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Josh Freeman takes a surprising step back

Bucaneers' Freeman is pressured by Bears' Moore as Bucaneers' Joseph follows the play during their NFL football game at Wembley Stadium Reuters

This felt like the year Josh Freeman was ready to take the next step on his path to becoming a Pro Bowl quarterback.

Instead, he’s taken a step back like so many other young quarterbacks around the league.  (Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, and Joe Flacco come to mind.)

Freeman’s biggest problem has been his decision making. He’s thrown 10 interceptions this year, which leads the league.  He threw six picks all of last year.

NFL Films’ Greg Cosell said on his weekly Yahoo! Sports podcast that he thought Freeman’s game against the 49ers was his absolute worst as a pro.  Freeman played better against the Saints, but threw four picks against the Bears in London.

It appears Freeman is trying to force throws that simply aren’t there. That may partly be because Tampa so often falls behind early in games; Freeman is averaging only 6.15 yards-per-attempt in the first half of games this year.  It may also be because Freeman has thrown the ball so much; only Drew Brees has more pass attempts.

Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times writes that the mistakes have affected the offensive playcalling, making it more conservative.

“[Offensive coordinator] Greg Olson doesn’t have complete trust in Freeman because he continues to make ill-advised throws,” Holder writes.

Freeman is only 23, and will learn from all the mistakes.  He will need to learn from them quickly for the Bucs to be a playoff team this year.

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54 Responses to “Josh Freeman takes a surprising step back”
  1. britishraven says: Oct 25, 2011 9:26 AM

    I was at the game in London and it seemed that he was unable to read the Tampa-2 against Chicago. I saw countless examples of him not seeing MLB’s that were dropping back into coverage having been lined up on the LOS.

  2. clayjustsackedyou says: Oct 25, 2011 9:29 AM

    Its not so suprising to people who actually watch football.

  3. forthelove says: Oct 25, 2011 9:30 AM

    Young QBs almost always take a step back. Once the D and defensive coordinators get some tape on them they can find tendencies and gameplan for them. Now it’s a matter of Freeman (and Bradford and the others) to continue their development and make their adjustments.

  4. forthelove says: Oct 25, 2011 9:30 AM

    ^^ … and I may be wrong here, but I think guys like Sanchez and Flacco are about where they’re going to be.

  5. rjblitz02 says: Oct 25, 2011 9:32 AM

    He doesn’t scramble for first downs the way he used to either. The receivers seem to have a hard time getting separation from the db’s as well. Staring them down doesn’t help Freeman’s case either.

    Let’s get it together, Freeman. He has some crazy potential. I don’t know how a 25-6 TD:Int ratio could be a fluke. Hmmm…

  6. cakemixa says: Oct 25, 2011 9:38 AM

    lol this is no surprise – he looked good last year against crappy teams (did any of their wins come against teams with winning records?)

  7. tatatoothy says: Oct 25, 2011 9:40 AM

    Flabbergasting

  8. lgbarn says: Oct 25, 2011 9:41 AM

    When your recievers don’t get open, you tend to force things. He has rarely had anyone wide open and when he did, it was a touchdown. The guy needs some help, plain and simple.

  9. joecool16280 says: Oct 25, 2011 9:43 AM

    He’s only 23?! Dude looks way older. Plenty of time to figure things out.

  10. packersrule12 says: Oct 25, 2011 9:44 AM

    Another QB that was built up by the media so they can knock him down. Funny how that works.

  11. haanster says: Oct 25, 2011 9:45 AM

    I’m a big fan of both Freeman and Bradford, but I’m almost in a way, a little bit relieved that they have taken a step back. Quaterbacking in the NFL should be hard, and not something second and third year players can do to perfection.

  12. seneca1ss says: Oct 25, 2011 9:45 AM

    yeah, he’s not using his legs to keep drives alive this year? throwing off back foot a lot too (C’mon Man!!)

  13. bucsraysboltsfan says: Oct 25, 2011 9:46 AM

    When you don’t do the things that make you successful in the first place, you end up regressing. He doesn’t scramble with the ball like he did. He is forcing the ball where it doesn’t belong.

    Freeman has always been able to quiet the doubters, especially when he was drafted as a surprise mid-first round pick. Let’s hope he can quiet those doubters one more time.

  14. bcjim says: Oct 25, 2011 9:48 AM

    Who is surprised except you?

    The NFL is a here today, gone tomorrow league outside of a few truly great players (Brady, Manning, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed etc).

    The majority cannot be counted on from season to season much less game to game…at any position. RB and QB are the worst offenders.

  15. dohpey28 says: Oct 25, 2011 9:49 AM

    They’ve gone completely away from any sort of running game. It’s real easy to play defense against a team when you know they’re going to pass every play.

  16. mj2sexay says: Oct 25, 2011 9:52 AM

    I don’t understand the notion that Sanchez has taken a step back this year. Aside from the Ravens debacle (which one could easily put on the line as much as him) he hasn’t had a game where he posted under an 85 rating. Bradford has played a BRUTAL schedule with no weapons at wideout to speak of. (He hasn’t played with Floyd yet). So I still think we need to wait and see with him.

    Flacco, Freeman and McCoy in my opinion are the three QB’s that have taken steps back and should have their front offices worried. At least in Flacco’s case you could say that he’s getting no help from an offensive line that looks older by the week, and an offensive coordinator that thinks it’s a good idea to give Ray Rice 8 carries.

  17. longhorn28 says: Oct 25, 2011 9:52 AM

    It has nothing to do with the media, Limbaugh. It’s the same thing that happens to all worst-to-first teams the next season. You get a real schedule.

  18. xofootballer says: Oct 25, 2011 9:53 AM

    He never should have been GIVEN the step forward.
    Up and coming QB – based on WHAT?!

  19. davidjcu says: Oct 25, 2011 9:53 AM

    Its not that suprising when you take away the running game and make the team 1 dimensional

  20. joecool16280 says: Oct 25, 2011 9:56 AM

    Is it me or does he look like Bernie Kosar?

  21. cjspiller12 says: Oct 25, 2011 9:57 AM

    forthelove says:
    Oct 25, 2011 9:30 AM
    ^^ … and I may be wrong here, but I think guys like Sanchez and Flacco are about where they’re going to be.
    ___________________________________
    I actually agree with you on that. I even think Ryan Fitzpatrick is a better QB than both of those guys. I think Freeman will be a better QB than both Flacco and Sanchez. And on Sanchez, I wouldn’t be suprised if he was a career backup or out of the league all together in a couple of years.

  22. bhindenemylines says: Oct 25, 2011 9:58 AM

    “I was at the game in London and it seemed that he was unable to read the Tampa-2 against Chicago.”

    Anybody else find this slightly ironic???

  23. steelbydesign says: Oct 25, 2011 9:59 AM

    I’m a card carrying member of the Flacco-hater fanclub…

    But even I gotta say it’s pretty silly to say that’s he’s taken a step back this season. I’ll admit I didn’t watch the game last night but I’m willing to call it an off game after a bye (which nearly every team has had this season)…

    I’ve thought every year Flacco would have the dreaded “game manager” title, until this season. He’s really impressed me so far.

  24. bennyanddajets says: Oct 25, 2011 10:00 AM

    How has Sanchez taken a step back? He is 5th in the league with TD passes. He is on pace for a career high in yrds and td passes. He is also one of the most sacked qbs this season. If you take out the balt game where he was hit on every single play he has had a pretty solid year. He will keep getting better as the line keeps getting better. Granted he needs to improve in a lot of areas but he hasn’t taken a step back. I would say he is moving in the right direction.

    Now I know people will rip him saying he sucks, and I am not saying he is the best qb in the game or even top 10. My point is that he has not taken a step backwards.

  25. jetsarestacked says: Oct 25, 2011 10:01 AM

    How exactly has mark sanchez taken a step back? He is on pace to have his best season and more importantly improve in every statistical category. Keep on hating haters, but the reality is mark keeps getting better each year.

  26. steelerdynasty2010 says: Oct 25, 2011 10:13 AM

    i like him, but he’s not just taking a step back, he’s nearly sprinting in the other direction. we’re not even halfway through the season yet and he’s nearly doubled his ints from a season ago? not good. good thing he’s young. i do think he’ll get better than he’s shown so far this year.

  27. Rex Grossman says: Oct 25, 2011 10:20 AM

    23? I’ll be surprised if they have Freeman in their plans for the future. An aging QB, on the brink of hitting 25, not even proven yet. 25 is old as hell, just as Old Man Ders.

  28. nyjalleffingday says: Oct 25, 2011 10:31 AM

    It’s not that surprising if you look at the kinda numbers he had last year and then at whom he got them against.

    Sanchez > Freeman, bring on the thumbs down!

  29. ufojoe1 says: Oct 25, 2011 10:39 AM

    dohpey28 says:

    “They’ve gone completely away from any sort of running game. It’s real easy to play defense against a team when you know they’re going to pass every play.”

    Wrong. The run game was fine and they were running the ball an acceptable amount until Graham went down on Sunday and they were left with an ineffective Lumpkin. No choice but to throw the ball at that point. Or, if Olson had any creativity at all, he would have put Josh Johnson in and run some wildcat plays to mix things up.

    Freeman didn’t run at all on Sunday and there plays where he had room to do that. Baffling.

  30. gridassassin says: Oct 25, 2011 10:53 AM

    If you look at the secondaries he padded his stats against last year, it’s pretty easy to see that he was overrated and overhyped:

    278 yds/1 TD vs. Arizona
    241 yds/2 TD vs. Carolina
    266 yds/1 TD vs. Washington
    251 yds/1 TD vs. Detroit
    237 yds/5 TD vs. Seattle
    255 yds/2 TD vs. New Orleans

  31. 6ball says: Oct 25, 2011 10:56 AM

    .

    Freeman, and the rest of the Bucs are, as Bill Parcells used to say, ” a work in progress “.

    Their roster is full of second and third year guys who would have benefited greatly from a full offseason.

    At 23 one would expect Freeman to make some errors, however I see him developing into top tier QB. He has the ability. I think Bucs fans will need to show patience.

    .

  32. maxvv says: Oct 25, 2011 11:23 AM

    I like Freeman and wish him success, but this isn’t surprising at all. After last year, people acted like his being totally awesome forever was a fait accompli, despite his age.

    Look, media. Young QBs struggle. If they don’t do it soon, I promise they’ll do it later. He’ll come around eventually, but you can’t have a mountain without having some valleys too.

  33. snookau says: Oct 25, 2011 11:24 AM

    And besides, that doesn’t even work out most times.

    For example, the Bucs play:

    San Fran (currently 5-1)
    Dallas (currently 3-3)

    Atlanta plays:

    Philly (currently 2-4)
    Seattle (currently 2-4)

    So the Bucs actually have a “harder” schedule than the Falcons do. Even though they finished 3rd and not 1st.

    Its amazing how many “fans” don’t know how the scheduling works.

  34. nyhealingpoints says: Oct 25, 2011 11:25 AM

    Yea Sanchez is just so horrible. More road playoff wins than any quarterback in NFL history, a 93 qb rating in 6 road playoff games, an again he is up to his old horrible ways this year with his 12 touchdowns and 6 picks. Just terrible. What a step back. Someday his qb rating can actually be better than the media God Rivers, oh wait it’s actually netter now, in his set back year for a career backup.

    Jets are really screwed with this loser….you guys have strange views on this guy. Hrs a proven winner and he’s only 24. What’s the problem?

  35. marinephinfan says: Oct 25, 2011 11:30 AM

    longhorn28 says:
    Oct 25, 2011 9:52 AM

    It has nothing to do with the media, Limbaugh. It’s the same thing that happens to all worst-to-first teams the next season. You get a real schedule.

    ——————————————–

    Ummmmm…no. Please learn how the NFL makes it’s schedules. 2 out of the 16 teams are determined by the place a team finishes from the previous year.

  36. vanmorrissey says: Oct 25, 2011 11:32 AM

    Hey, he’s young, what’s Rivers excuse? After playing at an elite level last year he’s totally dumped it this year and is playing sub-mediocre. What’s his problem? Freeman’s a stud and can move so he’ll make his adjustments, after what, 5 years starting you can expect a downturn but not to this degree for Rivers.

  37. xxxviichamps says: Oct 25, 2011 11:39 AM

    “nyjalleffingday says: Oct 25, 2011 10:31 AM

    It’s not that surprising if you look at the kinda numbers he had last year and then at whom he got them against.”

    —————————————————–

    Freeman threw 12 touchdowns and 4 interceptions against playoff teams in 2010.

    Drew Brees threw 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions against playoff teams in 2010.

    I’m not comparing Free to Brees…but don’t act like the credit he was given in the offseason was unwarranted.

    Freeman will be fine. He’s as intelligent and hard working as any quarterback in the league. He will do his homework and he will definately be better than Sanchez and Flacco who are both average quarterbacks.

  38. rdawg911 says: Oct 25, 2011 11:42 AM

    Freeman undoubtedly is the worst QB in the division. By next year, the Panthers will be a 12-4 team and the Saints will still be a double-digit win team. I expect the Falcons to be decent, but the Bucs to be an afterthought.

  39. rajbais says: Oct 25, 2011 12:13 PM

    Yep, he has!!!

    Josh Freeman and Joe Flacco are two of the most blatantly disappointing players in 2011!!! When they NEED to go up, they crash!!!

  40. milehighjetsfan says: Oct 25, 2011 12:14 PM

    We can end all the Freeman would have won a Super Bowl with a Jets talk now.

  41. ehsdrumline says: Oct 25, 2011 12:24 PM

    No surprise here! The strike DID affect this season in a big way, but just the fact that the NFL had everything worked out in time to have a preseason and a regular season overshadows how unprepared and rusty some of these organizations really were. The Eagles 1-4?? The QBs in this article on a downward spiral (especially Flacco and Freeman) ? The Lions and the Bills hot start?

    Bizarro NFL.

  42. cannonballdookie says: Oct 25, 2011 12:32 PM

    Surprising, it depends on who you ask. I’m not surprised at all, I thought he and the Bucs would take a step back as they are just so young and overachieved last year. They’ve looked ok so far but nothing special.

    As much as we’d like to see young players go through a natural progression of improving from year to year, a lot of things factor in and sometimes make this difficult. The league starts to learn more about you and it’s up to the player to make the needed adjustments.

  43. iluvwikileaks says: Oct 25, 2011 12:35 PM

    For lack of a better word, Josh Freeman SUCKS!

  44. bunjy96 says: Oct 25, 2011 12:38 PM

    Don’t think Freeman is the same QB as last year.

    Some of has to do with his WR/TE and him blatantly starring down receivers

  45. briang123 says: Oct 25, 2011 12:55 PM

    Instead of trashing Freeman, you should use this space to trash Tebow, one of the worst quarterbacks in history. It made me sick how lucky he got, and then when that FG hit he goes right to his knee to push his religion on us. I am sick of him doing that. Other players don’t do that and certainly don’t force their prayers on us while they are on the field like Tebow does.

  46. cmack21 says: Oct 25, 2011 1:10 PM

    thats only because the NFL tries to MAKE stars out of quarterbacks instead of letting them BECOME stars like every other position. Even after all the rule changes & most QB’s still suck.

  47. maddogwhite says: Oct 25, 2011 1:22 PM

    Freeman, Bradford, Newton, Dalton, Blah, Blah, Blah. The media — and overzealous fans — are so intent on branding a young QB as “the next best thing” that they ignore history: once defensive coordinators get a year or two worth of film on you, they quickly pick apart your weaknesses. That’s what’s happening to Freeman and Bradford and — mark it down — will happen to Cam Newton in a year or two.

    At the end of the day, there are only very few elite QBs who have managed to stand the test of time (Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger).

    The league has always had just a small number of elite QBs and that isn’t likely to change any time soon, despite the new pass-friendly rules.

  48. RexCanCoach says: Oct 25, 2011 1:33 PM

    I still believe Freeman is better than Sanchez, but the gap has narrowed this year.

  49. waltdawg says: Oct 25, 2011 1:54 PM

    I still think Freeman and Sanchez are completely overrated

    Always have been

  50. otis52gsh says: Oct 25, 2011 1:59 PM

    Maybe he is just another over-hyped QB like the above mentioned(Ryan, freeman). These guys have a above average year, win games but not huge games and are anointed great QB’s. Win a SB. That is something to talk about. It’s like vick or mcnabb. What have they ever won? Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees, and the younger Manning. These guys won Super Bowls. That can never be taken away from them. These others like stafford, vick, etc…need to win it all or they are nothing better than average.

  51. peed1 says: Oct 25, 2011 2:31 PM

    Relax the Bucs are 4-3. He is going to be fine. No running game so he is trying to do everything. He is smart and cool under pressure. Lets not forget all those 4th quarter comebacks. This is a young team.

  52. cmack21 says: Oct 25, 2011 2:45 PM

    really otis52gsh says:

    Oct 25, 2011 1:59 PM
    Maybe he is just another over-hyped QB like the above mentioned(Ryan, freeman). These guys have a above average year, win games but not huge games and are anointed great QB’s. Win a SB. That is something to talk about. It’s like vick or mcnabb. What have they ever won? Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees, and the younger Manning. These guys won Super Bowls. That can never be taken away from them. These others like stafford, vick, etc…need to win it all or they are nothing better than average.
    ***
    If that is your argument then put Trent Dilfer, Mark Rypen, in the Hall of Fame and get those bums like Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton out.

    You nerds kill me sometimes, only football you have played is fantasy football. ONLY 1 QUARTERBACK CAN WIN PER YEAR!.

  53. kingbuccaneer says: Oct 25, 2011 3:05 PM

    lol this is no surprise – he looked good last year against crappy teams (did any of their wins come against teams with winning records?)

    —————————————————

    I guess you didn’t watch football last season.. Welcome to the NFL bandwagon sir. Now stop speaking until you KNOW what the hell you are talking about, please.

  54. chazatlas says: Oct 25, 2011 8:39 PM

    I know this, what a literal boot-camp of a season for rookie QB Cam Newton, rookie Head Coach Rivera and the Carolina Panthers. No off-season AND the toughest strength of schedule of all teams this year?! They may only have 2 wins but have kept it close with good playoff teams and the defending world champs. The Panthers will be super ready and tough next year!

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