Josh Freeman’s Ascent Is Justified

June 18th, 2009
After studying the Bucs quarterback stable at minicamp, Jeff Carlson writes Josh Freeman is the best QB on the roster.

After studying the Bucs quarterback stable at minicamp, former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson writes Josh Freeman is the best QB on the roster.

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at Today, after spending time at minicamp, he delivers his take on the Bucs quarterbacks and the competition for the starting job. 

 The Bucs wrapped up their on-field mandatory and organized voluntary program Wednesday with the revelation that Josh Freeman may get his playing timeline moved up considerably.

 All the “powers-that-be” (from a football standpoint) put their heads together on the subject; the conclusion was their No. 1 draft pick may very well be able to take the ball from center come September after all.

This was no revelation to readers since I wrote that specific prediction six weeks ago!

After spending time at Bucs minicamp yesterday, here is the QB situation as the Bucs go their separate ways for a few weeks before reconvening at the same spot for training camp — no travels to the “Happiest Place On Earth” anymore:

     1.  Josh Freeman is the best QB on the roster, in shorts and warming up.  He has throwing technique that rivals the best in the league.  He is not ready for prime-time right now.  When he threw in 7-on-7 drills, he was apprehensive and only threw a couple of his chances with confidence. In the 2-minute drill, he drove his unit down to the goal-line (McCown and Leftwich settled for field goals) only to go 0-4 with none of the four throws having a chance to score a touchdown.

 2.  If you took their numbers off the quarterbacks jerseys and had an objective, independent evaluator watching the QBs together, Byron Leftwich would be behind Brian Griese on the depth chart. His value is that he has won some games in this league and was a former No. 1 pick. His unbelievably long delivery and lack of mobility (in shorts and helmets) is so glaring, I can’t see him being a season-long starter anywhere.  

    3.  Luke McCown is OK at this point. He didn’t stand out in a good way or a bad way in what I witnessed. I heard that he wasn’t stepping up in the pocket like they wanted him to so far this spring, but that wasn’t noticeable on this day. He seems to be leaning back a bit too much on some throws, which are leaving his balls a bit higher than they should be. But, with Freeman’s inexperience right now, I would put McCown in as the clubhouse leader on June 17th. That is a long way from September.

  4.  Josh Johnson would seem to be on the outside looking in from a management standpoint since he has no game experience and you need to give the No. 1 pick any extra reps in practice, so where is his opportunity?  That said, he has an incredible whip to his ball and if that independent and objective evaluator was just watching the talent at practice, Johnson would come in at the No. 2 spot on his depth chart. He also was not great in his 7-on-7 reps.  He does need to loosen up on his dropbacks as he is very stiff and tight in his upper body.
Here is the truth, if you can handle it:

Neither Luke McCown nor Byron Leftwich have taken command in any substantial way. They certainly don’t have the star presence of a starter. This has left the door open for Josh Freeman to step into the spotlight and the Bucs management open to the possibility that he may be their best option if he starts firing his missiles like he knows where he wants them to land.

Word is Freeman will spend a significant amount of July here in Tampa working.

9 Responses to “Josh Freeman’s Ascent Is Justified”

  1. Mr. Lucky Says:

    Great Jeff – thanks for confirming what we all knew – Freeman has POTENTIAL. Thank and 1.99 gets you a Starbucks coffee 😉

    But seriously technique may be important but DECISION MAKING has been the biggest knock on Freeman while he was in school.

    I’ll take a QB with less than ideal form but who makes the “right throws” with confidence any day.

  2. frye Says:

    Rooting for McCown, too. But if the kid has the goods and work ethic, let’s just start him and get it over with. (((Still would have rather had Everette Brown))

  3. BigMacAttack Says:

    Nice report. I don’t understand why they have wasted so many reps on Leftwich. If he is so slow in every facet, shouldn’t he be at the bottom of the depth chart as you say. Why hasn’t this happened. I never have been a real McCown fan, but he is OK. I think Josh Johns is a very smart kid, and also fast and mobile. I would be giving a lot of reps to the 2 kids, and if they keep Lefty and cut Josh Johnson, it would be another typical Buc Bonehead Move.

  4. RastaMon Says:

    Joe sang…..
    “Bad Bad Sign lyrics

    There’s a black cat crossing
    And a moon that’s full
    I’ve been turning and tossing
    ‘Cause I feel a fool
    There’s a broken mirror
    On the bedroom wall
    The phone keeps on ringing
    But there’s never a call
    Right after we make love
    You always leave
    I’m not superstitious
    But I do believe
    It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    Yes it is
    It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    There’s a fortune teller
    And a wise man too
    But they couldn’t tell me
    Anything about you
    Except the harder it’s coming
    It’s gonna fall
    And if that’s an omen
    I don’t care at all
    Then you say you love me
    But you always got to go
    I’m not superstitious
    But I ought to know
    It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    Feeling alive
    It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    You had some restless night
    I hear the wind outside
    Sounds like making hard
    It can’t be step inside
    You call out a name
    And it ain’t mine oh no no
    There’s a black cat crossing
    And a moon that’s full
    I’ve been turning and tossing
    ‘Cause I feel a fool
    Then you say you love me
    But you always got to go
    I’m not superstitious darling
    But I ought to know
    It’s a bad bad bad It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    Do you never boo
    It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    You know that it is
    It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    I don’t mean that I’m superstitious
    It’s a bad bad bad bad sign
    Such a bad bad sign”

    Joe Cocker

  5. Jeff Carlson Says:

    Hey Mr. Lucky, Captain Obvious here: And to you I say, no duh. I will take a QB with less than stellar mechanics for better decision making too. I think I said a bit more than Freeman has potential. Why would you invest in a player and not ramp up his learning curve regardless if you plan to use him. The point is the other QB’s aren’t making it happen and the kid with the “potential” is the guy they should be getting ready at the fastest pace possible regardless of the rest of the competition (as I stated in early May).

  6. Flea Says:

    Carlson, first time commenter here. LIke your stuff. Can we really tell at this point what McCown has to offer? Or do you just base it all on exhibition game performance?

  7. Jeff Carlson Says:

    Flea, McCown actually has a decent amount of regular season game experience and his issue has been inexperienced mistakes like running out of bounds inside his two yard line and taking a loss instead of throwing it away or fumbling while running out of bounds inside his own 20 yard line. Problem is the new head coach said that decision making has still been an issue for him this spring. He will make a number of nice throws in a row and then throw one that leaves the coaches scratching their heads. He also has repeated the same mistake after being corrected. That will drive a coach crazy. McCown has great athleticism and potential, but right now that is all it is, potential.

  8. Daniel O'Brien Says:

    I think the fans miss something about starting a 21 year old former Junior Quarterback, and thats the message it sends the team. If you start a rookie QB ( and I know people are looking at the success the Falc’s and Ravens had last season, but to me they were different situations, stronger teams that were not rebuilding, or in the falcons case a NFL ready rookie QB, which Freeman is not)you are going to go through growing pains, and more or less conceding a losing season. What do you think Antonio Bryant is thinking on his one year contract, that he wants to stick around and possibly struggle with a rookie QB and possibly risk injury when he becomes a free agent? In short, you are sending a mesage to the team that we are in re-building mode and it sucks to work so hard in the off-season when you know the team is going to struggle.

  9. Jeff Carlson Says:

    Daniel, Everything you said was absolutely true, but with a new offense, defense and complete coaching staffs, it won’t matter who is playing QB, the offense will be going through growing pains. Luke McCown is going to be going through growing pains as well (and I don’t think Leftwich can be successful for a whole season even if he has less growing pains). I would rather grow with the guy who is going to be the guy because you will start from square one next year or whenever Freeman gets his chance. It is like our U.S. economy. Do you bite the bullet now and get the recession over with or do you prolong it by deficit spending, followed by inflation? I’d rather take my punishment now and flourish more quickly.