Here's why progress takes time in the Bucs' new offense
By now, it’s clear that Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is making progress in the team’s new offense. It’s a complex scheme because it requires the quarterback and his receivers to make certain reads and adjustments based on the defense.
What’s also obvious is that there have been some head-scratching throws from Freeman in recent weeks, ones where it seems he’s throwing to an opponent or no one at all. At times, it’s a matter of inaccuracy. But in some instances, it’s a product of the quarterback and receiver making slightly different reads.
This was something Freeman and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan addressed with us this week. Both say it’s happening less as Freeman and his teammates grows more comfortable with the offense. But what they said is worth sharing because it will help educate you on how difficult some of these tasks really are.
“I think if you throw on tape of any quarterback, to include some of the greats, you’re going to see them miss some wide-open targets,” Sullivan said. “. . . But (some) is part of a passing concept where (Freeman) is zeroed in a little too much on thinking through the reactions, the reads, some of the things that are part of what we’re doing on offense, rather than just letting it flow and see the target and let it go.
“It’s a combination of two things: The ability to have more of those types of rhythm throws to enable him to get off and get in a good rhythm. And then secondly, him trusting what he sees and not overthinking and overanalyzing, all those things that are easier said than done. I think he’s at his best when he’s in that zone and is not overanalyzing, not aiming the ball and just lets it rip.”
Freeman explained how just the slightest indecision can result in a poor throw. Based on that, one can surmise that the more complex the decisions, the higher the likelihood of one of those throws.
“There are certain times when you’re just feeling it,” Freeman said. “You see things clearly, you get the call, the tempo is good, the receiver does exactly what you (think) he’s doing and you can stick it right on him.
“Then there are times when you drop back and you’re not as clear where you want to go with the ball. And being a quarterback in this league is all about being decisive. There are times where if you’re not comfortable and you’re not confident stepping into your throw, it’s not going to be a perfect pass. It’s not going to go where you want it to go.”
And here’s where he explains the extensive thought process at the line of scrimmage in the Bucs’ offense.
“When it’s snapped, you have to get a look at the safeties and see if you’re hot,” Freeman said. “Then you have certain plays with three guys on one side who all have reads. But to be honest, it’s really cleared up. There are three examples that really stick out in my mind (from recent games). You go back and you watch the film and you’re like, ‘Golly, why couldn’t I just hit that.’ But it’s a learning process and I understand that.
“Our philosophy . . . is make the receiver right. If he runs a route that you’re not exactly expecting, if he’s open, put it on him. Then if he runs into coverage, progress and move on. Find the check down.”
Other than that, it’s a piece of cake.