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June 4, 2010 @ 6:00 am
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Carlson's OTA Observations

Written by Jeff
Carlson
Jeff Carlson

Jeff
Carlson

Contributing Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Pewter Report contributing writer and former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson watched the Bucs Thursday OTA practice with Pewter Report. Carlson offers up his practice observations here. Carlson profiles the Bucs new formations on offense, the play of Josh Freeman, and what backup QB stood out to him.
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
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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.

It was fun to join the staff at Pewter Report and the rest of the Tampa Bay media ive coordinator Greg Olson. There have been times were people labeled it as repeat of Jon Gruden's offense, and yesterday the offense definitely had some different looks from what we were all used to seeing under Gruden.

I'm all for imagination, and I wasn't necessarily impressed with the imagination that used to be here. I think that coming up with some new looks will be great for the offense. We saw a number of different styles of plays that we haven't seen here in the past. Olson's been sitting in his laboratory drawing up some neat plays, and it was fun to watch the players practice them.

When the Bucs went to the red zone portion of practice the plays were relatively standard, but we did see some new formations that they've never used before. For example there was a formation of two running backs in the backfield on the same side of the quarterback in shotgun. I haven't seen any other team in the NFL use that formation. You can't tell yet what the Buccaneers have completely planned with it, but they threw out of it and I'm sure there are a number of run looks that can be produced out of that formation.

That is really fun to see because normally when you go shotgun you have so few options in the run game. Coming up with those two backs there they'll be able to do some more trap blocking, some counter-trade type blocking, and have little bit more variability to use different types of runs out of the shotgun that other teams haven't done. I look forward to seeing more of that in a full-scale program later on in training camp.

Starting quarterback Josh Freeman threw at least two interceptions today, and in the first OTA that was open to media viewing Freeman threw a pair of picks that day as well. I wouldn't be too concerned about that. This is still very early into the offseason program. We saw a number of different formations and a number of different plays. It takes time to practice those plays and get them down, so when you first start practicing them you can expect some mistakes. Plus when you get into a red zone passing scrimmage the defense knows it is only passing, and that changes a lot of things for the quarterback.

You never completely write off practice interceptions, but I wouldn't read too much into errant passes in that type of situation. When you get into specific situations whether it is red zone passing, third down passing, or anything exclusively passing the defense knows what's coming and has the advantage. Combine that with doing new plays and formations in a passing portion of practice and I wouldn't be too worried about the interceptions.

It is too limited right now to gauge how much Freeman has developed over last season, especially with the variety in the formations and plays. Practice throws are just different from game throws from an intensity standpoint. You can watch a quarterback in practice and everything is perfect, then in the games things happen differently. In a real game you finish with a tackle and not just a guy running by and swiping with a hand. It is much different. It is too early to tell but I certainly have the highest of hopes that Freeman is the real deal. I believe he is, and with how hard he is working in the offseason it should pay off for him and the Buccaneers in 2010.

As for the backups I liked the way Rudy Carpenter threw the ball. He's a backup quarterback that is just trying to make the team, but he has a clean smooth release. Mostly his reps were in patterns and route running with receivers and no defense, so it wasn't a big test. However, I'm pleasantly surprised with the way that he throws the football.

Whenever Carpenter gets an opportunity he has to be on his game, because as a third and fourth string guy you don't get a lot of chances. You can lose the opportunity by things like dropping snaps, calling the wrong snap count, or fumbling the play call in the huddle. You have to impress throwing every ball that you can. Whether it is one-on-one work with receivers, or a one-on-one with a receiver and a defensive back, if you are just clean and putting the ball where it is supposed to be and it looks good when its flying through the air, you're going to start to get people to pay attention.

You can do all the things right in practice, but it always comes down to the live action in the preseason. If you throw two interceptions in a preseason game all that stuff goes out the window. Weight room work is for personal development, and coaches pay attention to who is a hard worker, but you could be the strongest guy and it doesn't matter until what you produce in the preseason games. The preseason games will be critical for Carpenter, and illustrate how much Freeman has progressed in year two.

By Jeff Carlson as told to Pewter Report Editor-in-Chief Charlie Campbell.

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