The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the move this morning to bench veteran QB Josh Freeman. While many Buccaneers fans bristle at this move, it was the correct move for the Buccaneers at this point in the season. Freeman has 60 career starts and 19 of those have come under the current coaching staff. In his last six games, Freeman has thrown just four touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
The current coaching staff has nothing invested in Freeman, he was drafted by Raheem Morris, the previous head coach of the Buccaneers.Freeman was billed as the franchise quarterback the Buccaneers have always been searching for coming out of the draft. Despite showing glimpses of promise, Freeman was never able to get his game to the next level on a consistent basis.
He had a solid second season in 2010, throwing 25 scores to just six interceptions. Last season, Freeman set team passing records for the Buccaneers for single season yardage and touchdowns. However, Freeman has thrown just four touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his last six games.
His control of the huddle has been questioned. He was not voted as one of the Buccaneers team captains this season. He missed the team photo and reports over the summer suggested he even missed his own football quarterback camp. His body language on the field show him to be disconnected at times.
According to beat writer Rick Stroud this morning, the team captains were told this morning and none of them disagreed with the move despite support for Freeman earlier this week.
I opined Monday when the Buccaneers would make the move at quarterback. Look at what some rookie and second year quarterbacks are doing around the league, Freeman has 60 starts.
Freeman’s performance speaks for itself. His completion percentage ( 45.7%) is the lowest in the NFL. Actually he’s tied with Blaine Gabbert. Let that sink in for a minute. Blaine. Gabbert. He has two touchdown passes so far this season and three interceptions. He is averaging 190 yards passing a game. He’s the 29th ranked passer in the league. His passer rating is the lowest in the NFL among active starters.
In a league that is centered on the passing game, Freeman is simply not getting it done. Freeman has 571 total yards on the season while Aaron Rodgers threw for 480 in a single game last week.
In the last nine games the Buccaneers have averaged 14 points on offense. They are averaging 9 points per game this season.
Two teams are starting rookie quarterbacks this season, and the Buccaneers will face both of them. The New York Jets are starting Geno Smith while the Buffalo Bills are rolling with E. J. Manuel. These are rookies who have started three NFL games, Freeman is in his fifth season.
Ryan Tannehill, the Miami Dolphins quarterback started his college career as a wide receiver. He has 19 games under his belt and is completing 66.4% of his passes, averaging 276 yards per game and has led the Dolphins to a 3-0 start.
Smith is averaging 267 yards per game with a much worse receiving corps while Manuel is averaging 230 yards per contest. Both have more touchdown passes, and more importantly, both quarterbacks have more wins.
This move makes perfect sense for the Buccaneers at this point in the season. The Buccaneers can watch Mike Glennon all they want in practice, but they will never know what he’s capable of doing at full game speed until they interject him into the action. Playoffs are virtually all but a distant dream at this point in the season.
Head coach Greg Schiano is under the gun after starting 0-3. For those of you Buccaneers fans that I see all over social media calling for him to be fired, this coach is likely not going anywhere after this year. He is playing under a 5-year, $15 million dollar contract. Buccaneers fans were loving Schiano after they started 6-4 last year, but nine games later they are calling for his head, especially after this move today. He didn’t bench Peyton Manning.
Much has been made about Schiano’s approach to coaching. The Buccaneers struggled under the “player’s coach” Raheem Morris. Morris was seen out and about in the Bay area with his players at events. There was no discipline and the line between players and coach became blurred as many players looked at the young Morris as being a friend, someone to hang with, not as the boss.
Schiano came in and cleaned house of players that didn’t want the discipline that is required by an NFL franchise. Players have griped about Tom Coughlin’s methods over the years. Well, he has produced a couple Super Bowl titles. Patriots coach Bill Belichick let’s his team know that no player is above the team, he’s won a little hardware as well.
The Buccaneers are likely not going to fire Schiano after the second year knowing that they will have to pay him another $9 million. If Tampa goes 2-14, all bets are off.
Freeman was not coming back in 2014. That was evident with the selection of Glennon. As Stroud reports this morning, the decision was made after Schiano met with general manager Mark Dominik and team ownership. Ownership and the front office realize the risk of rolling with a rookie and are seemingly willing to accept that risk.
There is a strong draft class of quarterbacks coming out in 2014. It’s time to see what Glennon is capable of doing on the field for the remainder of the season. If he’s not the answer, then the Buccaneers can go another direction. Too many rookies are stepping in a winning right away around the league. After 60 starts, Freeman was not getting it done.
If Glennon rips off two or three straight wins, the fans will forget all about Josh Freeman.