Defensive Coordinators Did Their Job

October 27th, 2011

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman had such a wonderful first full season as the Bucs starter last year that it did two things:

1) Bucs fans became giddy thinking of what might be, a Bucs team with a stud quarterback, the likes of which never seen by this franchise.

2) Freeman set himself up for a sophomore slump, a regression. But shoot, even just eight interceptions would have been a regression the way he played last year.

So when Joe learned this week that Freeman led the NFL in interceptions — had more than even Rex Grossman if you can imagine such a thing — the news was simply chilling.

Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune put fingers to keyboard and suggests the Bucs, as the roster is currently assembled, will not be able to overcome Freeman’s freefall.

This team isn’t good enough to flourish with the current Freeman. He means too much, maybe too much. It’s all about 5, Morris has loved to say, and right now it’s all mistakes, about Freeman forcing things, about not finding another level, about turnovers, mistakes, nothing like last season.

“That’s something that’s really uncharacteristic of our offense, uncharacteristic of me,” Freeman said. “If we can (eliminate) that, we’re looking at a team that’s 5-2 if not 6-1 right now.”

A healthy running game would help. But the simple fact is that defenses saw what Freeman did last season, off play action, with his legs, and they’ve decided to take that away. They’re daring him to be a pocket passer, something he wasn’t in college or in his breakout 2010.

Joe has been saying this for weeks: Joe feared that, during the asinine lockout, defensive coaches throughout the NFL had nothing to do but break down tape of both NFL and college players.

Joe’s certain that the league’s defensive coordinators have figured out Freeman’s kryptonite and the results are what Bucs fans are witnessing now.

So it will be up to Freeman to do some adjusting of his own on the fly. Or, as Fennelly suggests, 4-3 may be the high point of the season.

32 Responses to “Defensive Coordinators Did Their Job”

  1. Meh Says:

    I don’t believe defense are “taking away the run” from Freeman. He’s taking it away himself. He’s already said this season that he doesn’t like to run. So many times he’s tossed a ball into double coverage when he had a first down running. The problem, imo, is his decision making this year. Way too many forced throws off the back foot into coverage.

    Also, 4-3 can’t be the high point of the season since we were 4-2 before London.

  2. mikeck Says:

    I disagree. In the first two games, I thought he looked late with his throws which I attribute to the lock out. In later games, I thought the problems were due to no running game. In San Fran, the score took it away, in London, it was the the injuries. If we cant run, Josh isnt good enough to pick apart a defense that is only concerned with the pass. Take away last week and San Fran and things dont look as bad.

    He’s forcing throws but thats becuase HE HAS TO! There is no run game now.

  3. mikeck Says:

    I should say..I disagree with the article..not Meh’s comments

  4. flmike Says:

    I feel like I’m repeating myself, for all intents and purposes, Josh is still a 2nd year QB, now that teams have learned his strengths and weaknesses he has to adapt and make his strengths stronger and his weaknesses into strengths, but this takes patience, time and coaching, consistant coaching, which he did not receive for 8 months. He could do all the work he wanted in the off season, but he was self coaching, and for a first year starter that obviously was not a good thing. Look around the league, inconsistency is the theme, sure GB, NE, NO always look good, but they are veteran teams with established systems and QBs who live and breath the system. Here’s my take, GB, NE, NO all go 12-4 or better,maybe NO at 11-5, the rest of the playoff teams, the best will maybe be at 10-6 the rest 9-7 and maybe even 8-8.

  5. Bucnjim Says:

    Without Blount; there is no need for teams to defend against the run. Freeman is not and maybe never will be a Bree’s or a Tom Brady. Like most other QB’s he needs to at least have the threat of a running game to open up passing lanes. I’m still concerned that he hasn’t even tried to run in dire 3rd down situations. There’s been 10-15 yards between him and the closest defender and still he chose to force the ball into coverage. Not sure what that’s all about, but if he’s no longer a threat to take off running the opposing defense will make the Bucs one dimensional.

  6. bucfanjeff Says:

    He’s pressing more using bad mechanics. Stop throwing off the back foot and follow through, that will lead to better, more accurate throws. More designed roll-outs, move the pocket. Last of all, Van Pelt needs to do more with Freeman. His technique has been bad which should have been recognized and corrected long before now. Which brings me to…why wait so long? That’s coaching.

  7. gotbbucs Says:

    i refuse to blame the lockout. after 2 or 3 weeks the kinks should have been worked out. our offense is vanilla and unimaginative and we have an oc who comes from a coaching tree that is notorious for not sticking to the running game.

  8. Eric Says:

    Too bad our Defensive Coordinator didn’t take advantage of that extra time.

  9. Architek Says:

    I’m a big Freeman fan but I’m afraid the league is doing what it does to many players and expose the weaknesses. It’s up to Josh and the coaches to correct and counter the issues. It won’t happen this year but next season should a good year IF the Bucs get some offensive playmakers.

  10. flmike Says:

    I have to disagree, there is no way you can compress what amounts to 4 months of offseason time with your team coaches (not including camp) into a condensed camp and 8 weeks of a season. Game week you should to be installing game plans and not teaching your playbook to your young players, that is what OTAs and offseason sessions are for.

  11. Mauha Deeb Says:

    @flmike Nailed it! Freeman is 23. Rodgers, Brady and Brees all didn’t really get it together until they were 25. Then they started blowing up into the amazing QBs they are today.

    The only QB I can think of who has played consistently great football at such an early age is Manning. A once in a life time player.

    But you know what? None of these guys did at the age of 22 what Freeman did last year. That is unheard of.

    Freeman WILL get back on track and WILL dominate.

  12. Meh Says:

    I think flmike and mauha bring up the most important point – that these problems are CORRECTABLE. Maybe it happens this season, maybe it takes an offseason (or two), but we’ve all seen what Freeman is capable of.

  13. macabee Says:

    This subject has reached national attention and everybody’s got an opinion. I’ve pretty much read them all. But one that caught my attention on PFT suggested that Freeman is forcing the ball to Winslow – 6 of the 10 INTs have been thrown to Winslow. Any body chance to guess why? Our WRs have the most drops in the league. Our red zone playcalling doesn’t take advantage of Freeman’s strengths – we should run more in the red zone. We are not attacking the 15 to 30 yd area and with no running game, the LBs and safeties are patrolling that area falling off to double Winslow, Freeman’s 1st read. If the opposing DCs have done their job, our OC and staff have not done theirs. This can be fixed without re-engineering Freeman’s mechanics during the season. It will be disastrous if we rattle this kid now. Whatever tweaking required should be done in the off-season – we need to respond in-kind to the defensive schemes being used against him, ie, when they throw firecrackers at us, we need to light them and throw them back!

  14. Bucbeliever Says:

    Bucs should be fine. It’s just the fundamentals that need some tweaking. I saw Free throw off his back foot last year as well. Not fixing that soon enough is a problem. Despite that, he looks pretty good in 4th quarter. He played well vs, Chicago and Detroit at the end but just cam up short. His magic still’s there.

    Don’t forget, the Bucs beat a “quality” team, and that was w/o Blount. I firmly believe the Saints are worried going into week 9. Brees already said they have respect for the Bucs…especially coming after a loss. Well, it’s deja vu.

    One last thing, has anyone heard about T-Jax? That hammy has cost him some key, big time minutes on the field.

    All in all we’re 4-3 and 2-0 in our division…GO BUCS!

  15. Capt.Tim Says:

    As I’ve said since spring. The lockout really hurt all of our young players- BADLY. But none worse than Josh. If he had been in One Buc all Summer, We are a SuperBowl contender. Josh builds confidence based on familiarity with the teams he plays. Godells stupid lockout deprived Josh of his film time- thus the lack of confidence. That’s the main reason I predicted 9-7 this year. We have a fantastic young team and Coaches. But without time together this offseason, it’s killed them. Pat Morris had a Vetern group, and it shows. He has made major improvements in the line. Young kids are different.

    Next season- we rock the NFL. This year, we suffer the effects of a crappy commissioner! Thanks Godell, way to lick those owners boots!

  16. macabee Says:

    Mauha, flmike, I think you guys are dead on. Aaron Rodgers is unquestionably an elite QB. But has anybody noticed his path of progression to get there. Rodgers has been in the league 7 yrs. Never started until his 4th year 2008 and attended McCarthy’s summer development program every year and didn’t reach true elite status until last year. Remember when Freeman first met Rodgers. I was there. It was Sunday, Nov 8, 2009. The Bucs won 38-28, Freeman threw 1 INT, Rodgers threw 3 INTs, the last of which to T-Jack for a pick-6 with .035sec on the clock. I”ll test your recall of a hall-of famer that was benched for “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam that went on to win 4 SBs and ended with a 70.9 QB rating and threw 212 TDs and 210 INTs. Think it might have had something to do with the weapons around him? I am not worried about Freeman at all. I’m more worried about the people that has his career in their hands!

  17. Eric Says:

    Amazing how that lack of OTA work hasn’t hurt Dalton or Newton…………

    Extremely weak excuse.

    BTW, whats Rah’s excuse again for his defense? Got to be one somewhere.

  18. Capt.Tim Says:

    Eric- read the article. Teams can’t prepare for the rookies- they’ve got no tape. After your first year, the league adapts to what you do. A summer with his Coached- Josh has expanded his game, and throws new stuff at them. No Ota’s = no expansion- same skills, NFL is on to them.

    It’s why Freemam, Williams, Benn, Are all struggling. It will be all good next year

  19. Pete Dutcher Says:

    I agree with Joe…but not with Fennelly.

    As Joe said, “Freeman to do some adjusting of his own on the fly”

    The problems with the offense have been due in large part to Freeman’s play.

    For example, on numerous occasions I watched him scramble to the right, and instead of throwing the ball away, he runs out of bounds for a loss. Last year, he had sense enough to throw it away everytime this scenario arose.

    And then you have his accuracy. I personally think he is more accurate on the long ball…but there isn’t a lot to compare it to this year. We have seen passes thrown to the ground, passes thrown late, and passes overthrown.

    And as far as running…teams are rarely talking that away. Why else do you think Josh Johnson, who mostly ALWAYS runs, is getting first downs when they stick him in there?

    The QB run has been there multiple times. I remember seeing Freeman throw (and miss) a long pass in a game and the way was completely open in front of him to get a first down. Instead, the pass is off and it was punting time.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am 1000% behind Freeman. But part of growth is acknowledging areas that need to be improved.

    I think he’s struggling to become a Peyton Manning stype pocket passer…and that’s not what he is. He’s limiting himself purposely to try to develop that aspect of his game.

    Last year, he played more to his strengths. This year he isn’t.

    His decisions are off.

    But there are two ways to deal with it. He could continue playing the style he is…and maybe he actually will improve. Or he can go back to his orginal style and be stuck with it, be be a betting QB.

    The truth is, if he is going to improve his abilities, this is the time to make mistakes. Regardless of pre season hype, it is unrealistic to expect this team to be a contender this year. There are just too many new faces on defense, which is our bread and butter.

    So let him make his mistakes. Let him work on overcoming them. Remember…with every failure he learns something. Before long, he’ll know what works and what doesn’t. That’s when Josh Freeman will shine so bright we’ll need sunglasses (intended quote).

  20. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Eric Says:

    October 27th, 2011 at 10:44 am
    Amazing how that lack of OTA work hasn’t hurt Dalton or Newton…………

    Defenses are not familiar with them. Lets see them do good down the stretch or in their second season. Remember, if their teams do well, next season is tougher. That’s when their true talent will be revealed.

  21. Eric Says:

    Capt Tim,

    Can’t work on that kinda stuff in a full training camp with four pre-season games?

    Heck they didnt even have OTA’s till a few years ago, guys would take that time off.

    It doesn’t take that much to figure out Olson’s offense so other teams have not discovered some big mystery.

    But, nice try at circling the wagon. Tip of the hat to Joe for the “mulligan”.

    BTW, what about Rah not developing a defense in his third year? 28th aint good.

  22. Joe Says:


    Joe gave a mulligan to Rah/Olson for the running back issue Sunday. That mulligan doesn’t extend to the lack of running back depth. Joe never bought what Dominik was (hard) selling on Kregg Lumpkin.

    How many years in a row did Graham end the season on IR? The demonstrated fact he is brittle + he’s 31 should have moved the movers and shakers at One Buc Palace to load up on on running backs or not let Caddy walk.

    Not saying Caddy was a panacea, but he did add depth.

  23. Mauha Deeb Says:

    @Eric Bucs defense is 13th in points per game. Not too shabby for the youngest defense in the NFL. Better than most. Just imagine what we would be if we had not had that thrashing in San Fran. If we keep it together as we did against the Saints last time, we will move up in the rankings.

  24. Nick2 Says:

    Joe I totally agree the failure of Dom and the front office not to address the backup running back position via either the draft (early rounder) or free agency is inexcusable for a young team who went 10-6 the previous year and barely missed the playoffs. From my position the move to let Caddy walk was based solely on money and not ability as we can now see from Lumpkin. Obvioulsy Caddy is a cut above any back we now have besides Blount.

  25. Capt.Tim Says:

    Eric- you have to look a player’s history, to see what he needs to succeed. I don’t think even you, at your most cynical, could deny Josh performed like a great franchise QB. His stats back it up. On College, he was a notorious Gym rat. His rep was that he was a constant fixture in the film room. Last off season- he seeming never left One Buc, except to go train with Dree Brees. Its who he is, and how he prepares. And last year, he played far beyond everyone’s expectations.

    This year- locked out, Josh struggles. I realize that alot of the posters here are like goldfish. We win- they love the whole organization. We lose( even if we are 10-1), they hate everyone from the owners on down, til next week.

    Others have an agenda to discredit the coach, just because they want a different coach. Why? I haven’t figured it out, unless it’s a race thing.

    But the majority of posters here are pretty smart. If something that was working great suddenly isnt working great , the question is – what changed ?

    There where lots of intelligent experts who predicted the lockout would set this team back. They were right.

    Next year will prove the point.

  26. Joe Says:


    Yeah, Caddy is coming off the bench averaging four yards a carry on a s(p)it team.

    Couldn’t have used that here. Move along. 🙁

  27. Capt.Tim Says:

    As far as Dom not adressing needs- I agree.
    I can’t believe we didn’t add a vet CB, 2()OLBers, and a Rb

  28. Eric Says:

    Actually, I agree with you Captain that Josh will be just fine.

    Just don’t agree that lack of OTA’s have much to do with it. I have seen this happen to young qb’s who had loads of OTA’s.

    Now Rah on the other hand…………….not sure he is fixable.

  29. Meh Says:

    Joe, to be fair Dom did try to address RB with Bradford. Ya, he busted out and wasn’t a very good pick, but they did try to address rb depth in the draft.

  30. IMHO... Says:

    until we get a speedy RB and/or WR who can stretch tha field, Freeman gonna catch hell and teams will play more and more zone defenses and sit on routes. Benn is our fastest WR but 1 isn’t enough. Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles would’ve been perfect 4 our team. They have tha speed and agility 2 constantly beat LB’s and most DB’s, can be used in different personel groupings and be put in motion 2 play WR and create more mismatches. Benn, Briscoe, Parker and Williams have similiar skillsets and size with Parker being more agile and Benn having more speed.

  31. 5 is in love Says:

    I mean, he’s gotta be right?

  32. Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    Freeman needs to Run, that’s his value to Tampa. I think he passes better when he starts running. It is almost like the physical contact of him being tackled on a run makes him better.