Bucs Treading Lightly With Dream’s Spouse

May 22nd, 2009

How Raheem the Dream develops quarterback bust-in-waiting Josh Freeman will define his career.

There have been some weird sports marriages. Take Mike Ditka and Ricky Williams. Or take Dennis Rodman and Dennis Rodman.

In both cases, Joe isn’t sure which one is the groom and which one is the spouse. In Tampa Bay sports history, Raheem the Dream’s career is married to quarterback bust-in-waiting Josh Freeman.

If Freeman succeeds — again, Joe hopes like hell he does but Joe expects the opposite — then the Dream succeeds. If Freeman proves to be an overgrown version of Akili Smith, the Dream will be a defensive back coach for Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh.

Joe isn’t the lone person to come to this conclusion. So has Rob Weintraub of FootballOutsiders.com. As a result, Weintraub suggests the Bucs will bring Freeman along very slowly, relying on everyone around Freeman.

As new coach Raheem Morris put it, he is now “married” to his first draft choice, quarterback Josh Freeman from Kansas State, whom Morris once coached in Manhattan. The Bucs are publicly attempting to take pressure off Freeman by saying their preference is to sit the rookie behind either Luke McCown or the newly added Byron Leftwich. Leftwich managed to resurrect his career with a couple of highly effective relief efforts in Pittsburgh (66.0% DVOA, exactly 131 points higher than his abysmal 2007), but he is not even a short-term answer. McCown threw exactly one pass last season, and didn’t even complete it.

Whoever takes the snaps, the rushing attack (ranked 23rd in our advanced DVOA stats) will have to improve. Derrick Ward was signed from the Giants for just that reason. Ward was the second-ranked back in DVOA last season, but his new offensive line doesn’t quite have the quality record of his old one. New tight end Kellen Winslow is another weapon that will help open up a staid attack, provided he bounces back from a mediocre year (he caught just 52 percent of intended passes in Cleveland). Of course, his effectiveness and happiness are tied to a quarterback getting him the ball on a regular basis.

Joe hopes the Bucs sit Freeman for the year, but he fears Raheem the Dream is so high on Viagra as a result of drafting Freeman, that he won’t have the patience to keep him on the sidelines observing and learning.

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