The Tampa Bay Buccaneer Quarterbacks: A Professional Evaluation

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IJuly 9, 2009

TAMPA, FL -  DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Luke McCown #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sets to pass against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium December 30, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.  The Panthers won 31 - 23. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

As we await the opening of Buccaneer training camp, it is time to take a step away from all the amateur speculation and analysis.

It is time to bring a professional eye to the mix, who can give us an idea what is really happening at One Buccaneer Place.

As a public service to Buccaneer fans everywhere, we asked for the expertise of someone who actually played in the NFL.

Caught up with Jeff Carlson and spoke with him about his educated observations on, under the QB Blast section.

Asked Carlson to shed some light on the Bucs' biggest question mark going into training camp—the quarterback situation.

"The amazing thing about last season," Carlson pointed out, "is that this team kept four quarterbacks on the roster. I can't remember another NFL team doing that."

Going into camp, the Bucs had five quarterbacks vying for roster spots: Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson, and Brian Griese.

Carlson kept an eye on four of them at the June minicamp and wrote these observations on his QB Blast blog:

"Josh Freeman is the best quarterback on the roster in shorts and warming up. He has [a] throwing technique that rivals the best in the league. He is not ready for prime time right now."

And he revealed this eye-opener:

"If you took [the] numbers off the quarterbacks and had an objective, independent evaluator watching the QBs, Byron Leftwich would be behind Brian Griese on the depth chart."

Carlson wrote this about McCown:

"Luke McCown is OK at this point. He didn't stand out in a good way or bad way in what I witnessed. I would put McCown in as the clubhouse leader on June 17. That is a long way from September."

On Josh Johnson, Carlson wrote:

"Josh Johnson would seem to be on the outside looking in from a management standpoint since he has no game experience, and you need to give the No. 1 pick extra reps in practice."

And then, he had this an eye-opening summary:

"Here's the truth if you can handle it.  Neither Luke McCown or Byron Leftwich have taken command in any substantial way. They certainly don't have the star presence of a starter. This has left the door open for Josh Freeman to step into the spotlight."

When asked about these statements, Carlson said that he stands by his words.

Asked if he sees the team keeping both McCown and Leftwich, he said, "The way I see it, they have to. If McCown is the starter, and he falters, they just can't go to him [Freeman].

When I asked the Rams' former fourth-round pick to expand on his statements about Leftwich, Carlson was quick to say, "He's terrible. He cannot move in the pocket; he's the worst. When he throws the ball, his right arms starts low and stays straight all the way through the throwing motion. I've never seen that before."

When talking about offensive success or failure for the Buccaneers, Carlson had one thought that many have echoed to date:

"If they run the ball well, then the play action will work well. If they don't run well, it doesn't matter who is in there [at quarterback]."

There you have it.

These are Buccaneer quarterback observations from a former NFL QB, a former Buc and New England Patriot, and someone who has observed OTAs and minicamp.

Sure beats hearing it from a writer.


Jeff Carlson is a former NFL quarterback. He played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. Moreover, he is a teacher of quarterback technique to NFL, college, high school, and junior high aspirants as the owner of America's Best Quarterback Camp. Carlson also writes the QB Blast blog for and appears on local television and radio shows in Tampa Bay.