Freeman is coming into his own
Every Sunday it seems there's another flash, another sign of what could be for the Bucs with Josh Freeman at quarterback. This Sunday was no different.
In front of a hostile crowd of 67,029 at the Georgia Dome, the rookie out of Kansas State needed just two plays to show just how dangerous he and the Bucs can be. Both plays were passes, and both were thrown to receiver Antonio Bryant, who made catches of 38 and 42 yards to get the Bucs back into a game that was on the verge of getting away from them.
"He's getting better every week," Bryant said of Freeman, who bounced back from a shaky effort a week ago against New Orleans to keep the Bucs alive in what proved to be a 20-17 loss to the Falcons.
"I don't know if bounce back is really the right phrase," Freeman said. "Last week I just had an off week. But this week I definitely played a lot closer to the level I want to play at."
Freeman played at almost an elite level against the Falcons, who were on the receiving end of a 20-for-29 passing effort in which Freeman threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns. He also was sacked once, and just as he has on several occasions already this year, he fumbled the ball while being sacked. This time, however, teammate Cadillac Williams was there to save him.
Freeman also ran two times for 14 yards, but it was his throwing performance (he finished the game with a 118.5 passer rating) that had the Bucs buzzing again. "You saw right there on those two plays what he can do," said Bryant, who had to make an adjustment against cornerback Tye Hill and come back on the ball to make his touchdown catch.
"That was an instance where the defender's got his back to me and the last thing I wanted to do was overthrow him because you feel like you've got a touchdown," Freeman said. "I just wanted to give him a chance to make a play and he made it. He got off his guy and threw his hand up and made the play. He ran a good route and made the play."
Freeman made several plays himself in the face of a blitz Sunday, and that's one area where he continues to shine. One area he struggled in, however, was on third down. He was good on just one of his first five third-down throws and finished the day making good on just five of 10 third-down throws overall with two conversions.
"(The Falcons' defense) did a great job of mixing up blitzes and making it so we had to get (the ball) out of there quickly," Freeman said. "I was trying to get it out quick, but that's something I have to work on."
Roy Cummings, The Tampa Tribune 30 November 2009