Fran Tarkenton is one of the best to ever play the game of football. He may also be one of the best at giving soundbites to the media.
"He plays sometimes at a nice level," Tarkenton said. "I've watched him a lot. He just plays God awful. That's who you are. It's just a player being able to play or not play. Josh Freeman has proven to me that he can't play."
Ouch. Tarkenton went on to explain the difference between Freeman and some of the better QB's in the league.
They’ve had him there for four years and they have question marks about you? You didn’t have question marks about Matt Ryan after this fourth year, or Joe Flacco. That means they don’t think he can play.
He’s not going to get magical and all of the sudden in the fifth year be Aaron Rodgers. They want (Glennon) to be able to play. The only thing that will keep him from playing is if he’s not able to learn the system and make plays.
It did appear that way in the beginning of the offseason with head coach Greg Schiano and the organization making very little effort to back Freeman as the starter. Drafting Mike Glennon out of North Carolina State didn't help anything either.
Freeman owns a number of franchise records despite only being in the league since 2009, but he still doesn't have a contract extension. In 2012, he also had career highs in passing yards, passing TDs. He improved in every statistical category other than completion percentage from 2011.
Tarkenton is right to a certain extent; the Bucs shouldn't be having this type of uncertainty with their franchise QB. Freeman obviously has the talent and has shown the ability to become a dominant offensive force in the league. Unfortunately, he's also been prone to some pretty questionable games, and his ugly ending to the 2012 season did little to endear him to the fanbase.
Freeman isn't the only reason the Bucs haven't taken that next step into becoming a contender, but as the team's starting QB (for now), he'll receive the brunt of the blame.
Hopefully for Bucs' fans and the team, Freeman puts it all together in search of a big contract and solidifies his place as the team's starting QB sooner rather than later in the 2013 season.