Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman is on the hot seat, and I’m always perplexed at the sort of criticism he gets. While he is a flawed quarterback who makes lapses in decision-making, he’s clearly the best option the Buccaneers have, and it seems like his terrific 2010 season sometimes gets bypassed a little too easily. Granted, he did play out of his mind that year, but it it isn’t inconceivable for him to replicate that kind of success. Regardless, Freeman isn’t the problem, in my opinion, and he is a league-average quarterback who averaged a solid 7.3 yards per attempt last season and is somebody you can win with. Even though he needs to cut down on his interceptions and is off to an awful start this season, Mike Glennon simply isn’t ready, Freeman gives the team a better chance to win now, and his slightly above-average ESPN TQBR last season shows that he’s a middle-of-the-pack quarterback.
OK, rant over. I’ve been a backer of Josh Freeman for some time, and that’s kind of ironic from my perspective since I absolutely trashed him when he first came into the league. Bill Belichick knows a thing or two about quarterbacks and football in general, so I thought it was really interesting to hear him give some major praise to Josh Freeman during today’s press conference. When Belichick talks this much about a player and goes into these specifics, then you really have to listen.
“Athletic, does a good job in the pocket; he’s a hard guy to get down. He runs well, you have to be very disciplined with your rush lanes. They roll him out a decent amount with bootlegs and sprint-out plays, things like that. He’s got a great arm, big, tall guy that can see over the line; makes all the throws. We saw that in practice and we’ve seen it in the games. He can really get the ball down the field on the in-cuts, middle reads, seam routes, go routes, post patterns, all that. He has a nice touch around the line of scrimmage, too. He has all the skill. It looks like he’s definitely improved in terms of his overall presence on the field, handling the team and all those things, from when we saw him in ’09 in London to working against him last year in practice to seeing him this year in games and practices. He’s been in a couple real competitive situations in the fourth quarter and has done what the team needed him to do. They’ve had good drives, put them ahead in the Jet game and also ran off some clock. I don’t know five minutes or however much time it was in the Saints game where he had to make some big throws there at the end – third-and-longs – and he made them. I think he’s doing a good job for them.”
For Josh Freeman, the, if you will, sabotaging trait has always been his decision-making, and he could be a very good quarterback if that can improve. Freeman clearly has the physical tools, and he has enough accuracy (despite how inconsistent it looks thanks to his propensity for making rash decisions) to harness his great arm strength. It’ all about finding consistency, because Freeman is very athletic and possesses the kind of arm that allows him to make all the throws. I still believe in Freeman, and evidently he has a backer in Bill Belichick.