It’s over between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Josh Freeman, even if the quarterback is still on the team, only sitting on the bench. There’s no turning back once you lose your starting place, in what has been quite a roller coaster ride during his reign over the starting position, which ultimately can be labeled as a failure.
His debut as a starter for the Bucs might be quite telling about his career. Freeman led Tampa Bay to a shocking win over the Green Bay Packers (38-28), throwing three touchdowns passes with one interception, bringing his team back from an 11-point deficit. He also threw an interception and completed 14-of-31 passes, but a big win is a great way to start his career.
His best game came in the 2010 season, which is probably his best season as well. Freeman finished the year 10-6 as a starter, his only “winning” season in the NFL (the Bucs are 24-35 with him as their starting quarterback), posting a career best in yards per attempt (7.8), Touchdowns per pass (5.3%) and interceptions per pass (1.3%).
Late in the season came a rare five-touchdown game for Freeman as the Bucs beat the Seattle Seahawks (a terrible team then) 38-15. He completed 21-of-26 passes for 237 yards, in what is undoubtedly his best game statistically of his career.
Last season was itself one long roller coaster, but Freeman did set franchise records for passing yards (4065) and passing touchdowns (27), which probably means that the Bucs don’t exactly have a rich history of successful quarterbacks.
But 2012 was also about a terrible collapse late in the season, as the Bucs lost five games in a row through November and December to finish 7-9 and miss the playoff spot. Freeman had two consecutive 4-interception games as Tampa Bay lost 41-0 to the Saints and 13-28 to the St. Louis Rams.
Interceptions have always been a huge problem from Freeman, who has many people believe (Brian Billick for example) he is franchise-quarterback material, while others, like Fran Tarkenton, think he shouldn’t be starting in the NFL.
Freeman has thrown 66 interceptions in four and a bit NFL seasons, sixth among all NFL quarterbacks since 2009. He finished with 22 in the 2011 season which was a perfect example of how Freeman can fluctuate in his performance, and is currently on a streak of six consecutive games with at least one interception to end, probably, his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who believed he was going to be their franchise quarterback.
However, letting Greg Olson leave obviously hurt Freeman’s game, but his deteriorating relationship with Greg Schiano was probably the main reason for Freeman playing so badly, getting benched and now asking to be traded.