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Friday, 3 April 2015

Miami Dolphins: Quarterback Josh Freeman Returns to NFL

Just two years ago, Josh Freeman was the future at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A lot can change in two years.

A lot can change in just one year, too.

Freeman was out of the NFL in 2014, but he returned to the league on Thursday after signing a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Many fans probably find this signing insignificant and with Matt Moore as the Dolphins current backup quarterback, it's going to take two injuries for Freeman to see the field, but like so many other times in life, Freeman is someone who deserves this second chance.

He had one stellar season, leading the Buccaneers to a 10-6 record in 2010, however, most fans outside of Tampa Bay probably don't remember that because the Buccaneers did not make the playoffs, falling victim to the four-division playoff format the NFL set up in 2002.

Since 2002, eight teams with at least 10 wins have missed the playoffs. Interestingly in 2010, the New York Giants also missed the playoffs with 10 victories.

Freeman was named a Pro Bowl alternate that season as he threw for 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He only threw for 3,451 yards, but he had a healthy 7.3 yards per attempt average while also completing 61.4 percent of his passes.

The following two seasons, however, Freeman regressed, throwing 22 interceptions in 2011 and 17 picks in 2012. In 2011, he actually had six more interceptions than he did touchdowns.

It's hard to pinpoint what could have led to Freeman's demise the two seasons after he showed so much promise at 22 years old, but it didn't help that Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano never fully supported him. The team drafted quarterback Mike Glennon in the 2013 draft, and Schiano suggested he could compete for the starting job.

Schiano would occasionally back Freeman to the media as the franchise's quarterback, but the writing was on the wall.

The Buccaneers started 2013, 0-3, and Freeman was playing as bad as he had ever played in the NFL. In four games that year with Tampa Bay, he completed just 42.9 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and four interceptions while also supporting a career-low 5.2 yards per attempt.

Tampa Bay benched Freeman, tried to trade him and then cut him all by the first week of October.

Luckily for him, he did receive another chance that season with the Minnesota Vikings, but Freeman played probably his worse game as a pro in his one start with the team.

Freeman started against the Giants in Week 6 on Monday Night, went 20-for-53 for 190 yards and one interception. He suffered a concussion in the game and hasn't started since.

Fans will argue Freeman can only blame himself for his NFL downfall, but that wouldn't be the whole story. It was ridiculous Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave called 53 passing plays in that Monday Night game when Freeman only had two weeks to learn the playbook, and Adrian Peterson was the team's running back.

There is also a very good chance Freeman played much of the second half of that game with a concussion.

When your NFL career is on the line and you can play through an injury, you do that. Unfortunately, it might have also led to a very, very poor game.

Freeman, still just 27 years old, wasn't dealt a good hand in his last NFL season, maybe all he needs is another chance and a little luck in order to be good again.


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