Just a few years ago, Josh Freeman was seen as a rising star and a top 10 quarterback. That came after his amazing 2010 season, a year dominated by scrambles and plays outside of structure that are mostly random and fell the right way for Freeman. But it was also a year in which Freeman produced several fourth-quarter comebacks, dominated on third down and genuinely played some good football. He just wasn't a finished product.
Three seasons later, and Freeman still isn't a finished product. The entire team fell apart in 2011 and Josh Freeman was no exception, but he wasn't helped by awful skill position play and the lack of a consistent running game. Those reasons disappeared in 2012 and Freeman's play immediately improved -- but inconsistency remained and with it, questions about his future. Is Freeman a rising star who just needs a second year in a very complicated offense, or is he an inconsistent player whose 2010 season was just a mirage? That's the question he'll have to answer this year. He will get the opportunity to do so, and by season's end we'll likely know whether his future lies with the Buccaneers or elsewhere.
Popular opinion on the quarterback doesn't appear to be great, however. A quarterback controversy has been manufactured out of (mostly) thin air, while NFL.com's Marc Sessler just ranked him 25th under the "How can I trust you?" category. That, to me, is a little ridiculous. Sure, Freeman struggled at the end of the season -- but we're awfully quick to forget that he looked stellar during a seven-game midseason stretch. How can you rank Philip Rivers, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Andy Dalton ahead of Freeman, when all of them have significant questions they need to answer before you can trust them?
But at least he's ahead of Mark Sanchez, right?