Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman looked like one of the NFL’s rising stars in 2010, throwing 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions as the Bucs went 10-6. Then he looked like one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments in 2011, throwing 16 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions as the Bucs went 4-12. Freeman’s new coach Greg Schiano says his plan for getting Freeman back on track involves getting him to do less.
“Listening to Josh, I get the sense that he tried to make just a little bit too much happen,” Schiano said on NFL Network after the team opened its offseason program on Monday.
In Schiano’s view, Freeman is too hard on himself, and the new coaching staff will be tasked with making sure the whole offense works, and not simply focusing on getting Freeman back to form.
“I don’t think that’s fair — I think that’s a guy that’s putting the brunt of the blame on his own shoulders,” Schiano said. “There were a lot of breakdowns, things that he had no control over. At the end of the day, we’re going to start from scratch. We have a new system, new coaches, new people, and we’re just going to try to build from ground zero, build it up and see where we can go with it.”
A big part of that offensive improvement will be a better running game, which might include drafting Alabama’s Trent Richardson. But Schiano also spoke highly of running back LeGarrette Blount, even though he had put Blount on notice about fumbling, and even though Blount chose not to attend the first day of the Bucs’ voluntary offseason program.
Ultimately, Schiano said, Monday’s first team meeting was about making sure the players know what their new coach expects of them.
“We’re just trying to get them to understand what we expect,” Schiano said. “Most frustration comes from people not being clear what the expectations are.”
And Schiano expects Freeman to get better without trying to do too much.