Josh Freeman working overtime to overcome interceptions
The Bucs finished their work at One Buc Place before noon today, and players were looking ahead to a much-needed break during this bye week.
Well, most players, anyway.
Quarterback Josh Freeman was headed to a meeting room where he planned to spend much of today and Thursday with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt in an effort to fix what’s gone wrong in recent weeks.
Freeman thinks he knows where the emphasis must be.
“It’s really just peeling back some of the aggressive nature,” Freeman said. “When we’re dropping back to take a shot, I’m trying to strike a dagger in the defense. More often than not this year, it’s kind of backfired. We’re going to go back and self-scout the entire season and go back and look at the interceptions.”
Freeman threw four interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the Bears and leads all quarterbacks in picks, with 10. It’s a befuddling fact given his efficiency in 2010, when he threw 25 touchdowns and a mere six interceptions.
And, most disconcerting, is that many of the interceptions have come at very inopportune moments.
“Ultimately, when you look at it, we’ve turned the ball over in the redzone,” Freeman said. “That’s something that’s uncharacteristic of our offense and uncharacteristic of me. If we can do that, you’re looking at a team that’s 5-2 if not 6-1 right now.”
Better decisions will result in fewer interceptions, coach Raheem Morris said.
"Last year, he simply did a better job of going through his progressions," Morris said. "Right now, he probably is playing his number in fantasy football. He’s trying to throw touchdowns. Sometimes it’s okay to throw the checkdown. It’s okay to go through your progressions. Right now he has a little too much confidence in what he’s doing with his arm, and forcing some things in there. We’ll just roll back on some of those things and get better and better.
"He sees it. He knows the deal. He knows the issue. We’re in the game and we throw four interceptions. If we don’t throw some of those interceptions, we have a chance to win it. He’s not one of those guys who’s more concerned about himself than winning. He’s one of those guys who loves winning more than . . . losing."
Van Pelt said Freeman’s tendency this season to force ill-advised throws into coverage is a byproduct of the confidence that makes the Bucs believe he can be elite.
“There’s no question,” Van Pelt said. “Ultimately, more often than not, it comes down to turnover ratio. If we don’t turn the ball over, we give ourselves a great chance to win. He has to get back into that mindset.
“The thing that makes him great is his competitiveness and the fact that he thinks he can make those throws, which is why you love him. But ultimately, his goal is to not turn the ball over and put us position to win games at the end.”
Can Freeman turn it around? Will be regain the impressive form he showed in 2010? Van Pelt thinks so, and he laid out compelling reasons why.
“Because of the person that he is, the worker that he is, the self-pride that he has,” Van Pelt said. “(It’s) the fact that what he did last year is a reflection of what he can do every year. We just have to maintain consistency in our preparation each week and come out with expectations that we’re not going to turn the ball over. He’ll buy into that. He did last year. We just need him to get back on track.”