I'll be honest–I didn't like Freeman from the get-go, when he was drafted, and that was probably a mistake on my part. But, that's not really important at this stage. Skip past the jump for more...
Josh Freeman, if you weren't aware, was the Buccaneers' first draft pick of 2009. He came out of Kansas State in what ended up being a good bit of pomp and circumstance. A media circus in the Tampa area swirled around him fairly quickly after some of his comments on being drafted by the Buccaneers. This was a bit of an issue for me, having not even heard of Freeman before, and his comments circulated around Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez, a pair of quarterbacks with experience on the national stage. Freeman's comments seemed quite misplaced, but, it's his choice to say what he wants. If someone wants to say something they'll regret later, it's not really my problem.
However, in the preseason, although we had but small tastes of Freeman's ability, I for one certainly had yet to see the quarterback deserving of being picked ahead of Stafford and Sanchez. However, at this stage, Freeman's career is hardly over–he just has ground to make up. If he can go out there and win a game or two this season, he's on the right track. If even he can't win games, then we have one of the classic four problems facing the Buccaneers. Continued defeat could mean that there is simply no skill under center. This is entirely possible, but the fact that Byron Leftwich, an experienced and fairly talented quarterback, couldn't win a game, suggests that this probably isn't the case. I'd even go so far as to say Freeman could do quite well, given the mentoring and playing time he needs. The next possibility would be a bad receiving corps. This isn't really the problem either, seeing as there are receivers catching passes and scoring the occasional touchdown. The tight ends are getting the job done as well, however, they might be used as much as they ought, in spite of their numbers. There's of course coaching. But even this can't fully be the answer, because the coaches aren't on the field, making the decisions. The players are. I feel that the coaching most certainly is playing a role right now, however, I wouldn't dare say that is the problem. Then, lastly, we have the defense. If I had to pick a single problem, I would most likely pick the defense. Between the lack of pressure up front, and the lack of stopping power deep, the defense is simply not up to the task. Many teams can get away with a mediocre defense, but at times, it seems the Buccaneers don't even have that much.
The fault with the defense is not just at one position. It's more like an epidemic through each position. I don't think that a total change in defensive scheme helps matters much at all. Much like the sudden and constant changes at quarterback, a change in defensive schemes isn't going to make things easy for the guys already in the defensive unit. Most teams in the league don't use the scheme Bates uses. They're just not ready for it, they're not mentally prepared for that style of defending. Now, how does all of this tie into Freeman?
Well, the problem is that a lot of people are going to pin the blame on Josh if the Bucs continue to lose, and chances are that most likely, that won't actually be the case. Sure, I don't think he really will be a franchise QB. No, I don't think he's going to win any games either. But from one Josh un-fan to any others out there, if we keep losing with Josh under center, it's probably not going to be (entirely) his fault. There's twenty-two guys on a starting lineup, not one. If football was one-on-one, then, sure. It would be Josh's fault. But I think we need to cut Josh a bit of slack and realize that there are in truth deeper problems with the Bucs than the quarterback they probably shouldn't have drafted.
As a final criticism of the choice to take Freeman...why would the Buccaneers take Freeman if the Leftwich deal was lined up, and we had Leftwich, McCown, and Johnson? I don't know if anyone can explain that to me or not. It seems like a confusing decision, in retrospect, considering that this year's upcoming crop of QBs is going to be much richer than last year's was (which does indeed say something!)