The QB Blast: Freeman Needs Help From The SlotNovember 6th, 2011
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson is often seen as a color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages locally via his company, America’s Best Quarterback. Plus, he’s a really cool dude.
By JEFF CARLSON
It’s been two weeks since their last game, with a bye week to get healthy and assess their proficiencies and deficiencies. And perhaps most important, time for the Bucs to make the kind of mid-season adjustments that they have been making at halftime of most of their games because of the awfully slow starts on both sides of the ball.
I fully supported the decision to go to London early, but now understand that at least some of the “youngry” Bucs treated it more like a Las Vegas vacation (what happens in London stays in London) than the successful business trip that the older and wiser Bears went on.
A micro look so far says there are issues for both coordinators and the head coach to address. A macro look says they are 4-3 and playing for the division lead at the halfway point, and I don’t think anyone can be unhappy about that. Any disappointment means the overall expectations for this team have grown and that’s a tribute to those same coaches. There’s also been loads of inconsistent football throughout the league.
I don’t believe that overconfidence is Josh Freeman’s problem for his early season passing woes, but rather simply slow, poor decision-making and some simply poor throws.
His receiving corps has lacked explosive play-making all season, with Mike Williams reminding me of Michael Clayton’s sophomore campaign following their rookie breakout seasons. I just hope he doesn’t continue to follow Clayton’s career trend, and I don’t think he will, but he needs help from a slot receiver that can occupy the safety, so that he can get one-on-one and let Josh Freeman have the confidence to let it rip to the No. 1 guy.
I don’t believe the argument that the rest of the receiving corps is capable enough to compete at the highest level of the NFL is correct. They do need to be faster, tougher and better across the board.
Freeman needs to be able to just drop back and throw the deep ball (man-to-man coverage on the outside) with confidence that his guy will either catch it or make sure the other guy doesn’t. I haven’t seen him try it all year. They need more YAC from everyone!
I won’t make a big deal about it, but I would like to see them have another wideout with speed and get Winslow off the field on 3rd and 7+. He has made a few noteworthy plays, but I think they would create more big play opportunities matching speed with the “nickel” corner that defenses substitute in these situations and maybe “5” won’t get stuck on “82”.
Generally, the Bucs are not catching the ball on the move enough, which is partly the play design and partly the execution.
I have been disappointed that LeGarrette Blount wasn’t ready to help on third downs to start the season, but took half of his second year to get the protections down (attribute that to the lockout, but I thought he should have taken it upon himself to get that worked out before the end of training camp). The NFL has become a shotgun league on 3rd and 2+, but now with Blount available the Bucs can stay in “regular” people and have more options to pick up first downs, keep drives alive and out of the hands of Drew Brees and company.
Maybe it is just his flowing mane that catches my eye, but as the Bucs finish up their mid-season bye week, I think the most impactful player on the team is Adrian Clayborn. His constant effort and pressure on the backside make him the MVP at the halfway point.
If the rest of the team took his example into their play, this team would be off-the-charts and all those slow starts wouldn’t be a topic of conversation.