2012 A Bounce Back Year For Josh Freeman?July 12th, 2012
There were so many pointed fingers, and areas for the Bucs to improve on, after the grotesque 10-game losing streak last season that Joe doesn’t know where to start.
Of course, Josh Freeman’s 25 interceptions sure didn’t help matters. And because Freeman is trying to rebound from such a hole, Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange believes Freeman could very well be the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year provided the Bucs play well.
No doubt, it’s still very much a quarterback league, and the Bucs play in one of the most quarterback-driven divisions in the NFL, with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton around. But the Bucs, who slumped from 10 wins in 2010 to a dozen losses last season, ran the ball fewer times than any team (346 attempts) in ’11. That might help explain their No. 30 statistical rating in rushing offense, and the paucity of runs could be explained in part by early deficits in most games, but a trickle-down effect as the, well, trickle down of Freeman’s performance.
Regarded as one of the NFL’s rising stars, and with some Tampa Bay officials privately insisting only a year ago that they would not trade Freeman for any player in the league, his touchdown passes fell from 25 to 16 and his interceptions rose from six to 22. Freeman posted a better completion percentage than the previous season, and had more passing yards, but his quarterback rating fell by more than 20 points. One of the league’s biggest quarterbacks from a physical dimension standpoint, Freeman was also one of the biggest flops in the NFL in 2011.
But if the Bucs are to compete for an unlikely playoff spot, they desperately need Freeman to rebound. And Freeman, who won’t turn 25 until a week after the regular seasons ends, needs some help, which the new Bucs’ staff apparently plans to give their talented quarterback.
Joe finds it interesting that Pasquarelli hinted former Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson Pearl Harbored Freeman’s season because Olson — for reasons Joe simply cannot comprehend — refused to feed the ball to a guy who averaged over four-plus yards a carry, LeGarrette Blount.
As revolting as the Bucs defense played in December last year, so too was it equally nauseating to see Blount get five carries in the season-opening chain-whipping at the hands of the Lions — FIVE!