“He Is Just Missing Something”July 8th, 2013
The Bucs have a revamped secondary, some talent at linebacker, loads of draft picks on the defensive front line, perhaps a top-five offensive line, stud receivers, and one of the better running backs in the NFL.
Quarterback? It seems many an NFL scribe believes Josh Freeman is a question mark.
Add NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling to the list. He recently appeared with Charlie Bernstein on WHBO-AM 1040 and said the Bucs are on the verge of the playoffs but Freeman’s play will determine how far the Bucs will go and whether they make the playoffs.
“I think they are [a playoff team] in that they are in the category as one of those teams poised to surprise, but I think they are also in the category as one of those teams that will only go as far as their quarterback takes them,” Wesseling said. “So, Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford, there are a lot of quarterbacks in this group. Are they good enough, can they take it to the next level and become that franchise quarterback?
“[Freeman] is just missing something. He’s not accurate enough, I don’t think. Way too many balls up for grabs. So he is missing something, but he has all the physical ability you would want. My gut tells me he’s not ever going to become that franchise quarterback. But he is just good enough where the Bucs are not going to find someone better easily.
“Reading between the lines as an outsider, it seems like [Bucs rock star general manager] Mark Dominik is a Freeman believer and [Bucs coach Greg] Schiano is a skeptic still, he just wants Freeman to prove he is the answer. And I don’t disagree with that. He does have to prove that. I understand Schiano’s position there.”
Joe cannot disagree wholly with Wesseling. Freeman may not be Ben Roethlisberger, but what quarterback available would be a better option than Freeman? The fact he is going into the final season of his contract speaks volumes. The Bucs did not lock up Freeman to a team-friendly pact.
Still, this season marks some stability for Freeman. One would think he can’t help but improve. With loads of toys to play with, a second year with Mike Sullivan as his coordinator, a second year with Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin, Joe really cannot see how Freeman stumbles this season.
If he does regress, it’s likely he will be wearing a different color jersey in 2014. A lot rides of Freeman’s shoulders this year, both for his teammates and his career.