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Bucs haven’t lost faith in Freeman

Posted Feb 13, 2012 by Ira Kaufman

Updated Feb 13, 2012 at 11:24 AM

BY IRA KAUFMAN

TAMPA—When you finish a season with a 10-game losing streak, there are repercussions.

Coaches get fired and rosters are churned over, but in the case of the 2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, don’t expect a substantive change under center.

Tampa Bay’s 4-12 record and Josh Freeman’s struggles last fall have prompted some speculation the Bucs now harbor major concerns at the quarterback position. Some fans are wondering whether the Bucs should consider drafting Robert Griffin III, if he’s available with the fifth pick.

That’s crazy talk.

Freeman didn’t have a good season and he has no ties to new head coach Greg Schiano, but the key people in the organization remain committed to the fourth-year pro. GM Mark Dominik remains in place and the Glazers still believe Freeman is a franchise quarterback who will soon lead the Bucs to playoff victories on a regular basis.

Eli Manning just won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, only one year removed from throwing 25 interceptions. San Diego’s Philip Rivers was just picked off 20 times, five more than his previous career high, as the Chargers underachieved.

It happens.

Freeman was guilty of making a lot of poor reads in 2011 and he paid a heavy price for locking in on tight end Kellen Winslow. You can bet new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is eager to work with Freeman on his footwork and his decision-making as the Bucs seek to avoid a third last-place finish in the NFC South in the past four seasons.

Freeman is likely to have a new backup in 2012, but his starting job remains secure in the forseeable future. Tampa Bay has a lot of time and money invested in Freeman and he figures to be the face of the franchise through the rest of the decade.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of room for improvement, but the feeling inside the organization is Freeman will thrive with more dynamic weapons around him. For this new coaching staff, getting No. 5 back on track is the No. 1 priority.

 

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