Could Josh Freeman “Destroy” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Playoff Hopes?

Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, SI.com writer Tom Mantzouranis did a preview of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2013 offseason, but it turned into a rant against the Buccaneers’ quarterback Josh Freeman. Mantzouranis had this to say about Freeman and the Buccaneers:

At the team’s other big problem, under center, don’t expect it to be a big player either in the draft or free agency. The Bucs are going to play this year out with Freeman, and that’s a giant shoe dangling over the team’s 2013, threatening to drop at any second.

We’ll be looking at the Bucs and seeing a team that has improved in the secondary, but maybe not enough, with a quarterback that threatens to destroy a team that should otherwise be squarely in the playoff race.

So is the former Kansas State quarterback poised to have that kind of impact on the 2013 Buccaneers? It’s not out of the question. In a season where the offense put up numbers that had never been achieved in team history, Freeman was the center of more controversy and scrutiny than he was praise and confidence. Consistency remains the main concern with the Buccaneer signal caller, as he shows the ability to make the right throw, but also the propensity to abandon his better judgement and fundamentals in favor of mind-blowing decisions.

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of how he will impact the Buccaneers in the upcoming NFL season, the answer lies in the consistency of other aspects of the team. A healthy offensive line will be a key, as this will take pressure off of Josh Freeman and allow him time to make better decisions. The consistent effort of Mike Williams will help prevent some of the interceptions we saw this season, as Williams does tend to ease up on some routes and allow defensive backs to make a play on the ball. The continued success of Doug Martin is obviously a key, as running the ball takes the game out of the hands of Freeman. A better defense that doesn’t put the Buccaneers in losing positions would help, as well, as opposing teams can take more chances on defense with a lead, and will play differently knowing that their offense is going to have no problem moving the ball. Imagine if the Buccaneers didn’t have to rely on Josh Freeman in crunch time against the Giants this season, and the lead the offense had built was good enough to hold onto a victory?

I have had my moments of frustration with Josh Freeman, and still have my doubts as to his qualifications as a franchise quarterback. But consider that Joe Flacco was the 12th rated passer in the NFL in 2012, and he won Super Bowl MVP. Freeman does not need to be the superstar leader of the team to bring them to where they want to be. He does need to limit his mistakes. And it’s those mistakes that will make or break the Buccaneers in 2013. Freeman did improve from 2011 to 2012, and a continued focus on protecting the football next year should move Freeman up the quarterback ratings to where Flacco ranked this past season. So while Freeman is capable of destroying the Buccaneers playoff hopes, he’s also capable of giving them enough of a contribution to spark a playoff run. Such is the volatile life of an NFL quarterback.

Topics: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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  • Tony Brown

    Come on Leo. Why do you hate Josh Freeman so much? Teams with far worse QBs have made the playoffs before. Jets with Sanchez, Ravens with Flacco, Broncos with Tebow, etc. No, Freeman will not destroy the Bucs playoff hopes.

    • http://twitter.com/UTEPMiners Leo

      I was quoting another author on the “destroy” aspect, and I clearly stated that he’s capable of leading the team to a playoff run. But he’s also capable of putting the team in an awful position. So it’s a fair question to ask. and I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way.

      And you make a good point, the same one that I make. You don’t need a superstar quarterback to make the playoffs. However, turnovers KILL teams chances, and over the past two seasons Josh has turned it over far too much. However, as I said, Josh has improved from 2011 to 2012, so if he improves again in 2013 and limits his turnovers a bit more, we could see him lead the team into the playoffs.

      • Tony Brown

        I’ll be honest, I commented before reading. I saw the title and assumed it was another Freeman hate thread. And you know me, Freeman’s my boy. I rage pretty easily when I see him get dissed. Haha.
        You’re right, though. He does need to work on the turnovers. I think he’s capable of doing that and he has improved on that from last year (he only had 8 picks before falling apart against the Saints). He’ll be even better next year, and this team will make a playoff run.

        • http://twitter.com/UTEPMiners Leo

          If Freeman has 10 or fewer picks in 2013, the Buccaneers will almost certainly have a 500+ record and a playoff berth. He’s capable of doing it (see: 2010) so its hard to see him struggle. If he’s better, we can re-sign him confidently. if he’s not, we let him go and move on. Gonna be an interesting year.

  • RussMillerWY

    TV and radio journalists get paid to say provocative, kooky things. Drew Brees had very similar stats to Josh Freeman at this point in his career. Brett Favre’s career interception rate is identical to Freeman’s. Of all the positions of concern for the Bucs, qb isn’t one of them. My only worry is, like Flacco, that Freeman will likely have his best year in his contract year. Good for him, bad for the salary cap, haha!

    • http://twitter.com/UTEPMiners Leo

      I’d rather pay Josh knowing he’s the real deal than commit too much to him and find out he’s lost the touch he had in ’10.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-P-Taylor/551980142 James P. Taylor

    The Josh Freeman we saw for the first 11 weeks of the season is more than capable of winning football games and getting into the playoffs. He had a bad slide towards the end of the season. Maybe he was nursing an injury and kept quiet about it. Maybe he started pressing to win the game. The kid has all the physical tools and he will have a second year with this coaching staff. If his line is healthy and Doug Martin avoids a sophomore slump then this upcoming season will be make or break for the kid. I remember waiting for Testaverde and Dilfer to turn around. They never had a season in a Bucs uniform that Freeman had in 2010. So I think it might be premature to write the kid off.

    • http://twitter.com/UTEPMiners Leo

      Absolutely. Freeman is frustrating, but he’s not awful. The frustration makes him seem worse than a Dilfer, but in reality, he’s a new mindset away from being a top flight NFL quarterback.