I’ve been a defender (some of you have used stronger words) of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman for much of this season. Sure, he deserves some of the blame for what’s gone wrong, but I think the bigger problem has been his supporting cast and maybe even the play calling. I still stand by that.
That’s why I was happy to hear that someone who knows a lot more about quarterback play than I do, said essentially the same thing.
ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski has always been a big believer in Freeman. In a recent conference call with the national media, Jaworski was asked about what’s gone wrong for Freeman this season.
“There's no question about it, he has taken a step back,’’ Jaworski said. “But the quarterback is going to get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when things are going poorly, and right now it's an accumulation of all those things. He's having to play from behind, he's forced to try to make plays down the field rather than take the easy play. Right now, the receivers are not doing a good job of getting open and the running game has been inconsistent, turning the football over, and all those things work to the detriment of the quarterback.
“I'm not taking any blame away from Josh because I thought early in the season he was making some bad decisions of where to throw the football and also some inaccurate throws that caused interceptions. But I still am a firm believer the guy is a very talented quarterback, it's just been one of those years where things have kind of piled up and not gone well, but I still believe Josh Freeman is going to be one of the great quarterbacks in this league. There's an ebb and flow to every player's career. This is one of those down moments for him, but I think he'll learn from this experience and be better for it.’’