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September 27, 2012 @ 9:18 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

Freeman Confident Bucs Offense Heading In The Right Direction

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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Before the season began, it was assumed that quarterback Josh Freeman would flourish in the Bucs' new offensive system under Mike Sullivan, a nine-year Giants assistant prior to being hired as Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator. After three games, there are many questions surrounding the fourth-year QB, but the biggest question should be if Freeman is being used properly or not.  
Many questions with the Bucs offense have been surrounding the play of four-year quarterback Josh Freeman. In Tampa Bay’s new system one of the glaring differences has been that Freeman has appeared at times to be glued to the pocket and hasn’t been able to use his legs to extend plays the way he did in his best season, 2010.

Maybe the biggest question should be – is Freeman being used to his fullest potential?

Thursday afternoon, Freeman spoke to the media and was very candid about the future of the Bucs offense and his role in it.

“Each each play has a starting point and you set out to execute your job to the best of your abilities.” Freeman said. “Sometimes you get stepped up, flushed out, whatever – and then you end up running, but for the most part you drop back with the mindset to throw the ball.

"Like I said, if it’s going to be a situation where something opens up or I’m right there, but my main goal is to get the ball into the hands of the guys that are paid to run, meant to run.”

Part of the problem has been getting the ball into the hands of the receivers. In the first three games, the Bucs receivers caught 41 passes out of 79 targets. Following the loss at Dallas, head coach Greg Schiano said the offense wasn’t “in sync”, particularly in that game, there was eight different receivers that caught a total of 10 passes.

The question was posed to Freeman if he and his wideouts have been able to build trust, and Freeman was quick to answer yes.

“I have all the confidence in the world in those guys that they’re going to be where they’re supposed to be and vice versa,” Freeman said, “They know I’m [going] to put the ball up there and give them opportunities to make plays. No I don’t think there are any trust issues.”

Freeman admits there is a natural learning curve, but that the offense can execute and be productive right now. Some of the offensive woes can be attributed to playing tough defenses while execution has been another major deficiency.

“Like anything, there’s going to be a learning curve;” Freeman said, “Like we’re not as good now as we’re going to be down the road. But at the same time, I feel like we’re at a very high level of operating, executing our offense from the stand point of route execution. Now it’s just a matter of putting everything together.

“You look at when we protect up front, we get out there - those guys go out and make plays. It really is a team effort and I feel like everybody goes out and we prepare extremely hard throughout the week and you’ll find out if there’s anything you’re not right on the same page because you cover everything. We go out, if there’s any question in anybody’s mind, that’s what we’re working on [during] individual, that’s what we’re working on during special teams periods, whatever it is. Also I feel like from the stand point of understanding the offense from a receiver and quarterback stand point I think we’re pretty on par.”

Freeman continued, explaining that what seems like a conservative-based offense is the Bucs trying to play fundamentally sound football, and that begins with ball security, one of head coach Greg Schiano’s hot buttons.

“This offense, I think it’s a great offense.” Freeman said. “We call up plays with shots built in and a lot of opportunities, and really going out with the mentality of playing ‘ball secure football’, you might not take as many shots down the field, as many chances down the field. But when we get one-on-one coverage with Mike (Williams) or with Vincent (Jackson) - the problem is getting those guys one-on-one coverage - you saw the game where we got a lot of single-high, you got a lot of man looks, both those guys were making plays down the field. But it’s all about the opponent you play.

“I feel this offense is going to be a great opportunity for me to showcase my abilities as far as throwing the ball down the field and also showcase Mike and Vincent with the way they can go up and make plays on the ball down the field.”

For any Buc fan that has watched the first few games of the season, the offense has to be a concern, regardless of the reasons Freeman and Schiano have given. At times, it has been conservative and predictable. The former first-round pick out of Kansas State says to be patient, there is a lot more of the playbook to show and it may include using his athletic ability.

“I definitely feel I was blessed athletically,” Freeman said, “But yeah when I do get out of the pocket, when we do have a naked or a boot, or we’re setting up outside I can make the throws to make for this offense but it’s all about game plan; it’s all about who you’re playing.

You talk about playing the Cowboys – a 3-4 team, bringing it off the edge is their No. 1 thing, it’s going to be hard to run a naked and have DeMarcus Ware screening off the edge on the backside, especially.

“It’s still extremely early in the season, we still have a lot of our offense that we’ve yet to display on a Sunday. So, talking to Coach Sullivan, this plan this week, I’m really excited about some of the stuff we’re going to have the opportunity to go out and run, I think we have a great plan of attack.”

Game planning is something the Bucs speak about often. Each week, Tampa Bay approaches each game as a season, preparing for each individual team one week at a time. However, playing their third NFC East opponent in as many weeks, although a challenge due to the competitive level in which all the teams in that division play, the Bucs can take advantage of seeing additional game film on each team.

“The great thing is the Giants have been running that offense for however many years, especially playing their division opponents, [we] had a lot of great tape versus the Cowboys, a lot of great tape this week against the Redskins,” Freeman said, “So I think that gives us an extra advantage from the stand point of we’re going to be running a lot of similar things as the Giants. Coach Sullivan has a lot of insight as what the defense is trying to do and the plan we’re trying to install and go out and execute.”

Freeman brings it back to basics and remains confident in what the coaching staff is trying to accomplish. Remaining positive and executing the game plan are at the top of the offense’s priorities not just against the Redskins, but moving forward through the remaining 13 games.

“It is football. When it comes down to the end of the day, we got through all the hiccups of terminology and this routes a little different, a little deeper; you knock that out during OTA’s, you knock that out in training camp, so I feel like we’re in a good place right now. Yeah, sometimes you lose a game, sometimes you lose a couple games, it happens. But I feel our team mentally is where we need to be. We’re pushing forward, talk about the next fight, and this week, execution, preparation, focus, intensity – they’ve all been amped up and the guys are excited about another opportunity to go out and find a way to win.”

Finding a way to get back to .500 will show more than anything that the offense is moving in the right direction. Freeman, himself, without a doubt has the ability to change direction. It will come down to the game plan allowing him to showcase it.
Last modified on Thursday, 27 September 2012 21:53

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  • avatar

    Cremdonado: Would you feel better if he had his eyes closed and beads of sweat streaming down his face in fear? Give me a break! If that was Tom Brady in the picture you would have noted how calm he was as Ron Jaworsky would say, "looking down the gun barrel".
  • avatar

    Just don't get why this team can't all play in the same game at the same time. One week the defense shows up big, the next week they take a dirt nap. Then the offense shows well and then the next week they can't get a first down. Can we get them both together in the same game. Maybe this week??? Freeman needs to get rid of the ball and his recievers need CATCH the damn thing We pay millions for receivers and they can't help make a play, any play and help him by getting open where he can find them. They are truly a work in progresss and I feel if they can get the whole team to play well in the same game then you will see some real future in this team Go Bucks!
  • avatar

    Lets see them get Martin out into space more. It doesn't matter how shifty you are if you insist on running into a brick wall. Also, shots down field can also be just beyond the chains and into the flat. Blount needs to be on the field enough so that the opponent doesn't key on him the minute he shows up. This "coming from ahead to seal the defeat" mentality speaks volumes to me about trust in Freeman's command of the offense. Also, it 's only a matter of time until the D disintegrates as a result of all these one-two-three kick possessions.
  • avatar

    Free seems like he is blind to his own crappy play. I don't see why he is so optimistic. I see him use crappy footwork, call dumb plays, not run when he has the chance, stare down receivers, hold on to the ball too long, etc. Does he not see himself doing those things? Is he having an out of body experience or something? Does he not realize that if he runs a little, that will help open up his receivers by keeping the threat of a run alive? Plus running when there is a lane is a much higher percentage play than his 35% completion percentage. He looks better than last year in some respects...or at times. At times he has looked darn good, but those times are in the minority. I just don't understand why he can't put it all together. He just does not seem to get IT.
  • avatar

    The picture with this article shows what I fear most with josh at the helm..look at how close the defender is and Freeman's body language shows no urgency and he seems totally unaware of the pressure..I have doubt in his pocket presence and he seems to just lock on his intended receiver which further limits his vision..
  • avatar

    Could you reporters ask him questions about himself instead of the offense. Like Josh, why are you still staring down receivers? Or Josh on that 3 step drop where you were sacked, and fumbled, why did you hold the ball so long? Surely by now you should know you can't hold the ball that long on a 3 step drop! Josh on another sack by the MIKE, you never pointed him out, are you having trouble reading defenses? Why did you look so totally lost out there Sunday?
  • avatar

    Let's look at where the Bucs are, compared to last year. They were absolutely terrible on defense last year. This year, they are in the top 5 in run defense and scoring (except for the Giants) has been kept to a minimum. Woodson and Edwards said on ESPN that the Bucs may have the best front 7 in the league. The backend is shaky, but have the ability to come around. Offensively, they are finding their way. But how many times have we seen the Bucs in the recent past score in the first quarter? Remember the "spot the opponant" a couple of scores and then have to try and come back? This year they're starting each game with fire. So, they need to keep adjusting the "O" and make some dynamic plays along the way. We didn't expect a Super Bowl contender in the first year of the turn-around. Imagine we played the Giants and Cowboys and were IN THE GAME all the way. That's a tremendous improvement and bodes very well for the future.
  • avatar

    The Bucs have not lost any games that they should have won so far. The Giants are the Giants and the Cowboys have a more advanced QB. I guess the rub is that the defense played so well that if the offense had played average, we could have won a game or two. We will see what type of team we have this weekend. This is a game we should win.
  • avatar

    I believe that Josh is solid and i am okay with what he has done so far. We were just a couple plays away from being 3-0 and everyone would be talking about how great he is. Go Bus1 Take this win! Remember the pre season game!
  • avatar

    Nice read. And for the record I'm confident the offense will get much better as the season goes on. Enough for Josh to establish himself as the QB for years to come. It's up to him and his teammates to see to it through. I believe this is the season that will decide his future here, one way or the other. Do it 5!!!
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