THE QB Blast: Troubling Trajectory For Freeman

October 20th, 2012


Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at Joe loves when Carlson fires away. Carlson is often seen as a football color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages locally via his company,America’s Best Quarterback. Plus, he’s a really cool dude.

It was great to see the Bucs win going away Sunday and for the offense to put up some points, but while beating the Kansas City Chiefs with Brady Quinn at QB was nice and needed, there were certainly key takeaways that should be addressed if they want to start a winning streak tomorrow against the talented Saints!

The Bucs’ offensive gameplan followed the prescription I laid down following the Dallas Cowboys game, which included more deep balls, outside runs, moving Josh Freeman from the pocket and reducing his play-action passes that require him to fake to his left and spin around. In fact, I don’t remember one. And it had been a major staple of the offense through the first month.

While the results were stellar, especially on deep balls, there is a real troubling issue that needs to be addressed or it will cause many turnovers throughout the year. There were four specific passes in the game that I would like to address. 

The first was Freeman’s interception in the first quarter. I’ll give Mike Sullivan credit for a well-designed “rub” concept just outside the left tackle area, where Dallas Clark went in motion to the left side of the formation behind a close-aligned Mike Williams. Williams’ job was to “rub” or knock off the linebacker covering Clark as Clark broke into the flat. Williams didn’t get any redirection on the LB and that gave the defender the advantage on cutting in front of Freeman’s pass and thwarting a scoring chance. Freeman’s pass wasn’t perfect, but it would have been a completion if Williams had done his job.

The other three pass plays all went the Buccaneers’ way but could have turned the win into a potential loss and that certainly will happen against better defensive backs in the future. I would like to have been a fly on the wall during the film review session to hear what was said to Josh Freeman on his deep balls to Mike Williams, because without Williams’ super-human efforts on balls that were thrown too flat and too far inside, they would have been two more interceptions.

But Williams turned these poor throws into a TD and a long gain, respectively. Many times proper or constructive criticism goes by the wayside because of the positive outcome, but an opportunity to improve is missed. Freeman’s trajectory has to be improved on balls down the sideline, but his low and wide release point will make that difficult. 

Right now, he throws the ball with a trajectory like a golfer hitting a 2- or 3-iron, But when a receiver is running down the sideline hip-to-hip with a cornerback and no safety help over the top, the ball should be thrown with a trajectory more like an 8 iron. The two deep-ball completions to Williams will be intercepted, incomplete or an offensive pass interference penalty in the future. Properly thrown, however, they will either be completions or incompletions, but never turnovers.

The fourth throw was to Tiquan Underwood. The inaccurate pass was first touched by the Chiefs’ defender, but Underwood did a nice job of catching the rebound off the deflection for a big gainer. There isn’t really a coaching point for it, just another play that could have easily become an interception and needs better accuracy if they hope to keep from giving Drew Brees and company an extra possession.

On a very positive note, I’m not quite sure what Romeo Crennel’s secondary was doing leaving Vincent Jackson virtually uncovered multiple times, but Freeman’s throws to him were still good and accurate and hopefully confidence-builders to throw those in the slot when available.

Last Sunday’s 28-point margin of victory was a true team win, with big contributions from the kicking game and defense, just what Coach Schiano prescribed back in February. Sunday versus the Saints will require all of the above and better deep ball throws if the Bucs want to get to 3-3.

27 Responses to “THE QB Blast: Troubling Trajectory For Freeman”

  1. Bucnjim Says:

    Nice article! I never have a problem with criticism of the Bucs or Freeman when it’s broken down to specific plays followed by what needs to be done to correct them. The problem is some people will just come out and say Freeman sucked without pointing out what was bad and what he was doing well. Any arm chair QB can do that and these people are getting paid. Thanks for being fair and accurate with your breakdown of the passing game.

  2. Macabee Says:

    Paralysis by analysis! I say let the guy play his game and succeed or fail on the merits of his results. I know all the analyst mean well and want Freeman to succeed. But we’ve got to get out of this guy’s head and let him determine his own fate.

  3. Jbrooks8604 Says:

    Sometimes Free fans hate to see people point out stuff like this. After last weeks game Free could do no wrong. But I think most people could see that his accuracy was still pretty bad and was being masked by deep jump balls. He was struggling all day with short and intermediate passes and even his deep throws were off, our wideouts just made huge plays.

    Like Macabee said, I think he should just go out for the rest of the year and sink or swim but so far, he isn’t playing well. He seems to completely meltdown in the first half of games and then come out in the second half and throw jump balls.

    If he doesn’t improve by seasons end, I can’t believe Schiano and Dom wouldn’t start looking for a viable option at the position. Even a game managing QB has to be able to be consistent and have moderate accuracy. So far Freeman doesn’t fall into either of those categories. He’s got to improve because right now, he’s one of our weakest links.

  4. Menofear Says:

    Need more slant!!!!!!!or screen plz OC….move the chain…..

  5. Kennedy Says:

    The reality is that schoolyard pitch and catch deep to Williams and V-Jax will work a good percentage of the time when they’re in man coverage no matter the throw. But I suspect the Saints will take that away over the top and Freeman will have to figure out how to throw underneath again without Preston Parker to bail out his low throws.

  6. william Says:

    how are those two last passes terrible throws? he simply let his WR go up and make a play kansas CB’s are no slouch they are the same ones that held the ravens to 9 points.

  7. NJBuc Says:

    Please post this guys career stats so that we may better understand his perspe tive.

  8. NJBuc Says:

    But I’ll agree, the main thing I think when I watch a guy throw 3 tds in a 28 point win with a 128 passer rating is, get that bum out of town.

  9. Justin Says:

    Carlson is nitpicking on the throws to Williams. Those were pretty solid throws. The WR always at an advantage is those 1 on 1 situations outside the numbers on jump balls. Williams excels at it so why not put it up there for him. The second throw was a little more on a rope but again Williams has position.

    The Underwood throw we can all agree was fortunate.

  10. vic Says:

    @NJBuc – His career stats are better than Ron Turner’s, Mike Sullivan’s and Greg Schiano’s.

  11. raphael Says:

    Carlson is a douche ! the guy is always bashing Freeman and Josh is WAY better than Carlson ever was……how many games did Carlson win?

    Carlson career stats ..

    2-tds 9 ints
    grand total 636 yrds
    Qb rating 34.1

    LMAO he couldn’t carry Freemans Jock Strap !!

  12. raphael Says:

  13. Nick Says:

    Below says it all , go sell insurance Jeff and let the men stick to playing football.

    I am so tied of this blow hard !

    Jeff Carlson

    Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 Age: 46

    Born: 5/23/1966 Long Beach , CA

    College: Weber State

    Experience: 3 Seasons


    2 9 636 34.1

  14. Ben Says:

    I enjoyed the article, particularly the look into the “rub” route mistake from Freeman and Williams. I suppose I can now see that Freeman’s deep throws are occasionally short and flat. But I’ve also seen his deep ball as a strength. What gives? Maybe he has a strong arm that he doesn’t use well?

  15. raphael Says:

    @ ben..nothing gives, all qb’s are human and not all throws will be perfect…lol @ the scrutiny of every little thing…

    not you Ben, but in general

  16. Architek Says:

    I love when the experts make educated analysis and some opinionated fans come down on the analysts for stating a supported observation. Then some of you immediately attack the analysts, so classic. What will you say after 16 more games pass the 4 years we have seen what Freeman is all about?

    We have never had a great or elite qb so I can easily see why we react to such articles.

  17. raphael Says:

    so your one of the experts ? ^^^^

  18. JonBuc Says:

    Josh Freeman responded by saying…” Jeff Carlson is delivering cupcakes and fancy lunches to medical offices all wrong. If he is going to be considered an elite pharmaceutical rep, he needs to rely more on upscale food and less on Publix fried chicken and jojos.”

  19. Jeff Carlson Says:

    To Nick and Raphael, Please post every NFL QB’s stats for their first 3 starts. Start with Troy Aikman and Steve Young. I don’t think they or anyone else deserves an opinion, except anonymous guys on the internet.
    I began my critique with a play that showed Freeman’s first interception wasn’t his fault and finished by praising his throws to Vincent Jackson. So, I don’t always bash, but instead produce constructive criticism for improvement for him and the team (check the record).
    You should both appreciate my next article, here is a preview: Bucs are great–really, really great! No need or room for improvement. See you at the Super Bowl!

  20. raphael Says:

    @ Jeff Carlson…6 paragraphs of critique and 1 positive …I am a big freeman fan and i will defend him..

    for your next article perhaps you can talk about:

    3 coordinators in 4 years
    2 new Wr’s this year
    3 new OL
    and the time it takes for 11 guys to gell and be on the same page..

  21. Stick Says:

    Jeff, I hope you don’t take these windbags seriously. Most of us appreciate your insight.

  22. Stanglassman Says:

    Would you compare Hank Haney and Butch Harmon’s career stats to tiger’s? Geesh- you guys never go after people on here who don’t know a thing about the QB position or football in general, like the guy on here who always says racist comments like ‘Jfro sux’ but when someone who really does know what he talking about gives some constructive criticism you attack. Lets encourage good criticism and discourage racist haters.

  23. Angelo Says:

    All the good QBs in the league have plays where they throw sub-par balls into man coverage and hope that the WR makes a play on the ball. It’s pretty much useless to critique a throw like that. It’s like critiquing a Hail Mary pass.

  24. Westcoastbucsfan Says:

    The critism of Carlson for what he did in the league is pathetic. Despite his stats, he has played the game at higher level than anybody else on this message board.

    I hope these idiots don’t stop you from making another article. I thought it was a great analysis of Freeman and provided insight into the Chiefs game I didn’t really consider before.

    However ugly it needs to be, I hope we scrape out a win against the Saints tomorrow. Go Bucs!

  25. Jonny 3.3 Says:

    Who ever thinks Carlson is being overly critical and that Freeman did the right job of letting his receivers fight for it must stop watching Football right away. It is called improving the chances morons. Even when Freeman looks like he has a great game statistically, he has some plays that leave you with a little less than desired.

    Those deep completions to Williams were indeed poor throws. While Mike may win more battles like those, Freeman has to improve the trajectory and accuracy to make himself a better passer and make it easier on his receivers. Some time in future, one or both of these receivers may be unavailable. What is Freeman going to do then? Throw incompletions and interceptions? Nope, listen to suggestions like these, improve his delivery and complete to who ever is playing.

    I am a big Freeman fan, but I love positive criticism. I do not care if he is not being praised by the media. As long as he is playing well, that is all that matters.

  26. SebringSmitty Says:

    I thought it was a great article Jeff. I always look forward to your posts and wish you would do more.

  27. WestCoastBucsFan Says: