4 Reasons Josh Freeman Can Make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Winners Again
On rapper 50 Cent's album The Massacre, he's got a line on the track "Many Men" where he says, "joy wouldn't feel so good if it wasn't for pain." Well, right now, Josh Freeman is going through some pain.
Freeman rose to elite status in 2010 with his breakout season, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 10-6 record. In the final four games, he completed 71.6 percent of his passes for 1,009 yards, throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
Since then, he's steadily regressed as a quarterback in the NFL.
In spite of his inability to sustain the success he found two seasons ago, there are four reasons why Freeman can make the Buccaneers winners again.
When the Pewter Report surfaced this past offseason, you just knew that the psyche of Freeman was going to take a hit, and it has.
Freeman's decision-making has been severely hampered as a direct result of him trying to appease his new coaches.
If he can stay patient in picking up the new schemes and styles, there's no question he has the tools to return the Bucs to their winning ways.
After overcoming these obstacles, Freeman should be better in the future.
There's Still Time
Freeman's recent struggles are no indication that the fourth-year quarterback can't turn things around for the Bucs.
Those three guys are perfect examples of quarterbacks who didn't experience success right away, but found it after a number of years in the league.
Brees and Smith can specifically relate to Freeman's growing pains because they dealt with system and personnel changes like Freeman has been forced to deal with.
If Greg Schiano continues to build rapport with Freeman and give him more flexibility with the playbook, No. 5 will have a good chance of returning to the form of that uninhibited kid we were so enamored with two seasons ago.
Freeman is working with his third offensive coordinator in four years, along with a rookie head coach who comes in with an old-school ground-and-pound mentality.
After Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins, Freeman remains optimistic that the Bucs can be better.
Freeman said (via the Tampa Bay Times):
I think it's a great offense. As far as me being handcuffed, no chance. We call plays with shots built in and a lot of opportunities. Going out with the mentality of playing ball-secure football, you might not take as many shots down the field.
But when we get one-on-one coverage (we'll take it). I feel like this offense is going to be a great opportunity for me to showcase my ability.
After three seasons where he improved his completion percentage each year, Freeman's adjustment to this new playbook may take some time, but he is talented enough where he won't let the Bucs fail.
He Has the Weapons
Regardless of the Bucs' 1-3 record, and the adjustment to new coaches and playbooks, Freeman has a terrific supporting cast.
Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are two outstanding receivers, and Dallas Clark is the quintessential veteran tight end that Freeman needs for his development.
LeGarrette Blount lost his starting job to first-round pick Doug Martin, but both backs will make a big impact once their roles are defined.
The Bucs are like a broken table that was just put back together, and Freeman is the glue. Once the glue dries, Tampa Bay will be ready to carry the weight of being a winner.