TAMPA — If you're wondering how Josh Freeman would have played in Jon Gruden's offense, you may be in luck.
Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson is a disciple of the former Bucs coach's West Coast offense. Except it was never Gruden's offense to begin with.
"Why don't they call it Bill Walsh's offense?" GM Mark Dominik said recently.
The Eagles' Andy Reid, the Redskins' Mike Shanahan and the Vikings' Brad Childress, to name a few, run versions of the attack developed by Walsh, the late 49ers coach.
At 6 feet 6 and 248 pounds, Freeman doesn't look like a prototypical West Coast quarterback. He's not necessarily the guy you limit to a three- and five-step drop, no-shotgun, horizontal passing game.
But like most things in the NFL, the West Coast offense has evolved. And Olson, who also worked for the Rams and Lions, has incorporated more downfield throws for Freeman in the Y2K10 version.
"More than half the teams in the league run a version of the West Coast," Olson said. "It's just a matter of putting in some of the vertical stretch things that I felt I learned while I was in St. Louis. … I'm incorporating some of those concepts with Josh Freeman because he's, to me, a guy who can push the ball down the field."
One criticism of Gruden's offense was its extensive verbiage. Olson said he has made his version more user-friendly.
"We've cut it down and turned it into one-word concepts," Olson said. "That's a problem with that West Coast verbiage. I think we've kind of grown with the times in that regard."
A year ago, Olson took over the offense 10 days before the season opener when Jeff Jagodzinski was fired as offensive coordinator.
He tried to salvage much of what Jagodzinski had spent the offseason installing, but now Olson is doing things his way.
How will he push the ball downfield with Freeman?
"It's a little bit of everything. It's also about running the football," Olson said. "If you're running the football well, now you're creating those loaded boxes and those opportunities for your wide receivers."
Freeman has come a long way since his nine starts last year. He's calling all the protections instead of relying on C Jeff Faine. Freeman's learning to protect the ball after throwing 18 interceptions and fumbling 10 times, losing two.
"High completion percentage — that's always been a theme ever since we started (offseason practices)," Freeman said. "Also, fundamentals, keeping both hands on the ball."
The best thing for Olson is knowing Freeman will be the quarterback and he can tailor his offense accordingly.
"You try to play to your players' strengths and to your quarterback's strengths more than anything," Olson said. "I think we're comfortable where Josh is at, and I think Josh is comfortable.
"We're seeing more shotgun formations, (which) wasn't something the West Coast offenses did until three or four years ago."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From Faine, who owns oil wells, all on land, when asked about the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
"It's got everybody crying, crying and crying about it, but everybody still is driving their cars. Some of these same people who protest, they drove to the protest.
"(Oil is) a necessary evil, it's a byproduct, and there's innocent bystanders. I'm not saying (the spill is) not unfortunate. It's definitely unfortunate. But things happen, and mistakes happen.
"The thing I didn't like about the whole situation is after the fact, they didn't handle it properly. They should've gotten things done a little faster."