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December 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers former head coach Jon Gruden talks during the presentation of the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Super Bowl Champions during halftime against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium. The Eagles won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Gruden: "I Wish I Had Josh Freeman"

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Jon Gruden seems to like every NFL player. When you listen to his analysis on Monday Night Football, he points out the plethora of players he is high on, and the positive attributes about all of them.

He knows that, but he took his comments about the Buccaneers’ quarterback Josh Freeman to another level on a conference call, with quotes obtained from Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.

If you don’t think Josh Freeman can play, I think you’re making a huge mistake. He broke franchise records [for passing yards and touchdown passes], and I’ve seen him do it at a high level. That means he can do it again. Not everyone agrees. I’m accused of being too positive and liking everybody, but I do like Freeman. I wish I had Josh Freeman, I’ll just say it like that.

Freeman has become the target of much disgust from the Tampa Bay fanbase, as his inconsistent play over the past two seasons and a lackluster (albeit abbreviated) performances in the preseason have left a lot to be desired.

But one of the best quarterback coaches of this generation has chimed in with support for Freeman, citing Freeman’s ability to make big plays as his most favorable attribute.

Gruden’s logic is likely that he would be able to get more out of Josh Freeman than the Buccaneers’ coaching staff has over the past few seasons, and he might be right. To date, one of the best single-seasons performances from a quarterback in Tampa Bay history was Brad Johnson‘s season in charge when the Buccaneers made their historic run to the Super Bowl.

But will Mike Sullivan and John McNulty be able to work their own sort of magic on Freeman?

Sullivan had great success molding Eli Manning into an elite quarterback during his time in New York, and Freeman set the aforementioned team records under Sullivan in his first year in the system.

But there must be improvement in year two, just as there was improvement over time for Manning in the Mike Sullivan offense.

So it’s nice to hear some positive comments from a former coach (who was fired by the Buccaneers, and clearly owes them no favors), but Josh Freeman still has plenty of work to do on the field to earn the respect of frustrated Tampa Bay fans.

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Tags: Jon Gruden Josh Freeman Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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