Josh Freeman And The Pass Rush

December 3rd, 2012

Yesterday, many of Joe’s readers were angered when Joe wrote how Josh Freeman’s vanishing act in the third quarter led to the Bucs losing a lead, and losing a game to the Broncos.

“But he was pressured by the pass rush” was the convenient cry/excuse Joe read from those angry with Joe’s commentary.

Joe believes this is nonsense. Here’s why:

Does a good pass rush help a team? Clearly. This is not debatable. Joe’s only belief is that an elite quarterback — which Freeman very well may still be one day — adapts to problems and overcomes obstacles in order to lead his team.

This did not happen yesterday.

First, yes, there was a pass rush. This is understandable. The Broncos, after yesterday’s games, are third in the NFL in sacks. Did any sane, sober person believe Freeman would have all the time in the world to throw the ball? If there is such a person, said person is awfully naive.

Besides, the Bucs’ offensive line gave up one sack yesterday. One! Does that sound like the Broncos had a complete jailbreak against the Bucs?

Guess which team has one of the best pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL? That would be the Bucs. After yesterday’s games, only the Broncos, Texans and Giants have allowed fewer sacks than the Bucs.

Joe also wrote yesterday that Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers, two quarterbacks on teams that, unless they totally collaspe, will be playoff-bound, would pick up a bar tab the rest of the year to have an offensive line like the Bucs’, even with all the injuries to starters.

The Packers have given up the second-most sacks in the NFL this year; the Bears are nearly as bad at No. 5.

(FYI, Matty Ice has been sacked more than Freeman.)

Yet, Rodgers and Cutler, faced with adversity, find ways to adjust and overcome obstacles to lead their teams to critical wins.

Please do not get the wrongheaded notion that Joe is somehow anti-Freeman. Joe spent the better part of the first month of the season dispelling illogical premises from readers that the Bucs should draft Geno Smith — or worse — bench Freeman for Dan Orlovsky, which is simply beyond the pale.

Freeman is not yet an NFL elite quarterback. A good quarterback yes, a young quarterback, yes, a quarterback who can still be among the NFL’s top clutch players, yes.

He’s just not there yet. But the Bucs may need him to be if they are to run the table the rest of the season to have a shot at a postseason game.

The only thing keeping Freeman from being among those elite players in Joe’s eyes is for him to be consistent. Nothing more.

Props to Josh and the Bucs for making a late comeback in Denver. Too bad that didn’t need to happen.

39 Responses to “Josh Freeman And The Pass Rush”

  1. McBuc Says:

    I do not think we can discount the defense has on the QB of their team. While the Bucs defense played one of it’s better games, they still gave up 24 points. The return game still has not shown up either, it seems the best the Bucs can hope for is a touch back so they can start on the 20. I agree with you joe, Freeman is not elite at this time, and he may be at some point in time. I also agree with you that they will need him to bring his A game for the next four weekends. Be prepared for the bashers again though, they are coming your way.

  2. McBuc Says:

    I am being lazy, does anyone know what the average points scored against Denver is?

  3. TampaRob Says:

    @ McBuc: 244 points in 12 games… 20.333

  4. ctord Says:

    Agreed and a late game come back should not of had to occur in Carolina either quite frankly.

  5. kh Says:

    Sack numbers aren’t as telling as the QB pressures/hurries numbers are. Freeman was hurried on nearly ever pass yesterday, Miller Dummervil and others were living in the backfield yesterday.

  6. Big Rob Says:

    Hmm… Josh Freeman has a terrible game and it’s being said the Sully is showing interest in other jobs. Maybe Sully should focus more on the job at hand while in season???

  7. TampaRob Says:

    BTW- Bucs lead the NFC in scoring with 333 PF… Denver with Herman Munster as QB has 349. Yes, Munster converts 3rd downs, but the stats aren’t that bad.. but a slightly better pass defense in there and we’re not talking about Freeman’s shortcomings.

  8. djjustfrank Says:

    Great post Joe. Good to point out other QBs who are under constant duress winning games.

  9. Have A Nice Day Says:

    one sack five penalties instead of 6 sacks. That is not good.

    @kh – At least you understand there is more to it.

  10. McBuc Says:

    Thanks TampaRob, so the Bucs did above average against the stingy Denver defense. I agree with have a Nice Day, those penalties would have been sacks sicne most were holding, even if they would not have been sacks they killed many drives. Penatlies are as bad as a sack everyday all day. I too thought Freeman was being hurried way too much, but for a bunch of back ups against a premier defenive line they did ok.

  11. Joe Says:


    Denver with Herman Munster as QB has 349.

    LOL Herman Munster. Joe always liked “Opie Taylor.”

  12. SaskBuco Says:

    Great points JOE, but many of Rodgers Sacks are on him for holding onto the ball for too long, not all of course but a good number of them. Also, not sure about all the love for Culter, how many pick 6s has this guy thrown? He belittles his LT on national TV, granted their OL is not the strongest part of the team, but Forte and Marshall help Cutler a lot, he’s not on his own. The Bears defense deserves a lot of credit, Cutler is very good QB but he hasn’t won anything of any significance, even this year who has he beaten through “adversity”? Sacks aren’t only on the OL, also on coverage and QB release. But you assement is right on the money about Freeman, I probaly just believe in him more than most and I also know that no one wants him to succeed more than JOE. Freeman is a franchise QB and on the cusp of greatness, he has all the tools to be truly elite, even more than “Elite” is the number of rings I believe he can will lead the BUCS to!!!!

  13. Andrew Says:

    ” joe believes this is nonsense”

    And I believe it is everything. Ill take my opinion over yours.

  14. Andrew Says:

    Ive watched enough football to know YOU WIN THE GAME IN THE TRENCHES. and yesterday we clearly lost in the trenches, not only offense, but on defense as well. look at what Freeman has done this season when he has time.

  15. bucfanjeff Says:

    Like others have mentioned, low sack numbers don’t mean the QB was clean and upright. Freeman was getting beaten like a drum yesterday as the Broncos DL was living in our backfield.

    Our problem is not Freeman, our problem is pass defense. That’s an understatement and stating the obvious.

  16. TampaRob Says:

    @ Joe- he’s also referred to as “La Frente Grande” or simply “the Easter Island Statue” because he’s only slightly more mobile… which doesn’t take away from the fact he’s a great QB… I probably wouldn’t be saying that if I was living in Denver 🙂

  17. Drew Says:


    My Wife believes Manning looks like Humpty Dumpty because he has an Egg shaped head.

  18. Justin Says:

    The effect of a pass rush is not measured just in sacks, Joe. We wiffed on a block that resulted in the lone interception by Freeman, which was returned for 6 points. With a 10-7 lead and the ball in the 2nd quarter that pass rush absolutely ate up our offense for about 6 consecutive plays.

    How many penalties did Miller and his cohorts draw? There were a couple of holds/illegal hands to face I can think of right off the bat. They are the same things as sacks.

    I’ve seen QBs take far worse beatings than Freeman yesterday. Field position was also a major problem for a long stretch there. Roscoe Parrish was killing us fielding those punts inside the 10 yard line. You gotta let them go and take a chance on the touchback.

  19. Jessup Says:

    Their defense shut down our run game, put us down 3 scores, and were getting immediate pressure on every pass play…..oh well. It’s not an excuse. It’s Josh’s job too stay cool, calm, and collected when things go horribly wrong. Instead, sometimes, like yesterday….he flakes out and becomes a horrible QB and a poor leader. He just can’t do that. I don’t care if the score is 45-0. He has to be the rock that stays grounded and focused and keeps everyone else focused. I know he’s only 24, but he needs to grow up fast.

  20. Red86 Says:

    Ok Joe. This is overboard reacton here. Often this year you talk about Gerald McCoy who I like being a great and most improved player. Let’s be honest here McCoy sack numbers aren’t high yet he has put a lot of pressure on the Oline and Qb from time to time. You can’t have it both ways in this situation no mattter how you try to spin it in your favor. Freeman is still growing and still having a great season. The big problems is that no one can truely name a quarterback with this much promise to be the franchise qb since Williams.

    The way Freeman basher acting is funny. You guy acting like we have Rayn Leaf, Rex Grossman, Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow as our qb. Freeman is hands down in the top 15 qb starting. He’s going to be special because he has to learn and have a few things to learn.

    This game shows we lack depth period… Nothing more nothing less. We aren’t that far out to being really good. Hope that we have another great offseason in acquiring talent in the position of needs.

    Here Freeman’s stats to prove that he’s doing great.

  21. Red86 Says:

    This year and 2010 season is almost the same for Freeman.

    It hilarious we talked about Boomer taking shots at Freeman.

  22. Reedo Says:

    The downfield plays take longer to develop. What’s our breakdown of short vs long passes? I think that Freeman isn’t as adept at throwing the quick out pass, at least for now. Or maybe Sully just didn’t call them. The fact is that a shorter route get’s it out of the QB’s hands faster.

  23. Becks Says:

    We needed to run WAY MORE SCREENS TO MARTIN!!!!!!

  24. houstonbucs Says:

    We need to score more points than the other team to win.
    Jk, face it, we are still an above average d line away from the post season. That and a average secondary away. Free is fine, there were people in his face all day yesterday.

  25. Cannon Says:

    For once, I have to disagree with Joe…

    Yes, Freeman only got sacked once, but our OL was caught holding numerous times… and if they hadn’t, Freeman would have likely gotten clobbered on each one.

    Our O Line was overmatched, and the opposing defense was living in the backfield for much of the second half. Sure, Freeman could have/should have made quicker decisions, but let’s face it, our passing strength is deep strikes down field with Doug Martin doing the gut shots up the middle. Martin had little room to run, and Freeman had little time to throw deep. This, combined with the worst pass defense in the league meant we never had much of a chance.

  26. raphael Says:

    maybe one day we will have an elite O-line….lol

  27. Stranger Says:

    We do Raph. Mostly on the IR.

  28. TampaRob Says:

    Freeman still has a lot of development coming.. he’s not there yet– but I’m not worried. When Les Steckel came in with his “green zone” and scored all those points there was still something missing. This offense can be the first in Bucs history to really be special. I’m not worried.. as stated in an earlier comment, the Bucs lead the NFC in scoring and only trail the Broncos by less than 2 points per game. Think about that. Peyton Freakin’ Manning the exalted savior of any team he graces with his presence has only scored a bit more than 1 point per game more than the Bucs– with 2 key OL on the IR and 1 playing out of position.

    Throw a DL in and get Claiborne back.. then add a CB and give David, Foster, and Barron another year to play together and this could be really special.

  29. BadNewsBucs Says:

    Josh Freeman needs to learn to use his legs as a weapon, pretty sure that would broaden his skill set, as well as introducing a wrinkle opposing DCs will have to account for. Until that happens, I could careless if the media thinks he’s “elite” or not.

  30. Kyle Says:

    Sorry Joe but you’re just dead wrong on this one. First of all, yes Freeman didn’t play very well in that third quarter, but our crappy offense wasn’t all about him. On the first drive of the second half, Penn commits a holding penalty that completely deflates the drive. I can’t remember the specifics of the second drive but I know the blame for it failing wasn’t squarely on Freeman’s shoulders. For example, on one play Martin had an opportunity to cut his run to the outside for big yards, but he didn’t see it.

    On one of the drives Freeman is sacked for a loss of 7 yards and I believe we kick a field goal in the end. Obviously there’s the interception which was caused by Zuttah (I think) letting a DT free to rush at Freeman (not sure if Martin was suppose to pick the guy up).

    The point is the 4-5 bad possessions in the second half were not all about Freeman. Was some of it? Absolutely. It’s clear the pressure rattled him a bit, which maybe accounted for some balls thrown off the mark or too early.

    But I’ve watched even great quarterbacks get rattled by pressure. I have no clue what games you’re watching when you refer to Rodgers and Cutler. The bears offense is consistently miserable because Cutler is always under pressure. The difference is their defense keeps them in games so he can put together a drive or two late to win the game. Just last week I watched Aaron Rodgers not play very Rodgers like when faced with consistent pressure by the Giants D-line.

    This is obviously a case of you judging your own quarterback under a more biased light than that which you use on QB’s of other teams. We’re all guilty of doing this, though.

    And by the way, Freeman did adapt, eventually. He moved around/out of the pocket a lot more towards the end of the game. Obviously it was just a little too late, but I still love that he adapted within the game. I think from now on when the pressure is a little much we’re going to see him shift modes to this more mobile QB earlier in the game.

    Lastly, I have to ask, do you re-watch the games before writing articles? You can tell a lot of the media doesn’t, which make sense since they have to keep up with a lot of different teams. But I hope you do, since you’re focus is squarely on the Bucs (as it should be). I always find the game looks a lot different the second time you’re watching, since you can reexamine certain plays over and over without the emotions that overcome us during the game.

  31. Ed Says:

    When you throw it 40 times you need to complete 30 of them to keep drives alive. That’s my biggest complaint too many times in the past 2 games we got turnovers, didn’t get touchdowns. Teams are forcing the Bucs to throw. They just have to complete more of them. Freeman has to develop a quicker release, learn to look off the defenses and get rid of the ball quicker. When he does that he will keep more drives alive and put up tds instead of fgs.

  32. SeanyMac in SC Says:

    Maybe, just maybe, the OC is not putting Free in the best plays to be successful. If you have an aggressive pass rush, then call screens and play actions or draws. The launch point for the Bucs is very predictable as well. Move the QB out of the pocket some times and let him use his feet. I suspect the playbook will grow larger as QB, RB, WR, TE and OC get to know each others strength and weaknesses. I think some of the play calling is dictated by NSO, “run the ball and take shots down field”

  33. TampaRob Says:

    OK folks, the offense isn’t a problem. Every QB misfires on a drive or 2 per game. They already lead the NFC in scoring and are only scoring 1 point per game less than the Broncos facing mostly the same opponents. Playcalling can always be better, and there’s always room to improve, but come on!!! Get real!! If this team had a defense they’d be unstoppable. But they don’t, so they aren’t.

    They successfully kept the ball out of Manning’s hands in the 1st half, and did a darn good job catching up when needed– just one stop, or that pick-6 from victory (or a missed FG)

  34. ElioT Says:

    It looked like Freeman had just as much time as any other offense against Denver. Seems like weve only got the deep ball and fail in the short to mid -range passing situations. Would love to see the O develop some short timing routes to beat the blitz and compliment the running game when necessary.

    This team is still learning sometimes hard lessons.

    I think the Bucs will come out strong and take it to the Eagles this week.

    Go Bucs!!!

  35. tim Says:

    Well i have no clue if Josh will be a Franchise QB. But i do know he shows flashes of being one at times. I think hes had a really good year. Yesterday wasn’t a great day for him. But I’m not gonna put that loss on him. We had no running game for the 2nd week in a row. Also we had quite a few penalties that kept us in 3rd and long and gave us bad field position. Even though we gave up only one sack he was pressured quite a bit. I’m starting to wonder if the injuries to the O-line are finally catching up to us.

    IMO if you wanna put blame on why we lost its gotta go to our pass defense. Our DBs cant cover anyone. And our D-line cant seem to break thur to get good consistent pressure on the QB. But either way its much more fun to watch this year. I hope we can get some new guys in on defense next year. If we can improve there a bit…And get all our guys healthy on offense I really think we might have a really good team for years to come. If you think back to our glory days we never had a Top Qb. I think Josh is the closest to a top QB we’ve had. Ok my rambling thoughts are over lol.

  36. Mark Says:

    Josh Freeman has been riding a roller coaster of quality performances for four years. How long do we give him to become an ” elite QG”?

    I go to every Bucs game and as I watch and compare the real ” elite QB’s” week after week and year after year to Josh Freeman I say that he will NOT become an “elite QB”. No amount of wishing and hoping will make it so either.

    Half of Freeman’s passes look like wounded ducks. He doesn’t scramble out of the pocket as he did in years 1and 2 either. Every week he makes terrible decisions that are so apparent. Maybe the media justs WANTS Josh to be “elite so bad because………IMHO Josh Freeman is a backup QB TO an “elite QB” and nothing more. It’s getting close to time to admit this and go forward.

  37. McBuc Says:

    Mark, really, he makes apparent bad decisions every week? All the pros say he is making good decisions, and his stats would indicate pretty sound decisions as well. Also, how many “elite” quarter backs do you believe are out there? I would say a hand full, and each and every one of them makes their share of mistakes. It is funny, the :elite” status comes from winning in a team sport. Look at how many future “elite” QBs never live up to that expectation, because the typically are drafted by teams with losing records. Once in a lifetime you end up finding Tom Brady in the 6th round. Once is a lifetime you are able to draft Rodgers and let him sit behind Favre for a few years, and once in a lifetime you are able to acquire Breeze from a team that probably is still kicking themselves. Ryan is looking like the real deal, but he needs to win a playoff game this year. Freeman is having an outstanding year, especially since he has had so many coaching and player changes around him. I have been a Bucs fan my entire life, and I started watching in the 70’s as a kid, and Freeman is the best most exciting QB in Bucs history…and yes that includes Williams. Look up his stats and compare them, and you will think the same thing. Johnson is the man because the Bucs only needed 17 points to win a game back then…and he has a ring with Tampa, due the great defense.

  38. McBuc Says:

    Mark, one more thng…really, Freeman is no more than a bnack up? There are probably 22 teams that would take him in a heart beat. Thank god you are not the Bucs GM.

  39. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Joe, sacks aren’t the only determining factor. There are knocked down balls, pressures, hurries, etc. Freeman was under pressure most of the day. The interception for a td wasn’t a sack, but Josh was getting hit as he got rid of the football!!