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August 29, 2013 @ 2:00 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

Gruden Says Freeman And Bucs Will Win NFC South

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Josh Freeman has taken a beating in recent weeks with an inconsistent four-year career and a perceived disappointing preseason, but on Thursday a familiar face stood up for Freeman and made a bold prediction about the 2013 season.
After getting called “God-awful” by Fran Tarkenton, ripped nationally by some other NFL pundits and picked apart on local sport talk radio shows, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman finally got some love from outside the walls of One Buc Place.

Former Bucs head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said in an ESPN conference call on Thursday, not only does he believe in Freeman, but he thinks Tampa Bay’s man-under-center will lead the team to a division title.

“I think this is the year for Tampa to win the division and return to the playoffs,’’ Gruden said. “I have a lot of confidence Tampa is going to be a very good football team this year.’’

Gruden went on to talk about Tarkenton’s and comments and what he likes in Freeman.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Fran Tarkenton,’’ Gruden said, “but I don’t necessarily agree with his comment on Josh Freeman. I’ve lived in Tampa 13 years, and I have studied Tampa Bay carefully for a lot of reasons. If you don’t think Josh Freeman can play, I think you’re making a huge mistake.

“He broke franchise records (passing yards, touchdown passes), and I’ve seen him do it at a high level. That means he can do it again. Not everyone agrees. I’m accused of being too positive and liking everybody, but I do like Freeman.”

Picking Tampa Bay to win the NFC South wasn’t only because of Freeman; instead Gruden said the Bucs have many pieces in place to make a run.

“They have a quarterback who has played well in this system and they have two great receivers in Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson,’’ Gruden said. “Their offensive line appears to be getting healthy, and if (Carl) Nicks returns, with Davin Joseph, that guard combination is as good as there is in football. The left tackle (Donald Penn) is a Pro Bowler.

“They have a running back (Doug Martin) that no one talks enough about. What a phenomenal rookie year he had. Defensively, I think we were signing defensive backs at the Pepin distributorship when I was coaching the Bucs, but when you bring in Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, you immediately become formidable in the secondary.’’

After winning a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2002, Gruden spent the remainder of his Bucs coaching career trying to find his next Rich Gannon or Brad Johnson. Unfortunately for Gruden – and Bucs fans – it never happened and Gruden was fired after the 2008 season. Could things have been different had Freeman walked through the door while Gruden was head coach of the Bucs?

"I wish I had Josh Freeman,” Gruden said. “I’ll just say it like that.’’

Last modified on Thursday, 29 August 2013 14:39

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  • avatar

    Good for Grudog to stick up for the Bucs. All Freeman needs is a little confidence to get on a roll. To bail out now would be a waste of five years and a number one pick. Glad Gruden is still loyal to the Bucs even though he got shafted by the Glazer boys. Gruden should be in the Ring of Honor and hopefully not posthumous. Gruden was also the best fan friendly coach we ever had.
  • avatar

    Gruden is like a used car salesmann " Theres not a bad car on the lot". If only he drafted better he might still be here. He should have stuck to coaching instead of trying to be the GM.
  • avatar

    I remember when Jon Gruden had an older short QB, whose name escapes me, but he took the Bucs to ten wins and got them into the playoffs, I believe, and we lost in the first round to the New York Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl. That short QB impressed me a lot more than Freeman ever has, and the short QB was deadly passing deep on the run. Yes, if Coach Gruden was here now, he would be taking advantage of Freeman's ability to pass on the run, and allow him to run, when the pass is not there. Jon Gruden has forgot more than Schiano ever knew about NFL Coaching. As much as I admire Jon Gruden and believe he should have been put on the Ring of Honor (instead of the Bucs first coach who never made it to the Super Bowl, but you know i am a die hard Buc Fan and always will be, and I would love it if Jon Gruden was right.
  • avatar

    Guden had two QBs far better than Freeman--Johnson, and a short older QB, whose name escapes me. Didn't the latter take the Bucs to a ten win season and just lose to the Giants in the first playoff game, who went on to win the Superbowl? That short QB could throw deep on the run better than any QB I have ever seen. If Gruden had had Freeman, I doubt he would have let him loose so much weight, and he would have let him throw on the run, and run if everyone was covered. He knew what to do with a QB. I am afraid that Jon Gruden has forgotten more NFL information than Shiano has ever known and Schiano cannot hold a candle to Gruden. I also think Gruden should already be on the Ring of Honor, instead of our first Coach who had a losing record during his tenure and definitely never got us close to a Superbowl. Much as I respect Jon Gruden, I think his prediction is wrong as far as Freeman leading us to win the conference.
  • avatar

    I am starting to see a name on the Ring of Honor......not clear.......Jo Gru........ Hard to see from here, but
  • avatar

    No doubt Gru is guilty of falling onto man love with big, physical players. That's how we ended up with Trueblood for instance. But also no doubt that he is the most knowledgable, driven and intense head coach we've ever had. Truth of the matter is, he needs a strong willed GM who can evaluate talent. BA was strong in areas like capology and contract structure but less so in the personnel dept. Give Gru talent and he'll make the most of it. Give him chicken and he'll make chicken salad, but give him chicken *censored* and you'll get back - chicken *censored* squared. Some coaches can turn chicken shirt into chicken salad, that is not his strength. Just as Dungy's strength was one dimensional - overload your drafts and salary cap on defense, since that's the only thing you have a clue about (see Greise, Steckel et al), and pray...
  • avatar

    Redskins have us 27 to 6 at the half. I don't care. I'm a diehard Bucs fan and Can't wait til the season starts. We have 16 games to play and one helluva line up. Go Bucs!!
  • avatar

    I'd say I hope so,What I see on the internet Tampa is not looking so good vs wash. I have to realize how much is Tampa showing.I hope they exployed vs the first 4 games. I know one thing Tampa will beat Atlanta this year. Also Iam sadden to hear that the store on Florida ave was closed and went to another location.I enjoyed buying Bucs wears. I see also that BUCCO BRUCE who own the store is selling all his stuff at 50% off I wish I was down there to buy some orange shirts go bucs.COME ON FANS LIFT THE BLACKOUTS AND SUPPORT THE TEAMS IN TAMPA AREA. I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THE FANS IN THE AREA DON'T SUPPORT ALL THE TEAMS. I HAVE TO LIVED IN THE DALLAS AREA AND THEY SELL OUT ALL THE GAMES IN FOOTBALL, BASEBALL, AND HOCKEY ! WHY CAN'T YOU GUYS DO THE SAME. IF I WAS DOWN THERE I WOULD SUPPORT THE TEAMS-AGAIN GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Call me a homer, but Gruden will always be my favorite coach of all-time. He and Kiffin once invited my uncle to sit down with them in a restaurant (The Apple) to eat lunch and talk football. But it is also good to see Coach with fondness and some form of loyalty to the Bucs. I'm not saying Gruden only said this because of his ties to Tampa Bay, but you look at former coaches on NFL Network or ESPN and you would never know they were a coach for whatever team being discussed. I guess I just find it refreshing from Gruden sticking by Tampa.
  • avatar

    Clearwater Buc 21; I agree with you.
  • avatar

    pinkstob; I'm right with you.
  • avatar

    He only has himself to blame that he didn`t draft a top QB during his tenure.
  • avatar

    I wish Coach Gruden would of pick the Bucs to finish last, just about everybody else has. Every year, a team the "experts" pick to finish last flies under the radar and makes the playoffs. Like Seattle did last year. To me when "experts" are surprised, they no longer qualify as experts. Go Bucs!!!
  • avatar

    Yup, had he had a freeman instead of a Simms or a gradcowski he would probably still be here.
  • avatar

    I know one thing, if Gruden had Freeman he'd be bootlegging and/or running more, which I would love. But overall I don't know if Freeman would have been more effective because Gruden would have Freeman throwing more short and medium passes and Freeman's best passes are the deep ones.
  • avatar

    I recall Gruden, during his Bucs days(and even during his raider days), never really had a chance at a Qb - Not Flacco, not Roethlisberger; not anybody. Yes, he had a chance at Rodgers, but it appears his plan was to trade up after getting Carnel Williams; who would have drafted Rodgers with the fourth or fifth pick overall that year?
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