Fairweather fans going to new extremes
One month ago, he was the next Joe Montana. Today Josh Freeman is the next Bruce Gradkowski, and while Tampa Bay fans have long been known for being in the 'fair-weather' variety, Now were taking things to epic proportions.
In the NFL, two people get the most blame for losses and credit for wins: head Coaches, and starting quarterbacks. The problem is they are never more than 20% responsible for either, yet neither come with the perk of job security, especially on Florida's Gulf Coast.
Somehow its forgotten that only Donald Penn remains as the sole starter on the Bucs offensive line from the five starters on top of the depth chart that were supposed to be entrenched there. Two Pro Bowl guards (a pretty vital cog in any running game) have been out for some time now, and the Bucs coaches have had to go with back ups and rookies at just about every position on the right side of the line.
No one sees a hurt right guard. Jamon Meredith who would not be starting in preseason game 1 much less December. Ask yourself how good you would have thought the Bucs chances were of finishing .500 if Ted Larson, Demar Dotson, and Meredith were the starters for the second half of the season? Yet blame is thrust upon Josh Freeman, who is only having a career year so far...something no one failed to point out 4 weeks ago.
His performance again the Saints is not acceptable, that much we can all agree upon. But isn't it worth taking a closer look under the microscope and trying to determine the real why and how rather than conjuring up Tampa Bay anxiety that he could be the next Trent Dilfer?
Are we so far separated from the days of the Fresno State Pick Six machine that we dont recognize 25 TDs and 12 INTs as a very impressive statistic? Let's keep things in perspective, those twelve picks are including four from this past Sunday alone!
Josh Freeman is close to completing a great come back year that mirrors his 2010 season, giving him two very solid years sandwiched around a poor one on an underperforming team that quit shop in October.
There is another underlying cause of Freeman's poor performance over the last four weeks....the disappearance of Doug Martin. His stats are also tailing off, yet its no problem to offer up excuses for him: He is hitting the rookie wall, The offensive line is banged up. Is it really? I hadn't heard.
How is Tony Romo throwing the ball these days with the 30th ranked rushing offense? Philip Rivers with the 27th? Are the Pittsburgh Steelers the same team anymore? Could it be Big Ben's fault, or the fact that the Steelers now have the 26th rushing attack in the league?
Tampa Bay fans need to open their eyes a little and see what gifts they have, and you only need look back a few weeks. Remember, this is the same season that produced Martin's 200 plus rushing effort. A 1,000 yard rushing campaign AND a 1,000 yard receiving performance by Vincent Jackson.
And while most of those feats were accomplished with the exact same patchwork offensive line, they were done in October, and November. Defensive Coordinators on other teams get paid to game plan too. They see the weaknesses that a bunch of back up offensive linemen offer, and they are exploiting them.
It's far too easy to come up with sweeping changes, and far too few Bucs fans have been around long enough to remember what happens to Tampa Bay Quarterbacks whose careers are cut short in the Bay; Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl...with the Ravens. Chris Chandler took the Falcons to one too. Vinny Testeverde has his best days Post Tampa Bay. Steve Young is in the Hall of Fame, and no one will see a video clip of him in orange. Then there is Doug Williams, Super Bowl MVP...with the Washington Redskins.
Wasn't Williams another Bucs QB who had a bad game here and there and the Tampa Bay 'faithful' couldn't let him forget it?