Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Josh Freeman Keeps Bucs Rolling

A couple of years ago I was being interviewed on local Tampa radio and I said I wouldn't trade Josh Freeman for anyone in the league, which caused a bit of scoffing laughter back in the studio.  The radio host asked again the question again and threw in names like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (prior to his neck injury) and I reiterated that no, I wouldn't trade Freeman for those awesome QB's.  My reasoning wasn't that Freeman was better than either of those future Hall-of-Famers, but where the Buccaneers were in building a franchise for the next decade, those other quarterbacks were on the back half of their careers.
Josh Freeman is a young fourth year QB, coming out of Kansas State early and his physical potential is beyond either Brady or Manning, especially for the coming decade!
Following the 2011 disaster season, the Bucs punted Raheem Morris to the Washington Redskins and brought in the no-nonsense Greg Schiano from Rutgers.  His attention to detail may be unmatched, although I'm sure many would like to dispute that, but he has taken a completely unprepared (physically and mentally) Bucs team and reshaped it into a hard-nosed tough football team that has prepared itself for situations before they happen and the success has already shown itself on a number of occasions.
Last Sunday the Bucs didn't play very well, giving up two scoring chances in the red zone, including a TD run by rookie of the year candidate Doug Martin, that should have been called a touchdown, but his fumble came too close to the line, was ruled a fumble and not overturned on video review.
In Josh Freeman's short career, even dating back to 2010 under Morris, he has shown a knack for bringing his team from behind to win.  The team didn't play well, didn't get any big plays from the defense or special teams, which it had in previous weeks, but Freeman led the Bucs back against the Carolina Panthers Sunday with a TD pass and a two point conversion to tie and force overtime.
The Bucs drove the field in overtime and Freeman found Dallas Clark (yes, that Dallas Clark) on a "wheel" route up the left sideline.  The call was great, the catch was fabulous, but the throw was mediocre.  While Josh Freeman has shown he can throw the deep ball well and has both Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson making great catches down the field, Freeman's weakest point as a QB is his medium range accuracy.
It is easier to criticize him on a game-winning OT throw now than after a loss on an interception when lots of people like to pile on.
The 2012 version of Josh Freeman is still not in Brady's or Manning's league and he will not join that league unless he becomes more efficient and accurate on medium range throws.  This improvement will have to come through improved mechanics and I am using this magnificent game-winning play to show my point.  Watch the video and watch what direction Freeman's front (left) leg steps to make his throw to the end zone.  His step goes directly towards the sideline instead of towards the pylon at the front of the end zone.  Before he releases the football his entire body is directed to where Dallas Clark IS, not where he is GOING TO BE!  Without watching the finish of the throw, alignment mechanics guarantee that the ball will be behind the receiver.  The result?  An awesome spinning backward catch by Dallas Clark to win the game!! 
Brady and Manning have had receivers make great catches on poorly thrown balls, but far less often, because they are more precise in their mechanics, Brady being signifcantly better than Manning.  Freeman would do well to study Brady's ALIGNMENT before the ball comes out and he will take a big step closer to joining their league of Elite QB's.

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