We have all heard the conflicting feelings from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ front office, coach, and even players regarding the uncertainty of quarterback Josh Freeman. There is so much ambiguity, that it has led to doubt. And not just doubt about his play, but about his future with the team.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am seeing both sides of this battle. If Freeman has a season of poor play, then you get a bargain on him, afford to bring in his predecessor or some stronger competition next year, and not be searching the car seat for change as a result of the horrible cap hit (think Mark Sanchez). Or, if he comes out and proves himself worthy, than pay him the money he deserves and keep him under center with an offense that has already started to build around his position (look no further than Joe Flacco and his recent impact on the Ravens off-season).
This year and last year’s signings, have proven that Dominik and the Glazers haven’t been afraid to pay for strength, but let’s hope that translates back to their own players and not just money they flash to bring big names on board the private jet. Free agents can burn you (good-bye Eric Wright) just as bad as a player you have let walk. There are measures that need to be taken to ensure this decision is made properly.
GIVE JOSH FREEMAN THE CREDIT HE’S DUE. Yes, Freeman’s play was a bit shaky to watch last year, but look at his season-by-season numbers. He had personal bests in yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt, yards per completion, yards per game and even his longest completion to date. Sure he had 17 interceptions, but let’s remember that 8 of those came over a 2 game span near the end of the season. To give you a further idea, Josh’s touchdown to interception ratio was better than the likes of Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, and even Jay Cutler to name a few.
GIVE HIM A FAIR CHANCE. In his first year working with Mike Sullivan, Eli Manning had his second most yards, attempts and yards per game to name a few. He threw the most touchdowns of his career that year as well as the most interceptions…Starting to sound like someone we know? The next season, Eli came back and added over 900 yards to that total, improving most of his other stats on the way to winning his second Superbowl. This could be a nice sign of things to come, Mike Sullivan was just getting started last year. The more you let people build chemistry, the better they will work together. That goes for the quarterbacks relationship with his line, his receivers and his coaches. As long as Josh shows improvement from year to year and increased comfort, than the best thing to do is let it grow. The more the scenery changes, the more negative the effect on the player (look at Jason Campbell).
DON’T BLAME HIS PASSING GAME FOR THE LACK OF PASSING D. Hey, a 7-9 record is not indicative of a quarterback that made franchise records for passing yards, passing touchdowns and regular season points. If there was a pass defense last year, than our season could have ended VERY differently. Seven of the nine losses were by less than eight points (hell, six of those were 7 points or less). This is the reason we signed Goldson, but let it be WELL known, that he alone is not the answer to a weak backfield. Imagine last season moving the last ranked pass defense to just an average 16th, and pairing that with our number 1 rush D! Three games were lost by less than a field goal. Just think of the possibilities.
LOOK AT IT FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW. Take all things into account. I’m not even gonna say him not being signed is going to damage his confidence. His ten 4th quarter comebacks prove there is no issue there. But see every angle. Last season over half of his INT’s came after Carl Nicks was lost for the season. As I mentioned, 8 of them came over two games. Those two games were his highest pass attempts all season, paired with the only losses by more than 8 points, it’s fair to say he was taking big chances those games.
Last season, there were teams that had a great defense, but their offense just couldn’t finish games. This was not the case in Tampa. Think back to when Jon Gruden coached what, at the time, was the highest scoring offense in franchise history. The defense was upset over Monte Kiffin cheating on them and like a high school girlfriend ruined the party for everyone. Gruden was fired and the Glazers cleaned house, when their main problem had already left in the form of Kiffin. The reason I bring this up is I’m scared they will let Josh walk too early. If they get all of their defensive pieces lined up over the draft and free agency, then right when this team starts to click, they could begin rebuilding on the offense. What you need is a team that will all gel at the right time.
The reason I think the Buccaneers shouldn’t be focused on Josh Freeman right now, is because they need to focus an the areas that NEED to improve. The areas that hindered them last year. There is some need for improvement at quarterback, but I don’t feel there is room for rebuilding. That said, allowing Josh Freeman to walk in 2014 could leave the Buccaneers rebuilding on one side of the ball for the second straight offseason. So let’s all enjoy Josh Freeman’s 2013 season, and see if he earns the right to be the Buccaneers’ quarterback for years to come.