The Glaring Difference Between Brees, FreemanDecember 18th, 2012
NFL freelance reporter Dory LeBlanc attended Sunday’s Bucs-Saints game in New Orleans for Joe as a credentialed member of the fourth estate. Below she offers her vision on just how far Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman must go to be mentioned in the same breath as Saints signal-caller Drew Brees.
There was certainly an elite quarterback on the field at the Superdome Sunday, but his name was not Josh Freeman.
Saying I could predict every one of Freeman’s four interceptions as the Bucs’ struggling quarterback released the ball Sunday is a bold statement. But sitting in a press box, high above the field with an overview of all 100 yards affords a powerful point of view.
In particular, on the interception intended for Vincent Jackson, it was obvious when the ball was snapped and Jackson tore off in a straight the line, Freeman assumed the wide receiver would break off and turn into the hashmarks and the pass would land in the hands of Saints safety Rafael Bush, the only player in the vicinity. Clearly there was a miscommunication, and that in itself reveals a serious problem.
It was Week 15, and the Bucs’ offense had communication issues. Of course, communication issues are common across the NFL – but at times it seems Freeman is using a different playbook than his teammates.
For the second time this season, I’ve watched Drew Brees live, which is a much different experience than on TV. Whereas Freeman seemed as if he was on a different page from the rest of the offense through much of the game, Brees was – well, Brees: decisive, confident, and accurate. Brees worked the Bucs secondary like they were candy striping interns, as he surgically maneuvered drive after drive to almost perfection.
When Brees steps onto the field, the whole mojo of the stadium changes. Not just the way the 73,000-plus fans at the Superdome react, but the way the Saints offense reacts. There is no question he is a commander, and if there is a communication discrepancy, Brees has the wherewithal to make something happen and we’re all none the wiser.
On the flip side, no one is sure what happened to Freeman after he led the Bucs to a come-from-behind, overtime victory over the Panthers; I’m not sure Freeman knows. His ability to extend plays has ceased and his downfield bombs have become duds. More important, at this point of the season, there shouldn’t be communication issues between the quarterback and his No. 1 receiver, and if there are, they need to be recognized sooner and the progressions gone through.
As much as Brees has earned the moniker “elite,” Freeman’s performance Sunday showed he is far from it. For the Bucs’ and Freeman’s sake, let’s hope he can channel his pre-Falcons self in the remaining two games or it’s going to be a long offseason for the kid.