Josh Freeman was terrible in the game against the Patriots and very lackluster against the Chiefs. He didn't throw accurately, he held on to the ball for too long, and he had too many check downs. When the Bucs played the Chiefs, half of Freeman’s passes were check downs, which one can argue demonstrates a fear of passing downfield.
That may have been because of tight coverage, but I think it was because he was scared of throwing a pick. That is not the mindset we need at quarterback. Even though an interception is the worst thing a QB can do; Freeman should not be tentative to throw downfield. Freeman hurts his team almost as much as a pick by taking no chances and not throwing deep. At least with an interception there are usually net yards gained, but the reward for taking a chance downfield is much greater.
Quick touchdowns are demoralizing for a defense, a deep ball threat makes the defense scared to blitz, and a quarterback that takes chances forces the defense to take chances too. Without throwing downfield the defense will pressure the short throws more because they know the QB won’t pass deep. The defenders will also rush the QB more to try to force him into a bad throw, which is a lot more likely without a deep ball.
Brett Favre became a great quarterback because he took chances. Sure he has thrown a bunch of picks, but he also holds NFL records in just about everything. A QB shouldn’t take every chance he gets: the good QBs, like Freeman was last year, know when and where to take chances. Freeman may have decided in the 2 games this preseason that there was no situation where he should have taken a chance but I think that's unlikely.
It seemed he was too scared to make the throw, so he would check it down to his running backs. And when Freeman did decide he wanted to throw downfield, he threw inaccurately or held on and got sacked. There were plenty of throws Freeman made last year that could’ve been picked but weren't because he trusted his receivers to make a play on the ball, and they did.
It is almost as if Freeman doesn’t trust his receiving corps because they didn’t have much time to practice together. If he would just make the throw and trust that his team will come down with it, then he could be much better. Now I’m not saying he should heave and pray, but I am saying put the ball where your player can make a play. At least run the ball, Freeman.
The best play he made was the touchdown run he made against the Chiefs, where nobody was open and he ran. Last year when his internal clock was ticking and he realized he had been in the pocket for too long, he would run. I would at least like to see that this year, because Josh Johnson seems to have improved in that sense.
I have heard that Raheem didn’t give the Bucs a game plan for the Patriots game, but I think that isn’t entirely true. That’s like sending cows to a slaughtering house. Why, of all the teams to choose to have no game plan against, would you choose the Patriots? I hope I am wrong about that, but to be honest, a coach saying they didn’t game plan sounds like a coach making an excuse for his team being wrecked.
I love Raheem though, and really hope he can coach his team well enough this week to get us back on track. This Saturday the Bucs will play the Dolphins and in that game we will once again get to watch our team on the big screen (unless you live in Tampa, sorry). This game will show if the offensive line is still failing at protecting Freeman, the receivers are still failing to get open or win one-on-one battles, and most importantly it will show if Freeman can lead this football team like he did just one year ago. I understand that it’s just preseason, so I hope that I am just overreacting. I would love nothing more than for Freeman to prove me wrong.