Josh Freeman had a ton of critics when the Buccaneers moved up in the first round of the draft, to select the early entry junior from Kansas State. But after one regular season start in which he tossed three touchdowns to one interception and lead a fourth quarter come from behind win over the Green Bay Packers which he went 6-of-10 for 81 yards and two touchdowns he all but silenced the majority of those critics.
It was an encouraging site to see, from the future of the franchise, but one performance doesn’t make a career and it’s not enough to make an educated informed decision on the young signal caller, but he absolutely showed a calmness and poise to his game which was refreshing and has many pundits and fans encouraged about his future.
Since 1976 no veteran or rookie making there first start for the Buccaneers has ever thrown three touchdown passes, there have only been three QB’s to throw for more yards in their first start for the Buccaneers then what Freeman threw for yesterday.
Vinny Testaverde 22-47 369 at NO-12/6/87
Brian Griese 27-40 286 at STL-10/18/04
Steve DeBerg 18-31 229 at NYG-9/23/84
Couple that with the fact that neither Joe Flacco nor Matt Ryan won a game as a rookie when they attempted 30 passes or more and the mere fact that the last rookie making his NFL debut to throw for three touchdowns was last accomplished by Jim Everett of the Rams in 1986.
Freeman’s raw ability, pocket awareness, poise, calmness, instincts and unflappability along with other intangibles’ has his the future looking bright and after one start has fans looking at Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik in a little bit of a different light this week.
But the more telling sign of what the future holds for Freeman will come, in the coming weeks. If you watch enough football, you will see players’ flash All-Pro potential, but it’s what happens to a player after a team has film to study, that will be the more telling sign. The key is going into the film room, digesting with a through understanding of what a defense is trying to take away and prepping week after week, and making the necessary adjustment after defenses scheme against the things you do well.
The things that many were most impressed with are the plays that he made out of the pocket; typically a lot of young quarterbacks tuck the football and run, or panic and throw an ill-advised pass. Freeman showed a veteran savvy and kept his eyes down the field and tried to make plays. The fourth and goal pass, with the game on the line, he had the poise to pump fake, freeze a safety and fire a pass to the back of the endzone, putting it only where his receiver can get it, then you have the clear reads through his progressions.
Freeman has a solid foundation of fundamentals in which he can build on that are clearly evident, but usually one of the more difficult to teach at the NFL level. Young quarterbacks either have it or they don’t, he seems to have the instincts necessary to further develop his game an ascend to that next level, but it will require patience from the coaching staff and a supreme dedication to perfect his craft if he’s to take the reins and begin his journey to compete and become mentioned with some of the games elite players at his position.