The Buccaneers and their quarterback, Josh Freeman, are struggling. Tampa Bay has lost three in a row, and Freeman has thrown seven interceptions in those three games — more interceptions than he threw in 16 games last year.
So it was surprising, after today’s loss to the Texans, to hear Freeman claim that everything is just fine.
“Nothing is wrong with me,” Freeman said, via PewterReport.com. “I feel like I’m a better quarterback this year than I was last year. As crazy as that may sound, looking at the numbers, I feel like I continue to get better in preparation and execution. I feel like I’m throwing the ball as well as I ever have. It’s just things aren’t going my way.”
Freeman is right: That does sound crazy. Freeman’s completion percentage, yards per pass, touchdowns and passer rating are all down from last year, and his interceptions are way up — from six interceptions in 16 games in 2010 to 13 interceptions in nine games in 2011. Sometimes, under certain extenuating circumstances, a player can improve even when his statistics look worse. But Freeman’s numbers are so much worse this year than they were last year that it’s hard to take seriously his claims that he’s a better quarterback now than he was a year ago.
And it’s hard to see any way to say the Buccaneers are a better team than they were a year ago. Freeman seemed to acknowledge that.
“It’s just that we have not played nearly up to our potential,” Freeman said. “We are a young team and as a young team you have to understand that this is the NFL. You see some success and you can’t rest on that.”
The success the Bucs had as one of the pleasant surprises of 2010 now feels like a long time ago.