Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Josh Freeman not only looks the part, he
was made for the part.
If you went to a laboratory and asked a few scientists to genetically engineer
a quarterback for today's NFL, they might come back with the 6-foot-6, 248-
pound Freeman, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback who happens to have a
rifle dangling from his right arm and the kind of speed which can lap all but
the fastest linebackers in football.
And once upon a time Freeman, the 17th overall pick in the 2009 draft, was
living up to his promise as the kind of dual-threat quarterback taking
the league by storm these days.
Long before there was Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson or
even Cam Newton, Freeman was turning things around in Central Florida, lifting
the Bucs to an impressive 10-6 mark in his first full year as a starter back
Since then, though, the train began to slow and when the "my way or the
highway" Greg Schiano showed up, things have been threatening to derail.
Freeman has regressed badly since his inaugural twirl around the dance floor,
compiling an 11-21 mark as a starter and a touchdown-to-interception ratio
that has dipped from an impressive 4.17 down to a pedestrian 1.1.
Perhaps more importantly his value as a leader, something intrinsic to the
position he plays, is gone, dismissed by his own teammates when they picked
team captains for 2013 and decided Freeman -- despite holding the position for
the previous three seasons -- wasn't worthy of the designation,
"Everybody wants to make it out like it's a demotion," Freeman said on his
radio show. "I don't look at it like that. They don't look at it like that.
Essentially, the conversations, the day-to-day actions are the same."
The truth is it's rare to have a QB who has had any kind of success and say
he's not one of the captains of your club -- so much so that some players
accused the hardline Schiano of rigging the results to prevent Freeman from
holding onto the position.
"I know there's a story out there," an agitated Schiano told The Tampa Bay
Times when talking about the captaincy mess. "It's 100 percent false. If there
was such a thing as 102 percent, this would be it."
Schiano, not much of a leader himself these days, then threw his own signal
caller under the bus by confirming Freeman did not show up on time for the
annual team photo and admitted he's been late for other events.
"The position of quarterback is a position of leadership," Schiano countered.
"And obviously missing the team photo's a big deal. It's something I feel
badly about, and it's honestly upsetting."
The real problem here is Schiano's reputation or lack thereof with his own
It may or may not be fair but he's "Joe College" in a roomful of
professionals, the former Rutgers coach who told his players to dive at the
opposition in a victory formation.
Former Tampa Bay quarterback Shaun King addressed the issue on NBC Sports
Network's Pro Football Talk:
"It speaks to a deeper issue," King said. "There's a lot of disarray in Tampa.
One of the points being that some of the players felt like there was an unfair
counting of the captain vote, feeling like Josh Freeman should have remained a
captain. Greg Schiano is a micro-manager, and it's starting to wear thin
with some of their veteran players."
Freeman is one of those veterans, the former "franchise" who seems to be
artfully willing himself out of town with insolent behavior.
"When it comes to college coaches making the transition to the pros, it's very
difficult," King said. "When the college coach never won anything of
significance in college (it's more difficult). (When) Greg Schiano was hired,
he was 20 games under .500 in the Big East at Rutgers. Those are real numbers,
so I don't think those guys are currently buying into that."
To be fair, while Schiano did finish his career with the Scarlet Knights 20
games under .500 in conference play (28-48), he also turned around what was a
moribund program and made it a consistent Bowl presence. In Schiano's final
six years at Rutgers he finished 49-27 overall and was at .500 in conference
On the flip side let's be honest, at no point during Schiano's tenure at
Rutgers was the program even within earshot of the Alabamas of the world and a
guy like Al Golden, who turned around Temple, perhaps a more Herculean task
than Schiano's, wasn't exactly getting his door knocked down to become an NFL
"I talked to guys on the Buccaneers this summer (and I asked), 'What's up with
the quarterback kneel-down thing, where you have to dive at the legs?'" former
NFL player and current analyst Ross Tucker said on NBCSN. "They just shook
their head. When you ask NFL players to do things that they know is bogus,
that they know is bush league, that's not a good thing."
Schiano arrived in Tampa with a lightweight reputation and he's already used
up any political capital he might have had with his players, the fans and the
We are one week into the 2013 season and there's already been a players only
team meeting in Tampa, a 13-penalty performance against the lowly New York
Jets and a run-in with a starting QB in the last year of his rookie contract
who doesn't seem to care.
It can only get worse from here.
The Sports Network