Josh Freeman: No need to force it

TAMPA, Fla. -- Josh Freeman’s had a few months to digest his disappointing 2011 season and he’s got an answer for what went wrong.

“Really, it was just pressing too hard," Freeman said. “Sometimes you just try to force things.’’

There’s no doubt Freeman forced some throws in a season in which he threw 22 interceptions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 4-12. That was a major step back for Freeman, who threw 25 touchdowns with only six interceptions in 2010, his first full season as a starter.

Freeman implied his 2010 performance might have given him a little too much confidence and prompted him to take too many chances last season. That’s why Freeman has returned to the team’s offseason workout program with a new philosophy he believes will stop him from forcing throws.

“You’ve got to let it come to you,’’ Freeman said.

The Bucs began their offseason program Monday and Freeman addressed the media. Tampa Bay gets an extra two weeks in its offseason program because it made a coaching change. Still, Freeman said he wished he would have been allowed to work with the new coaching staff sooner. As a result of the new labor agreement signed last summer, offseason programs were pushed back to April. They used to start in March.

Freeman said he’s spent part of the offseason working out with his receivers at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., where former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke is the director of football operations. Prior to Monday, Freeman wasn’t allowed to specifically talk about football with new coach Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

Freeman said he and Sullivan, who previously was quarterbacks coach for the New York Giants, have just started getting into the play book. Freeman was asked to give a summary of what to expect from the new offensive scheme.

“A variation, obviously, with coach Sullivan’s twist, of the Giants’ offense," Freeman said.

That’s not a bad thing. The Giants did win the Super Bowl last season.