Congratulations to Josh Freeman on winning his first NFL start. Enjoy it, because, for a while at least, it's all downhill from here. Oh, and note that he now has the best record of any Bucs quarterback to wear those creamsicle jerseys.
How do you break down a rookie's first NFL start? There are plenty of ways. Judging Josh Freeman by his numbers shows that he threw three touchdown passes against one interception and threw those touchdowns to three different receivers.
He passed the eyeball test, too. I was impressed with his command of the offense, as basic as it was. He showed poise, pocket presence and the ability to elude and feel pressure. Sure, he wasn't perfect, but no rookie QB ever is. Remember who holds the NFL record for most interceptions thrown as a rookie? Peyton Manning.
But for me, evaluating a rookie quarterback comes down to this test. Did Freeman help his team or hurt his team? So many rookie quarterbacks hurt their team with mistakes, such as Matthew Stafford's recent 5 INT day. Freeman definitely did more to help the Bucs than hurt them on Sunday.
Keep that in mind as the rest of the season unfolds. Don't judge Freeman by his numbers as much as the intangibles that Freeman brings to the table. Stats don't matter nearly as much right now as the Bucs determine if Freeman is their QB of the future.
I know I've been on the bandwagon to keep Freeman on the sidelines. For at least a week, I'll admit to being wrong. But I want to see where Freeman's development is at the end of this season before passing complete judgment on the Bucs' decision. I'm still not completely sold that throwing him to the wolves now for a team playing with a dearth of talent will help his progress.
I'll still stand by the statement I made last week in this exact space. Two things will happen to Freeman this season: He'll throw more interceptions that touchdowns and he'll miss at least one game due to injury. Bank on it.
Well, the Bucs did not start 0-11, as I thought they might. But remember that they still have a difficult schedule down the road. And, now that teams have a game tape on Josh Freeman, things are going to get much harder for Freeman and the Bucs. I still don't see Tampa Bay winning more than three games.
So how did the victory over Green Bay impact Tampa Bay's hopes of getting the No. 1 overall pick? Glad you asked. Right now there are five teams with one win – Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and St. Louis. At the moment, if the season ended today, Tampa Bay would have that No. 5 overall pick, according to our Scout.com analyst Chris Steuber. In the case of a tie, strength of schedule breaks the tie.
Right now, Steuber has the Bucs taking Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy, as he says the Bucs need a terror in the trenches and McCoy would be the answer, if Nebraska's Ndamukond Suh doesn't fall to them. The Bucs need many things, and could consider trading down if they want to address multiple needs. Remember – the likely No. 1 overall pick is Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. Yes, even with the bum shoulder, he should go No. 1, especially if a team like St. Louis has the pick. If it's Tampa Bay, and Freeman truly is their future, then deal it and get some extra picks to build with.
If you're the Bucs, you want to be No. 1 overall this year. It's a deep draft and Bradford is highly coveted. Deal that pick. I'll update this each week.
Bucs S Sabby Piscitelli's home was burglarized during Sunday's win over Green Bay. Burglars came in and stole his TV, among other items.
I feel for Sabby, but I'm stunned this doesn't happen more often to athletes. In what other profession is there as regimented a schedule as professional football? It's not hard at all to figure out when players won't be home or will be out of town. I mean, it's SCARILY easy.
Back in Texas, we have a saying when it comes to Friday night football – last one out, turn off the lights. In some of those small towns, there is literally NO ONE in town when the local team is on the road. If I'm a criminal, situations like that or Piscitelli's are a dream scenario. I'm just saying.
Let's give the defense a little recognition. Especially that defensive line, which helped produce six quarterback sacks and induce three Aaron Rodgers interceptions. All six sacks came up front and the Bucs didn't have to supplement the rush with blitzes nearly as often as they have in previous weeks. It appears as if defensive coordinator Jim Bates' new scheme is starting to take hold. Now only if the Bucs could get two weeks to prepare for every opponent.
She Who Must Be Obeyed asked me the other night about NFL expansion. She asked that if I had to choose four cities to expand to, where would I go. Well, L.A. will get a team, most likely Jacksonville. But after that, my four selections would be San Antonio (ready-made stadium and a football-loving population that only has one pro team to spend money on), Orlando (similar circumstances to San Antonio, but they'll need a new stadium), Las Vegas (the NFL needs to get over its gambling issues and realize that Vegas is a vast untapped resource in terms of the sports dollar) and Toronto (some suggest the Bills could move there one day). I passed over San Jose (too close to the proposed new stadium for the Niners), Austin (you could say the Longhorns are their pro team), Columbus, El Paso and Portland.
I noticed this about Carnell Williams the other day. His yards per carry (4.0) through eight games is nearly the same as his yards per carry from his rookie season (4.1).
Well I finally lost in my picks this week. The Bucs face the Dolphins and I don't think they'll make it two wins in a row. The Dolphins have a great ground game and will exploit a Bucs defense that still woeful against the ground game. Ronnie Brown has a great game and Josh Freeman gets a dose of reality. Miami 27, Tampa Bay 17.