Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman’s Career in Perspective
Looking Back At Freeman's Career in the NFL
Quarterback Josh Freeman’s professional career has been overlooked by many for about last five years. Ever since being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Buccaneers organization has believed that Freeman will be the savior of the team to return the Lombardi Trophy back to Tampa. Obviously those hopes were at risk when naming Mike Glennon the starter three weeks ago and then completely thrown out the window when the Buccaneers released Freeman this past week.
Nobody should believe that Freeman shouldn't have lost his starting job, but the Buccaneers could have handled dropping him from the team differently. Recently, an unknown source within the Buccaneers organization leaked information to the media that Freeman was currently a participant I the NFL’s drug program. In my mind, I believe that this was a covert operation within the organization to devalue Freeman for any future teams. This should be considered due to the fact that Coach Greg Schiano was believed to rig the vote for the captains on the team to insure that Freeman wasn't elected. As unprofessional and unrealistic all this may seem, it must be considered. Schiano has made other controversial decisions during his time with the Buccaneers like last year when he ordered the defense to attack the offense when going down for a knee.
Through all of this, it seems like Schiano got what he wanted, Freeman is gone but if Glennon does not deliver Schiano may be the next to go.
After all of this, I believe that it would be appropriate to take a look back and a look into the future of Freeman’s career
2009 NFL Draft
After firing 2002 Superbowl Champion Coach John Gruden, the Buccaneers went a different direction and hired Raheem Morris who became one of the youngest people to be hired as a head coach in the NFL at age 35. Morris had a recent history with the Buccaneers being hired as the defensive quality coach control coach after the 2001 season. Through the years, Morris received a few promotions by the Buccaneers but in 2005 Morris received a college head coaching position at Kansas State. Morris coached Kansas State until he was hired by the Buccaneers in 2009. One of Morris’ first activities as the head coach was to get his quarterback at Kansas State who was none other than Josh Freeman.
Freeman was projected to be drafted in the second round yet the Buccaneers made a trade up in the draft to get Freeman. This decision made it obvious that Morris liked Freeman and thought he had NFL superstar written all over him.
Freeman's Rookie Season
Freeman’s rookie season didn't really feature anything unusual; he played in 10 games winning only three of them as the Buccaneers failed to return to the playoffs. Like most rookie quarterbacks, Freeman threw numerous interceptions finishing up the year at 18 total.
Freeman’s first start would be one to remember for the young rookie quarterback. The Buccaneers had still failed to win a game; Freeman got minor playing time the week before against the New England Patriots throwing just four passes. With the Buccaneers winless streak continuing, Morris finally decided that it was time to make the change at quarterback, so later that week he would announce that Freeman would be the new starting quarterback. That week the Buccaneers did something they hadn't done in over 10 years, they would bring back the classic Buccaneers jerseys. Maybe the uniform change would bring new life to the team. That game Freeman would throw three touchdowns with over 200 yards passing and giving the Buccaneers their first win of the season.
At the end of the year, Freeman was the starter for the Buccaneers there was no doubt about it with Morris still coaching, young Freeman’s future seemed to be bright even after a year in which the team had its struggles to win.
Freeman's Sophomore Season
The next year looked bright for the Buccaneers receiving some new faces with Gerald McCoy on defense including Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn on the offense. Freeman now had some new weapons to work with and he made the most of it.
That season was the Buccaneers and Freeman’s best season, Freeman threw only six interceptions with 25 touchdowns and nearly 3,500 yards passing. The Buccaneers were finally starting to look like a team with actual playoff contention.
Despite finishing the season 10-6, the Buccaneers would still fail to make the playoffs losing to the division champion Atlanta Falcons twice.
Regardless of the Buccaneers failing to make the playoffs again, they still knew that Freeman was going to have a great future ahead.
Freeman's Third Season
After finishing the year with a positive winning record, the Buccaneers knew that this would have to be the year that they would finally return to the playoffs. The Buccaneers obviously felt comfortable with the roster during the offseason after facing criticism from lack of participation in the free agency despite having nearly over 40 million dollars of cap space on the pay role.
The Buccaneers were still ready to win and return to the playoffs. After a disappointing loss Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, the Buccaneers would win three straight games beating the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts; the Buccaneers had gotten off to a great start with Freeman throwing only three interceptions in a three game span. The next week the Buccaneers would travel to play the San Francisco 49ers. That was an awful game by the Buccaneers; Freeman would throw two interceptions losing the game 48-3.
After the loss to the 49ers, the Buccaneers would beat the New Orleans Saints then would lose ten straight games once again failing to make the playoffs, again.
The 2011 season was Freeman’s worst year throwing 22 interceptions and only 16 touchdowns. How could it be that one year a quarterback throws only six interceptions but the very next year he throws 22?
Regardless of Freeman’s dreadful performance that year, the Buccaneers would keep Freeman the starter but make a change in the team. That offseason the Buccaneers would fire coach Morris and hire the head coach of Rutgers, Greg Schiano.
Freeman Last Year
With a new head coach in Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers would receive several additions to the team offensively with receiver Vincent Jackson and All Pro Guard Carl Nicks and on the defense with Mark Barron, Eric Wright and Lavonte David. The Buccaneers had a positive offseason and was expected to have a positive season as well.
The Buccaneers would get off to a shaky start going 2-4 but would then win four straight games going on a hot streak. Through those four games, Freeman only threw two interceptions. After the fourth straight win against the Carolina Panthers, the Buccaneers would loss the next five, again failing to make the playoffs.
The season was a disappointment, but an interesting statistic was shown that through the seven games the Buccaneers won Freeman only threw three interceptions, but the nine games they lost, Freeman threw nine. It became obvious that when Freeman doesn’t turnover the ball the Buccaneers are winning
Freeman This Season
Obviously this wasn't the season Freeman had hoped for. After just three weeks, Freeman was a moved down on the depth chart behind rookie Mike Glennon. Just about a week after Freeman lost his starting position, he was released from the Buccaneers.
Earlier this week, the Minnesota Vikings signed Freeman to a one year deal worth three million. Freeman has not been named the starter for the Vikings yet, but should be expected to get much more playing time as the season progresses.
It seems obvious that Freeman and Schiano didn’t have the strongest relationship, but Schiano has faith in Glennon putting much effort in recruiting Glennon to Rutgers while Glennon was attending high school. Freeman and Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier have never had a previous relationship so it will certainly be interesting how the two work together this season.
Currently, Freeman’s future in the NFL is clouded; if Freeman can improve his decision making, he could become a starter for another team. But if he continues on his current path, he will most likely be a backup or a third string quarterback for the remainder of his career.