Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Made The Right Choice Drafting Josh Freeman In 2009, But There’s Still Work Left To Do

October 23, 2011; London, ENGLAND; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman 5 is introduced prior to the game against the Chicago Bears in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

For a majority of his career Josh Freeman has been criticized for his consistency. Asides from people in One Buc Place, no one is sold that Freeman is the “elite” player who can bring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization to the next level.  2013 will be a contract year for Freeman, the fifth year quarterback will have to return to his 2010 form in order earn a big payday. Despite what the experts think, the statistics show that the Buccaneers made the right decision at quarterback during the 2009 draft. In this article I will justify why Freeman has been the best 2009 quarterback, and explain why he is set to have a big year.

 

Each Year is broken down to evaluate Wins, Losses, Passing Yards, Touchdowns, Interceptions, Completion Percentage, and the QBR rating of Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford, and Mark Sanchez.

The first part of my research that I want to bring up is durability. Durability is the most underrated statistic when it comes to good quarterbacks. Take Michael Vick for example, he was one of the most talented quarterbacks when he was on the Falcons, but injuries have plagued his career. You can’t help your team win games if you can’t handle the physical toll of a 16 game season. Freeman has only missed one start in his career at Tampa Bay, a stat that is often overlooked by most football analysts. Matt Stafford might have more touchdowns and less interceptions, but Freeman is the better choice in the long run.

Accuracy and decision-making are the second most important skills for a quarterback to possess, think Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. This is the area where the 2009 draft class struggles.  Last season all three quarterbacks of the 2009 draft were among the 10 quarterbacks with the most interceptions. Aside from Sanchez, Freeman and Stafford have both exhibited the arm strength needed to be elite NFL players. In addition they have the wide-receivers in place to help them achieve top 10 rankings in passing-yardage. In order for Freeman to prove that he is a franchise quarterback he will have to improve himself this year, or become a free-agent. The beautiful thing about football is that every season is a fresh start, and in 2013 Freeman might have the best offensive line in the league to help give him more time to make the right decisions. If all goes well, Freeman might have another 64.6 QBR season and finally silence his critics.

During his second year in the Schiano offense, Freeman will be facing a group of opponents that went .500 last season. The stars are lining up for Freeman as Tampa Bay has the easiest schedule in the NFC South. Carolina was dealt the leagues hardest schedule (.543), New Orleans’s schedule was third (.539), and Atlanta’s upcoming opponents are .504. This difference could be the factor that helps Tampa Bay make the playoffs this year. The Buccaneers upcoming 2013 schedule might also help Freeman separate himself from his draft mates. Stafford, his main competition, has the leagues second hardest schedule (.539), and if Sanchez can keep his starting position over rookie Geno Smith, he will face two powerhouse divisions in the AFC East and NFC South.

Critics might be right about Freeman’s consistency, but one thing that has remained consistent, is the belief from Buccaneers’ management that they made the right pick in 2009.  Even though Freeman was not Schiano’s pick, he went on NFL network and stood up for his quarterback when his job security was questioned.

May 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) during organized team activities at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“I believe in competition, and Mike Glennon is going to be a tremendous quarterback in his time,” Schiano said. “But we have a quarterback, it’s Josh Freeman. He had a really good spring. I think it’s really coming together, being in this system for a second year now and hearing the things over again after being able to study it, I’m really encouraged…. I know Mike Sullivan, our offensive coordinator, he’s encouraged. We’re looking forward to big things. Josh is going to have a big year.”

Last season Freeman lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense and produced a franchise single-season record 5,820 yards.  The flashes of Freeman’s brilliance were good enough for Dominik to overlook the turnovers for another year.

“We’re starting to score points and be that offense that’s never been here before. And we feel like we can completely improve upon that as well.”

This season could make or break Freeman’s career. Everything is set-up for him to succeed this year, and if he doesn’t he’ll have no one to blame but himself. But for the sake of the Buccaneers, I hope he proves all his critics wrong, including the Lions and Jets.

Topics: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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  • RussMillerWY

    I don’t really believe there is any such thing as an “elite” class of perfect, superhuman quarterbacks who have silenced their critics. Peyton Manning has questions about his arm strength, durability, and, although seldom mentioned, his ability to teach anything to any of his backups. Favre’s backups, like Aaron Rodgers and Matt Hasselbeck, went on to greatness. Whatever happened to Curtis Painter and Jim Sorgi? They’re in the same place as Mike Vanderjagt. Tom Brady? How come he can’t win the big games anymore? Also, how many Pro Bowl quarterbacks were universally lionized by their fourth year? Was Drew Brees? No. Eli Manning? No. Even with two rings he’s still an interception machine. Dan Fouts didn’t throw more touchdowns than interceptions until his sixth year. Neither did Terry Bradshaw.

    To today’s press, anything less than perfection is “inconsistency.” There are so many variables that affect the outcome of a play that no amount of film study will ever reveal, because we don’t know how the play is drawn up and who looked like they were doing the right thing, but didn’t. We only know there was an incompletion, a sack, or an interception. If we expect perfection from a young qb with obvious talent and ability, he will fall short, and so will all the others who succeed him. Suffice it to say that Freeman is an excellent quarterback for his age, maybe even one of the best ever for his age, and he is obviously dedicated to self-improvement. If Bucs fans want to send him off into the wilderness this year as their next scapegoat, they’ll regret it when Freeman leads some team that had everything but a decent quarterback to “elite” status in the playoffs.

    • Rjames

      As far as Brady not being able to win big games you really have to look at the games he plays in the last game with the Ravens was handled badly in every way so I can’t say much for that but the man plays great in big games he hasn’t won the big for a while yes but he has still won plenty of big games and he performs well under pressure even in those losses to the giants he played really well. He scored and was up four points leaving the giants less than two minutes. I guess you can say he left his defense in a bad position but when you have an opportunity to score you take it. That game his receivers had over 8 drops more than any four games combined the rest of the season not to mention some amazing plays by the giants and some huge mistakes by the D. In the second game it was more or less the same story the first down passes were dropped that would have ended the game. The guy gets farther in January than anyone else in the league consistently. As for Manning the dude is really good but is still overrated.

  • scott torrez

    Dude, Ajax, Bucks, lack of arm strength are you really a BUCS fan ! just saying !!!!!!!

    • LeoTPP

      lol, and Freeman went to Kansas State. Either not a Bucs fan, or trying to troll us. Either way, it’s kinda funny.