TAMPA, Fla. -- There’s been a lot of buzz around One Buccaneer Place about quarterback Josh Freeman's improved accuracy on the field.
It’s all true. But you want more incredible accuracy?
Let’s go off the field for a second. Let’s go back to right after Thursday morning's practice when Freeman was talking with two reporters. He was asked a question about how the rapport is developing with his young group of wide receivers.
“We have a very hard-working group with those guys,’’ Freeman said. “They symbolize what an ideal receiving corps is. You have some guys that are really physically talented and some guys that come in and work hard, but the culture our receiving group brings to our offense is great because these guys have each other’s backs and they work hard. They help each other out on the field, they talk with the quarterbacks. The thing is, all of these guys, they’re willing to work. You might feel like, ‘Man, I need to go throw some more out routes after a two-hour practice, and I can think last year, there were guys who’d say ‘Aw man, I’m tired, let’s just get it next practice.’ These guys, if you want to get more work in, they’re there. All of them will come out and work for you.’’
Umm, it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist or mind reader to figure out the target. It was current Cincinnati receiver Antonio Bryant. He’s the only significant guy gone from last year’s receiver corps.
The only real news here is that Freeman is not a member of the Bryant fan club. We already knew Bryant wasn’t a Freeman fan. Bryant pretty much wrote the perfect book on how to not get a new contract from your old team last season. He was openly critical of Freeman, wasn’t all that productive, blamed his sore knee on the plane ride back from a game in London and took some shots at the coaching staff. All that came in a season when the Bucs handed Bryant more than $9 million as a restricted free agent and basically told him all he had to do to get a long-term contract was go out and prove that his great 2008 season was not a fluke.
Bryant dropped that chance. Yep, he got his $28 million contract from the Bengals and he apparently impressed them so little they went out and signed Terrell Owens.
I know there was a school of thought out there that the Bucs were being cheap when they let Bryant walk. Day by day, it’s become more obvious they were being smart, not cheap.
Freeman is “the franchise’’ now. The Bucs are building around him and it’s obvious the plan is to do it with guys that will work with Freeman, not against him.