After turning in three less than stellar halves of football the Buccaneers got it together when it mattered in the second half against the Vikings. Make no mistakes about it, the Bucs are not a team without their share of early-season issues, but once again Josh Freeman came through to act as an eraser for many of the Buccaneers’ mistakes, leading Tampa to a 4th quarter comeback win and evening the Buccaneers record at 1-1.
There’s plenty to break down, and I’ll save the more in-depth analysis for the offensive breakdown coming later today. But there are certainly plenty of notable storylines coming out of Sunday’s game. From the continued emergence of receivers like Preston Parker and Dezmon Briscoe, to the unflappability of Josh Freeman to the continued struggles of the lines. There’s plenty to break down and digest.
So here are several thoughts from the morning after…
Josh Freeman is a No-Huddle QB
Make no mistake about it, Josh Freeman is at his best when he needs to come from behind. When you toss out the huddle and let him rely purely on his instincts he is at another level. There are times in a game when Freeman almost seems to struggle at the line, it seems like he gets bogged down by calling out a protection and trying to read a defensive alignment pre-play. That’s honestly just a young quarterback in the final stages of the learning process, but Freeman is not without a few growing pains in his third year. That’s just reality.
When the Bucs go no-huddle though a lot of those responsibilities go out the window. Freeman still needs to pay attention, but the brunt of his focus goes towards lining up and getting the play off. This is when you see Josh at his best.
I think a large part of it is that Freeman is a very intelligent quarterback, but he doesn’t always trust himself. When he goes no-huddle he has to. Any semblance of uncertainty is replaced by confidence, Freeman has said time and time again he would rather go out and win a game than try not to lose it, that idea manifests itself in the 4th quarter. When Freeman can toss the rest out and just go for it, he is quickly becoming one of the most clutch QB’s in football.
Preston Parker Should Not Surprise You
I don’t want to say I told you so, but I’ve been writing about Preston Parker since last year. Parker may be a UDFA but he’s not a surprise. In college Preston Parker was once a pretty prolific player at FSU. He was arguably the most dynamic player on the Seminole offense before being kicked out of the school for repeated off-the-field indiscretions. Parker finished his career with Terry Bowden at Northern Alabama and missed being drafted entirely. But that wasn’t for lack of talent, at FSU Parker was considered a second or third round prospect, he would have had the shot to be a first rounder with a big senior year.
Now that he’s in his second year in the NFL, it’s not surprising to see what Parker is capable of. On Sunday against Minnesota he lead the Buccaneers with six catches for 98 yards including an immeasurably important grab in the red-zone on 3rd and 4. Parker was downright clutch for the Bucs on a day when Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn were held to one catch each.
A quick side-note, at FSU Preston Parker was commonly asked if he was Florida State’s Percy Harvin, an allusion to the prolific collegiate career of Harvin at UF during that same time. Parker would always say no, he’s the team’s Preston Parker, but the comparisons were made until Parker left the university. Unfortunately, there wasn’t my equality between those teams, the Gators were good and the Seminoles were not over that stretch. On Sunday, in the NFL, Parker outshined Harvin. I doubt anyone took much notice, but I’m sure in the back of his mind Parker took note of it after Sunday. The Bucs should continue to increase Parker’s role, he’s just scraping at his potential.
I’ll be back with more later today.