Improving QB Freeman's accuracy is goal for Bucs this off-season
The text messages were volleyed between quarterback Josh Freeman and offensive coordinator Greg Olson Sunday.
When Vikings quarterback Brett Favre threw an interception with the score tied, his team in possible field goal range with seconds remaining in the NFC Championship game, Olson used it as a teaching moment.
"You learn from the first day you're a quarterback not to throw the ball back across your body,'' Olson remembers telling Freeman. "Yet here was a guy who's played 19 years doing it at the most critical time.''
Olson, the Bucs offensive coordinator, knows this off-season is a critical time for Freeman, the 21-year quarterback who carries the weight of the franchise on his shoulder pads. Among the first tasks will be improving Freeman's accuracy. As a rookie, Freeman completed 54.6 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in nine starts. Olson said he believes Freeman will greatly benefit from an off-season, training camp and preseason of working on fundamentals and timing with his receivers.
"He can work on making a lot of the throws,'' Olson said. "Deep balls throws and accuracy. And that's something he can work on. His fundamentals. Again, he didn't protect the ball very well. His off-hand on the football -- there's a lot of fundamental things he can get better at. And really, it's a chance to develop a relationship with those wideouts and tight ends. That would be good for him, a chance to be around those guys.
"I'm not saying he's inaccurate. If you look at what they did in college, the type of throws they make. So your body is kind of programmed to make (certain throws), now all of a sudden I'm in the NFL and I'm throwing 18-yard digs and I have to start working on those types of throws. Maybe I didn't have to work on it much in college. Whereas now, you have to make those throws and understand how quickly those windows close up. It's just a maturation process as much as anything else of understanding it and the timing. It's got to come out of your hand faster. Now, it doesn't do you any good to get back there and get it out of your hand if it's not accurate. There's that fine line between the timing part of if and the accuracy. You've got to get the two of them to work together. You have to understand the game is faster in the NFL so you have to get yourself up to speed. The whole process of the drop and delivery is faster.''
Olson said the goal will be to help Freeman complete at least 60 percent of his passes next season.
"That's where you want him to be. If you look at all the studies of playoff quarterbacks and winning quarterbacks, that's where it's at, about 60 percent. We can help him out certainly with the routes we're calling as well.''
Olson, who took over the offense from fired coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski 10 days before the season opener, said he will tailor the 2010 scheme toward his strong-armed quarterback.
"We're oing to try and build on his strengths,'' Olson said. "Number one, you've got to build it around your quarterback and around what he does best and what he feels more comfortable with. We've sat down, we've been having conversations throughout the season about what changes are going to be made. We've continued to have those talks since the season ended. Some of the terminology is going to change and he's very comfortable with what direction we're going and he'll be involved in it when he comes back here and we start putting this thing together.''