Josh Freeman Already Misses Jeff FaineMarch 23rd, 2012
Earlier this week, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman joined co-hosts Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan of “Movin’ the Chains,” heard exclusively on SiriusXM NFL Radio, to discuss the Bucs’ new players via free agency and new coaching staff.
Of course Joe transcribed the interview.
Among the many things Freeman touched upon was how he will miss center Jeff Faine who was cut last week. Freeman suggested he had a stronger bond with Faine than perhaps any other teammate.
Tim Ryan: Let’s get out to the guest line, year No. 4 for the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lot of changes down in Tampa. Big offensive guard in free agency and a No. 1 wide receiver to throw the rock to in Vincent Jackson. Quarterback Josh Freeman joining us on the program. How you doing Josh?
Josh Freeman: Great how are you doing?
Ryan: How is your offseason going?
Freeman: Going good. Just trying to work on throwing, working with guys down at IMG down in Bradenton. Things are going great.
Ryan: Would you get your big a(r)ss out of the weight room, please. My God.
Freeman: I’ve been actually working to slim down. Rather than gain weight. Higher rep, lower weight. Still adding elements of power from lower body standpoint.
Ryan: What is your body weight now and what’s the heaviest you have played at for the Bucs?
Freeman: Heaviest I have played at was right around 260. Right now, I’m right around 240. Keeping it down and trying a little different strategy, I feel great winging the ball, working out with Chris Weinke and a number of guys here. Work is paying off. I feel good.
Pat Kirwan: Yeah, the more no-huddle they give you, the more you will need to be aerobically fit and take the pressure to the opponent. I can’t go much further without talking about Nicks and Jackson, man. These are exciting times for you. Let’s talk about the receiver, Vincent Jackson.
Freeman: As a quarterback, so excited. I remember the press conference, I had the feel that it was Christmas when you get some new toys and you can’t wait to go outside and play with them. These guys know there stuff. Talking to Vincent, he is a guy, he has lofty goals not just for himself but he has expectations for what this team can become. I am real excited to have the opportunity to work with them.
Ryan: Hey Josh, tell me about how you can get a little bit of a jump start working with the new staff, coach Greg Schiano, right at the beginning of April as opposed to teams coming back April 16 with no coaching changes. Will you get together with those guys before then along with Mike and Arrelious and Demon and Preston and Sammie and those guys and get some work done on your own?
Freeman: Yeah, it’s kind of an interesting predicament. With the new CBA, not allowed to meet with the new coaches until April but we are allowed to hit the weights and things of that nature on April 2 so, yeah, that’s the day. Like I said, kind of interesting with the CBA. The whole thing of learning a new system, you’d like to say you are doing stuff now, but you can’t so you try to do the best you can. Make sure you are physically as ready as you can be when OTAs come around. Just had the opportunity to talk to Eli Manning and ask him about Coach Sullivan. But at the end of the day, football is football. Some coaches might call a cut back a run back. Some coaches might have a route break off at 14 yards instead of 15. You never know but at the end of the day football is football and all the guys are out there working and as prepared as we can possibly be until we get that information. Just a matter of dedicating yourself to learn a new language.
Ryan: Josh let me ask you, did you get the chance at all or are you interested at all in talking to Philip Rivers or Drew Brees about your two new teammates? I would think as a quarterback you’d love to talk to Rivers to talk about the connection he had with Vincent.
Freeman: No, funny you said that. Last night at dinner one of my friends was like, “Hey, have you talked to Philip about anything?” No, [Rivers’] reputation with Vincent kind of speaks for itself. I guess I could talk to Philip to ask how it was working with him but at the same time, I kind of ruled against it because you don’t want to enter a relationship with any preconceived notions. All I want from Vincent is to come out and give it all he’s got and I know he will be huge for us. He’s a tremendous asset, a physical specimen. But no, I don’t want to prejudge anything.
Kirwan: That is a great answer. You don’t want anyone to sway you. You will get to know Vincent and it will be pure. Any hints about the offense that excites you? You know, something that makes you go, “Wow, I’ve been dying to do that.”
Freeman: No, I mean, I’m kind of in the dark right now. I asked Eli kind of the premise of the offense and a couple of different things, but all very vague, just trying to get an idea of the terminology. But I’d assume that coach is going to implement the offense he had in New York which they ran with a lot of success. But at the same time, yeah, really don’t know but excited about the opportunity to work with Coach Sullivan and Coach Ron Turner.
Ryan: How will this change things? I know that it will be a motivating factor for Mike Williams who will grind, Mike was way down on touchdowns, we know it is a team sport, so how will this change things for Mike and Arrelious and Dezmon and the receiver corps?
Freeman: Well, you turn on the film and you see Vincent being really difficult for teams to single out, really tough for teams to play man-to-man because he is such a big, physical presence. So I think we will catch a lot more zone and at the same time it will open up windows. If you are double-teaming No. 1, there will be just pure matchups on the backside and when you get to that point, it favors the offense. I think he will open up windows for Mike, for Arrelious, for Briscoe and Preston Parker and Kellen Winslow to step up and make plays.
Ryan: Yeah I can imagine it will make things easier for you to in predicting what the coverages are and seeing it. Put last year in a capsule for us and for all the Bucs fans out there for us. Tremendously tough year for all of you guys. Put your game in a capsule for the Bucs fans.
Freeman: Yeah, as you said, it was a frustrating year. First of all I was coming off a good sophomore campaign, and you start up the year with a lot of promise. We beat the Saints and we beat the Falcons within our first (six) games. We were feeling great, feeling great where we were heading. We went out to London against Chicago and the whole year, you were fighting and the rest of the year, slowly, you were getting beat down. So yeah, anytime you lose and lose that many in a row, it is extremely frustrating. You get to know a lot about yourself and you learn a lot about your teammates and how they handle all sorts of situations. It was rough all around last year. At the same time I’d like to think that I can grow from it and learned quite a bit about how those things happened and learn from my own personal play and from a leadership standpoint to avoid anything like that from happening again.
Ryan: Yeah, expand about that. What did you — what was the biggest thing during that diabolical year that you learned about yourself?
Freeman: Really, I had a great offseason. I never worked any harder than I did leading up to last year. What allowed me to be successful two years ago was just running the offense. Manage the game. Maybe if you fall behind by two touchdowns and yeah, maybe things aren’t going right. Just stick with it, take the check down and don’t force things. During the game, I felt like, after a couple of losses started to mount up, I felt like, “Ah, I’ve got to do something. I have to do something to make a play, to keep us from falling behind more” or whatever the circumstances may have been. I have learned a lot. “I know what I am doing. I can make something happen,” you know? And that confidence you built by working so hard may have gone too far and it’s something I have learned. “Oh, I know what coverage that is. I can make this play.” But it was kind of out of my character in what I needed to do to make the offense successful. It ended up coming back to bite us, me personally. You can learn a lot from that. Have to find a happy medium. You can be aggressive but you have to protect that football first and foremost. You have to let the game come to you.
Kirwan: That is cool, you are maturing and you are doing a good job of it. You will be fine. I have to ask you, Jeff Faine, if my numbers are right, he has been your starter at center for 23 games over the past two years. He is gone now. Your thoughts on replacing Jeff Faine? For a quarterback, a center is a pretty important guy.
Freeman: Yeah I know. Me and Jeff had a very close relationship. When I was first drafted he took me under his wing and taught me a lot about protections. We have had great times. Jeff is one of the guys on the team that I consider a big brother. I know he wanted to be with the Bucs and be with me, but it’s the game, you know. I was probably more upset when he called me and said he was going into a meeting [with the Bucs] and was pretty sure what the meeting was going to be. I was probably more upset than he was but at the same time, it’s the NFL. The league is constantly making changes. I can’t thank Jeff enough for the things he has taught me from a standpoint of how to go about your business both on the field and off the field, how to prepare, a whole plethora of different things. Jeff has been great and I know he has a chance of getting on a few teams, catching on somewhere else. I wish him the best of luck.
Ryan: Josh, how much gas does Kellen have left in the tank?
Freeman: Kellen Winslow, that guy is unbelievable, the way he prepares, the way he rehabs. He is mentally focused on the game. Who wants to be great. Who wants to get it done? I will say Kellen Winslow will be a valuable asset until the wheels fall off. The way he works, that could be a while. I am looking for big things from Kellen like I always am. I think he will continue to be good for us.
Kirwan: What is the mindset of your team: a) off a lost season, b) off losing your coach then you get a new coach, a college guy, then all of this action off of free agency. Is it turmoil? Is it absolute excitement? Where is the pulse of your team?
Freeman: From everybody I have talked to guys are eager to get back out there and eager to play. Yeah, we all loved Raheem and it is unfortunate how everything goes down in this league but nobody has time to sit around and sulk and be upset. You have to take it in stride and continue to push forward or you won’t have a chance. I know everybody is excited, excited to come back and start this thing over. A new beginning of sorts. We’ve made some changes. New faces but I’d say the core of this team is ready to go and put in some serious work to compete. That’s where we are right now.
Ryan: With Vincent Jackson signing it should help the receiver corps. Who are we not talking about that you are excited for in that receiver group. Is it Preston Parker? Is it Demon Briscoe? Talk about those guys a little bit.
Freeman: I would say, Mike still had a productive year last year. I think he will compliment him very well. Mike was the guy defenses rolled coverage to last year so now what are they going to do when we have two guys to roll coverage to? I know Arrelious Benn — you want to name everybody. Preston Parker stepped up and had some good games and I think his best games are ahead of him. Briscoe? That guy, wow, he has worked his butt off to be ready to go. It will be a matter of whatever the coverage dictates will get the ball. They are all capable of making big plays.
Kirwan: Have you grabbed any film of the Giants to get an idea of how they do things, how they use personnel groups and the patterns that they run? Do you look at the Giants stuff to get some idea for yourself?
Freeman: You know that’s interesting. I have been fortunate enough to get all of these DVDs and cut up and put them on a computer or an iPad, but I like to get the hard copies and put them in my Xbox. I like to do that so you can watch film from wherever. Fortunately, the teams that we scouted defense of were playing the Giants so they were already on the film so you pull that up and see what they are trying to do, see what personnel they are in, those types of things. Yeah, kind of cool but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself and have preconceived notions about what the offense is trying to do and the plays that are called. You can call it a million different ways but film is never how it is in the playbook. But yeah, to see Eli sling it around, it makes me happy. It makes me happy to see an offense where the quarterback throws the ball. It makes me happy to see an offense where Eli is in control on the field, yeah. I’m really thrilled about the opportunity.
Ryan: Josh, we are fired up for you. Enjoy the rest of your offseason and we will talk down the road.