It’s time for Part II of being educated about our new Franchise QB Josh Freeman. Continuing the theme from yesterday, Brett from Bring on the Cats provides us with his insights:
A lot of the things about Freeman have already been said: big arm, big frame, intelligent, lots of upside, etc. That's why he was a first round pick. That's what people said when he signed at KSU as a four-star, US Army All-American. The word 'potential' may as well be his nickname.
One of the things that I haven't heard people say is that he really did improve every single year. There were still some flaws in his game (tends to telegraph passes, slow on progressions, etc.), but 2008 Josh Freeman was much, much better than 2006 or 2007 Josh Freeman. For the first time in his three years, he had a decent QB coach and coordinator, and they opened up the playbook and allowed him to run. His numbers (34 TDs in 2008) reflect what he's capable of doing if you kind of "unleash" him.
I think there are a couple of things about Freeman that Kansas State fans will always wonder. First, was he held back by a poor coaching staff? Our offensive scheme was a complete departure from what was run when Head Coach Bill Snyder was here, so basically every year he was our starting quarterback, we were still trying to transition into a pro-style offense in terms of personnel. They never seemed to have all of the pieces necessary to run a complete and balanced offense. In 2007, the whole playbook consisted of finding ways to get Jordy Nelson the football, and in 2008, the entire playbook was designed to find ways to move the ball with a horrible running back corps, a bad offensive line, and the best pass catching option being a 5'7" 140lb. receiver. I may be considered an 'apologist', but I think Freeman was the lone bright spot in what was a horrible, horrible year last year, and one of the few bright spots in the 'Ron Prince era'.
The second thing that Kansas State fans will always wonder is what would have happened had he come back for one more year under Bill Snyder. Coach Snyder was always able to get the best out of his quarterbacks (i.e. Chuck Long, Michael Bishop, Chad May, etc.), and even though some of them weren't "NFL Quality", he made them successful enough to warrant getting drafted, making a scout team, being a bench warmer, etc. I don't think he ever had a kid with Freeman's total package to work with (Bishop did, but he didn't have the cognitive abilities Josh does), so it would have been nice to see him work with Josh. Kansas State fans like to think he would have had a Mark Sanchez kind of season had he come back, but in a way it's probably best for both parties that he move on.
Now, I say that because Freeman has always had a very tenuous relationship with Kansas State fans, and that's because he was the pet project of a very, very unpopular coach. By the time fall camp was over before his freshman season, three of the five scholarship quarterbacks transferred because they knew that they didn't have his ability, and they also knew that Prince was going to start Freeman no matter what. This didn't sit well with a lot of fans, because given the culture at Kansas State the previous seventeen years with Bill Snyder, the promise of playing time was a big taboo that kind of flew in the face of everything KSU football stood for. So, for the past three years, Freeman probably had as many detractors in his own fanbase as he did supporters. It's a sad fact, but it's an honest one.
I bring that up because I think it's relevant for Bucs fans. Josh knows what it's like to operate in a fishbowl, and he knows what it's like to play in front of hostile fans. That's important for a pro quarterback because; let's face it, professional football fans tend to be much less patient and forgiving than your average college fan. Under that kind of pressure, he still improved every single year, so that shows he's got a thick skin, and he's kind of immune to outside pressure. One of the biggest knocks on him in the past few years was that he was too 'business-like' and that he wasn't 'emotional' enough.
While that's fine and good for a college QB, I think that will serve him well in Tampa Bay because he's going to have to get better under the pressure of being a first-round pick, and professionalism is something that will help prop him up during the bad times.
The last thing that I can say about Freeman is that he is very professional in his approach to everything. Even when he was under a lot of scrutiny, he was never disrespectful, and he never got himself in trouble. He was always a very good representative of Kansas State, and for the past three years, regardless of whether or not he was ready to be the face of the program, he performed admirably. This is the kind of kid you can build a program (or franchise) around because he's the total package on and off the field.
However, just be warned...he's not an immediate impact guy. If I were Raheem Morris, I'd bring him along like Carson Palmer. Sit him on the bench for a year and bring him along slowly. While he's a smart, tough, and capable kid, he's got a learning curve. I know that folks want to compare him to Roethlisberger or Flacco, and who knows; he may have that kind of impact, but I'd sit him for a year and really let him compete for the job next season. He's still young (twenty-one), so he's got time. He has the potential to be a great player if he's brought along and coached well. He has the skills and intangibles. All he needs is the right situation and some competent coaching. Also, an offensive line wouldn't hurt.
I asked Brett about Josh’s nickname:
As far as "Soul Glo" goes, the genesis of that was from one of our K-State message boards (KSUFans.com). One of our better YouTube artists came up with this. It's pretty funny, but it's where his nickname came from.
No wonder Raheem drafted Freeman, they both frequented McDowell’s while at KSU together. Brett thanks for the info my man. You and Tye have shed a great deal of light on our boy ‘Soul Glo’….