It was after a terrible game against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season when many fans began to question if Josh Freeman was the right guy for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I wrote that he can and will be. It looked like I was right for the following eight weeks as Freeman took the league by storm.
But after four straight losses, and three coming off of bad performances by Freeman, the doubters are back out, and I don’t blame them. For a fourth-year quarterback, he is simply still making mistakes that he shouldn’t be making.
One thing that we know for a fact is that Freeman will never be the quarterback that will tear up a defense with pinpoint accuracy. No matter how much he works on it, that’s just not who he is. But Freeman can still become a more consistent player and someone that can lead the Buccaneers to the playoffs as early as next year.
The biggest thing that he needs to work on this off season is being Josh Freeman. Too many times I see him trying to be like one of the Manning’s and hang in the pocket until it collapses on top of him instead of using one of his biggest assets his legs. When Freeman is at is his best is when he is on the move, yet even though many of us see this he continues to try and be a traditional pocket passer.
Freeman whether he likes it or not is a dual threat quarterback and needs to start playing like it. When watching Ben Roethlisberger scramble around and create extra time for his receivers you can only hope that one day Freeman can add that to his game.
He is one of the better passers in the league when he is on the run and has the fortune of playing with two receivers that consistently win jump ball scenarios in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. I can only hope that with another off season he can better trust his legs and his receivers.
The other piece that Freeman needs is a reliable slot receiver, and hopefully the Buccaneers make that a priority in this off season. In a league where three receiver sets are becoming the stable formation for most teams the Buccaneers need someone that understands the position and will be the place that Freeman expects him to be.
Tiquan Underwood has been a flash in the pan and you can see why he has bounced around a couple of NFL teams, whether it’s dropping balls in crucial situations or being off communication with Freeman, the past few weeks have exposed the Buccaneers lack of a true number three receiver. Adding a speedy guy like Tavon Austin in the draft could be just what the Bucs and Freeman need.
I think if Freeman can continue to put in the work that he did this past off season and Sullivan gets another full off season with him we can finally see Freeman turn the corner and become a more consistent performer instead of the hot and cold version that we see right now.
Remember that Freeman is only 24 years old and while I won’t excuse his mistakes anymore, he still has one year on his contract and should be giving the shot to prove his true skill set with a competent coaching staff for back to back years.