Second year quarterback Josh Freeman entered this off season, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers undisputed starter, for a team that finished the 2009 season with a 3-13 mark. Freeman who went 3-6 in his nine starts completed 158 of his 290 passes for 1,855 yards and 10 touchdowns for the year but also threw 18 interceptions. Hasn’t shied away from questions this off season about the team being his. During a recent interview Freeman told Skip Woods of the USA Today “I feel like I’m a leader on this team, but we have a lot of leaders on this team. I’m still learning. I’m a second-year guy. I’m 22 years old. There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve got to learn and a lot of stuff I’ve got to experience, but from a standpoint of going out and leading the offensive and getting this thing done, I feel like it’s the perfect place for me.”
Freeman, 22, showed sporadic flashes as a rookie even though he didn’t have a true position coach. The lack of a go between from offensive coordinator to quarterback quickly changed this off season, when the team hired former intern Buffalo Bills head coach Alex Van Pelt to be the team’s quarterbacks coach. Van Pelt who spent countless hours this off season working with Freeman in the film room on blitz recognition and on the practice fields with his accuracy. Attributes Freeman’s developing leadership skills to his ability to be secure in his own skin.
But what was even more revealing in the interview is that offensive coordinator Greg Olson is tailoring the entire offense around his star pupils’ strengths. Rather then forcing a square peg in to a round hole.
“If anything, it makes me feel better,” Freeman told the USA Today. “They tailored an offense around me, and it’s playing to all my strong suits. That makes my odds (of success) even better. Stepping in and getting to run plays that (offensive coordinator Greg) Olson designed for me, that’s ideal.
“He knows the things that I do well, and he knows the things that I need to work on, as well. I think it’s awesome to have a team around me and coaches around me that are putting so much faith in the quarterback.”
The fact that team brought in a position coach, that was also a journeyman quarterback in the league and understands the minute intricacies of the position and Olson having had a full off season to design an offense around the strengths of the teams future franchise quarterback. It could potentially pay huge dividends in the near future.