My two cents on new Bucs QB Josh Freeman
There is no shortage of opinions on rookie Josh Freeman and how he is or isn't a good choice to quarterback the Buccaneers.
The last thing anyone needs is another know-it-all to proclaim how well or poorly he will play. That's not why I'm here. As beat writers, we're paid to observe -- not opine. So, here goes.
During this time of year, the media is barred from watching all but the first half hour of practice, a portion that consists mostly of stretching and individual drills. But during training camp and the preseason, we were permitted to watch practices in their entirety. I didn't miss a single workout, so that gave me a better sense for Freeman than practically anyone not employed by the team.
He throws some of the best-looking balls you've ever seen from a Bucs QB. His deep balls, in particular, were mostly impressive, displaying his rare arm strength. He can squeeze passes into tight spaces because of the force he puts on the ball. Of course, this is something that also tends to get him in trouble. He sometimes needs to learn to take a little mustard off his passes -- more touch, less force. But, all in all, his arm strength is a trait that will serve him well.
As for his decision making, he doesn't strike you as a guy who is unsure of himself. That doesn't mean he won't screw up with Green Bay CBs Al Harris and Charles Woodson lurking in the secondary. But he isn't afraid to take some chances and try to make things happen. Whereas Josh Johnson struggles a bit in this regard, Freeman is a passer who presumably will help the Bucs push the ball down the field as they intended to at the start of the season.
Freeman will have to prove he can make the routine throws that make quarterbacks consistent. He's got to hit the slants, out routes and such throws on a regular basis if he is going to be a good quarterback. It does you no good to make the incredible throws but miss the easy ones. We'll see how much progress he's made in this department.
What I'm most interested in is seeing Freeman play alongside the starters. That's something he never had the chance to do during the preseason, even in practices. And at Kansas State, he had mostly inferior talent around him. While the Bucs are 0-7, the bulk of their best players are on offense, and that will help Freeman raise his level of play.
I'll close by saying that watching Freeman during training camp and preseason workouts was pretty intriguing. There were days he was the best of the four quarterbacks on the field. That includes Freeman, Johnson, Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown. I often wondered how he would look with consistent snaps.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, we'll find out.