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Fennelly: Bucs' hopes still ride with Freeman

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Published:   |   Updated: June 9, 2013 at 08:31 AM
TAMPA -

If Mike Glennon started at quarterback for the Bucs next season and threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns, there would be dancing.

If the Bucs had brought Tim Tebow in and Tebow threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns, fans would build a shrine.

Well, Josh Freeman did throw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2012, franchise records.

What's that guy's problem anyway?

Bucs minicamp, a time-honored sweat box, is upon us. Let the Freeman bashing begin!

It's time to chill, Bucs fans. The same goes for Bucs coach Greg Schiano, he of the mixed messages about No.?5, saying one thing, only to say he means another.

It's time to chill because no matter what anyone says or even thinks, Freeman is going to be the guy this season, barring an injury.

By the way, here are some quarterbacks who didn't throw for at least 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns last season:

Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck.

Here are more:

Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford.

And more:

Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger.

I'm not saying I have a problem with the Bucs not simply handing Freeman a new contract.

I have issues with him, too.

I'm not saying he doesn't deserve some bashing.

He should be tough enough to take some poking from a stick, or eventually being pushed from Glennon, or why is he the starter?

But let's get real, if only for a moment.

Josh Freeman was not the reason the Bucs went 7-9 last season.

Was he erratic? Yes. Does his quiet presence fit Schiano's idea of Take No Prisoners quarterback? No. Is there anything wrong with a little pressure? Absolutely not.

But let's get real.

Freeman, with these pieces, with even a hint of defense, can be a playoff quarterback.

Freeman, after all has been said, is an old man of: 25.

Did the Bucs really lose that many 7-3 games last season? I don't recall many of those. OK, 16-10 at Dallas. But usually, the other guys had loads of drives and points. What I  recall is a defense that was ridiculously inept, especially when the other quarterback dropped back to throw.

The fact is that for a five-week stretch last season, Freeman was a stone-cold sensation, and so was his team, even with that cruddy defense.

He did, however, cram a whole lot of lousy into the final stretch, a bunch of interceptions, nine in the last three games, including consecutive four-pick Sundays, which made things look worse. His completion percentage was and looked bad, but the Bucs went deep, a lot, which can always skewer the percentages, but the guy missed too often, there's no way around that.

But if you look at the 2012 Bucs, what you had was an offense ranked ninth in the league and a defense near the bottom. How can the first have nothing to do with Freeman? How can the second have anything to do with Freeman?

Look, he drives me crazy. He does look dull and lifeless at times. I wish he did at least show a little more fire, which would make him more of a Schiano guy.

Remember, Schiano didn't draft Freeman. Freeman was there when he took over.

But someone not being your guy shouldn't be enough to not make him your quarterback.

If Freeman was winning football games, no one would talk about how loud or quiet he was.

Does he need to be all he can be in 2013?

He does.

Is a lot riding on it?

There is.

But let's chill and see which 5 shows up. Let's give the young man some time.

That reminds me: When is that first preseason game, anyway?

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