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Aug 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) passes the ball against the Miami Dolphins in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Assessing Every Dropback from Josh Freeman's Performance Against the Miami Dolphins

Last night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers saw very little to be encouraged by as their Bucs’ first team offense seemed to struggle to get on the game page all night long. Most fans focused a majority of their outrage at quarterback Josh Freeman, and the final numbers seem to support the displeasure with the polarizing QB.

So let’s take a look back at Freeman’s performance, and see what went right, what went wrong, and what we can learn.

Attempt 1: Freeman drops the ball off to Mike Williams, who makes some moves for a first down (then fumbles, Bucs recover). Freeman got rid of the ball quickly against the blitz, and found a receiver with room to work for the first down. A positive play for Freeman.

Attempt 2: The Buccaneers run their first of two short boots for Freeman with Vincent Jackson running a comeback. Perfect throw is dropped by Vincent. Another positive play from Freeman.

Pass interference: Josh finds Vincent Jackson deep with a one-on-one versus Brent Grimes. He climbs up the pocket against pressure, and Grimes is forced to hold Jackson for about 5 yards to make sure he can’t haul in the pass. No way of knowing how accurate the pass is, because Jackson was impeded for a good 5 yards on his way into the end zone. A seemingly positive play.

Attempt 3: Josh steps up into pressure and throws to Vincent Jackson, but the ball is a bit high. Vincent gets his hands on it, but it could have been a better throw. A neutral play with some reason for concern, but not an awful throw.

Attempt 4: This throw might be the main reason for concern for the Buccaneers’ offense heading into 2013. Vincent Jackson is running downfield with a one-on-one against a much shorter Brent Grimes. Let’s take a look at what Josh Freeman sees at the time of the throw.

There is a safety towards the middle of the field, and Jackson has space against Grimes. If Josh Freeman has an option here, he’s going to want to throw the ball up for Vincent to go and get it, since the safety won’t factor in. But here’s what winds up happening.

Vincent breaks his route off inside towards the safety, while the throw seems to follow a 9 route for Jackson. Perhaps it was going to be a back shoulder throw? Either way, it doesn’t look like Freeman and Jackson had the same route in mind.

This isn’t the first or last time this will happen, as it seems to be a symptom of the current offensive scheme. If you go back through my breakdown of the interceptions Josh Freeman threw in 2012, you’ll find that this was the cause of multiple turnovers in 2012 for the Bucs.

It’s still possible that Freeman just simply overthrew the ball, but it’s impossible to know without being in the huddle. It’s hard to point to Freeman’s arm, Freeman’s head, or Vincent’s head as the guilty party here.

Sack 1: Josh has no options with only three men running routes, and the only one open before he’s sacked is Kevin Ogletree, who would have had 2-3 yards on a third and long.

Attempt 5: The Buccaneers run the same boot action play with a comeback to Vincent Jackson that was dropped earlier in the game. This time Vincent catches the ball, and it works as intended. A positive play for the Buccaneers’ offense.

Attempt 6: Freeman’s pass is tipped at the line. It was going to be thrown to an open Mike Williams.

Attempt 7: Freeman has little time to throw on third down, and has to throw from bad footing. He gets it to Ogletree, but it’s just short of a first down.

Aug 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) and Miami Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor (22) both bobble a pass intended for Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Attempt 8: Josh Freeman has Mike Williams one-on-one on the outside, and tries to loft the ball up to Williams. Both Williams and Ogletree are running the same route on the same side of the field (which is not ideal), but the throw was just a bit too long, anyways. Seemed like Williams lost his footing a bit during his route, but certainly an overthrow.

Sack 2: Josh has just over 2 seconds to get from the time of the snap before he’s being assaulted by the Miami defense, and has no one open except for Mike Williams, who he had no time to see.

Attempt 9: A perfect back-shoulder throw to Mike Williams down the sideline. Just like they work on in every practice I witnessed this offseason.

Attempt 10: This one is tough to figure out, as Josh Freeman is trying to find Kevin Ogletree on a very short pass. Ogletree sits down on a slant route, and Josh’s throw winds up further up the field, where the slant would have continued to. Again, without being in the huddle, it’s tough to know what the read and responsibility was supposed to be for the players involved.

Attempt 11: Freeman overthrows Ogletree who has his man beat on a quick in-and-out route. Put the ball up a bit too far for KO. A negative play.

Sack 3/Fumble: This went down officially as a sack, but Freeman just dropped the wet football. A negative play for the Buccaneers’ QB.

Sack 4: Mike James picks up a blitzing defensive back, but Josh Freeman walks right up into him and is sacked for no gain. Freeman would have had an open receiver for a first down, but had no room to step up. There was no loss of yardage, so a sack is the same as a throwaway. It still would have been nice to see a better job of handling the pressure for Freeman.

Aug 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Attempt 12: Josh Freeman steps up in the pocket, settles his feet, and throws a perfect first down pass to Mike Williams. Williams drops it. A positive play for Freeman.

Attempt 13: Freeman is under pressure in the back of his end zone, and throws deep for Mike Williams, who gets his feet caught with a defender and can’t quite pick up the ball. The ball was still overthrown, but Freeman had to make sure it wasn’t intercepted.

Attempt 14: Freeman rolls to his left and finds Kevin Ogletree for a first down.

Attempt 15: Josh Freeman steps up after a play action fake, and hits Mike Williams in the hands over the middle. The throw is slightly high, but catchable, and Williams must have more sure hands during the regular season. A disappointing night for Mike.

Sack 5: Josh has absolutely no time, as Nate Byham allows a free rusher to take down his quarterback right off the snap.

Attempt 16: A screen pass on third and long that goes nowhere to end the night for Josh Freeman.


So overall, there were certainly some negative plays from the Buccaneers’ offense, but it’s hard to pin most of them on just one man. A shaky offensive line and stone handed receivers held back Josh Freeman, and he did have a pair of inaccurate throws. But overall, there’s just a general out-of-sync feeling about the Buccaneer offense, and that must change before week one against New York.

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