Q: What must Josh Freeman do in the offseason to become the kind of quarterback the Buccaneers must have to be successful in 2010?
Tyler Frazier, co-publisher, Bucsblitz.com: Now that he has put his rookie season behind him, Josh Freeman can now dedicate the offseason to working on fixing mistakes he made in the past while preparing to make improvements in his second year. He has seen how much faster the game is than in college and has shown flashes of why the Buccaneers used a first round pick to select him in last year's draft. He also at times showed his youth and made the types of mistakes that quarterback just cannot make if they expect to be successful. He needs to live in the film room and study not only his opponents but himself as well. The most successful players have the ability to break down their own film and make adjustments so they can avoid making similar future mistakes. Freeman appeared to struggle the most with throwing interceptions in the red zone, so the first thing he needs to do is to figure out why. Is he forcing the throws? Did he misread the defense? Was another receiver open? These are the types of questions Freeman needs to find out the answer for if he wants his turnover ratio to be more in his favor. Also, he needs to work with and get on the same page with all of his receivers. On more than one occasion, Freeman stared down Antonio Bryant during the entire play and the defense quickly picked up on it. The problem is Freeman would still try to force the pass and the play would usually end with a turnover. This is all part of growing as a quarterback in the NFL and the only person who can fix these problems is Josh Freeman.
Matthew Postins, contributor, Bucsblitz.com: When you consider that Josh Freeman's completion percentage wasn't that far off from the other two rookie starters this year – the Jets' Mark Sanchez and the Lions' Matthew Stafford – you can see the Bucs are working with some good raw materials. But the above-average starters in the NFL complete more than 60 percent of their passes. Look at the playoff quarterbacks for a minute, setting aside Sanchez. The other 11 postseason quarterbacks completed more than 60 percent of their passes in the regular season. That's the line of demarcation for success in the NFL, and it's a line that Freeman must cross. QBs that complete passes six out of every 10 times help their team much more than they hurt them, even if it means a few more interceptions. So accuracy is No. 1 for Freeman this offseason. He has to learn to lead receivers to the right places to catch the football. That means putting the football on the outside shoulder of a wide receiver running a sideline route so the receiver is the only player that can make the catch. It means breaking down coverages, understanding progressions and seeking higher-percentage throws. Second, he needs to build rapport with TE Kellen Winslow, though he made strides in that during the regular season. The pair are here for the long term, and Winslow has the type of hands that could make the tight end Freeman's version of Jason Witten or Tony Gonzalez. So he needs to throw with Winslow as much as possible. Finally, as Tyler aptly put it, live in the film room. Quarterbacks in the NFL make their biggest strides during the offseason between their first and second seasons. If Freeman is to make the leap to above average status, he must grasp the nuances of the position, and one of the best ways to do so is in a dark room with a film projector.