How the Bucs botched the 2009 Quarterback Situation

This dovetails nicely with the previous story on misinformation. When Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik took over as coach and GM early in 2009, their first order of business was to fix the quarterback situation. They picked 19th in the draft, and had identified Josh Freeman as a potential franchise quarterback, but didn't want other teams to know. So they went to some lengths to disguise their intentions, even contracting Byron Leftwich in what seemed to be another bit of misdirection. They certainly didn't need a subpar journeyman quarterback, Luke McCown could do just fine like that. The only other option was that they needed a mentor for the quarterback they planned to draft, but that's a whole lot of money for someone who's just going to be a mentor. Didn't they have quarterback coaches and people like Luke McCown for that?

Of course, spending quite a bit on a mentor for a franchise quarterback isn't a bad thing. After all, a franchise quarterback is worth a lot, and you want to make sure you did everything you could to have him succeed. But having Byron Leftwich on the roster only served to limit the team's performance during the 2009 season. It started during the offseason, when Leftwich and McCown split the first-team reps in an effort to have the best player rise to the top. One problem: the best player would still be just Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown, neither of them capable of carrying a team. And because each of them only got half the reps, neither of them was as prepared as they would've been with all the reps. The Bucs felt they needed a QB to hold the fort while Josh Freeman sat and learned, but this way the fort would fall easily. 

The Bucs then traded Luke McCown after the preseason, and anointed Leftwich as the starter. Leftwich lasted a total of 3 poorly played games, not helped by a poor O-line performance. To prevent the disastrous scenario of Freeman actually taking a snap during a game from taking place, the Bucs then made Josh Johnson the starter. Johnson had had very few reps at that point because Leftwich and McCown had split the first team reps, and Freeman had taken the backup snaps. Johnson was as ill-prepared as could be, but he was forced into a starting role because the Bucs didn't want Freeman to start. Johnson lasted all of 4 games. 

So after a lot of offseason drama that stunted Freeman's growth by taking away any first-team reps, all so that he wouldn't need to start his rookie season - Freeman started his rookie season anyway. Because the Bucs felt the need to deceive everyone about their quarterback plans(not that succesfully, I might add), they had stunted that quarterback's growth. I'm sure that Freeman learned a lot of valuable lessons while sitting on the bench, but he surely would've learned more valuable lessons taking first-team reps all offseason and then playing from day one. It's not like he could've started the season worse than 0-7. 

While Freeman's done very well so far and there's not a lot to complain about, that happened in spite of the way the Bucs handled him, not because of it. 

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