The Buccaneers did not game plan their last preseason game against the Patriots and it showed by the teams 31-14 loss in which Freeman was sacked twice by the Patriots Jarod Mayo for a total loss of 17 yards.
Freeman and the Bucs understand the importance of playing well and learning from any mistakes that occur on the field.
“It is always vital to go out and play well,” Freeman said. “We found that out last week. You never want to go and put that sort of thing on film, but at the same time it was a great learning experience and we are already past it.”
The Buccaneers are approaching this game against the Miami Dolphins in a different manner than the Patriots. For the Dolphins game, offensive coordinator Greg Olson and the team is studying and preparing for blitzes and coverage schemes by watching film.
“You know you cannot say you are 100 percent looking ahead to Detroit,” Freeman said. “I mean, obviously we have been integrating Detroit slowly more and more – [like] their blitzes [and] their specialty stuff – kind of taking a look at that [and] keeping it in back of your mind. At the same time, this week the priority focus is on the Dolphins. This week is the first week that is back to an actual game-week structure where we do the installs for the Miami Dolphins and kind of get everybody back acclimated with that process. So this week’s focus is on the Dolphins. If you’ve got a little downtime you start looking at Detroit, but right now the focus is on the Dolphins.”
Freeman is excited about the plan the team has in store for the Dolphins this Saturday night. He believes the team is prepared for the pressure that Miami will bring.
“Obviously you miss out on a lot of stuff in the offseason [like] working with the coaches, but I feel like we got a lot of work done in the offseason,” Freeman said. “The looks that kind of got to us last week are stuff that is so easily corrected with game planning throughout the week. Last week we were practicing still good-on-good. That is what Raheem calls it – first-team defense running their stuff. So just going in and looking at what the Dolphins do should be a pretty good week. They mix it up a little bit with pressures, but we have a great plan for them and are really excited to go out there.”
The 6-foot-6, 248-pound QB knows that the playbook verses the Dolphins on this coming Saturday night will be a rather limited one. He is well aware of the fact that teams such as the Dolphins are preparing for the game by watching film of his team’s games. He acknowledges he needs to be quick and accurate because he will not be given ample time to complete critical plays.
“We are still going pretty basic, you know,” Freeman said. “At the same time we just have to know that [and] knowing our library of plays is not going to be as big. We’ve got to know that it is going to be crucial to execute. It is going to be tighter windows. Obviously, the Dolphins are watching [and] scouting us in preseason, and they are going to know the kind of stuff we are going to be running [and] formations and whatnot, so it’s just going to be on us to be really sharp. I need to make sure to get the ball out of my hands [and] get the ball to open guys because they are going to be pretty tight windows.”
The third-year QB out of Kansas State realizes that each sack he takes during games are not all the result of his O-line. In this game against Miami, Freeman is looking forward to getting out and playing again in an effort to correct some mistakes.
“I mean there is that little bit of that and I wouldn’t say that I struggle,” Freeman said. “I have, as far as escaping [and] making plays, a lot of faith in our O-line. Maybe my problem this past week was sitting in there a little too long and not having the sense of urgency that I usually have, but it is something that is easily corrected. I feel like we have had a great camp and I am just really excited about this opportunity to go out and get a win versus the Dolphins.”
Even though Freeman and his team took a loss against the Patriots, he realizes that it is still just a preseason game. Preseason is the period where losses do not hurt a team, but rather help. With each loss comes the opportunity to further evaluate each player and teach the player how to correct any mistakes so when the season begins and the losses count, the player may be better prepared.
“Well, it is still preseason,” Freeman said. “I mean, obviously, preseason is an evaluation period [and] it’s a learning period. It’s a chance to go out and kind of get a dry run before the game. This is really our dress rehearsal for the regular season. Right now you want to go out and play well [and] you want to stay healthy. But those are kind of the main things; just getting everybody you are going to need in the regular season to stay healthy. I am definitely excited about this game. Starters are going to play I think the first half, maybe a little more. I don’t know, but we have to really go out there and we’ve got Kellen Winslow, I think, playing this week. So it should be good.”
Preseason is the time for players to show their coaches and crowds under the lights what they have learned in practice.
“Well, I mean, everybody is competitive,” Freeman said. “You want to go out and you want to play well. You want to win. At the end of the day the preseason is just an opportunity to go out and really glorify practice and it is an opportunity to go out and do it in a game environment; do it with a lot of people watching, do it under the lights for guys that have not done that. If you go 0-4 in the preseason it does not really matter. I mean obviously you want to win [and] there is a pride issue, but at the same time you understand that what really counts is not until September.”
Freeman understands the balance and knows the importance of keeping players healthy during the pre-season in preparation for the regular season. In last week’s game, Blount had four rushing attempts for just one yard with an average of 0.3 yards per carry.
“You want to keep LeGarrette healthy,” Freeman said. “You would hate for something tragic to happen in the preseason. You would hate for something tragic to happen to anybody, so the coaches have a fine line. You’ve got to balance it getting the guy the necessary reps so that he is comfortable when we get into the regular season, but at the same time, not giving him too much [and] not getting somebody in the position where they can potentially get injured. Look at last year. LeGarrette was not even with us in the preseason. He just kind of popped up at end of Steelers game and kind of took it over.”
The 23-year-old QB is eagerly awaiting the start of this year’s regular season. He understands the competitive nature of this league and the importance of playing well on Sundays.
“Oh, I am looking forward to the season for sure,” Freeman said. “The league is constantly changing and it is always competitive. You never know who is going to be good [and] who is going to win. It really comes down to making plays on Sundays and preparation throughout the week to put us in position to win a lot of games last year. So moving forward we’ve just got to keep grinding [and] keep doing what got us to playing at a high level.”