When he came out of college, there were some questions about Josh Freeman's qualities as a leader. He came across as very calm on the field and in interviews, and didn't seem to be a fiery, rah-rah kind of leader. That doesn't even need to be a bad thing: there are plenty of examples of great coaches and great quarterbacks who didn't go all rah-rah at every opportunity. Still, it was a knock on Freeman and through most of his first two seasons it seemed like that's the kind of leader he would be. On the field he displayed that poise and calm, and players have commented on his confidence in the huddle. He doesn't panic when the going gets rough, and that's very important for any quarterback.
But then during the season, NFL Network started airing short bits of Josh Freeman Mic'ed Up on the field, and I started to see a different side to Freeman. I saw him fired up, motivating his teammates, and being much more of a rah-rah guy than he was given credit for. He was still calm and in control, but he sounded like a real leader and motivator. And he sounded nothing like the Josh Freeman I saw in interviews. But that didn't really click for me until Week 17 against the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs were up 10-7 with 1:53 left in the second quarter, barely inside field goal range and trying to extend their lead. They had run out of time outs at this point, and the play clock was ticking down as the Bucs offense got set. Freeman checked the defense, checked the play clock, and asked for the ball with 5 seconds left. Jeremy Zuttah looked around at his linemen, got set, communicated with Ted Larsen, got set again - and all the while Josh Freeman's asking for the ball because there's no time left. As the play clock expired and the referees whistled for the penalty, Freeman got in Zuttah's face, telling him to get the ball out when he asks for it. That was a pretty heated exchange, and it showed me a side of Josh Freeman I hadn't seen on the field: the side that calls players out when they make a mistake, the side that holds them accountable. In other words: Josh Freeman the leader.