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August 6, 2012 @ 1:24 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/4 Votes

Freeman's Exuding Optimism and Confidence

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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Josh Freeman and the Bucs have gone through a lot of changes following the 2011 season. Freeman not only has welcomed the changes, but has been the biggest supporter. 
Most quarterbacks tend to speak optimistically about the offense they run, and Josh Freeman is no exception. What separates him from other NFL quarterbacks is when Freeman says it, you tend to believe him.

Freeman is coming off a rough season in 2011, throwing 22 interceptions and just 16 touchdowns and the organization seemed to do everything in their power to make sure 2012 didn’t end the same for the fourth-year signal caller. Greg Schiano hired Eli Manning’s quarterback coach, Mike Sullivan, as his offensive coordinator and brought in Ron Turner to be Freeman’s QB coach. Through free agency, Tampa Bay signed guard Carl Nicks, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and tight end Dallas Clark. In April’s draft, the Bucs made a trade with the Houston Texans that would send them back into the first round to select running back Doug Martin.

The Buccaneers seem focused on providing for their franchise quarterback. And in return, Freeman seems focused to make it work.

Freeman lost 20 pounds in the offseason and has been spending as much time off the field with Jackson as possible, but Clark was signed in late May and wasn’t able to get that one-on-one time with Freeman.  However, Freeman believes the chemistry between himself and Clark is coming along nicely.

“He didn’t have all the OTA’s with us, but coming in obviously everyone knows he’s an absolute stud.” Freeman said. “[He’s] a great guy to be around, a guy that loves football, [and is] passionate. It’s going to be great. He and I connected a few times the other night and connected a few times today. He’s great, he’s precise [as a route runner]. Like any relationship between a quarterback and a receiver, just getting the different looks and different sort of leverage and what angle he’s going to come out of, things like that. But he’s doing a good job, doing a great job actually and I’m excited to have him.”

Friday will be the first time we will see the Bucs’ new offensive system against a defense that doesn’t share a locker room with them. Freeman is comfortable with what he knows so far, but knows there is still work to be done.

“As far as the stuff we’re running, I like it,” Freeman said. “As far as protections… route concepts, I feel pretty solid with it. But at the same time, you can never be content. You have to continue to try and get better and work to master the offense.”

Freeman doesn’t just look differently because of the weight loss; he looks entirely different on the field as well. His drop backs have been smooth and his footwork has improved, allowing him to be balanced in the pocket. The balance has aided in Freeman having more accuracy to throw to his receivers, many of whom have been running backs.

“The check down is always a big part of the offense,” Freeman said. “If you don’t necessarily have a guy who is really shifty coming out of the backfield, it’s tough to get things done. But I think we have that in Doug [Martin]. Doug will do a great job getting out there. If we can get him in space and get the ball in his hands, I think he can make some things happen. I think Legarrette [Blount] the same point. He’s going to be a huge contributor when it comes to making plays coming out of the backfield.”

It’s not only the offense and his teammates that have Freeman excited, his coaching staff does too. Freeman reflected on his first impression of Schiano back in January.

“I met him basically the same day you guys did,” Freeman said. “I talked to him a little bit earlier in the lunch room. Just hearing his vision, the way he wanted to go about playing football. He talked about TBA, trust belief accountability, couldn’t help but get excited.”

One of the most important hires in terms of Freeman that Schiano made was adding Sullivan to the coaching staff. Sullivan coached Manning to a Super Bowl winning season and 4,933 yards, 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last year.

“I love Sully,” Freeman said. “He’s done a great job bringing this offense in. It’s different; it’s got some different aspects, different concepts, but he’s done a great job teaching it. Getting to where he calls the play, kind of figuring out where exactly to try to go with the ball and if that’s not there, then read two, then down to the back.”

Both Freeman and the offense have had a complete overhaul from last season, when the Bucs’ offense averaged 319.2 yards per game (21st in the league) and are hoping to improve on 2011’s productivity. When you listen to Freeman these days, it’s hard to doubt they can.
Last modified on Monday, 06 August 2012 14:34

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  • avatar

    Not trying to give Freeman a pass, but I noticed a lot of the passes that were intercepted were thrown to K2, which leads me to believe not only was Freeman forcing his throws, he was forcing them to a particular player, with K2 gone I think that alone will cause a huge improvement in Freemans TD/INT ratio
  • avatar

    Free has made many improvements. The one improvement I didn't see on Saturday is that he still has a tendency to stare down his receivers. Alert D-backs are looking for that. If they can get this corrected he will have a great season. If not, while his year should be better than last year with better protection and weapons he will still throw a bunch of interceptions.
  • avatar

    Another great article by you, Mrs. Leblanc. I especially like how you have filtered through what some might call "off-season hype" and noted that there are several reasons Freeman is rightfully feeling confident, from his improved mechanics, offensive coordinator, and FA additions. I had one minor correction, and it is a small one. I believe the Bucs traded with the Denver Broncos to move up and acquire Doug Martin if I remember correctly.
  • avatar

    Just about all the tools are in place with the Offense. The question still remains; have we done enough with our Defense so we can use our Offense effectively? Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Horse, tend to agree with you when it comes to starters. IMO, the DL and OL lack depth to the point of real concern.
  • avatar

    I Know Josh is going to have a great year. IF he can get the ball to Jackson and Williams and pound it with Martin and Blount, good things will happen. Keep the faith Buc fans. The turnaround season is upon us. Go Bucs !
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