Entering a contract year, many believed that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman was prepared to rebound after two down seasons. The Buccaneers have all the necessary talent surrounding Freeman in order for him to succeed.
From running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Vincent Jackson to two of the better interior linemen in the National Football League in the form of Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks, this talent seemed ready to help take Freeman to the next level.
Following Tampa Bay’s 18-17 loss to the lowly New York Jets on Sunday, questions continue to be raised about Freeman’s ability to lead the franchise moving forward. The now veteran signal caller completed less than half of his passes with an interception and opened the season with a safety. His lackluster performance might have been forgotten after the Buccaneers drove down for a would-be game-winning nine-play, 61-yard drive, culminating in a field goal with just 34 seconds remaining.
A dumb late-hit penalty on linebacker Lavonte David on the ensuing drive enabled New York to get in field goal range and pull off the one-point victory.
Even if Tampa Bay had come out on top, it really wouldn’t have mattered in the grand scheme of things. Freeman’s pedestrian performance comes on the heels of a two-year stretch that saw him tie Mark Sanchez for the most interceptions in the league. His inability to read basic defensive sets and coverage schemes came to a head over this two-year span and he didn’t improve in that aspect of the game Sunday against New York.
While one game isn’t the end all be all in the NFL, we have to believe that the brass in Tampa Bay is losing faith in its former first-round pick. If this franchise is looking to contend in the ultra-competitive NFC South, it simply cannot go into The Meadowlands and lose to one of the least-talented teams in the entire league.
Even though Freeman might not have been the main culprit in this loss, he most definitely isn’t the answer. Barring some sort of major rebound performance during the final 15 games, which is highly unlikely at this point, Tampa Bay may be forced to look in another direction following the 2013 season. At the very least, Freeman has those 15 games to prove he can be the long-term solution.
Do you have faith in him?
Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of eDraft Sports Radio (which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director here at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle every Friday. He’s also a former league-wide featured columnist at Bleacher Report.