Freeman Makes Deep Shots Pay Off

In last week’s shootout loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman completed three passes for 20 or more yards, including two that were over 40.  Those types of results were much more similar to what he put up during his breakout 2010 campaign than what occurred last season in a difficult year for the whole team.

In 2010, Freeman had four games in which he completed at least five “long-play” passes, including one (at Arizona) in which he had six and two of them were longer than 40.  Last year, he had just one such game (at Green Bay), and none of the completions were at least 40 yards in length.

The Bucs were expected to throw it downfield more often under new Head Coach Greg Schiano and new Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan.  That sort of game developed against the Giants, after a season-opening win over Carolina in which the running game controlled the action in a tight affair.

“It’s more [a matter of] opportunity,” said Freeman.  “It all kind of varies – looks, matchups, coverages.  People talk about the deep shots, and yeah we had some [in New York].  We didn’t really have any the first Sunday, and you look back to the preseason and there were a couple games where everybody was looking for the deep balls and we didn’t really have any opportunities based on coverage.  But they’re built into the offense, and based on the coverage we’re getting, the opportunities and matchups, you have a chance to take a few more.”

Freeman showed exceptional touch on his throws downfield against the Giants, especially on a 41-yarder to Vincent Jackson in the first quarter that arrived on a low, hard arc and hit the receiver perfectly in stride.  Another big-gainer in the fourth quarter was eventually overturned on replay, but it was a stunning throw through the defense to Mike Williams on the sideline.

On the long play to Williams that was allowed – a 41-yard touchdown on the previous drive – the quarterback and receiver reacted to the coverage they saw when they got to the line of scrimmage and elected to take a shot.  Expect to see the Bucs take those shots more often this year.

“We talked about the coverage we were going to see and we had a route for Mike,” said Freeman, describing the play.  “The thought going into it was, if we got a single matchup to go ahead and signal him to go.  Getting out, we saw that we had single [safety] high.  Looking back and watching the film, Mike made a heck of a play.  That’s the thing.  If you’re going to play one-on-one, you’ve got to have a lot of confidence in your guys – Mike, Vincent [Jackson], Arrelious [Benn] – that they’re going to make a play.”

2 comments on “Freeman Makes Deep Shots Pay Off

  1. Mr Douglas D Nix on said:

    I know ball protection is a #1 priority for Coach Schiano, as it should be, BUT, in my humble opinion, after watching tapes again of Josh in the 2010 season, I believe Coach has unintentionally ‘hamstringed’ Josh’s performance. In 2010 Josh threw the ball with power and accurate placement. His footwork and his release were improving, but it wasn’t bad. Put it all together, and he showed a confidence that is NOT apparent this year. [The 2011 interception rate was bad, but he tried to do too much on his own. I do not believe he lost confidence because of 2011] His impromtu running in 2010 was as natural as throwing the ball for him. This year, his lack of running is not natural for him. His hesitancy to throw into tight coverage this year is also unnatural for him. Our QB coach is as good as any in the NFL. It appears Josh is so worried about throwing an interception, that he doesn’t make those tight throws that came so natural in 2010. Also, there have been a few opportunities for him to run for 1st downs, but again, it seems he is over-thinking instead of doing what comes naturally for him. He has more excellent receivers this year than ever before and I know he is confident in them to make plays in tight coverage, but as he progresses, our coaches have to give him the OK to use his natural instincts and abilities without having to overthink situations that will ‘hamstring’ his ability to make plays as he did in 2010. Thanks for the soapbox!!

    • I totally agree, Josh is a big force and the coach needs to recognize this and take advantage of certain breakdown circumstances. Freemans skills I believe have yet to be seen in their intirety and can make the difference between a narrow W-L situation hence the Giants game .. The Defense was on the feild way to long in the fourth quarter and that was due to the bucs inability on offense to make the smaller plays that get the first downs and eat up the clock rather than trying to match the giants air game. I hope to see Josh take the game to the next level and follow his instincts .. this I believe will be the Bucs best chances to make a playoff run and with the defense able to do some of the things they’ve shown us so far I wouldn’t be surprised to see em in the big game this year !! Look out !!

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