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October 2, 2012 @ 8:44 pm
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Sullivan Has Faith In Freeman

Written by Victoria
Victoria Horchak 


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Bucs' offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan spoke at length about Tampa Bay's fourth year quarterback during his weekly press conference. Although Josh Freeman's statline might not be where others would like, Sullivan believes Freeman has the work ethic, talent, and mental toughness to lead the Bucs to victory.  
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman may not be getting the results or posting the numbers that fans would like to see from him so far this season. Through four games, Freeman has tossed five touchdowns, four interceptions, and has thrown for 790 yards with a QB rating of 75.3.

Even though the numbers may not be where offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan would like them to be, he is pleased with the hard work ethic that his quarterback brings each day.

According to Sullivan, it will take time to figure out exactly what works and what does not work for his young quarterback.

“It is an ongoing process,” Sullivan said. “I think there are things that we are clear that are easier for him than others. There are things that I think he feels comfortable with. He does have a great - not just an ability that we have seen as far as throwing the deep ball and being able to move in the pocket and so forth - but the work ethic. That is something that goes on behind the scenes.

“[I’ve] Been very pleased. This guy is working his tail off I promise you that. Early, late, taking great notes [and] really immersing himself on making sure he can develop a mastery of what we want within this scheme and within this system. Then, oh by the way there is an opponent you got to get ready for and some of the complicated looks and some of the things that occur. I think he has the work ethic. He has the drive. He is committed. He has got toughness—a mental toughness. I think that has been evident.”

Freeman’s mental toughness is one of the skills that Sullivan praised when he met with the media for his weekly press conference.

“Again, while the results are not what we wanted and we are not satisfied,” Sullivan said, “but his commitment to fighting through it all and come out swinging, last week and a couple weeks earlier when we are down against the world champions at their place, he has that mental toughness and he has got the talent. I think now it is just a matter of continuing to grow. It is an ongoing process.

“[We’re] Never satisfied with where we are at. Wish we could speed certain things up, but I think it is ongoing. This bye week has been good to kind of get back down to some of the basics in us as a staff [to] really zero in on the things that have been successful and try to assess why and the things that weren’t successful and why not.”

Coach Sullivan credits Freeman’s competitive nature and leadership ability with helping the quarterback bounce back in the second half of last week’s loss to the Washington Redskins; Freeman through for 211 yards in the second half Sunday as opposed to just 88 yards in the first.

“I think the resilience [and] the mental toughness - that competitiveness,” Sullivan said, “I mean, listen, rocky start to the game. In certain cases I think we started off well and then got in that low with a couple three and outs [and] the interception. Then certainly coming off the performance in Dallas the guy had every opportunity to pitch tent, but that was not going to happen. He is competitor and he had a confidence and a resolve about him on the sideline. [He] was just determined to ‘hey I am not going to sit there and sit back and allow this thing to continue. I am going to do everything I can. You know doing my job [and] focusing on my responsibilities and then as the leader of this offense.’

“I think while the result, the outcome, was not what we wanted; there are no moral victories [or] moral celebrations by any stretch. But certainly we are pleased with his leadership and his ability to compete and withstand the setbacks, the adversities, the boos and come out swinging. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the job done, but I think if we can continue to build upon that level of competitiveness and not just from Josh (Freeman) but all the players in the offense and everyone on the team. It is hard to coach that toughness—that resolve. That is something that is a credit to these players and their ability to buy in and [while] we don’t have the results to show for it yet, it is a long season. We are looking forward to getting back at it.”

With the Buccaneers having a bye week this week, it will help the team to analyze where they are now and where they need to be in the future.  Even though Freeman may not be as versatile in the pocket as some other quarterbacks, Sullivan does believe that his quarterback is valuable and that he can do great things.

“I think that there is a lot that—an added dimension that he brings that maybe some other guys in the system cannot bring.” Sullivan said.  “I think we are focusing on the things that he does bring to the table and there is certainly arm strength and ability to be accurate with the deep ball and be able to have some of the mobility and those things that we have to focus in those areas and then build upon them. Do what we can as coaches to put him in the best situation to be successful and give him the type of opportunities that he is going to thrive in. So that’s the challenge and that’s why this week has been a good one. No one is really thrilled with having an early bye week, [but] it does give us a chance in this first quarter to kind of access where we are at and how can we be more functional and more effective moving forward.”

Freeman is not limited in his ability to adjust calls while on the field and it is important that the coaches know his strengths.

“Well, without getting into too many of the specifics, there is a great deal that he has the freedom or the latitude to adjust calls,” Sullivan said. “That’s within the system both in terms of setting protections or some of the things where we may go from a run to another run or a direct run or go from a pass to a run or from a pass to another pass, etc. When we game plan and take a look at the opponent and try to pinpoint where those advantages are going to be for us, I don’t care who your quarterback is and how long you have been in the system, you can’t have a million of them. That’s asking too much of anybody. That is a significant part of what we do and [I] am pleased with how he has been receptive to that. We just have to make sure we are really zeroed in on him being the most efficient and the most effective in those types of checks that we want to have him do.”

Just 24 years old, Freeman is now on his third offensive coordinator. He has lost 20 pounds this offseason, spends his days off at One Buc Place watching film, and has been described by team mates as the “first to arrive and last to leave.”

No one wants the Bucs’ QB to improve more than player himself; but it isn’t for stats or accolades - Freeman wants to lead his team to victory. With hard work, dedication, and faith from his offensive coordinator, Freeman is hoping to do just that. 
Last modified on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 08:27

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  • avatar

    Josh has had 3 offensive coordinators and 2 coaches in less than 4 years. If anyone should be blamed for his development at this stage of his career it should be the Glazers for their carousel of coaches and systems. He's a play action passer who's got a great long ball. Mold the system to the personnel and let him settle down again and I think he'll be fine. He does need to learn how to play with a lead and not get too conservative though. I think he's trying too hard right now. His work ethic is there but he's too tense. I remember him in interviews during his rookie season and he was a very relaxed person who was just playing the game. If he can get past this learning curve and play from that state of mind again with knowledge of his players and the system he'll do some great things. Remember, he's in the same class as Sanchez and Stafford and if not doing better than stafford right now (which is arguable) he's certainly better off than Sanchez. Go Bucs.
  • avatar

    If the pass to Williams is complete the game is over. I liked the call. As it turned out, Washington would not have needed their timeouts anyway. Don't lay the loss on the offense. Freeman had perhaps the best half of his career; certainly his best half since 2010. He was dead accurate on two long passes and the touchdown, where even the commentators said he had to thread the needle. freeman had a miserable game in Dallas but in the games against the Giants and the second half of Washington, he showed signs of developing. The fans in Tampa couldn't wait to push Vinny Testeverde and Steve Young out the door. I guarantee you that if they dump Freeman, they will regret it for a long time. I predict that you will see a lot of progress in the final 12 games, probably 6-6 and that next year he will leap forward.
  • avatar

    Something that some people forget that Sullivan was used to working with Eli Manning and rarely any running game. Most of the time the Giants pass for first downs. Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw were good backs but Jacobs was a bruiser for one year got paid and tiptoed ever since and Bradshaw rarely last a full season. I'm pretty sure on most of those errant pass that Josh throws would of been a completion by Eli. We as fans have seen his strengths when when freestyles in 2010, but we also seen his weakness when he was trying to be a system QB in 2011. That is why they say they are finding his strengths and weaknesses. Give it time and I am pretty sure it's going to get better.
  • avatar

    When people are open Freeman will miss his target. You cannot win in NFL with an inaccurate passer. Freeman's knock in college was looked great one time, next time he s@#^*, same problem in the Pro's.
  • avatar

    I think everyone is overreacting about how the bucs are playing this year. I hope noone expected us to get a whole new coaching staff and go straight to the super bowl. The most important thing is that we are competing and are high draft picks are doing well. Doug Martin will be good once he gets some push from the O-line. Losing Joseph was a HUGEEE hit to the run blocking but from what I see we look like a team is that is getting much better! And everyone needs to cut freeman some slack, he has been through 3 offensive coordinators!! I think after a little time with mike sullivan he will be great because of his work ethic. Look at Eli Manning when sullivan first started with him...
  • avatar

    Really 2 coordinators. His first one didn't even make it out of preseason, so he had Olsen for 3 years. Listen, Freeman is a great young man with a great work ethic, but I know a ton of great men with great work ethics. It doesn't make you a successful NFL QB. I've been studying him for almost 4 years now and he is what he is... a big guy that has lumbering footwork and an elongated release. That's not going to change.
  • avatar

    IMO play calling could have been better. Worst series was with alittle over 2 minutes to go. If you are going to run do it on the left side. If you are going to pass at least throw to a receiver whose catch would be a first down. Defense. No SPY (Lavonte David) on RGIII!?! Guess we miss Davin Joseph. This team is still a pass-successfully-first before you can run team. Skeeming the Bucs is still too easy. Load the Bucs on defense. Target the middle on offense.
  • avatar

    How can you all be done with Sullivan already? There is no offensive coordinator that would have looked like a genius our first 4 weeks. When you have a below average run blocking offensive line and an inaccurate passer, there are no magic plays that are going to make this offense look great. As a matter of fact, being that this is a copycat league, we run many of the same plays you see across the league every Sunday... we are just watching different personel execute them.
  • avatar

    You both are full of it... Either way you 2 would be complaining about the play calling. If we ran it 3 times and still lost you be complaining we weren't agressive enough. Since we decided to call pass plays, and one was actually an extended "run" that was poorly executed you complain we werent conservative enough. This is why coaches and players really dont care about what the fans and reporters say and write. Its nice enough that PR allows members to write comments so you can continue to second guess decisions and make uniformed ignorant comments to make yoursleves feel better. Just because you watch football and own a Tivo so you can pause and rewind and re watch a play doesn't mean you know what's going on or the players assignments on any given play. Only criticism I have is that our O-line is playing well below average. Freeman rarely has a clean pocket to throw from and the running lanes are not there.
  • avatar

    Deacon Blues, why are you even reading these posts since you don't want anyone outside of a Coach or Player to say anything? I enjoy where I sit in the upper stands because you can see the executions of the formations better than in the lower sections. The bottom line is that we call about the same type of plays as everyone else depending on the situation. I bet most of their play charts go about the same way rather on Defense or Offense. I made a simple statement that we should have ran the ball three times in the last 2 minutes because I saw what you didn't see; Freeman was inconsistent and we were lucky as heck that the incomplete pass was not intercepted; I thought it was at first. You are expressing a lot of unncesssary anger; chill out.
  • avatar

    Emspirit, while I agree with most of what you said, I think the play calling was worse last year with GO calling the shots, but thats just my opinion
  • avatar

    This just in... NOBODY has faith in Mike Sullivan. I have never seen such bad play calling in my life. Way too predictable. Then with 2:00 left in the game vs. Redskins, the one time I would have loved to see 3 runs in a row, We throw it and get an incompletion to stop the clock and save the redskins a timeout which proved to lose the game for the Bucs. You are in field goal range. Pound it 3 times and burn the clock down to :45 or so and leave the Redskins with no timeouts. Plus if you get the first down you win the game.
  • avatar

    emspirit, I agree and I was at the game; I thought that they would give the ball to Blount three times and force out all their timeouts and get the game clock down.
  • avatar

    Sounds like the kind of guy I want as the leader of my team. Hard work should buy Josh some time with Bucs fans for the system to start clicking. We're only 4 games in, people. The offense is going to get allot better and Josh is going to be a great leader when it gets there.
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