TAMPA - With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just two weeks from beginning training camp, it is safe to say that Josh Freeman is entrenched as their starting quarterback. But how much longer does he have with a rookie now breathing down his neck, literally and figuratively?
Freeman ascended to the mantle of a quarterback on the brink of greatness in 2010 when he threw for 25 touchdowns and was picked off just 6 times. But then, without a true #1 receiver in 2011, he crashed to 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. So, which is the real Josh Freeman?
"I'm living in the present; focused on the now, being the best Josh Freeman I can be for this franchise; from a day-to-day standpoint, meeting with the coaches, watching extra film, working out, and being there for my teammates."
Last year, with the addition of Vincent Jackson as a game-breaking wide receiver, Freeman was back to 27 touchdowns, but he still threw 17 interceptions and fumbled 8 times as well.
Whispers of decision-making failures still haunted him. "He is way more comfortable with this offense, with the language…everything that is required of him; all the things around him. You can see that right away in his confidence and the way he sees the field. Now, he just gets to let his physical tools take shape," says Jackson.
So he is at a crossroads, especially now that the Bucs drafted QB Mike Glennon out of N.C. State. In 2 years as a starter in college, Glennon threw for 62 touchdowns and over 7,000 yards.
"Kid looks good. He is sharp, cerebral. This system takes time to get used to, but he is taking it all in. We are throwing a lot at him, but he is handling it well. Obviously he is a big, tall guy. Strong arm," says Jackson.
Only actual games will answer any questions, but one question that has been answered: the Bucs have the tallest QB trio in the NFL with Freeman at 6'6'', Glennon at 6'7'' and Dan Orlovski a mere 6'5''.