By Tom Krasniqi (Twitter: @TKras)
Josh Freeman is the key to the 2013 Buccaneers. There’s no way around it. If this team is to realize its potential, Freeman needs to step forward. And for Freeman to accomplish that, he needs to realize his enormous potential.
According to Freeman, the first week of camp is going smoothly. “It was a good week,” Freeman said after Day 6 of Bucs training camp on Wednesday. “It was a week with some pretty heavy installs….It challenged us. It’s challenging everybody”. The tempo of practice has also been to Freeman’s liking.
Over the course of his career, Freeman has had three different offensive coordinators so continuity has been an issue. But Freeman is optimistic that with a year of offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s complex system under his belt, things should move more smoothly in year two. Overcoming the “language barrier” as Freeman put it has been instrumental in his development. Less thinking, more reacting.
The Bucs have placed a heavy emphasis on two-minute situations. On Wednesday, Freeman and the first team excelled. Down 21-17, the offense drove the ball downfield with Freeman hooking up with wideout Mike Williams twice on the drive. Freeman culminated the drive with a touchdown pass to WR Kevin Ogletree. “Most of the games last season came down to 7 points or less, two-minute drives,” Freeman said. “It’s something we want to work on every day.”
Freeman has struggled at times with accuracy during training camp. He attributes those struggles to the improved defense he faces each day. “It has made it a little more difficult at times,” Freeman said of the defense. “We just have to continue to run our stuff and persevere”.
Entering his 5th season in the NFL, Freeman has reached a crossroads in his career and he knows it. Freeman is also entering a contract year and a big season out of him could mean a $100-million contract. If he hits it big, the Bucs will likely slap the franchise tag on him and lock him up. If he doesn’t perform, the team will move on with Mike Glennon waiting in the wings. The table is set for Freeman to have a career year—Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph are back on the offensive line, tremendous talent at the skill positions, and a much-needed second year in the same system. Now is the time for Freeman to deliver.
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