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Josh Freeman is still learning the Buccaneers' complicated offense

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers run a complicated offense.


Josh Freeman is still a young quarterback learning how to play the position. That sounds a little strange after four seasons in the league, but it's true. Part of the cause is rather simple: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a complicated offensive system that relies heavily on sight adjustments by the quarterback and receivers. This system is not standard in the NFL, which is dominated by West Coast Offense and Air Coryell-based systems, with few sight adjustments.

Via JoeBucsFan, what Woody Cummings told WFLA-TV that Freeman was still learning this new system:

Now with Mike Sullivan, it's a completely different approach. Josh Freeman, I think, even said it that he is making that adjustment and I think that's where people forget he's still a young kid, not just learning the league but under a completely new system, something completely different than he has already played before. I think it suits his skill set a little better because it is a downfield passing game and it really takes advantage of his strong arm.

It's a different dynamic and even he admits he still needs time to learn that scheme and that's why theses OTAs and minicamp are so important for him.

Think back to the season and try to remember the number of times you saw Freeman either hesitate to throw the ball, or throw it to a spot with no receiver. Both of those instances can be led back to one simple issue: a lack of familiarity with the offense. This was most obvious with Tiquan Underwood, who was on a different page than Freeman far too often.

That doesn't mean that Underwood was wrong, necessarily, but it does point to a common problem: Josh Freeman and his receivers weren't always on the same page. Given the fact that we don't know what keys each player is (supposed to be) looking at on each play we can't evaluate who is wrong and who is right, but we can say that this hampered the offense at times.

The sight adjustments stem in part from the Run and Shoot background of offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, but it's almost impossible to pin down what, exactly, the offense consists of right now. We can only point to general statements by players in interviews, which tend to focus on sight adjustments, and Sullivan's prior history as a coach.

One issue with this kind of offense is that it can take receivers a long time to adjust. Chad Ochocinco never made it work in New England, while Eli Manning took four seasons for things to finally click -- and he has still been a little inconsistent since then. Of course, the Buccaneers don't have humongous amounts of time to wait for Freeman (and his receivers) to catch up. Freeman has this season to show that he deserves a new contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the complicated scheme isn't helping him.

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