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)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers name Josh Freeman starting quarterback for rest of season

Josh Freeman had as many sacks (two) as he had completed passes in his first NFL action.

Getty Images

Josh Freeman had as many sacks (two) as he had completed passes in his first NFL action.

TAMPA — In his first practice as the Bucs' starting quarterback on Wednesday, rookie Josh Freeman was forced to strap on the club's original helmet.

It is part of the throwback uniform Freeman will wear when he makes his first NFL start Nov. 8 against the Packers at Raymond James Stadium.

How fitting.

The winking, stiletto-chewing pirate might want to keep both eyes closed this time.

In making the move to the 17th overall pick, the Bucs are hoping Freeman doesn't suffer the same indignities as other first-round quarterbacks who made debuts in those uniforms, such as Doug Williams, Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer.

"Josh Freeman will take over as starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," coach Raheem Morris said after practice. "No discredit to what Josh Johnson did for this football team. He's gone out there and gave us his best efforts. But the preparation, the timing, how we want to acclimate our young man into our system, into our organization, into our town, into our community, we think it's best coming off the bye. It's the most time to prepare.

"It's time to see Josh Freeman."

Freeman, who played two fourth-quarter series in his first NFL regular-season game Sunday against the Patriots in London, said he was excited to get his chance.

"It's something I've been working towards my entire career, and it's not something I'm taking lightly," he said. "I come out with a different swagger I guess because I'm the guy taking the majority of the snaps and I'm the guy who has to radiate that type of swagger so my teammates can catch onto it."

Unlike Byron Leftwich and Johnson, who combined for an 0-7 record, the plan is for Freeman to start the rest of the season — and beyond — regardless of the won/loss record.

"This is a different deal," Morris said. "This is Freeman."

Freeman completed 2-of-4 passes for 16 yards and was sacked twice in relief of Johnson, who lost all four starts while throwing eight interceptions. Morris said Johnson will be the No. 2 quarterback.

The Bucs had targeted the Packers game as the time to launch Freeman's career. He's only 21, and history told Morris and general manager Mark Dominik that college juniors drafted in the first round struggle if they are forced to start early in the NFL.

They wanted Freeman to take his time learning the terminology, how to watch film, understanding the implementation of the game plan and how to correct mistakes. It also was important that Freeman have the best supporting cast, so the return of center Jeff Faine from injury contributed to the decision.

Morris says Freeman has improved dramatically since the preseason, when he completed 44.9 percent of his passes for 238 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He also rushed for 75 yards and one touchdown on eight carries.

"Josh came out there (Sunday) and was able to control the offense and do what he needed to do," Morris said. "… He knew exactly where to go with the football."

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said that while he wishes Freeman got more reps in training camp, the rookie from Kansas State is ready. He plans to tailor play-calling to the 6-foot-6 Freeman, who has a strong arm and can drive the football like Leftwich but enough mobility to make plays like Johnson.

"With Josh Johnson and his ability to move, there were certain plays put in for him," Olson said. "With Byron (being) more of a pocket guy, we protected more up front and did some more of the max protection. Josh Freeman is a little bit in between, so you can kind of do the best of both worlds."

According to Morris, Freeman can handle the entire offensive package. "You don't scale back," he said. "You do what you've been doing, you get better at what you've been doing. … You let him see the adjustments, you let him go through the adjustments mentally, and now it's time for him to go play physically. Here we go."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers name Josh Freeman starting quarterback for rest of season 10/28/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Koetter-Winston exchange highlights latest 'Hard Knocks'


    Times sports columnist Tom Jones looks back at Tuesday night's episode of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is following the Bucs in training camp.

    Best moment

    Jameis Winston, left, has an exchange with Dirk Koetter that highlights Hard Knocks.
  2. Rays journal: Offense shows signs of waking up in win over Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The drought was so severe that it's still probably too soon to say the Rays are out of it, but scoring a half-dozen runs in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Blue Jays was another promising sign.

    Corey Dickerson high-fives Wilson Ramos after hitting a solo home run in the third inning, putting the Rays up 2-1.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    C Wilson Ramos, coming off right knee surgery, often takes it easy on the bases, though it's not always a good look. But he hustled when he needed to Tuesday and got the Rays a run by beating out a two-out infield single, finishing with three more hits.

  4. Rays are full of ideas they'd like to share when commissioner visits

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Commissioner Rob Manfred is coming to the Trop today. Hmm. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be there to greet him. Hmmmm. And they have a scheduled joint media session. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t expected to say anything definitive about the Rays’ stadium situation when he visits the team today.
  5. Rays vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Blue Jays

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman laughs after Houston Astros' Carlos Beltran reached first on an infield single during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)