The League

Nick Houllis
Buccaneers Blogger

Nick Houllis

Editor of and avid game collector

Freeman Franchise


He started out as a projected third rounder but something happened on the way through the offseason and the NFL Combine. Josh Freeman's stock rose to 1st round status, and you can't blame his former defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. Now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris picked up veteran Byron Leftwich to compete against Luke McCown, the 2008 second string QB on the Bucs' roster.

It was all a rouse.

Morris had his man and he knew it, and sitting there at #17, the Bucs selected their first franchise QB since Trent Dilfer in 1994. But should Freeman start?

The Bucs haven't had a true franchise QB since the very first one they took; Doug Williams in 1978. The Bucs head coach back then was John McKay, who felt you didn't learn anything by sitting on pine. Williams struggled his first few games, but gave the young Bucs a competitive edge with his cannon arm that could hit a target down field with but a flick of the wrist. There is no doubt his rookie year helped Williams prepare for the incredible 1979 season that propelled Tampa Bay to within 10 points of a touchdown.

Funny thing when you mix 'Tampa Bay Buccaneers' and 'success', they act like oil and water. The Bucs never tried the recipe again. 1987 first round draft pick and college phenom Vinny Testeverde sat while veteran Steve Deberg showed him the ropes. The result? A 1988 season in which he was baptized by fire. Vinny threw 35 interceptions that year, and allegations of color blindness would later surface as the losses piled up.

Trent Dilfer camped out with a headset while Craig Erickson showed the Bucs new ways to lose double digit games year in and year out. Dilfer would go to the Pro Bowl on the heels of a Tony Dungy inspired 1997 season, but before and after that, he was inconsistent and was benched in 1999 and eventually allowed to leave after a season ending injury.

The Bucs have Luke McCown, who showed everyone in 2007 he has the ability to win a big one when needed, and if he succeeds for 3 years, Josh Freeman would be a ripe old 25 and ready to take over for a building Bucs squad.

A year after Atlanta and Baltimore had incredible results starting their rookies, the idea is becoming en vogue. But those QBs had more experience against quality opponents, and Josh Freeman is not as polished.

Whichever course they take, the Bucs appear committed to Freeman as the QB of the future. When that future is, well that's the real question.

By Nick Houllis  |  July 1, 2009; 12:58 PM ET  | Category:  Draft , Tampa Bay Buccaneers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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