No one in Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ history has even thrown for more touchdowns in a season than Josh Freeman did in 2012. Let that sink in for a bit. I am as much of a doubter of Freeman as anyone else, but the numbers tell a story of a very productive player in an offense that scored points at a rate that would be the envy of the late 90’s Bucs who struggled to score enough to win with the best defense in the league.
But there were plenty of mistakes. We previously took a look at every interception that Freeman threw in 2012, you can check out that breakdown by clicking here. Today, we’re going to do the opposite, and give you a breakdown of how Josh Freeman rewrote the Bucs’ record books with his 27 touchdown throws last season. So without any further introduction:
Touchdown 1 – Week 1 versus Carolina, First Quarter
On first and goal, the Buccaneers were in prime scoring position, and ready to start the season off right with a touchdown. The Doug Martin effect was already in place, and a playaction pass caused the Panthers to bite hard, and Mike Williams winds up one-on-one on the wide side of the field. Williams made a nice move to get to the inside of his defender, and Josh knew where the ball was going to go as soon as he looked up from the playaction. Touchdown one was on the board.
Touchdown 2 – Week 2 versus New York, Second Quarter
3rd and 11 in Giants’ territory is the setting for Josh’s next touchdown, and this is an example of the kind of score we’d see often in 2012. The Bucs lined up in the shotgun, with Danny Ware in to help block. The Giants sent a blitz, which Ware was able to help pick up. Freeman still felt a bit of heat, and had a free runner in his face when he let go of a pass to the side of the field the blitz was coming from. This turned out to be an excellent decision, as there was absolutely no help for the corner on that side of the field, and it created a one-on-one with Vincent Jackson. The throw was good enough, especially considering the pressure Josh faced, and Vincent did the rest.
Touchdown 3 – Week 2 versus New York, Fourth Quarter
The Bucs lined up in the shotgun with three wideouts (prepare yourself, you’ll see that phrase a lot), and bunched two of those wideouts with Dallas Clark to the right of the play. That left Mike Williams alone on the left, with no safety over the top, against Justin Tryon. Josh Freeman knew what he wanted to do as soon as he saw the set up. It took him a while to get rid of the ball, but Josh had the arm strength to get the ball to the back of the end zone, where a leaping Williams would miss the catch at first, but benefit from a bounce off the helmet of Tryon, who was hopelessly out of position. Josh made the right throw, and it was good enough for Mike to get it, he just did so by unconventional means.
Touchdown 4 – Week 3 versus Dallas, First Quarter
The Bucs lined up in a jumbo set, with an extra offensive lineman, and ran a playaction pass. Luke Stocker just released to the back corner of the end zone, and there was no one there to try to defend what would be an easy pass from Josh Freeman. The Cowboys had no idea if they were defending the run or pass, so they did neither.
Touchdown 5 – Week 4 versus Washington, Third Quarter
Shotgun, three wide receivers. Like I said, get used to that formation. Vincent Jackson is the lone receiver on the short side of the field, and is the only guy Freeman looks at from the snap. Jackson beats his defender off the line, and gets into a window between that defender and the safety. Josh delivers a perfect pass right into that window, and shows the arm strength that led to his selection by the Bucs in the first round. Jackson hauls it in, as he would do quite often, and the Bucs could celebrate for the time being.
Touchdown 6 – Week 6 versus Kansas City, First Quarter
The Bucs line up in an offset I formation, with only two receivers. The Chiefs answer with only one deep safety, which Josh recognizes right away. Mike Williams was one-on-one against Stanford Routt, and that’s a matchup the Buccaneers want every single time. Josh gets the pass up for Mike to go get it, and similarly to the catch over Justin Tryon earlier in the season, Williams has a clear positional advantage over Routt. The pass wasn’t perfect, but it was the right decision. Williams came down with the pass, and scrambled home for a score.
Touchdown 7 – Week 6 versus Kansas City, Third Quarter
The Bucs came out with five wide on this particular play, but one of those five was LeGarrette Blount. He was the wide out to the left of the play, with Vincent Jackson to his right in the slot. Blount was a warm body that had to be covered, so he occupied the outside defender. This meant Jackson was going up against the zone linebacker and zone safety over the middle of the field, and he found the soft spot behind the linebacker. He cut towards the post behind the defender, and Freeman delivered a slightly high pass that Jackson had no issues with, and he waltzed home for six.
Touchdown 8 – Week 6 versus Kansas City, Fourth Quarter
The Buccaneers were in the shotgun with three wide on this play, and Vincent Jackson is yet again in the slot. This is a bad look from the Chiefs perspective, as he is given far too much room by the defender in the slot, and turns upfield and grabs an easy pass from Josh Freeman, and finds his way into the end zone in the midst of some really lackluster tackling.