Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman Needs to Be Unleashed, and More NFC South News

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterSeptember 27, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Which is the real Josh Freeman, the 2010 version that threw 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions or the 2011 version that threw 16 touchdowns and 22 picks?

That was the biggest question surrounding the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense heading into 2012, and Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune thinks that new head coach Greg Schiano isn't giving Freeman enough opportunity to figure out the answer.

Schiano entered the scene in January and immediately preached the running game and ball control to the Tampa Bat faithful. But the Bucs also went out and signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson, an obvious effort to add an arsenal of weapons for Freeman.

So far, Fennelly said, Freeman's not been allowed to push the red button and fire his new weapons.

He's a puppet on a string right now, seemingly bent on not making mistakes more than making plays. And as we saw in 2010, and the Giants game a few weeks ago, Josh Freeman can make plays, especially on the fly, and you can't do that in this league unless you've got the goods.

If you handcuff your quarterback like this, you better have one hell of a consistent running attack or defense. The Bucs have neither at the moment.

Freeman's thrown the football 80 times through three games—only four quarterbacks with three starts have thrown fewer. Tampa Bay—including eight carries from Freeman—has ran the ball 83 times and averaged 3.4 yards per carry. Only four teams in the league have a lower yards per carry average.

Something is going to have to give.

Schiano is leaning towards using running back LeGarrette Blount in the rushing attack more, but Freeman might also need to be given more shots to show he can be more that 2010 Josh, than 2011 Josh.

The Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay's Week 4 opponent, rank 31st in pass defense. What a great time to let Freeman fire away.


Atlanta Falcons

Through a  pool of reporters, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon told Cam Newton to "leave the cape at home." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Four players missed practice Wednesday while five participated on a limited basis, according to this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on the injury report.


Carolina Panthers

According to head coach Ron Rivera, Cam Newton has mentally rebounded from Week 3's loss to the New York Giants. [Charlotte Observer]

Here's an interesting stat from Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. The only team to score a touchdown on every opening drive this year is the Atlanta Falcons. The only team to give up an opening-drive touchdown in every game this year is the Carolina Panthers. The two square off in Week 4.


New Orleans Saints

Interim head coach Aaron Kromer offered up a few reasons why the Saints have started so poorly in the Times-Picayune

The Times-Picayune posted a scouting report on the Green Bay Packers Wednesday.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Head coach Greg Schiano said he think he needs to get running back LeGarrette Blount more involved in the offense. [Pewter Report]

Roscoe Parrish is the new punt-return specialist for the Bucs, according to the Tampa Bay Times.