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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Here's why the Bucs haven't had a shakeup at quarterback

Even if the Bucs invest a middle-round draft choice in a quarterback, the odds of that player challenging Josh Freeman are slim to none.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Even if the Bucs invest a middle-round draft choice in a quarterback, the odds of that player challenging Josh Freeman are slim to none.

9

April

The Bucs have re-signed backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, which is probably not the sort of move coach Greg Schiano was referring to when he said he would like to bring in competition at the position.

Orlovsky is not going to be a legitimate challenger to Josh Freeman as the starting quarterback, and everyone in the organization and around the NFL knows that.

In fact, the whole exercise of releasing Orlovsky and re-signing him days later now appears to be an effort to squeeze him into taking less money. That should tell you how much the Bucs think of him.

So, whatever happened to the notion of upgrading the quarterback position? Well, at this point, many around the league consider it likely the Bucs will draft a quarterback in the middle rounds of the NFL draft later this month.

But it’s interesting that the Bucs, we’re told, haven’t been aggressive in their approach toward addressing the quarterback position during free agency. They’ve talked to the likes of Chase Daniel, Matt Cassel, Carson Palmer and others, but people we’ve talked to tell us there’s been no sense of urgency in those negotiations. The fact that all those quarterbacks landed elsewhere only reinforces that.

There’s a reason for this: The Bucs, as an organization, aren’t all that concerned about the record-breaking Freeman and the quarterback position. In fact, people close to Freeman have confirmed that Just about everyone at One Buc Place seems onboard with Freeman except for one person: Schiano.

Whether that’s because the head coach didn’t draft Freeman or because he feels he hasn’t seen enough, everything you’ve read and heard about the Bucs looking into quarterbacks in free agency and the draft has been driven almost exclusively by Schiano.

General manager Mark Dominik, who drafted Freeman, admits the quarterback has displayed some frustrating swings in his play. Everyone knows that is indisputable. But Dominik, you’ll notice, maintains his effusive praise of Freeman. He’s been asked about the quarterback as often or more than Schiano during this offseason, and Dominik has never publicly expressed major doubts.

Schiano, meanwhile, has repeatedly hedged when talking about Freeman. He’s spent more time talking about his quarterback’s weaknesses than that of the Bucs’ dreadful secondary in 2012. We’ve heard about the need for competition to push Freeman, about the inconsistencies in his technique, about his decision-making – all are fair criticisms – even while there are far bigger concerns on the roster. Keep in mind that it’s rare to hear coaches talk about their quarterbacks in those terms.

But here’s the reality: Even if the Bucs invest a middle-round draft choice in a quarterback, the odds of that player challenging Freeman are slim to none. The only real question would be whether that quarterback could push aside Orlovsky and become Freeman’s immediate backup.

Dominik’s willingness to go the distance with Freeman takes into account this reality. Schiano, we can only assume, is coming to terms with this as the offseason plays out.

So, back to the original question: Are the Bucs are going to upgrade the quarterback position? Well, it sounded good back in January, when Schiano first broached the subject, and the draft may provide a bit of an opportunity to do so.

But it was never really that realistic a goal because the list of starting quarterbacks better than Freeman isn’t that long – despite Schiano’s frustrations with Freeman’s erratic play.

If the Bucs are going to win in 2013, it will be with Freeman under center, and the Bucs know it.



[Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 12:56pm]

    

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