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December 27, 2012 @ 5:44 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/4 Votes

Fans Calling For An End To Freeman's Reign Need To Be Patient

Written by Haley
Cornish
Haley Cornish

Haley
Cornish

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Despite Josh Freeman's recent struggles, the Buccaneers coaching staff appears firmly behind the former Kansas State star. Some fans who have given up on Freeman need to look not further than the Giants Eli Manning as an example of someone who may never develop into a Drew Brees, but is capable of bringing home a Lombardi Trophy.
Josh Freeman, who has thrown eight interceptions and just one touchdown in the past two games, has been the hot topic among many fans – and not in a good way.

Some fans are calling for him to be traded, or for the Bucs to draft or sign someone in the offseason. Most likely that is not going to happen this offseason. The available quarterbacks in the draft are mediocre (no RGIII or Andrew Luck), and there are no appealing free agents this year either. The most the Bucs will do is bring in a more suitable backup to Freeman that can actually challenge him.

Freeman is far from the reason the Bucs are 6-9. Yes, he can be blamed for the last two losses. When you throw eight interceptions, you deserve much of the blame. Although, even if Freeman hadn’t turned the ball over five times in the Saints game, could the offense really have scored 41 points?

Perhaps the Cowboys loss is another one that could be blamed on Freeman, although the play-calling in the game was not good at all. But in the games against the Giants, Redskins, Saints (first matchup), Falcons, and Eagles, Freeman was not the reason the Bucs lost. In all of the games above – aside from the Bronco’s game – Freeman did everything he could have done to win the game. He drove the offense down the field to score what would have been game-winning field goals and touchdowns in the Giants, Redskins, Falcons, and Eagles game. He had a career-day against the Saints in the first matchup in October, and Tampa Bay would have tied it up had Mike Williams not stepped out of bounds.
 
The secondary couldn’t do anything to stop those teams, which puts immense pressure on Freeman and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan to score on every single drive against defenses much better than their own. If the Bucs had a better secondary – and/or defensive scheme – the Bucs are most likely a playoff team this year. They wouldn’t have left receivers wide open against the Redskins in the final drive. They wouldn’t have allowed a mediocre rookie quarterback – Nick Foles –  to throw for 381 yards. They wouldn’t have allowed Eli Manning to throw for over 500 yards and have a career day.

An average secondary may not have won all of those games, but games against the Eagles, Redskins, and Saints should have been wins. That would put the Bucs at 9-6 with the opportunity to make the playoffs this Sunday against the Falcons team that has nothing to play for.

With a better secondary the Bucs would be a playoff team, and Josh Freeman would be a playoff quarterback.

A segment of Bucs fans are making Freeman out to be one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. Yet, Freeman is actually having an almost identical year to Eli Manning Freeman, who owns two rings. Freeman has 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with an 82.3 quarterback rating. Manning has 21 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with an 83.6 rating. Before the games against the Rams and Saints, Freeman blew Manning’s stats away with a 92.8 quarterback rating.

It’s not like Manning is having a particularly bad year compared to past seasons. In fact in Manning’s first four seasons he had a quarterback rating of 70.5, while Freeman has had a rating of 79.9 through his first four seasons. However, Manning has won two Super Bowls, including one in his fourth year, while Freeman has yet to make the playoffs. Why? Most likely because Manning had a great defense.

Eli Manning is a perfect comparison to Josh Freeman because when both are good, they’re great. And when they’re bad, they’re really bad. But Manning has proven twice that it’s okay to have a few bad games. If Freeman has a real defense next year that doesn’t force him to score on every drive, then Freeman can take this team to the playoffs, and ultimately the Super Bowl.

Freeman is not an elite quarterback. Only quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady can win with bad defenses, Freeman isn’t there yet – and may never get to that point. But he doesn’t have to be, he just needs a decent defense and he can win.

Getting rid of Freeman means starting all over again, rebuilding the offense around whoever the new guy is. Tampa Bay doesn’t need to do that. Freeman has proven that he can do what it takes to win, even if he is inconsistent. But he’s not playing defense when the Eagles are scoring the game-winning touchdown.

Just to put into perspective how bad the secondary has been this year, according to Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune, the Falcons need to throw for just 252 yards for the Bucs to have surrendered the most passing yards in the history of the NFL.

Does Freeman still make fans and coaches occasionally shake their head in frustration? Yes. But can he also make throws that some starting QBs in the league can only dream of making? You bet. There is no doubt Freeman needs to develop more consistency. And while it may come across as an excuse, the Sullivan offense, is a hybrid of Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbrides, with nuances of the old run-and-shoot, not an a simple scheme to master.

Yes, Freeman’s play has been bad the last couple of weeks, but his play was outstanding this season too. Teams can and have won with inconsistent quarterback play many times in the past, which is why the fans who are on the ledge need to take a step back and see what Freeman is able to do in his last season under contract.

–Mark Cook contributed to this report


Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2012 12:15
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    My real worries w/ Josh revolve around his lack of growth in critical areas. For instance, awareness - no apparent time clock in his head, lack of recognition regarding where pressure is coming from, lack of effective movement in or outside of the pocket, throwing on his heels, and huge chunks of games where he does not seem to be "with it". The NFL is now a game of pitch and catch, receivers relatively unimpeded and without fear of being blown up over the middle, and QB's largely protected too. That said, how can we not have a short or mid passing game? Watching Josh mid-season was exciting, but the roller coaster ride has not exactly been filling me w/ hope of some evolutionary type of transformation. For better or worse, I believe we know who Josh is by now. And yes - it could be worse! Buc fans certainly know what worse looks like. We have had it. Our Defense needs to dramatically improve as a complete unit before the Bucs can become consistent winners again. Here's to next year...!
  • avatar

    I don't think that anyone should be calling for Freeman's job. But i do not think anyone can compare the two quarterbacks either. Eli has something called accuracy and Freeman dosen't. Not when you see him throw the ball behind the WR on a consistent basis. I just hope he works on his accuracy , we all know he is the leader of this team.
  • avatar


    @eric Eli Manning career completion percentage: 58.6 %, Freeman career completion percentage: 58.9 %. If you actually watch full Manning games in the regular season instead of his highlights you would see he is not as accurate as you seem to think.
  • avatar

    HCpewterreport - the only reason Bucs fans compare josh to Eli is because they hope he'll turnout to be like Eli. They are completely different players. Yes, would I like josh to get it win us two Super Bowls? Yes. But just because Eli had some inconsistency issues during his first 3 to 4 years like freeman doesn't mean they are anything alike. The biggest problem with it is Eli is truly a hot and cold QB. Josh's play is more up and down depending on what the defense is trying to do to him. Eli can have a bad game against a certain defensive strategy, but then turnaround and play a great game against the same style, cause he was just on. Freeman has and still does have difficulty being patient with a defense that plays safeties over the top that makes him consistently hit short to intermediate routes to score. Freeman has routinely had his biggest games against man pressure defenses where he can play with defenders backs to him and have his receivers out play them for balls, but defenses aren't playing him that way as much lately. He is going to see more and more of that. If he plays against like he has the last 4 1/2 games then he will not get any better.
  • avatar


    keep believing he will turn it around the guy only won about a dozen games in college. in three plus seasons he has had a ten game losing streak and now a seven game losing streak to end the season. his short and intermediate passing accuracy is terrible, cries on every play like a soccer or nba player, has very little athletic abilty for a big guy.keep hoping, though, i'm pretty sure he will wake up and be great, no contract extension one more year and gone.if we would have a guy like alex smith a game manager who can run and has athletic ability, we would have won a few more games. and please stop comparing freeman to mannings, brees or ryan, these guys have all won more games, been all-pros, have playoff expierence, yeah all qbs have bad games, but none are as consistly bad like free, time to move on.
  • avatar


    @KINDERRT. "Manning doesn't miss open receivers"?? That's actually laughable! ALL NFL QBs miss wide open receivers! The week after Freeman was excoriated for missing Williams in the end zone on about a 40 yard throw, I SAW Manning miss a wide open receiver out of the backfield with about a FIFTEEN yard throw when the receiver actually had NO ONE even in the TV SCREEN with him and he could have trotted in the end zone! I saw DREW BREES miss an open receiver in the end zone a couple of weeks ago! People who say other NFL QBs don't miss wide open receivers either don't watch other games or they have selective memories. I watch about 6 NFL games a week and see MANY open receivers missed even by the ELITE QBs!
  • avatar


    Amen HC! Thank you for elegantly stating the obvious in a way that should cause the kneejerkers to at least pause before attempting to run free out of here. Brilliant argument
  • avatar


    Freeman has had consistency problems since college. People keep saying that he is only 24 but don't mention he has been playing football for at least 10-12 years.Freeman is not even close to being as good as Eli M. Eli M. does not miss wide open receivers the way Freeman does. As I remember we kept making excuses for Trent Dilfer and he never made it with the Buc's. People will say that Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the Ravens but the Ravens had I believe a top five or higher D. The very next year the Ravens released him. So I guess the question is , How long should we wait to see if Freeman becomes accurate or at least more consistent. I say one more year and that's it, time to move on.
  • avatar


    Nice piece Haley. You look a lot like my wife. It took some courage for you to do an article suggesting that, while not elite (there are only 5 or 6 in the league), Josh Freeman at only 24 is certainly a QB capable of leading this team to the playoffs. Why some can't quite grasp the concept that in football all aspects of the "team" are connected is beyond me. Rather than analyze the performance of the "team" after a loss, many only look at the QB. They'll blame one or two plays, yet there are 100-120 plays in a typical game to study. Just in the Rams game, fans see 4 interceptions and blame Freeman. Yet at least two could not be blamed on # 5. And what about Johnson picking up a fumble and fumbling it right back? Instead of going up 10-0, the Rams maintained the ball and the momentum. The CB's on the team are literally off the street yet some don't think it means a thing. They actually believe that if the QB is good enough, the rest of the 52 man roster can be.......well, anybody. They also think "anybody" can replace Freeman. Dominik has an easy task. Just find that Anybody guy.
  • avatar


    You had a pretty good christmas calicojack . I got a Myron Lewis fathead and some E J BIGGERS house shoes for christmas.
  • avatar


    You had a pretty good christmas calicojack . I got a Myron Lewis fathead and some E J BIGGERS house shoes for christmas.
  • avatar


    Haley and the rest of yall are hurting my feelings talking about our secondary. I voted for Myron Lewis , E j Biggers , in my pro bowl voting.
  • avatar


    Thanks for the article HC. No one can argue that when Freeman is on, he is one of the best QBs in the league. He just needs to develop consistency... And how does someone develop consistency? By building on cumulative reps. It is stunning to me that so many people are calling for Freeman's head when for a stretch in the middle of the season we had the NFL's most prolific offense. That didn't happen on accident! It was just the beginning of what this offense can be once everyone gets on the same page. Freeman + Improved Defense = 2013 Playoffs
  • avatar


    Henleyjoel, What happen was that teams adjusted to our scheme and we didn't, thus Freeman became inconsistent. I hope he will be able to adjust, but if he can't then we have to have a back up plan in place. I know we need a good TE and it could help Freeman.
  • avatar


    HCpewterreport, comparing Eli to Josh is weak. Eli has been in numerous playoffs and has superbowl rings to prove it. What has Josh done? For me Stats are useless; it's really all about winning and I am not comfortable going into the 2013 season with the QB's we have on board. I fully understand that Josh will be the starter; I just would like to have a back up plan so 2013 is not another wait until next year. No question we need lots of defensive help or we are going no where. The priority is defense, defense, then a legit back up QB.
  • avatar


    @;horse That was the whole point of comparing Manning and Freeman... Manning has proven you can win with inconsistant play as long as you have a good defense... If you think Eli could have won any super bowls with a defense like ours you are mistaken. Not to mention Freeman is playing in practicaly the same offense that Eli has played in for years, so it's actually a perfect comparison.
  • avatar


    HCpewterreport, thanks you for responding and I'll think about it some more. Right now I am disappointed in Freeman, not the Bucs because at the beginning of the season I said I would be happy if we won 6-7 games. I have major reservations that he can take us to the super bowl again even if our defense improves immediately. A better comparison is Brad Johnson who had up and down career until Tampa Bay that insisted on a conservative offense with ground pounders and TE's. Johnson made much better decisions not to force passes when the WR's were double and triple covered. If Freeman could just do that, I would feel better about him.
  • avatar


    Freeman is taking way too much heat recently. I think our whole team just unraveled after the eagles loss. That was the 7th close loss of the season and that can be a lot for a team to overcome that. However, freeman still is wildly inconsistent. It's rare to see an elite qb have a two game stretch with 1 td and 8 picks. Freeman has earned the right to start again next year and see if he can earn that next contract, but we should definitely bring in a quality backup or draft a qb in like the 3rd round to let Freeman know that he has got to improve. I think he ultimately will end up staying with the Bucs because he has too much raw talent to let go.
  • avatar

    I believe in Freeman unlike so many other fickle Buccaneers Fans that think success should be created by just having a qb and no defense with first yr coaches accross the board on this team at least with this team they are first yr coaches. Lets give him the last yr of his contract to see if he progresses if he doesn't then I to will say lets get somebody else its unfortunate that we have to wait another yr to see if Freeman is our future.
  • avatar


    Hello jongruden, I did finally see you're personal message; it was weeks late and I guess I didn't think of much to say; so, I never replied;
  • avatar


    could it be that Josh Freeman has a difficult O to master? Yes, I suppose so; it could account for his being able to do hard things and mess up the easy things. But, I've found someone(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATaOCAUNCQ8) . . . Nick Florence; could he unseat Freeman say in the first year or second? Probably not; i would take a chance on him though. He probably doesn't have the gametime experience to be drafted in the first round. If I was the bucs Coach I'd draft him 'just in case' Freeman doesn't get it in his second year. Besides, what if Florence say does develop better than Freeman . . . even if Josh does have a good solid season the next year(year two of being in the system)? Then, you can trade Freeman. This game is about improving; not sitting around on good enough. Competition always makes everyone better as well.
  • avatar


    @flashgordon I love the idea of getting a late-round quarterback that can challenge Freeman to be better, unlike Orlovsky. I don't see them spending anything higher than a fourth round pick though. Florence would be a decent choice because he has shown promise in his short career at Baylor, and is currently projected as a seventh round pick which is extremely low-risk for the Bucs.
  • avatar


    Hello HC, I don't see teams wanting to draft him too high; he should be at the senior bowl; so, we'll see how fast he rises.
  • avatar


    Great Article! I BELIEVE you nailed it on the head. And HOPE it proves true. I did receive a Freeman jersey for Christmas and would like it to be relevant for the next couple years.
  • avatar

    Freeman's performance in the 1st. half/season looked promising, and again he regressed. The BUCS biggest isssue to be addressed going into the offseason is it's secondary-which ranks DEAD LAST in the NFL. Let's give him (Freeman) one more year with a expierenced back up to help with his decison-making and fundamentals along with the new coaching staff. GO BUCS in2014 !!
  • avatar


    Nice article and one in which I am firmly on board with. IMO Josh has the talent, he has the work ethic and the desire to get better. We've seen it before and IMO we've seen enough not to give up on him. I believe another full off-season will do a lot for Josh and the Buccaneers. I am NOT willing to start over on a position that is so essential to winning when we have a guy who is more than capable there now. Get that OL back healthy, add depth at T and get another TE. We're ready to roll assuming the CB position on defense s addressed with the urgency it deserves. Welcome Haley! Again, nice work.
  • avatar


    Amen HC, amen. Also, I wasn't aware about us being that close to the worst pass defense ever. I hope being known for that in the history books is worth whatever type of season we have in 2013.
  • avatar


    @Moose40 Yes they would have scored 41 points. All of Freeman's turnovers were in saints territory so it's not like they had a short field. And the saints laid off in the second half because they were ahead by so much, they could have easily scored more. RG3 and Andrew luck are two of the best rookies in nfl history. They are the exception to the rule and if fans think players like that will be available this year they are extremely mistaken. Russell Wilson has arguably the best defense in the nfl and without that defense the Seahawks wouldn't have nearly as good of a record as they do now. If you think any of the quarterbacks in the draft will be as good as RG3 right off the bat then you must not watch college football. I've watched Matt Barkley in every game this year and he is almost the same quarterback as freeman. Inconsistent, throws a good deep ball but struggles on intermediate passes, forces the ball. Why would the bucs want to waste a first round pick on someone who will be the same as freeman, but without Freeman's experience and relationship with the players. How is starting over a bad thing? It puts the franchise back into the rebuilding stage which should be the last thing fans want after three years of rebuilding, especially since it is extremely unnecissary.
  • avatar


    The same Saints game that they scored 7, 17, 7 and 10 pts each qtr? they didn't lay off, the simply scored repeatedly. So, the Bucs offense drives into N.O. territory three times and turns the ball over, and one pick inside the 10, but on a bomb, and none of those drives sway the game or flip momentum? Freeman turned the ball over at the N.0. 20 yard line when the score was 7-0... Score there, and the downhill slide is possibly delayed or stopped. Thank you for proving my point that there isn't an answer out there this coming offseason (and I agree there is no first round draft pick caliber qb this year). The draft class doesn't appear to have the next Montana, Elway, Marino, Young, Manning, Brady etc. It's appearing to be another batch of Sanchez/Freeman types. And F/A doesn't appear to be an option for any improvement. So I fully expect to suffer through one more year of Freeman and pray to god that some qb becomes available in the 2014 season.
  • avatar


    @moose40 Obviously four interceptions effect the game... I said Freeman played poorly in that game. But even if he did score on each of those drives it wouldn't have been close. The Saints offense did lay off, they could have easily scored 21 points in the fourth quarter if it were a closer game. They didn't need freeman to throw picks in order for the Saints' offense to get momentum. The defense was that bad that game, alllowing big gains every other play. That's momentum enough for Drew Brees and his offense. Thank you for your feedback, and even though I may disagree with you I love hearing your opinions.
  • avatar

    HC pewterreport- Are you single?, just kidding! Nice breakdown and analysis of the Freeman situation.
  • avatar


    So, if Freeman and the offense sustain drives in the N.O. game, the Saints are still able to put up 41 pts? If Freeman and the offense score ANY points against the iggles in the first half we lose the game? Getting rid of Freeman means starting over, how is that a bad thing? Wilson, RG3 and Luck are showing you don't have to start over and wait years. Let's face it, the defense isn't good, it's abysmal, but having an offense failing to do it's part as well is a big issue. And let's face it, the mantra of the team is "It's all about #5". That poor defense didn't become the 85 Bears in games that the Bucs won, they were still giving up yards, but the offense was efficient. Freeman already admitted to "trying to do too much" again and "having to get back to basics". --Again, my point isn't to give the d a pass, we know they are bad, but a big helping of blame rests on 5. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be an answer out there right now that makes a vast improvement over Freeman. So we as Buc fans may be witnessing another year of disappointment.
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