Reporting Justin Pawlowski
With Josh Freeman’s benching this week, some of the immediate reaction was that the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season would be a wash and that ultimately this decision was because of the ego of Greg Schiano wanting his own quarterback to play over a quarterback he inherited.
All week, media and fans have jumped the gun in pointing the full brunt of the blame at Greg Schiano and deciding that Schiano’s days with the Buccaneers were limited and that it would be the coach who was about to “lose the locker room,” if he hadn’t already.
Prior to Thursday night football, the NFL Network had an at-length discussion about Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers.
“The reason they [the Buccaneers] made this move, and when you talk to people in the Bucs locker room, they’re pretty happy with it,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport said Thursday night. “It’s not the kind of thing where the players would revolt against Greg Schiano.”
Whether it was Freeman’s lack of play, lack of leadership, lack of drive, or whatever, a move was destined to take place for a team struggling as much as the Buccaneers were.
“There’s not going to be a revolt in the locker room for a guy performing at this level being benched,” NFL Network’s Mike Silver said.
One aspect of the Buccaneers that became an obvious obstacle that most other teams do not have was the fact that there seemed to be little to no leadership from the quarterback both on the field and on the sideline during games.
Rewind back to the Bucs first game of this season against the Jets. As the Buccaneers line up for the go-ahead field goal, the camera pans to Josh Freeman on the bench by himself as the ball goes through the uprights. The only person Freeman is shown giving a “high-five” to was a waterboy near by.
On to game 2 where my season tickets are 3 rows behind the Bucs offensive bench. During the offense’s struggles to the New Orleans Saints in week 2, I made it a point to watch Freeman while he was on the sideline as much as I could, to see what type of interaction he had with his teammates during a game. Unfortunately, he had no interaction with anyone except Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan when he was on the sideline. Greg Schiano even called a offensive huddle during the game on the sideline, and had to yell to Freeman three times to join them.
These are just a couple of examples of the Bucs lack of leadership at a leadership position.
“When you try to understand what was going on, a lot of them [in the locker room] had moved on from Josh Freeman and didn’t really see him as a leader,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport said. “I ‘ve been told by people within the Bucs organization that Mike Glennon is already more of a leader than Josh Freeman was.”
Mike Glennon will get his first NFL start this Sunday, but what’s next for Josh Freeman?
Will the Buccaneers be able to trade him?
“What’s next for Josh Freeman,” NFL Network’s Mike Silver explained. “His trade value is very low because he has that $8.4 million contract.”
While some say Freeman’s contract is a deterrent from teams willing to trade for him, Marshall Faulk had another view.
“In no locker room that I’ve been in has my quarterback ever shown up late for anything,” NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk said. “Those are the type of things, that as a franchise quarterback, anything tagged on you as ‘franchise’ you are there early enough to make sure those type of things don’t happen.”
“It’s not his [Freeman's] play or the money, I think it’s just who he is,” Marshall Faulk said of teams being cautious in trading for Freeman.
After Greg Cosell of NFL Films was on with “Fan Interference” on Thursday and said that Freeman would not be viewed by any NFL team as a legit starting quarterback, Mike Silver finished by saying Josh Freeman could be heading for disappointment.
“Josh Freeman still sees himself as a starting caliber quarterback in this league, but he may get a dose of harsh reality soon.” NFL Network’s Mike Silver said.
While the initial reaction to Josh Freeman’s benching was a negative one by fans and media, perhaps we should all be asking ourselves if the Bucs might be a closer team as a result of Freeman’s benching and the rise of Mike Glennon.
One thing is for certain, the Bucs players and organization are glad to have moved on from Freeman, will the fans and media be able to follow their lead?