Jeff Carlson is a regular contributor to PewterReport.com. In his regular columns, Carlson will share expert analysis and insight regarding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL based on his previous playing experience with the Bucs and in the league.
Carlson played quarterback in the NFL from 1990-92. He spent two seasons (1990-91) with the Bucs and one season (1992) with the New England Patriots. The former Weber State signal caller originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick with the Los Angeles Rams.
Since his NFL playing career ended, Carlson has remained active and busy in the Tampa Bay area by heading up America's Best Quarterback, which is a clinic that trains quarterbacks privately or in groups in Tampa year round. To inquire about America's Best Quarterback, visit AmericasBestQB.com, e-mail
or call 813-789-9255.
In addition to his work with America's Best Quarterback, Carlson is a regular host on Bright House Sports Network, which is PewterReport.com's television partner.
TOPIC 1: FREEMAN'S BALL SECURITY
Much has been made about Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh security.
Last season Freeman had 10 fumbles, but he recovered eight of them. I think that experience will help him understand the urgency, and the severity of what a fumble does to a football team. You don't have to be a professional to realize that you aren't supposed to fumble the ball. It can be attributed to a number of things.
On a play you are thinking about a lot of different things, and ball security isn't necessarily the number one thing to think about, but in the NFL it is the number one priority. In the NFL, experience will be ingrained in him, and he will be forced to hold onto the ball.
Whether you're throwing it to the other team or putting it on the ground, that is the easiest way to lose a football game. Every coach says it before and after a game. I believe experience will help him to reduce the interceptions and fumbles.
Before I've spoken about how I wish that Freeman would hold the football more in the center of the ball. For his hand size he holds the ball too much near the end of it. That makes the ball less stable in your hand. That is not the absolute cause of any particular fumble, but it just causes you to have a looser handle of the football. The further you go holding the ball towards the end the less stable it will be. I think he should move up another notch on the thread and that would give him a more secure hold of the ball that would help a few things, specifically ball security.
Having two hands on the ball is something that I train all youth quarterbacks to do at America's Best Quarterback. Sometimes pro quarterbacks get a little bit lazy on it. I think that Freeman fell into that and he could improve that as well.
TOPIC 2: JOHNSON'S POTENTIAL
I like Bucs backup quarterback Josh Johnson a lot. I don't think that he's ever going to get the chance to be the starting quarterback where a team is handed to him like Freeman. Whether that is on merit or not, I just don't think he'll ever get that chance, so I think he's going to be a spot player and a potential long-reliever to go with a baseball analogy.
I wrote to Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris last season to let them know what I saw when watching Josh Johnson. He has a great whip. He really rips the ball better than any quarterback that they had going into camp last year, including Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich.
A mechanical issue that Johnson does do is put the ball back behind his head and neck so far that he doesn't get around some times so his long ball is not going to be what he wants it to be, and have the results that he wants. The front end of the ball is going to stay up a lot and it is not going to turn over as it should. Regularly that causes the longer ball to float.
That also has to do with proper release points. His strength is when he throws short and hard. On some passes he throws the ball harder than he probably should because he is more comfortable with the results when he snaps the ball hard. When he releases it high to loft in a longer pass he leaves the front of the ball short and up and that causes it to float and become more variable as it goes downfield.
That issue with downfield accuracy is in line with things I've read in some Pewter Insider stories where sources with the Bucs question Johnson's abilities as a natural passer, and the potential to throw the different types of passes. I don't ever expect Johnson to be a great long ball thrower, but he still has the ability to throw some good balls down the field and it is just about the consistency.
TOPIC 3: THIRD-STRING QUARTERBACK THEORY
These upcoming OTAs will give us a good look at the derby for the third quarterback spot between Rudy Carpenter and Jevan Snead. Perhaps one of them can challenge Johnson, but right now the competition appears to be for Carpenter or Snead to make the team as the emergency quarterback.
If I were the coach that is looking at picking a third-string quarterback I would want a guy that potentially is a very good quarterback over a guy that has limited potential but might give your defense better looks on the scout team. I would want a guy that given certain situations, and through development and coaching he could be a starter in time.
That said, if I don't have that guy than you have to go with a good guy for practice that is your rep guy. He would be the type of player that can look like opposing quarterbacks. He would have skills of a mobile quarterback. Josh Johnson is the type of quarterback that I'd love to have as my third guy if I were a pro coach. He has the mobility to look like a running quarterback, and the pocket presence to look like that type of passer.
Plus, if the third-string guy is athletic he could help out even on special teams practice by just running down the field in punt coverage. The little things like that help a football team to produce good practices during the season when injuries start mounting, and normal contributors on Sundays are limited during the week.
Some teams have gotten away with not having a third quarterback on the active roster but having one on the practice squad. If you can do that it is advantage from a roster numbers standpoint, but if he's too good you worry he's going to get taken by another team.
Ultimately you still want a third quarterback that you think can develop into being a very solid pro quarterback.
By Jeff Carlson as told to Pewter Report Editor-in-Chief Charlie Campbell.