Bucs QB Josh Freeman takes to the podium every Thursday at One Buc Place in front of the local media to discuss the previous week's game. Normally Pewter Report doesn't post the transcript, but with Freeman struggling somewhat, particularly last week at New Orleans, we thought we would publish a Q & A from Thursday's press conference for our readers to to get Freeman's take.
Quarterback Josh Freeman spoke with the media on Thursday and addressed how the team is still focused on each game, how he handles the media scrutiny, and his play. The following is a transcript of his press conference. Is the team now focused on finishing the season strong so the good work they’ve done pays off?
“No question. It’s always 'you didn’t make the playoffs the last game of the season’ and that kind of sheds a light, whether positive or negative. You lose the last game of the season and you feel awful the whole way. You win the last game and you feel a little better. Ultimately it’s about character. It’s about who we are as a team and it’s really easy when the playoffs are out of the picture, all this stuff’s gone wrong and we lost [six] games [in a row] to just let it go and just get out of the season, but we have a lot more heart than that. We’ve got a lot of guys that care about this organization, care about the Bucs and care about this family that we built. They care about winning, point blank. It’s a pride thing at this point and I think we have a lot of it and a lot of heart. This week everyone is focused and locked in and sharp. You can say that technically we’re not playing for anything but to us technically we are, so it’s been a good week.”What personally are you playing for and what do you want to accomplish the next two weeks?
“Everything I just mentioned. To go out there, whether it’s on the practice field or in preparation leading up to the games, and find a way to get better and then go out and find a way to win. That’s what it’s all about.”
To get back on track, do you have to take what the defense is giving you and go for the passes underneath as opposed to looking for the completions down field?
“To an extent, there are a lot of aspects that play into that. You need to try to execute each play as well as you can. Sometimes it goes great and sometimes it doesn’t go so well, but you have to take each experience and learn from it so the next opportunity you [can determine] whether you want to take the shot or is it better to check it down. It’s constantly growing and changing, but to get back to that point you’ve just got to continue to do the stuff we’ve done all season. It will come back around. There’s been a bit of a lull compared to what we were doing [earlier] this season, but we’re continuing to truck along. The season obviously hasn’t gone as well as we would have liked, but Mike [Williams] and Vincent [Jackson] are still out there running at full speed, the line’s still blocking and I’m still throwing, so we’ll just keep trucking along and find a way to win these last two games.”Are you ever keen to any of the fan and media scrutiny and how do you handle it?
“It’s funny because actually one of my friends asked me about an article or something they read, and I’m completely disconnected. You hear about it and you see so many guys that care too much about opinions that don’t matter. I’m not saying that the fans don’t matter because you want to go out and put a great product on the field for them, but I’m saying that there’s nothing that any of our fans say that’s going to affect me in a positive way or help my preparation. It really just becomes a distraction and I see a lot of guys get caught up buying into that and losing confidence and losing what got them to the point they were at in the first place. I’m just working and battling. You guys can chatter and argue it up but I’ve got my own focus.”Have you thought about why it’s easier for you to complete deep passes and why you struggle with short to intermediate passes when normally that’s the exact opposite situation for a quarterback?
“I didn’t know that honestly. I’m sure it’s something that we’ll cover when we go back through the post season evaluation, but it will be interesting. There may have been some miscommunications on reads early on but I don’t know. It’s something that I can’t give you a definitive answer on. That’s interesting about the deep passes. I try to complete them all.”What kind of comfort level do you have with Donald Penn on the offensive line?
“I think Donald (Penn) has been great this year. You can see that Donald had a renewed focus. He came in and not only was mentally locked in, but physically and just the way he stepped up this year it has been huge. You can drop back and not be worried about your blind side. It is a load off your shoulders. [I am] just real happy and real proud of Donald for the season he has had so far and I know it is going to continue.”You have had a lot of third-and-longs lately and have you sensed you have had more of those lately?
“Yes, of course you sense it because you kind of go into the play depending on what they do. Mostly it is just drop back. Drop eight guys and whatever, but it is definitely about first and second down. Finding a way to maximize first and second down. I know Sully (Mike Sullivan) has got a great plan. I am looking forward this week coming up because that is one of our goals this week, is third down conversion percentage. Spent a huge emphasis today was our third down day. I felt everybody was sharp and locked in. Did a number of different twists and like I said everybody was locked in. Everybody was sharp. No, I am looking forward to moving forward. Like you said it is something that we got to find a way to stay out of because in the higher distance the lower the percentage.”After a game like last week anybody can get a little down with themselves, but where is your confidence now, is it wavering?
“My confidence has been where it has been really the entire season. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I have a lot of confidence in my coaches and my teammates. It doesn’t really change regardless. I feel like there are so many different things and it kind of ties back into the earlier thing that people allow it to affect their confidence [and] their thought process. The way I look at it is if I focus on getting just a sliver 1/10th percent better every day and just work my butt to continue to improve then I have no reason to worry. I don’t worry [about] 'oh man when are we going to make a mistake.' It is kind of alright I made a mistake I am going to get it next time. It is not really ever doubting my abilities [or] ever doubting my teammates. It is football. You understand that sometimes things are going to go wrong. Sometimes as you know really wrong like last weekend. It is not about how you fail it is about how you continue to play and how you continue to fight. Look at other guys that have had games similar to what I just had and the way they bounced back. I think that’s part of development [and] part of growing. No, never had an issue with confidence.”Two years ago you came close to the postseason and as you look at this team do you hope this will be the last year that you will not be talking about the postseason?
“Every year every team has the same goal until it’s to get to this point to say there is no chance you can get it. You want to get it first off into the tournament and into the playoffs. Then you want to go all the way. That’s what you play for. That’s what you strive for every year. If you don’t believe you can do it you are never going to be able to do it. Like I said I have a lot of confidence in this team. Not only from last week to this week bouncing back, but I think this season has been a learning season in a lot of ways. You hate to say it because that’s not what you want it to be at all and we have had success, but ultimately we were not good enough when we needed to be. [We] are doing everything we can to be good enough this Sunday.” –Victoria Horchak and Andrew Scavelli contributed to this report
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