Bucs' Josh Freeman talks up backfield, embraces fewer pass attempts
You might not expect a conversation with an NFL quarterback hoping for a bounce-back season to be dominated by talk of his team’s running backs.
But as Bucs QB Josh Freeman took a brief break from instructing 200 kids at his football camp this morning at Wesley Chapel High School, he enthusiastically shared his optimism about the members of Tampa Bay’s backfield.
“(Rookies) Doug Martin and Michael Smith, those guys are so talented,” Freeman said. “You want to get the ball in their hands, get it to them in space and let them make some moves and make something happen. . . Obviously LeGarrette (Blount) is having good (practices). And one guy, Mossis Madu, that guy is shredding it right now. He is doing an awesome job. Our backfield is going to be great. I’m excited.”
The 2012 Bucs, if coach Greg Schiano has anything to say about it, will sport a run-first offense. But does this sit well with Freeman, who makes his living with a rifle of a right arm to deliver footballs down the field?
Actually, it seems Freeman bought in long ago. After all, he attempted 551 passes in 2011 – third-most in franchise history – and the result was a 4-12 finish. Huge scoreboard deficits were responsible for the unusually high number of passes, but whatever the reason, it wasn’t fruitful.
So, when it comes to pass attempts, the Bucs and Freeman feel less is more.
“It’s about winning with me,” Freeman said. “If I go out and stink it up and we win, I’d be a lot happier than if I go out and throw for monster numbers and we lose. Coach Schiano obviously loves the running game. I love the running game. There’s no better feeling than when LeGarrette or any of our guys are out there tearing it up and you can sit back and pick apart a defense that’s worried about stopping the run.”
Another thing Freeman noted is that the Bucs’ new emphasis on running the ball first and foremost isn’t really, well, new.
“What people don’t realize is that, the past few years, other than a few games where I had to throw it out of necessity, we weren’t really a huge throwing team,” he said. “We’d throw it 25 times a game.
“(Former offensive coordinator) Greg Olson wasn’t super pass-heavy. You’d think he was because he had such an intricate passing system and he kind of took a lot of (Jon) Gruden’s stuff and made it his own. But we didn’t throw it that much.”