Bucs work on fixing Josh Freeman’s game


Last year, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman threw 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.  This year, he has seven touchdowns and 10 picks through seven games.

The Bucs are on their bye, and they’re trying to improve Freeman’s performance.  To the likely delight of their upcoming opponents, they’re also telling the world what they’ll be doing.

According to the folks at PewterReport.com, Freeman and a couple of his coaches spoke to reporters on Wednesday about the perceived causes of the problems and the intended solutions.

First, Freeman has been throwing too often from his back foot, without stepping into his throws.  Second, Freeman has been unable to find running lanes when pressured.

“I’m not the fastest guy in the world,” Freeman said.  “If I have an open running lane then I’m going to run the ball. I’ve not had a chance to get out. The one time I tried to scramble versus the Bears I got run down by an end and ended up having to throw it away. It’s a part that if it’s there to do and we can do something with it, then I am going to do it.  But the lanes just haven’t been there.”

The lanes haven’t been there because opponents have tried to take them away.  “They’re running some stunts and different things underneath that really take away the rush lanes for the quarterback,” Freeman said.  “Also they’ve spied me a little bit and it’s by design and that’s how the league is.  You do something successfully and the defense is going to start to do stuff to take it away.”

Coach Raheem Morris also thinks Freeman has been forcing it at times.  “Last year he simply did a better job of going through his progressions throughout the whole process,” Morris said.  “Right now he’s probably playing his number in fantasy football because he’s trying to throw touchdowns.  Sometimes it’s okay to throw to check-downs; sometimes it’s okay to go through your progressions.  Right now he has a little too much confidence in what he’s doing with his arm and forcing some things in there.  We’re in a game and we threw four interceptions. If we don’t throw some of those interceptions we’ve got a chance to win it.”

Freeman’s struggles are typical to many young quarterbacks who enjoy early success.  Whether it’s Freeman or Matthew Stafford or Sam Bradford, defenses come up with ways to confound them by cracking the code to their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies on film.

That’s what makes the largely overlooked 2011 performance of Aaron Rodgers even more impressive.  In his fourth season as a starter, defenses have ample ammunition to figure out how to shut him down.  And they can’t.

23 responses to “Bucs work on fixing Josh Freeman’s game

  1. It’s all just talk. Freemans problems are much simpler than that!!
    1. For some reason, Freeman is throwing to Winslow on his 1st read without going thru his progressions. It’s amazing that everyone missing the fact that 6 of the 10 picks have been intended for Winslow
    2. The drops, the bucs lead league in drops and mike Williams is the main issue, he continues to slow down drives and last week dropped a perfect pass to the 1 that was picked and a 2 point conversion.
    3. Run the ball in the redone, Freeman leads league in redzone picks, more than half of those have occured on 1st Down. They have to start calling more run plays in redone
    4. Playcalling!!!!!!! The bucs are not attacking the 15-30 area with thier pass routes. Everything is short with occasional deep balls. This is keeping linebackers and safeties in the middle of the field, allowing them to peel off and double winslow

  2. Then what you are saying is the Bucs need to have Freeman copy Rodger’s moves. Ok, simple fix .. right?
    Alright Josh let’s watch lots of film on Rodgers . You do what he is doing and we all win a Superbowl!

  3. Aaron Rodger’s 2011 performance is being overlooked? Did I miss something? I’m pretty sure everyone considers Rodgers to the best or second-best quarterback in the NFL this season.

  4. Last year was an aberration. Just like with Vick. Everyone expects that someone will keep getting better and better, yet most of the time that doesn’t happen. Someone has a “career year” then they move back to what they showed before. The truly consistent guys like Manning, Brees, and Brady are VERY rare.

    That isn’t a knock on Freeman. He is a good QB, but he isn’t elite and it is unfair to him to expect him to be (at least at this point anyway).

  5. He’s 23 and the CHEAP Glazer family isn’t spending $ to bring in proven veterans.

    So we can watch the Youngest Team in NFL have growing pains and NOT go to the games until Glazers spend $

  6. Stafford: 1,900+ yds, 16 TD’s, 4 INTs.

    Freeman: 1,700 yds, 7 TD’s, 10 INTs.

    Taking what defenses are doing to Freeman and comparing that to what they’re “doing” to Stafford is a bit of a stretch, wouldn’t you say?

  7. One of the biggest misconceptions in the NFL is having to have 3+ sacks a game _at all costs_.

    With many mobile QB’s who can throw on the run and create plays when they get in open space the best thing you can do with them is not over-pursue as it gives them a running lane to extend the play, usually resulting in a down-field pass or a QB scramble for a gain.

  8. In all faireness, let’s give credit where credit is due. Rodgers has more talent around him than those 3 combined.

    Green Bay has done an excellent job are finding and developing talent.

  9. “Rodgers has more talent around him than those 3 combined.” Probably true. Has the physical and mental toughness required as well. But beyond that, Rodgers’ mental game is scary good. Makes effective adjustments on the fly, manipulates defenses with his eyes and almost never makes a mistake that results in a turnover.

  10. The key to Rodgers, is pressure up the middle…pressure from the ends is not as effective bcuz of his deft pocket manipulation…

  11. Stafford’s season numbers look good, but a large portion of those numbers are because Calvin Johnson can jump. Stafford has routinely missed wide open short and intermediate passes all year… just like Josh. I think they both turn it around in the second half of the season though.

  12. For people who argue that Freeman might not have as much talent around him because the Bucs are the youngest team in football, the Packers are the second youngest team in football.

    You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to bring in proven veterans.

  13. ENOUGH with the excuses already!

    Freeman was just a fortunate recipient of a schedule filled with poor defensive teams last year and it created the illusion that it was his abilities that was the cause of the outcome rather than the truth that it just happened against tired, not so great defenses out of gas…… That was why it was always in the 4th quarter….

    That being said, He is not a bad QB. If they really want to help Freeman, they need to get NEW COACHES!!!! A head coach that has the experience to create and maintain a Championship caliber team, a DC that can keep the scoring of the opposing team low and an OC that can coach well against some of the NFL’s better defenses….
    THEN Freeman will have gotten the help he truly needs!!!

  14. The key to Rodgers, is pressure up the middle…pressure from the ends is not as effective bcuz of his deft pocket manipulation…
    You do know Rodgers is highly effective out of the pocket as well right?? I believe he has a better passer rating when he’s not in the pocket…if not, it’s pretty close

  15. Freeman is just going through growing pains, he’ll be fine. He’ll learn how to adjust to the adjustments the defenses make for him. All a part of developing into a consistent QB. The Bucs could also use some help in the receiving dept.

  16. The key to Rodgers, is pressure up the middle…pressure from the ends is not as effective bcuz of his deft pocket manipulation…

    Pressure up the middle is the key to stopping every good QB, if a QB can not set his feet or step into a throw then most likely they will stuggle.

    The key to stopping or limiting Rodgers is getting pressure with 4 guys and dropping the rest into coverage. Blitz him at your own risk.

    And yes Rodgers is very effective and very accurate when outside the pocket.

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