Josh Freeman takes a surprising step back

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.

54 responses to “Josh Freeman takes a surprising step back

  1. 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. 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.

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

  4. 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…

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. “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???

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. .

    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.

    .

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. “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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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!!!

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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!.

  40. 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.

  41. 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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