Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Freeman's presence creates more calm, less arm flailing

In a world without Josh Freeman, the Bucs would appear more desperate. In a world without Freeman, their fans would sound more frantic.

Yeah, you can say this much for Freeman, the Bucs' still-developing quarterback:

When it comes to this year's draft, it is Freeman who allows the calm.

As important as this year's draft appears to be, there seems to be a rather pleasant buzz attached to the anticipation. Perhaps that is because there isn't much controversy about the No. 3 pick. The Bucs are certain to have an opportunity to take a popular, widely approved choice.

Perhaps, too, it is because the Bucs are not in the market for a quarterback. If they were, you can only imagine the different way this draft would be interpreted. To sum it up, insanity would have ensued, and froth would be forthcoming.

Without Freeman, fans would be discussing Sam Bradford.

Without Freeman, fans would be debating Ben Roethlisberger.

Without Freeman, for crying out really loud, fans would be arguing about Tim Tebow.

Think of it as the sound of teeth grinding. Without Freeman, people would be talking about Donovan McNabb and Jake Delhomme and Jimmy Clausen and Jason Campbell and Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. In the end, we might even talk about JaMarcus Russell, but only if he could play defensive tackle.

Such fury shouldn't be difficult to imagine. If you recall, Freeman wasn't exactly the people's choice in last year's draft. If you had left it to most fans, they would have taken Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry instead. Or someone else. A lot of someone elses.

The thought of where that would leave the Bucs today is enough to make a strong man shudder.

In the NFL, there is nothing sadder — or potentially more reckless — than a team without a quarterback. And while Freeman still has a lot of proving to do, he at least gives the Bucs a focal point as they move forward. Because of him, the Bucs — and their fans — can look to other areas.

"Of the rookie quarterbacks from last year, I thought Mark Sanchez (of the Jets) was the best because he improved by the end of the year," ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said. "But throw by throw, play by play, he wasn't that much better than Josh. I thought Josh was second, with (Detroit's) Matt Stafford right behind him."

Where would the Bucs be without Freeman? Possibly, they could have the No. 1 pick in the draft. After all, Tampa Bay was 0-7 before Freeman took over last season, and it had the look of a team going nowhere at all. If the Bucs had never drafted Freeman, how many games would they have won last year? It's fair to say fewer than three.

Still, it would have taken some doing to win fewer than the one game the Rams won.

Right about now, the draft conversation could have fluctuated between whether the Bucs had enough picks to trade up to get Bradford and whether they should. Hey, I like Bradford, even if his shoulder is made out of peanut brittle. And I think Tebow is one of the iconic players of college football, but frankly, I'm willing to let him learn how to throw the ball somewhere else.

"Bradford looks pretty in the pocket," Dilfer said, "and he's familiar, so people think he's better than he is. But I don't think he's a better player than Josh."

Of course, if the Bucs needed a quarterback, fans would talk about veterans, too.

By now, the conversation would be heated over whether the Bucs blew it by allowing McNabb to go from Philadelphia to Washington. In turn, this would lead to a renewed debate over whether Jon Gruden should still be the Bucs coach, because it's easy to imagine how much Gruden would love to be reunited with McNabb.

You can also imagine a spirited disagreement or 12 when it came to the notion of the Bucs and Roethlisberger. Granted, the Steelers say they aren't going to trade him, but part of you wonders. Talk about legalities all you want, but it's going to be some time before Roethlisberger convinces most of the world he isn't a creep.

In a world without Freeman, where would the Bucs turn? Why, everywhere. It's what teams without quarterbacks do. And when they do, they use or trade away the picks that should be used to turn a team around.

This way is better. This way, the Bucs have a chance to make this draft a good one.

If they do, it was last year's draft that made it all possible.

Freeman's presence creates more calm, less arm flailing 04/19/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 19, 2010 9:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon


    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017


    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.