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October 5, 2012 @ 12:24 pm
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Sullivan And Schiano Striving To Find Freeman's Comfort Zone

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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Buccaneer QB Josh Freeman has been accurate and effective in the first quarter of the season throwing the deep ball. The fourth year quarterback is comfortable and confident Tampa Bay's offense has the weapons it needs to be productive heading into their 12-game stretch to end the season. 
Following the loss to Washington, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said that he and the coaching staff would be self-scouting this week and try to find where quarterback Josh Freeman is most comfortable. From the looks and sounds of it, Freeman is most comfortable throwing the ball deep.

In New York, Freeman completed two 41-yard passes, one each to Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Against the Redskins, Freeman matched his career-long pass of 65 yards to Williams, while hitting Jackson for a 54-yarder. Three of those four passes were catalysts for touchdowns to end Buccaneers drives while the fourth – the 41-yard pass to Jackson against the Giants led the Bucs to a field goal.

On Monday, Schiano said he believed Freeman looks comfortable and the fourth-year QB has been accurate.

“I think he looks comfortable." Schiano said. "I did think the deep shots that he hit were as good as you could throw. Some of the lasers that he threw in there were as good as you could throw. We just got to get, like you said I do think there is some of that really pin pointing what we know he is most comfortable with and what our offense is most comfortable with. So that’s our job to do [and] make sure we get it right quickly.”

Schiano followed up with that thought later in the week, and explained in further detail what he meant in regards to finding out where Freeman is most comfortable in the system.

“I think we understand Josh (Freeman) very well.” Schiano said. “He understands us very well. When I said earlier in the week figuring out what he does best, it is more of we have this menu of plays. We don’t need them all. You don’t need them all. You cannot run them all in a game. So let’s just really prioritize the plays that he feels the best at and go from there and that is really what we are doing right now. It is just kind of narrowing our focus and it is good. [It] Has been a good week of self evaluation and anxious to get back on Monday.”

Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan refuted the idea that in terms of skillset fitting Freeman into his playbook, which heavily relies on the quarterback’s ability to perform well in the pocket, is like fitting a square peg into a round hole.

“No, not at all,” Sullivan said. “I think that there is a lot that—an added dimension that he brings that maybe some other guys in the system cannot bring. 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, 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.”

When it was Freeman’s turn at the podium, he made it clear he is confident throwing the ball deep.

“You’ve got to feel good,” Freeman said. “But at the same time you have to be locked in on every play as far as making the throw. You can’t feel like, ‘Oh, I’ve got this and I’m just going to lay it out there.’ You got to just take each play for what it is and if you’ve got a shot, just throw it up you’ve got to throw it up in the spot where you think is going to be the best place for a guy to make a play on it.”

One of those guys making those plays for Freeman is the prize of the free agents wide receivers, Vincent Jackson. The Pro-Bowl wideout has praised Freeman in the past and continues to have faith in his QB.

“Josh (Freeman) is a great thrower everywhere.” Jackson said. “He’s a big, strong guy that can move in the pocket, he can extend plays - a lot of times you get those longer touchdowns, those longer deep balls when the quarterback can buy some time."

Freeman has been afforded several weapons to get those throws to, with Jackson and Williams leading the way. Freeman acknowledges that having so many targets to throw to helps not only him, but the entire offense.

“You start with the guys on the outside,” Freeman said, “Mike (Williams) and Vincent (Jackson), those guys, what can you say, every opportunity you give them, they make a play. When you talk about the inside, you’ve got Dallas Clark and Tiquan (Underwood) emerging and Reg (Arrelious Benn) is another big key to our offense. I know it’s exciting and it’s been great because we’ve been catching them and picking the right times.

“We actually called a few more shots in that game but we didn’t get the coverage and I ended up moving around or elsewhere in the progression but you know it’s definitely chunk plays, when you look at a chunk play, a 60-yard play, that’s just whatever, eight plays that the O-line isn’t ramming their head and getting tired, that the running back is not taking hits, so chunk plays can be instrumental in a number of ways, so yeah, explosive plays, I feel like they’ll always be a part of this offense and something we’ll try to maximize going into each week with Mike and Vincent.”

During this week off, the Bucs coaching staff will tinker with the playbook and find out what has been the most effective and productive plays offensively of the first quarter and head into their 12-game stretch with a more concise game plan.

Sullivan appears to be willing to do anything he can to help Freeman succeed. Freeman, now with his third coordinator in four years, has to be hoping the third one’s the charm. 

Last modified on Friday, 05 October 2012 12:57

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  • avatar

    So... they will self scout and pick the plays Freeman does well? So... I guess KC will really know what to game plan for by scouting us and picking the plays Freeman does well.Of Course that don't mean the Bucs will lose ( I believe we will still win) but KC should have a great idea of what plays we will be running and have a good D plan.
  • avatar

    Here is my thoughts. I was watching the Saints play the Bolts. Our team is not as good as either one of these teams. We have receivers as good as theirs. We have a pair of running backs who are pretty good. They (the Saints) are using a third string coach to call plays. I don't think much of the Bolts coaching staff. So, what don't we have? A QUARTERBACK! It is as simple as that. I know that they do not grow on trees....We had a pretty good QB in 2010. In 2010 we had young guy trying to be a good coach. Freeman needs to play to win and the other guys need to help him. I think the coaching staff needs to help him too by doing what they do best which is to help him win and not be boat anchors.
  • avatar

    Cremdonado: I'm not protecting Josh at all. In fact, I get frustrated with his inconsistency and periods of poor play too. I'm just saying it's far too simplified to simply point out the guy behind center or the defensive tackle as the culprits; and if they only lived up to their draft status the team would suddenly rise to the top. I do think that last season Josh played like he had to do it all which led to his poor decisions trying to dig the team out of a hole by the second period. This season he has had some good mixed with some bad. I believe Schiano is trying to restrict him too much and Josh is thinking about that instead of just playing. I do not blame Josh Freeman for the three losses. That said, a little more consistent and better play by him, but more by the defense, could have the team sitting at 4-0. I view this season as "fact-finding" and am willing to let it play out and see where we are after 16 not 4 games. I for one, hope Josh succeeds because he seems to do all of the things necessary behind the scenes and clearly has the desired tools. I don't want to start over again. That Eli Manning guy who has won two Superbowls doesn't look real "intense" to me and actually seems quite reserved. Josh just needs to be himself. At 24, a little success will bring out the fire.
  • avatar

    The Redskins Defense were awful against the pass coming into the game, so basing Schiano's praises on the deep passing that Freeman accomplished against Washington, is dangerous. He is not likely to have those numbers against anyone else in the league, although the Kansas City Chiefs are no world beaters. However, I did see Freeman play well two years ago, but he has lacked that consistency ever since. I don't understand what is his problem! If it is unfamiliarity with the new offense, or poor play calling by Sullivan, it is hard to say, but if Free can't get back to his form of two years ago by the latter part of thsi season, I am all for Schiano giving our second string QB the opportunity to really show what he can do the rest of our season. And Sullivan needs to emulate the success of the Giants and strike with an offense alternating our two running backs to keep fresh legs in there and wear down the opposition. We also need some more outstanding linemen on offense and defense.
  • avatar

    So we have an already "vanilla" offense that has wowed no one with its complexity and we are going to dumb it down even more? Is that what im hearing? Shiano says we have all these plays, we dont need all these plays. So defenses which have seemed to be eating us up thus far already will have even less to focus on? If we are really just seeing what Josh does well and focusing more on that then those defenses are going to do the same and take it away. Seems like a loser mentality and I'm hoping this is just a smoke-screen. We just seem lost right now and I'll side with Schiano on that blame needing to overall be put on him. Sullivan, I believe has let Shiano down but ultimately it is on Greg. Josh has ability. I know it takes live bullets for the coaches to accurately diagnose what Josh can and cant do under pressure but these guys have seen film like we all have for months(years now) before deciding on the direction of the offense with Josh at the helm. He is who you thought he was and you still put him on the hook. Its getting embarassing to see the guys squirm to try to right the ship and annoying to hear the excuses. I know Schiano is a dictator type leader and every one under him is scared to make mistakes or to deviate from the program but its time to go gorilla tactics. Everyone seems so bottled up which works great for the defense and assignments but offense is so much different. Know your *censored* inside and out but be free as players and coaches to confidently pick the other team apart. When you're truly confident in your abilities and your knowledge you dont need to think, you just see and do. You're a man now Josh, just see and do. You got this! I hope...
  • avatar

    Scubog- how long you gonna protect this guy ?no one is blaming him solely- but come on- where's the leadership? Where's the intensity ? All folks do is make excuses for Josh- like he is some little kid who can't take the criticism .football isn't for the meek- look at the QBs who are successful year in and year out and compare their on field and sideline personalities/actions to those of Josh-IMO,he just doesn't have that "edge" or has yet to develop one..I think this effects all the players on the field-esp. His receivers...Williams and benn should have pretty damn good chemistry with Free at this point,but it just really doesnt seem to be there-like they have no real trust in one another's ability. VJ needs a QB who will get in his face a bit over his dropped balls( I've watched plenty of chargers games,VJs effort doesn't always match his size and ability)and hopefully get the production that is expected from a guy with a contract the size of his.im not sayin JF is a lost cause but he needs to become a more vocal leader and if he want to be the man,he better fill the shoes..
  • avatar

    Our offense isn't getting the deep looks down the field as much as they would like because we haven't established a running game yet. So much of this offense feeds off of play action and with Martin averaging 3 yards per carry, defenses don't feel the need to drop 8 in the box....ever!
  • avatar

    Of course "it's the QB's fault"! It's always just that simple right? In some people's minds a team could take the 76 Bucs and put Peyton Manning under center and win a Superbowl. It's a TEAM sport! Don't you people listen when even the players tell you. Let's see, Josh hands off 25 times a game so not much he can do wrong there. He passes the ball around 25 times a game and typically completes say 15 of those. So that leaves 10 incomplete passes of which at least 2 are probably dropped. So out of the 50 offensive plays, the most Josh could be judged to screw up is 8 or roughly 16%. Now when you combine the 50 plays against our defense and the 10 against special teams over which Josh has no control; we now bring the total of plays to 110. Josh screws up a possible 8 or 7%. And some of you think it's that 7%, not the other 93% is the basis of wins and losses. Really? Contribute?----absolutely. Sole responsibility? Not hardly.
  • avatar

    I'm puttin the lions share of blame on Josh- he is the on field leader of the offense and must develop a fitting on field personality..he seems to lack intensity and alpha dog qualities- like he is still a child playing a mans game.either he steps up or steps off- if he doesn't grow in the position by seasons end,I would hope the Bucs bring in someone who can compete and possibly unseat him..enough is enough...unfortunate for us,next year FA QBs are likely no better...
  • avatar

    Horse, heard your question today on 2013 Free Agents. Here's a liink on all FAs including TE........................................................................................... http://www.kffl.com/static/nfl/features/freeagents/fa.php?option=TE&y=2013
  • avatar

    Well let me see if I have this correctly? We have Jackson, Williams, Benn, Underwood that can go deep; we have a 1st Round RB that we picked that can run and catch and another proven RB that can definitely run and can catch a pass. So what's the problem or is there really even a problem? Is it the OL or is it Freeman or is it the OC; I think it is all of the above and I would let Freeman throw the ball deeper than what most of his passes have been except for the two in the last game. I am referring to Freeman throwing more criss-crosses instead of precise passes for 5-10 yards to the sidelines. It's nobody fault and I believe it is just a learning curve and they are learning our strenghts and weaknesses. Go Bucs! Keep learning.
  • avatar

    When I first glanced at it I thought the headline read, "Sullivan And Schiano Struggling To Find Freeman's Comfort Zone". In my mind that's what's really going on so I guess that's why it assembled the letters in my brain that way.
  • avatar

    I'd still like to see a little more leadership, take charge (teamwise) out of Free.
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