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 QB Josh Freeman resists talk of slump

“I feel like, as far as throwing the ball and with my footwork and everything, I’ve been as sharp as I’ve been all year,” second-year Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says of his recent play. “So I definitely don’t think it’s a slump.”


“I feel like, as far as throwing the ball and with my footwork and everything, I’ve been as sharp as I’ve been all year,” second-year Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says of his recent play. “So I definitely don’t think it’s a slump.”

TAMPA — The past two weeks, Josh Freeman might have missed too many open receivers. And his accuracy might have come into question.

But the consensus at One Buc Place is that he's not throwing games away.

While losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, Freeman has seen his completion percentage drop from 61 to 48 percent (36-of-75) and his rating dip. Through the first 10 games, Freeman's rating was 92.0, but it slipped to 67.6 against the Ravens and 61.4 against the Falcons.

In the NFL, you're only as good as your last play, and Freeman's final snap resulted in a game-sealing interception in the 28-24 loss to the Falcons.

Even so, Freeman insists he is not in a slump.

"I feel like, as far as throwing the ball and with my footwork and everything, I've been as sharp as I've been all year," Freeman said. "So I definitely don't think it's a slump."

But there has to be a reason (or several) why Freeman's numbers have gone south.

"By the way, we played two pretty good defenses the last two weeks," coach Raheem Morris said. "To get out of the game with the Baltimore Ravens with Ed Reed only having two tipped balls is an accomplishment."

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Freeman was guilty of looking at the pass rush at times against the Ravens. Because of injuries, the Bucs offensive line has been a revolving door. Tampa Bay lost starting right guard Davin Joseph for the season when he broke his foot in the first half at Baltimore. Last week, center Jeff Faine suffered a season-ending torn right triceps.

The starting guards today at Washington will be Ted Larsen and Derek Hardman, both rookies, the latter promoted from the practice squad.

But Freeman isn't using that as an excuse for missing receivers.

"I just haven't been hitting it," he said. "The Ravens game, the problem was I just was not hitting open guys. Then in the Falcons game, there were quite a few throwaways and a number of plays where they just had it well-covered."

Olson is quick to note that a lot of focus will be on Freeman's last play. After watching the special teams and defense blow a 10-point lead with 10 minutes to play against the Falcons, Freeman nearly brought the Bucs back. He has six fourth-quarter comebacks in 21 starts and was close to doing it again after converting on fourth and 12 with a completion to receiver Sammie Stroughter at the Falcons 27-yard line.

After the two-minute warning, Freeman's pre-snap read told him that Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes was playing off Mike Williams, who leads all rookie receivers with 51 catches for 769 yards. But Grimes broke on the deep out route and made a diving interception.

Freeman's fire burned out of control briefly after Grimes' interception. He wasn't going to let Grimes get past him on the sideline return, so he hit him 1 yard out of bounds, sending Grimes into the Bucs bench and picking up an unnecessary roughness penalty (and later a $5,000 fine).

"Everyone wants to remember the last play of the game," Olson said. "But we had two broken routes with young players earlier. No reason for it."

He pointed to the first play of the game, when Williams ran the wrong route.

"That can change the whole outcome of the game," Olson said. "You don't know how the game plays out."

Freeman has been victimized by other drops and poor route running. Receiver Micheal Spurlock failed to come down with a pass in the end zone at Baltimore that would've made it a one-score game with about six minutes to play. Tight end Ryan Purvis stopped running on a throw that Freeman sailed over his head.

"When he throws a pass, we have to make the catch," Spurlock said. "That's what makes his rating, what makes everything about him look great. It's not like he's out there playing by himself.

"When he gives you opportunity balls, you have to come down with them one way or another. Every time you get one, you've got to cash in on it, and right now my bank is empty."

Morris said he knows that if Freeman doesn't play great, the Bucs have little chance to win. This season, Freeman has protected the football with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.

But December and January are when NFL quarterbacks build their reputation.

"I tell him he can't read the paper because it's not going to help your preparation," Olson said. "Don't waver. He's a very good player. Keep throwing it."

.Fast facts

Bit of a slide

The Bucs lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, falling to the Ravens and Falcons in the past two weeks. And quarterback Josh Freeman hasn't had his best numbers:

Statistic First 10 games Past two games

Completions 177 36

Attempts 290 75

Percentage 61 48

Rating 92.0 64.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman resists talk of slump 12/11/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 11, 2010 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 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.
  2. 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]
  3. 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.
  4. Jose De Leon sent back to minors after helping Rays win


    RHP Jose De Leon worked 2 2/3 innings to get the win in his Rays debut Monday and then was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

    De Leon was brought up to provide length and depth in the bullpen after the Rays played 15 innings on Sunday, and he did that, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 …

  5. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.