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August 26, 2013 @ 9:18 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/2 Votes

Streaky Freeman Still Bucs' Best Option For Success In 2013

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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With an unimpressive and sometimes downright ugly preseason performance, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is feeling the heat before the first snap of the regular season. But even with Freeman's streakiness and inconsistency, Tampa Bay's starting QB still gives Tampa Bay its best shot at success in 2013.
If you ask Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan or general manager Mark Dominik how they feel about quarterback Josh Freeman now that his playing time is done in the preseason, they would all most likely would give the standard company answer – they aren’t overly worried, and Freeman will be fine.

But through three preseason games, Tampa Bay’s top signal caller has struggled statistically (12-for-26, 100 yards with no touchdowns or INTs) and a large segment of fans and media alike are in near panic mode. PewterReport.com's message boards and local sports talk radio phone lines on 98.7 The Fan are filled with those ready to dump Freeman and look for QB play elsewhere.

The problem with that scenario is with who could the Bucs replace Freeman with? Rookie Mike Glennon?

Glennon may very well one day develop into an NFL starting-caliber quarterback, but asking the rookie to step in and lead the Bucs in 2013 would be likely too tall an order. Tampa Bay fans might be giddy over Glennon's game-winning touchdown pass to beat the Dolphins on Saturday night, but that came in the fourth quarter against backup defenders – just like both of his other two TD passes this preseason.

The fact is, this 2013 Buccaneers team was built with the intent to get to the playoffs this season, and regardless of how Freeman has looked through three meaningless games, Tampa Bay’s 2009 No. 1 draft pick gives Tampa Bay the best chance at success this season – and beyond – despite some shortcomings in his game.

Anyone who saw Freeman play football going back to his Kansas State days knows he is a streaky, inconsistent quarterback at times, who mid-game – or even mid-series – can find a spark or mojo and look like an All-Pro.

Last season was a perfect example of this fact. Freeman started the season off efficiently against the Panthers with a QB rating of 95.5, then went to New York in Week 2 and posts a 76.9 QB rating. The following week the Bucs traveled to Dallas and Freeman has arguably one of his worst games of his career against the Cowboys, throwing for just 110 yards and posting a 45.6 QB rating.

But following the bye week, Freeman caught fire and went on a five-week tear, leading all NFL quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning in passing while putting up QB ratings of 124.7 (Kansas City), 115.2 (New Orleans), 104.2 (Minnesota), 108.6 (Oakland), and 137.5 (San Diego) during that stretch run.

The wheels soon fell off however, as Freeman's streakiness reared its’ ugly head. After a gutsy, come-from-behind win at Carolina, Freeman and the Bucs went into a tailspin and lost six games in a row, essentially eliminating the team from playoff contention. Just once in the six-game losing streak did Freeman’s QB rating reach 90, and that was in the one-point loss to the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. Freeman’s QB ratings during that losing streak were 90.4 (Atlanta), 72.8 (Denver), 79.2 (Philadelphia), 37.5 (New Orleans), 52.4 (St. Louis), and 71.4 (Atlanta).

But even with Freeman's struggles, the Buccaneers could have easily of won two of those games (Atlanta and Philadelphia), but the defense was unable to close out those contests and hold Tampa Bay's fourth quarter leads. Add those two games as wins and the Bucs are a 9-7 football team in 2012.

Add in three earlier games that Freeman put his team in position to win with fourth quarter leads (New York, Washington and New Orleans) and there were 12 wins the Buccaneers could have possibly achieved in 2012.

To think that in his fifth year that Freeman has suddenly regressed and can’t put up similar numbers as last season just doesn’t make sense. One can't deny that 4,065 yards passing is 4,065 yards passing, and those numbers weren’t posted in spite of Freeman, but rather because of Freeman.

Could the pressure of trying to earn a new contract, or a devastating injury to a key wide receiver or to running back Doug Martin hamper a similar season? Of course, but if all things stayed the same as last season and if Freeman has the exact same numbers – and streakiness – with an improved defense, the Bucs are most certainly capable of 10 wins and a shot at the postseason.

Most fans – and every member of the Bucs organization – would love to see Freeman develop into a steady, consistent franchise-type quarterback without the astronomical highs, followed by the frustrating lows. But Freeman’s career, dating back to his days in Manhattan, Kansas, give no indication of anything different to come in 2013.

Former Tampa Bay legend Ronde Barber was correct in his assessment during the telecast of the Bucs vs. Dolphins preseason game last week that Freeman can’t carry the team by himself. But how many quarterbacks can single-handedly carry their own team? For all of their passing records and MVPs, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning have carried their teams to exactly one Super Bowl win apiece over a combined 27 years in the NFL.

Brees and Manning have the same number of Super Bowl rings as former Bucs quarterbacks Trent Dilfer (he won a Super Bowl with the Ravens) and Brad Johnson.

Get ready to pull your hair out one week and anoint Freeman as the greatest Bucs QB ever the next week, Tampa Bay fans. Freeman's roller coaster ride begins in 13 days.

The good news is with an improved pass defense and a good luck run of no serious injuries, Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can be in contention for the postseason, despite the streakiness that has become Freeman’s trademark.
Last modified on Monday, 26 August 2013 10:32
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    **************************************************************** Good article Mark! I agree with everything Jaybuc52 had to say also. ****** I am tired of the Freeman bashing, nationally and especially locally. ******** It is really on the COACHING staff. Any good coach has to adapt his scheme to the personnel he has. This is what separates the really great coaches from the rest.
  • avatar


    You know what? I'm with you! The COACHING STAFF is poor at best. And, I thought that they should pay Freeman on Thursday, but unless the O line can protect him (which they haven't) he needs to stay safe on the sidelines. NINE SACKS???? The coaching staff seems to be learning as they go a long. The fans are looking at Freeman, but I think they need to look at the coaching staff.
  • avatar


    As Tom Brady's fine wife said, "he (Brady) can't throw it and catch the ball too". It seems that the O line is being beaten on many plays and the receivers cannot catch the ball. Freeman could play better. I also noticed that the play calling early on was not perfect. Perhaps the Coach should let the starters play some "to get their minds right" I do not think that Freeman is a problem that cannot be adjusted. Go Bucs. I have faith!
  • avatar


    Funny part of the article: using what is written by trolls on a message board to gauge the general opinion of Buccaneer fans. Seriously?
  • avatar


    The only thing that matters is regular season wins, emerging from the preseason healthy and judging from the Bucs gameplan, or lack thereof, they agree. If Freeman was sizzling hot during the preseason people would say "lets see what he does in the regular season" so he can't win. But I guarantee all will be forgotten with a solid performance against the Jets bc again its PREseason. Everyone needs to stop over analyzing or pretending to be the next Bill Walsh and wait until the games count to see how he plays. Go Bucs!
  • avatar


    Well put Stl. Couldn't agree more. I learned a long time ago never to put any emphasis on NFL games played in August, good or bad.
  • avatar


    Mark, your analysis sounds logical but if you had applied the same logic after Freeman's 2010 results, you would have expected at least winning seasons in the two years since then, but we all know now that would have just been a pipe dream. You mention with awe Freeman's better than 4,000 yards last year, and say if the defense had been better we would have made the playoffs; however, you failed to mention the 17 interceptions Freeman threw last year. If he had only thrown six like in 2010, we would have made the playoffs last year. Freeman cost us the playoffs last year but you want us to bank on him again? Freeman has had the worst preseason I have seen for a QB. Miami's QB suffered drops by his wide receivers too, but he tore apart our pass defense just the same, but Freeman didn't scare any of our opponents. He made his own decision to lose weight and ever since he has not been able to fight off tackles like he used to and has lost confidence. That is why blitzes are so effective on him now. Letting him run wouldn't fix it although it would help but Schiano will never go there. The only answer to fix this season is to trade him now for another veteran QB. My prediction is Freeman won't be starting after our first four games. Hope I am wrong.
  • avatar


    LETS DON'T GET A PANIC, REMEMBER HE IS UNDER HIS LASTT YEAR OF THE CONTACT. LET'S SEE IF HE'S DELIVERED. I REALLY LIKE THAT ROOKIE QB TAMPA DRAFTED-GO BUCS
  • avatar


    When a receiver is standing flat footed, facing the QB and the ball hits him square in the hands it's a drop not a poorly thrown pass. These guys are professionals. Freeman can't be blamed for everything short of global warming. I remember the days when Doug Williams was accused of throwing the ball too hard for the receivers to catch. His response, "they caught it in college."
  • avatar

    @gg720................"Freeman has shortcomings that can be corrected but see no attempt by coaching staff to get him to look safeties off and find second and third receivers. Coaching can definitely help there but nothing has been done to change that at all"..............No matter my opinion of Freeman or the coaching staff, this is laughable. They would have had no choice other than to focus and drill on this. Everyone that has worked w/ Freeman can't be that ineffective. The horse also has to be willing to drink. No Offense Horse - as my kid would say "see what I did there ?
  • avatar


    I don't know what is wrong with Josh Freeman. Just because his passes hit his receivers on the hands that doesn't mean it was a good throw. (4 drops last game) He needs to learn to throw it so the receivers can catch it. And what is up with Freeman getting sacked almost immediately after the snap. If he was a better quarterback he should be helping to block the defensive line until he was ready to throw the pass. Tom Brady has all day to throw, and his receivers make incredible catches. Come on Josh what is wrong with you.
  • avatar


    I do enjoy reading everybody's Posts; I am glad we are civil about our passion for the Bucs to do good. Go Bucs! Be the Team!
  • avatar


    I thought I was watching Trent Dilfer play against Miami, oops I forgot, Dilfer won a Super Bowl. Yea right, he didn't win it, the Ravens defense did. Oh by the way, our defense isn't the Ravens. Let's face it, Freeman is not the "franchise quarterback" he was drafted to be. This guy has to have a half way decent season to give anyone any hope on his future as an NFL quarterback. I have to wonder if it is his "coconut" that is the problem because alas, he has all the tools.
  • avatar


    Freeman has shortcomings that can be corrected but see no attempt by coaching staff to get him to look safeties off and find second and third receivers. Coaching can definitely help there but nothing has been done to change that at all. The thing that bothers me the most about him is he seems to never be relaxed running the offense. He looks tense a lot of the time but maybe it is not figuring out defenses that makes him look nervous. That is exactly how he plays is not sure of what he wants to do out there and seeming confused a lot.
  • avatar


    He won't be the quarterback for long if he hands the ball over to the other team like he did Saturday night. Streaky, inconsistent, Schiano might be able to live with that, but that " unforced error" better stay out of his game. Mark you're right, he's our best option if you want to go 8 and 8 forever. I still say if he doesn't win 2 out of our first four, Glennon will be starting after the bye.
  • avatar

    I luv this article..Thank you Mark Cook for putting the truth about Freeman in plain english...Until he shows otherwise on a consistent basis, Freeman is consistently inconsistent bottomline...He's not the guy that can go out and do it series after series like Brady, Bress, or Manning..but if there's one consistent thing presnt in all three of the b4 mentioned QB's careers, it's the fact that even they choke in the face of a great defense....Freeman did his job on the offensive side of the ball for the Bucs to have had 12 winslast season but the fact is the worst defense in franchise history had his back...imagine if Free had been our QB during our decade of defensive dominance...we'd have atleast three Lombardi's on display at one buc.
  • avatar

    Although I dont like hearing it, we dont really have any other option right now. Freeman is the only chance we have at winning this year, like it or not. Something must have happened in the past 6-9 months because Freeman does not seem to play with the same confidence and cool demeanour he displayed in his rookie year and during the 10-6 season. Someone else mentioned it above but a) why isnt he allowed to run more, b) what happened to quick slants from the offense, and c) why not run more play action boot legs that would utilize his deep accuracy and running ability? All would relieve pressure on the line and give us some more consistent yardage vs the boom or bust deep throws. To me coaching needs to be a bigger part of this. Either Freeman is responding to what they are throwing at him or the coaches are not taking the right approach. Not to be a pain, but Mark we actually won in Week 17 vs ATL so our tailspin was only losing 5 out of the last 6. That doesnt take away from the analysis but wanted to throw that out there.
  • avatar


    Ok it just bugs me when people cite Josh's 5 seasons, enough with the hyperbole. The reality is that he has played three and a half seasons as a starter and then with a different offense each season. This is the beginning of his 5th season. I think he has shortcomings, but he may be marginally better this year and that may be enough to win more games. The problem as I see it is not so much him, as that the entire offense is discombobulated. Schiano, get them on the same page and work on timing and execution. If we are running a vanilla offense in preseason, then it is all plays that they know by heart and should be great at executing those easy plays. I am not seeing that to this point which scares me. Coach Schiano, do your job and fix it.
  • avatar


    I will say that I'm not worried about the defense. I'd like to see more turnovers from the starters, but we were close a few times. This is encouraging since Revis isn't even on the field yet. Also, our run defense hasn't missed a beat from last year. If we can at least get a #15 ranking against the pass maybe the national media will finally respect that our run defense is awesome and it had nothing to do with our weakness against the pass last year. We were top 5 in TFL's and yards/carry, which have nothing to do with how often teams run against us.
  • avatar


    I agree with everything you said MC. But something is really, really wrong and it's not just the normal preseason rust. It's not just Freeman either. Everything on offense is wrong besides maybe the running game which we don't know since Dougie has been hurt. Everbody knows and understands the offense, everybody is talented on offense except the TE's, there are no malcontents in the locker room yet the offense is playing like crap. Again, we better beat the Jets. They're going to try and blitz us into the fetal position so we better be prepared for it because every other team this preseason has been blitzing us with great success. In fact I read somewhere that Freeman only has a career 41% completion percentage against the blitz so that's probably where all the blitzing is coming from this year. Coaches can read too...
  • avatar


    If Josh can't beat the Jets in week one, I know I'll be screaming for Glennon; yes, I've recognized the big global picture of Glennon not being quite ready,
  • avatar


    As we talk about Freeman you have to ask yourself who would you like to have at QB, Brees, Ryan, Newton or Freeman.. I would take any of the three other than Freeman. We talk about his 4,000 yds like he should go to the hall of fame and give no credit to his better than average receivers for making jump balls and poorly thrown balls catchable. What we have is a mediocre QB that has not improved his accuracy in four years as a stater. He has shown very little if any improvement in four years. This team is built to make the playoffs this year with the talent on this team. The Buc's have spent more in F/A the last two years than they ever have. This is a put up or move on year for Freeman. When you look at our division I believe we will be last in the division thus again not making the playoffs. After going to the games for twenty years its hard to swallow another 7-9 season if we are lucky.
  • avatar


    Mark, very good Article. Now how does the Coaches help Freeman? Let him run and they will stop blitzing. Evidently the Coaches have zero confidence in freeman's short slant passing ability because that would stop the blitz too. Why would you have an inconsistent passer throw deep more than the short passes? Anyway, it is all about the pass rush and this will be a long season if we don't get this straighten out in the next few weeks. I believe it will improve and maybe get us an extra game or two. I am changing my prediction a little to 8-9 wins and that's it. We are most definitely a Free Agency and Draft away from being a playoff contender. We are better than last year, but still not good enough to get us back to the playoffs. Just my opinion and I would love to be wrong.
  • avatar


    He's not the best option to lead this team. Just watch the games! Freeman is a bad QB. Glennon needs to start or we are going to waste ANOTHER season.
  • avatar


    Glennon, I think it is tasteless for you to be posting here under the name of chrisras. Man up-your trying to take Josh's job through the media.
  • avatar


    Unfortunately for us Bucs fans, this article is right on target. It's hard for most of us to believe that a professional football player (or any other type of professional for that matter) can't improve after working 5 years in his craft. But it appears that is exactly the case with Freeman. We all hope the Bucs can win enough games to at least make the playoffs. What would be interesting then is IF they make the playoffs & lose, or have another 10 - 6 record with no playoff appearance, would they pay Freeman big money to stay? Many pundents see the Bucs going 7 - 9 (one predicted 3 - 13). That's pure speculation, but we'll hope for the best & see what happens...go Bucs!
  • avatar


    It is what it is. I maintain that's Josh Freeman at QB and the Buccaneers being a playoff team this season. Anyone suggesting a QB change now knows absolutely nothing, SQUAT, about the NFL or football in general.
  • avatar


    Josh, I know that is you going under the name of Garv.
  • avatar


    There are some great Qbs in the NFL, but none that can put a team on their back and win Superbowls consistantly. There is so much more to winning than just a QB. Josh had a terrible Slump late last season, but so did 2 time Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning. Last year only 4 QBs had passer ratings of 100 or above and 2 of them were rookies. Only 10 QBs had a passer rating of 90 or above. Josh Freeman still had 13 QBs rated under him last season. Two of them, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford with huge contracts. On the positive side 4065 is a lot of yards. The Ravens sent Tom Brady and the Pats home in the AFC title game. Flacco was in the same boat last year that Freeman is in this year. There was talk that Flacco may not get his contract renegotiated at all. One Super Bowl win and bingo....new big contract. Preseason games are a joke. Fans have to pay to watch garbage and that isn't endearing them to the NFL. Not for long doesn't only app;ly to players!!!! Our O'line and D-line concerns me a lot more than Josh Freeman does. These games are won up front more than anywhere. Football is a brutal sport and I don't see how those guys do it season after season.
  • avatar


    At least we can the potential this year to make the playoffs, not something anyone could say over the last 5+ years
  • avatar


    Sounds about right MC. Good article. Lets hope Revis can make the impact he should be able to, Martin stays healthy, and free goes on a streak in December. There's never a guarentee but there is hope
  • avatar


    I think you just hit the nail directly on the head Mr. Cook. Nice article. There goes my chances of keeping my blood pressure down during games this year. This guy drives me nuts but he is what he is and when he's on he is good. I guess we just have to ride the storm out....time to stock up on meds.
  • avatar


    Oh crap !!!!!
  • avatar


    Finally, an article that speaks the truth about Freeman. He is who he is, a streaky, inconsistent quarterback. It is who he was in college and it is who he has been in the pros. Nothing about him is suddenly going to change this year. What can change and get better around him is the defense. With any kind of a defense last year and this team would have had 9-10 wins. I am concerned about the lack of pass rush. An improved secondary won't mean much if opposing quarterbacks have 5+ seconds in the pocket to peruse the field. Blitzing only opens holes in coverage. However, any improvement could yield a 2 game improvement over last year. Freeman will never be an elite quarterback, but he can be a winning quarterback if he trusts his team. Last year he couldn't trust the defense and he tried too hard. There are a couple of things he can improve on mechanically. He tends to sail his throws and he telegraphs his throws. Those things are mechanical and can be fixed. I would like to see more fire in his belly, but that is not who he is.
  • avatar


    Just the title of this article alone gives me the willies
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