Commentary | Tampa Bay Bucs QB Josh Freeman doesn't do anything to change opinions

adell@bradenton.comAugust 25, 2013 

It was the third game of the preseason, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were awaiting the curtain call of the new Josh Freeman.

The quarterback had barely played during the NFL exhibition season and it was hard to gauge how much his skill level had improved.

He played into third quarter Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins.

We looked for hope and instead saw the same question marks.

What we learned we already knew.

The jury is still divided.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and no more is that true with the Bucs than in the case of Josh Freeman.

He sparks passion. No one is neutral about Freeman. You either love him or can't wait to get him the first ticket out of town.

Some just want to throw him under the bus and let him survive on his own.

Here is how it goes:

For some, Freeman is the excuse for most things bad on the Bucs. For others, he is the only hope for a bright future.

He didn't do anything against the Dolphins to get anyone to change sides. In that respect, he might have lost some ground.

Freeman can be very good and very bad. His career has been like this, and this game was no exception, though there was more to complain about than cheer about.

Freeman completed 6 of 16 passes for 59 yards. He lost a fumble and was sacked four times. Now he has been sacked eight times, though he only took 21 snaps in the previous two games.

All-Pro guard Carl Nicks didn't play and neither did Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin. There were three or four dropped passes, depending on how

you kept score.

Bucs head coach Greg Schiano couldn't have been feeling that comfortable on the way home.

The only person who felt he did the right thing had to be Bucs GM Mark Dominik, who made the decision not to give Freeman a new deal as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract.

Freeman likely won't play Thursday in the Bucs' final preseason game. It means the Bucs head into the regular season with the same question marks they had at the end of last season.

It means Freeman lost a little Saturday night, even though we get it.

It's preseason.

But still.

Everybody loves the backup quarterback when teams are not winning, so the Glennon love-fest will sprout a few more wings.

Freeman's critics and supporters will continue to battle. It means nothing has changed.

But those screaming for Glennon added more ammunition.

There was a stretch last year when the Bucs went 6-1 and Freeman threw 16 touchdowns and was picked off only three times. A miracle worker was being sprouted from the grounds of Raymond James Stadium, his supporters argued.

But then there was that run at the end of the season when the Bucs lost five of six. He threw nine interceptions and five TD passes that included back-to-back four-interception games, including one against New Orleans' woeful defense. In an early-season loss to Dallas, we saw glimpses of problems when he was 10 for 28 for 110 yards.

The inconsistency has sent the Tampa Bay faithful into a tizzy. It's like trying to love your wife while she constantly cheats on you. They want to adore Freeman and take him into their arms, but he keeps giving them reasons not to put their faith in him.

Noteworthy

On a good note, newly acquired defensive end Trevor Scott registered three sacks, which equaled what he got all of last season with New England. Rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence continued to show promise with seven tackles, including two for losses. Darrelle Revis didn't play, which means the Bucs prized cornerback acquisition probably won't take the field until the regular season opener at the New York Jets, which seemed to be the plan all along. Brian Leonard looked good again toting the ball picking up 38 yards on 10 carries.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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