Time for Josh Freeman to work on his deep ball

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18: Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes to Arrelious Benn #17 for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings on September 18, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Buccaneers defeated the Vikings 24-20 (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

With the addition of wide receiver Vincent Jackson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have come a step closer to fulfilling Greg Schiano's vision of the offense: run the ball and throw it deep. The Bucs need to work on running the ball, although adding Carl Nicks and replacing Jeff Faine with Jeremy Zuttah will do much to help accomplish that, but most importantly: they need Josh Freeman to be accurate when throwing deep passes. That's been a problem for the big quarterback throughout his career, but as his mechanics broke down during the past season it became nearly impossible for him to connect on a long ball.

Last season, Josh Freeman attempted just 32 passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air, and only 11 of those were caught by a teammate. Part of the problem was the performance of the Bucs' receivers, who had seemingly lost all feeling in their hands and failed to fight for the ball. But despite the cannon he calls an arm, Freeman was part of the problem: too often he overthrew a receiver, and too often he led them out of bounds with his deep passes.

Vincent Jackson can correct the first problem. as the big-bodied receiver consistently fights for balls and has a wide catch radius. But if Freeman continues to overthrow receivers, or place his passes out of bounds, even Jackson can't bail him out. Freeman has a lot to work on this offseason, most notably his mechanics and his reading of defenses. But the deep ball offense we'd all like to see needs him to be more accurate on deep throws.

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