May.
  • avatar

    The notion that Freeman is on the hot seat makes no sense, the entire team and staff should be on the hot seat. Sheridan lead a porous defense that schematically schemed over matched on Sundays. He now has the secondary that he needs to run this blitz heavy scheme so the pressure is on him to see if he can produce now that talent isnt the problem. Our beloved Greg Schiano had several clock management issues throughout the season, not to mention that GOD awful gameplan against Dallas that required us to run out the clock at the end of a game we were losing. The point is there is plenty of blame to go around the room at One Buc Place but the 25 year old who has set franchise records isn't quite at the top of mines. If the defense is able to be middle of the pack against the pass and top 10 against the run Freeman will do the rest. It took him two seasons to flourish in Olsens system and this is year 2 in Sully's system so he should be fine. The contract Freeman will command after this season will make us regret not locking him up now.
  • avatar

    As Schiano says, it's like night and day out there from last season. I've noted that Steve McNair had problems with the short passes early in his career before. So far, things are sounding exciting for Josh Freeman.
  • avatar

    I think the addition of Revis and Golson will give Josh a better practice routine because he will see how big the passing windows are in a real game. Iin fact with our new defensive backfield the actual game windows may be bigger (hopefully) than the practice windows. I think Josh will have to be on his toes in practice with his throws. If you practice against a porous defensive backfield all week, it creates the "lazy" throw and then that jumps up to bite you in a real game.
  • avatar

    I'm giving Free the benefit of the doubt going into this year for a couple of reasons...first off he is still very much a young buc..i mean Capernuts over in SF is older than our guy and despite looking like Testeverde at times last year, Vinny never in my memory had an all around season like that...second..lets not forget that in 2010, our bucs were a rightful 11-5 team (robbed of that 11th vic by what i believe was purposeful bad officiating and had righfully secured that 6th wildcard spot..remember if the zebras didnt mess up that K2 TD there would have been no SB champion GB packers...Free was straight up ballin that year..swagger, confidence, great numbers, and was the 4th qrtr comeback kid with the ability to make those pull one outta ur hat plays..(scrambling backwards with saints defenders bearing down on him while flinging the TD to #19 in the sorely saints endzone in their second game that year...That play still makes me say dam...Then comes the ill timed lock-out and the reality that a "country club atmosphere" as Davin G himself stated, doesn't bode well for a team when adversity comes a knockin...Enter last year...Ownership brings in coach Schiano ( a geat hire imo) but a very late one albeit and Free finally gets an offensive playbook by when late march or early april?? Yeah he did some pretty boneheaded things last year but remember too how many games we should have one because we had a good or even commanding lead in until our league worst defensive backfield gave it up more times than a red light scarlet special...I think its a testament to the greatness of the entire coaching staff to gotten the results from the players last year they did despite all the injuries at KEY positions...Bottomline...I hope Free finishes growing up and maturing this year and gets it done so we can all rave about our BUCS again...I look at it this way...Free came into this league in his rookie year plainly stating that he believed that between him, stafford and sanchez, that he was the better QB..this year..we'll finally find out. GO BUCS!!!!!
  • avatar

    I really hope Sullivan is right about Freeman. He aggrivates me as much as anyone when each season he goes through awesome phases then terrible phases. But if Freeman has another bad year, it's going to set the franchise back another few years. Anyone that thinks Glennon is any good is very confused. If the Bucs were to cut Free after this season, he would be picked up by another team an hour later and be awesome for them. And not to mention the Bucs would have to draft another QB very high.
  • avatar

    Drew Brees couldn't carry the Saints on his back last year why would anyone think that Freeman can. Football is a team sport. All phases complement each other as well as high quality coaching and schemes. These things make average players good and good players great. A good player on one team leaves as a free agent and stinks it up. This team needs consistnecy in scheme and coaching as well as the players executing. Let the team develope
  • avatar

    Buc-Up; you're correct about letting Freeman throw a couple early short passes to help him get his groove. I didn't know how poorly we played on third down, but I bet it will be better this season. There are plenty of tools available in all area of offense except for one position; that would be at QB. It's obvious that Glennon has a very long ways to go. I still see us keeping three QB's for several games. If we threw Glennon out there if Freeman got injured, it might ruin any future opportunity for his growth.
  • avatar

    Sullivan needs to help Freeman establish a rhythm earlier in the games by giving him some easy throws to build his confidence. There were way too many times last season where he was off the first 2-3qtrs. We have to remember that he's still developing as he's had three offensive coordinators in his four seasons. He is ONLY 25yrs old!
  • avatar

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the Bucs and their wavering fans come to their senses and he has a long, productive career in Tampa Bay. They don't need a Drew Brees-type to compete for a Super Bowl with the defense being built. Just ask Brad Johnson (not that I'm comparing Brad to Josh or the 2014 Bucs Defense to 2002...yet).
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