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December 16, 2009 @ 10:21 am
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Freeman Cites Confusion For Bad Outing

Written by Charlie
Charlie Campbell


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Bucs QB Josh Freeman cited confusion from the Jets defense for his poor outing. Head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Greg Olson talked about a scaled back offense, while the rookie and his teammates think the experience he is getting throwing against NFL defenses is valuable moving forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman does not necessarily agree with head coach Raheem Morris' comments that Freeman needed to be spoken to earlier in the game against the Jets to calm him down and boost his confidence.

"No I wouldn't say to correct my confidence, it was really the whole day the defense had me confused," Freeman said. "There's not a whole lot more to it. After the first pick I was obviously disappointed in myself, the coaches trusted me with the ball and I threw a pick on the first play. The defense did a good job of confusing me at points just as far as what pressure they were going to bring, what protections, I got to do a better job of learning and figuring that stuff out."

After two rough games the Bucs are searching for ways to get Freeman back on track. For the season he has completed 52.5 percent of his passes for 1,207 yards with seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His quarterback rating is 55.4.

On Monday Morris discussed ways that the game could be simplified for Freeman. After seeing the game plan on Tuesday night, the 21-year old did not believe that the Buccaneers made it smaller. Freeman said they weren't adding anything more to the size of the game plan, but would go back over things they've done before.

"I felt pretty comfortable with every game plan that we've put up," said Freeman. "Definitely simplifying things will make it much easier. What he's saying is just that the game plans have been pretty big, and we spend a lot of time trying to figure out certain plays and know it real well and then we don't even call it during the game. Maybe just cutting things down a little bit, but in the future I don't anticipate it being a problem."

Morris gave an update about the Buccaneers scaling back the offense after the team held their first practice of the week preparing for the Seahawks.

"Josh is very smart," said Morris. "When we talk about scaling it back we're talking about scaling back the detail of his work, so maybe we're talking about repeating some of the things he's done and some of the things he's comfortable with. He's not a guy you need to dumb down things for. We have a lot of confidence in him. We might add some things for him creatively that maybe we've seen before. He's really sharp, he's really detailed and really focused.

"There's always going to be an emphasis on the running game. You have to get that established to help him out. We want to give him more options and get the running game going."

When asked about scaling back the game plan, offensive coordinator Greg Olson was more concerned about his quarterback in the feel of the game.

"With the way he started last week I felt some anxiety there on his part, I need to recognize that better and get a feel for him," said Olson. "I really believe that he was coming along, again the interceptions were unacceptable in the previous game, but I felt he was confident with the way things were going. I just felt that when he started the way that he did there was some anxiety involved because it was a real base play. He didn't execute it, and I just need to recognize that as the week goes through."

After Freeman threw eight interceptions in the past two games, some have criticized the Bucs for not running the ball more. In the past two games Freeman has thrown 77 passes while Tampa Bay has ran the ball 46 times. Six of the runs were plays that Freeman took off with the ball after dropping back to pass. Thus without knowing the number of audibles that Freeman made, the Bucs have called 83 passes and 40 runs. With the 1-12 Bucs not playing for the postseason, Freeman views the reps throwing against NFL defenses as extremely valuable.

"The experience I'm gaining running all these pass plays and working on the drop back game, seeing all these blitzes, these exotic defenses, it is really valuable," said Freeman. "I can think about my first week when we played the Packers and just how kind of right off the bat I was like ‘oh man what are we going to see, what are we going to see' and by the end of that game and moving on I could see defenses a lot better. I think it is definitely a positive experience, but either way there is a positive or negative to the style of offense that we run."

Freeman's center Jeff Faine agrees that the rookie signal caller is getting invaluable experience right now, and is able to handle the game plans that the coaching staff is implementing.

"I don't think they're putting too much on him at all," said Faine. "I think Josh has handled it very well. He's just learned some lessons these last few weeks. These are things he'll draw upon in the future."

Freeman completed 14-of-33 passes (42.4 percent) for 93 yards and three interceptions against the Jets. The first play from scrimmage for the offense saw Freeman throwing an interception to New York linebacker David Harris. Later in the game Freeman threw interceptions to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Kerry Rhodes. With his completion percentage declining in recent weeks Freeman was asked about his accuracy issues.

"For sure it is my level of being comfortable when you don't see it 100 percent clear," Freeman said. "They were mixing it up really well. You drop back and you're like ‘okay there's no pressure, there's my throw' and you want to get it out but I'd say in particular that play on third down where Kellen Winslow is coming across the middle. Other than that it is a matter of getting more comfortable. They ran some stuff we hadn't see on film, or they didn't show a high tendency on film and they got the best of us."

Olson credited the Jets defense and their number one rated pass defense for causing some of Freeman's accuracy problems. Freeman was asked if part of the accuracy troubles is a result of starring down his receivers and giving defenses an idea of where he is throwing the ball early.

"I feel like I'm doing the same thing he's been coaching me to. Obviously I'm going to be better with experience," Freeman said. "Like that first play I was looking off and coming back to [Antonio Bryant]. I mean there are certain plays that it is something you can use, the look off, and there are plays where guys start in the middle of the field and you just bang it out, or plays that are man-to-man and you can stare at the guy the whole time and it won't make a difference."

Freeman said that he has grown the most in his rookie season is his preparation with film study, and learning about his opponents. The Kansas State product said what he needs to improve the most is his consistency. Freeman also said he envisions becoming a more vocal leader for the Bucs offense.

"For sure, as a rookie you don't want to rub anybody the wrong way," said Freeman. "Yeah I definitely think for me to improve and take that next step up I can be more demanding on the practice field and more of a vocal leader on this team."

Freeman is 1-5 as a starter, and Olson was quick to take responsibility for the slippage in Freeman's play.

"Everything should fall back on me as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach," Olson said. "Certainly I need to coach him better. The preparation during the week needs to be better. That is part of coaching, certainly you're trying to find the right buttons to push to get through this thing right now, and find a win this Sunday, and a win the following Sunday."

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