Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson connected 72 times last season for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns. So far in training camp, both appear to be in sync with one another once again and are looking to build off of last year's chemistry. Talking to the media after practice Tuesday, it appears that both have already demonstrated that chemistry by talking up one another.
“Josh has another year under his belt,” Jackson said. “He's feeling more confident in what he is doing. He's just going to continue to get better. It's fun playing with him.”
Freeman would return the favor by saying some kind words for his veteran receiver.
“The chemistry is always going to grow the more time you spend together,” Freeman said. “But it’s definitely advanced from last season.”
The chemistry the two had last season assisted in both having good years for the Buccaneers. Jackson would go on to his third Pro Bowl selection while Freeman made into the team's record book. Freeman became the team's All-Time leader in career passing touchdowns (78), most passing yards in a single season (4,065), most touchdowns in a single season (27), and tied for the most touchdowns in a single game (5). But it's more than just individual marks for the fifth-year quarterback out of Kansas State. He will look to connect with Jackson more often whether it's out of the slot or lined up wide.
“Vincent is a guy that people slap the label on as an outside (receiver), 'he’s only a deep threat', but Vincent wants to be the all-around receiver,” Freeman said. “He can do it all, you can put him in the slot, run trick plays with him, but what he’s got his name on is going deep and making big plays.”
Jackson has no problems with the assessment others give him. But also states that he is more than just a deep threat.
“You look at me statistically and it’s always yards per catch and being a deep threat,” Jackson said. “I take pride in that. But I also take pride in the ability to be a bigger guy that can go inside and run intermediate routes and can match up on nickel backs and safeties and get the middle crosses and stuff like that. So for me it’s just how I can [contribute] to this offense and making our team better.”
And a reason for that is offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who Jackson acknowledges is key to not only his success, but also the offense as a unit.
“I am very thankful for [they way] Mike Sullivan runs this offense,” Jackson said. “It gives us a lot of freedom. It makes it difficult for defenses to say, ‘Okay, Vincent’s always going to be on this side and we can double team him all the time,’ then he moves to the inside in the slot positions and tight end positions… so we’re very diverse. We keep moving around and we keep defenses on their heels and I think that’s going to be a big advantage for us.”
We've seen what the chemistry between receiver and quarterback can do for an offense. In Detroit, Matt Stafford has Calvin Johnson. In New York, Eli Manning has Victor Cruz. And if all goes well in Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman can have Vincent Jackson — and Mike Williams.