Last year heading into the NFL Draft, talk about the quarterbacks class was dominated by Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Pat White, and there was very little talk about Josh Freeman, who was drafted seventeenth overall by the Buccaneers. But after their rookie seasons, I would say that with the exception of Sanchez, Freeman had the best rookie year. Heading into the draft, Tampa Bay’s biggest need was a franchise quarterback and when they chose to select Freeman, there was a sigh of disbelief as to why they drafted him given all of their needs and all of the other available choices. For years, the Bucs tried to fill the position with short-term solutions, a Band-Aid here and a knee-wrap there, and the result was neither pretty nor was it effective. So after a defeated 0-7 start to the season, the Bucs chose to throw Freeman into the fire and, surprisingly enough, he did a pretty good job. When a team throws a rookie quarterback into the fire, no one really expects big things immediately.
But in his first ever start against the Green Bay Packers, Freeman played incredibly well for a rookie in leading the previous winless Bucs to an upset win over the Packers. Heading into his second NFL season, Freeman will enter training camp as the unquestioned starter and I think that will help him out a lot. This past season, he occasionally took reps with the first team, but not until he was announced the starter did he see any substantial time with the starters. This should allow Freeman to build a better rapport with their young and talented wide receiving corp. If the running backs group led by Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams can actually add some production, Freeman could have a solid sophomore year. We saw plenty of flashes of Freeman’s potential last season, and in my opinion, given the proper coaching and time to prepare as the starter, Freeman will surprise a lot of people and put together a very solid season. Josh Freeman joined WQYK in Tampa Bay on the King David Show to talk about whether he is satisfied with the progress of the offense so far this offseason, how important it is to get on the same page with the wide receivers during the summer practices, and what he identified as an area that he needs to make an improvement.
Whether he is satisfied with the progress of the offense so far this offseason:
“Yeah and I am definitely thrilled with the progress. We started the offseason and obviously it’s workouts and the one thing that I have really been impressed with and really excited about is I guess the attendance and I guess the attention that the receivers have shown to better their position. We obviously have some new additions with Reggie Brown, Mark Bradley, and now these three young rookies coming in and we have had from the summer just going out and going out throwing every day. We have had one hundred percent attendance from the receiver group and in this case the running backs as well.”
What his thoughts are on Aurelious Benn and Mike Williams:
“They are both really mature guys. They both came in and I remember texting them right after we drafted them and they were just like, ‘we can’t wait until we get to work’ and talk is talk, talk is cheap, but the minute they got here man they were all about getting in the playbook trying to learn as much as they could trying to figure this thing out. Yes, they run a wrong route every now and then but I mean I guess it is to be expected from a rookie wide receiver getting into a completely new offense. But at the same time they have continued to work and they have both shown some really promising flashed so far in OTA’s.”
How important it is to get on the same page with the wide receivers during the summer practices:
“It is definitely important. The thing is we have to figure out what our first team will be, from a wide receivers standpoint. We have had a lot of guys making plays these OTA’s. it is tough to think about one guy and say that he is really tearing it up because I fell that the offseason work has definitely paid off and we have a few rookies came in, not just draft picks but a couple of free agent guys who have come in and made some plays as well. I am getting reps with everybody. I feel comfortable with everybody that we have right now but it is definitely important when it comes to working with the o-line making the protection calls and just getting in kind of a rhythm with them and so when the live bullets are flying we have been through it before and they know the calls that I am going to make. They know the tempo in which I say the cadence.”
What he identified as an area that he needs to make an improvement:
“I am going to, I guess, clump two different areas together. Obviously the first, interceptions, but at the same time I am going to couple that with I guess as being greedy. When I say greedy, from a quarterback’s mentality, obviously you know this, sometimes you want to take the shot, you want the pretty touchdown, but I just have to realize that seven points is just seven points regardless of how you look at it. Whether it is checking the ball down maybe hitting the flat route, whether it is a ten-play drive or a two-play bomb drive, seven points is just seven points. I just have to start being more conservative and in the long run more efficient from a standpoint of completion, completion percentage and overall passing efficiency.”