COMMENTARY | News that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers benched Josh Freeman after the team's 0-3 start is likely a good thing. With the Miami Dolphins shaping up to be Florida's hope for a title run this season, perhaps Josh Freeman could take some advice from Ryan Tannehill?
Miami Dolphins quarterback's journey was supposed to be Freeman's too
Buccaneers fans got a dose of reality when word spread that their struggling quarterback was being showed the bench. According to a September 25 ESPN report, coach Greg Schiano is sitting Freeman to assess the play of rookie quarterback, Mike Glennon.
Franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by. Not since the heydays of Dan Marino (1983-1999) has there been anyone close to signing, sealing and delivering an NFL championship year after year in Florida. While the franchise didn't get there under the Hall of Famer, fans never gave up hope.
Under Jon Gruden, the Buccaneers captured their first and only Super Bowl title in franchise history. And since that epic win over the Oakland Raiders in 2002, it's been a dismal ride and fans appear to be at a breaking point.
And while the Dolphins haven't won a title since grabbing two back to back Super Bowls (1972, 1973), they've gone to the big dance five times, compared to Tampa Bay's single appearance.
It's still early and a 3-0 start for Miami looks darn good, but Tannehill is not likely being measured for a statue outside of Sun Life Stadium.
Based on the way he is playing, Dolphins fans are willing to give the sophomore starting quarterback a chance.
Not much can be said for Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman; a growing contingency of fans have been calling for his ouster. However, the Bucs quarterback's story was not supposed to morph into a poorly-written "Fifty Shades of Grey" novel, by any stretch of the imagination.
Like Miami, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' front office is in search of their "guy," the one who can walk the walk and talk the talk.
Freeman, with his high-flying aerial abilities displayed at Kansas State, was supposed to fit that bill and give the anemic Bay Area team a winning season.
He won his first game as a rookie in the NFL. But over five seasons, he's been mercurial at best.
According to NFL stats, the 25-year-old misses his mark most of the time and struggles to average above 60 percent in passing. In his rookie year, he found his mark 54.5 percent of the time and peaked at 62.8 percent in 2011. Currently, he's at an abysmal 45.7.
On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins' Tannehill has completed 66.4 percent of his passes so far this season and enjoys a 94.3 player rating versus Freeman's 49.3.
All of a sudden, the attention in Florida has turned to the undefeated team in the Sunshine State, as the Bay Area Bucs' season appears to be heading for an early exit.
Older dogs CAN be taught new tricks
An argument over an NFL team or player's worth begins, but does not end with raw numbers. It's no question the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' stats trail those of the Miami Dolphins, especially on offense. However, that alone is not enough to win ballgames on Sundays week after week.
Here is where heart and grit separates a passionate and capable player from one who is merely going through the motion and depending on past performance to produce similar results.
And despite getting his asset handed to him throughout the grueling contest, he got back up, dusted himself off and found a way to win. Josh, are you listening?
Routinely tossing errant balls up the field, missing a group picture and appearing full of excuses on the field, should send a signal to the benched Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback when the offense collapses: take lessons from guys who are getting it done.
Humbling oneself is a tough thing to do, especially in the game of football, when one has gotten beyond rookie status and is conditioned to take names and ask questions later.
History will tell if Freeman takes a lesson in humility or seeks the high road in a trade. However, he has a lot of football left in him and time to erase these cookie dough missteps in his career.
The Bucs and Dolphins share a lot in common. Other than trying to bring another Super Bowl title to the Sunshine State, they both are looking for the guy with the golden arm…and heart to close the deal. Tannehill is off to a great start, but will Freeman reload or tap out?
Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid fan of the NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.
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- Josh Freeman
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- Ryan Tannehill