Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Freeman finally in familiar situation

TAMPA — Josh Freeman has thrown passes to many speed receivers, although never has one been clocked at 200 mph.

But there he was following the first practice of the Bucs' mandatory minicamp Tuesday playing catch with NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.

Freeman had no trouble adjusting to his new target.

The only consistent facet of the quarterback's career has been a lack of consistency. Entering his fifth season, Freeman has played for two coaches and in three systems under three coordinators and four quarterback coaches.

Among the top 12 in quarterback rating in the NFL last season, nine played under the same coach or in the same system for at least five years. The exceptions were Peyton Manning, who brought his offense to Denver from Indianapolis, and rookies Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson of Washington and Seattle, respectively.

Last season, his first under coordinator Mike Sullivan, Freeman set franchise records for passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27).

Year 2 promises to be even better, Freeman said.

"I think our comfort level is so much higher, and I speak for the entire offense," Freeman said. "It's just the communication. It's all functioning at a higher level. That comes with experience. Everybody is going to be on the same page, and we're not going to hinder ourselves."

Freeman's detractors cite his 17 turnovers (10 over three games) and low completion percentage (54.8) in 2012. But new quarterbacks coach John McNulty places more emphasis on points (all but three touchdowns from last season's franchise-record 389 came on offense) and yards per completion (13.3).

"The payoff is more than the dink and dunk," McNulty said. Josh likes … to throw the ball down the field with the guys we have. If you put it in the area, they usually go get it for you. They count more than the quick one. You're not going to see 80 percent completion (rate). But you're going to see a lot of yards and a lot of points."

Freeman said in some ways, he has benefited from the fundamentals taught to him by an array of coaches while working in various systems.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to football," Freeman said. "You're going to have different plays, different reads. But you can't choose what path you're going to take. But no matter what it is, you have to make the most of it. I feel I'm in a great situation right now. Sully is excellent. He's as good as I've been around calling plays and throughout the week and preparation.

"It's not, 'All right, do this, this and this.' It's why we're going to do this. This is why you've got to make this read. This is why the ball should go here."

Freeman is entering the final year of his contract but said he doesn't feel any added pressure.

"You've got to look at every year as a critical year," Freeman said. "The lifespan of an NFL player is short. I'm blessed to have had the opportunity to be the quarterback of the Buccaneers this long.

"I love my teammates. I love the setup we have down here, and I think everything is set up for us to go out and play well as an offense this year."

 
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