Biggs: Bucs considering when time is right for Freeman

What comes next for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a winless season?

Maybe rookie quarterback Josh Freeman.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said the thought crossed his mind as the Bucs were being pummeled last Sunday in Philadelphia. Then he considered the myriad of blitzes the Eagles used and thought against the idea.

But it’s a sign that Freeman is making progress as the backup quarterback in Tampa, enough that the staff is starting to consider when the time will be right to call on their future quarterback. The plan was for Freeman to spend the entire season learning. Originally, it looked as if the Bucs would keep Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown, and Freeman would study behind the veterans with Josh Johnson probably getting the boot.

Well, McCown was traded, Leftwich fizzled out more quickly than anyone would have imagined and Johnson, who stuck around, was given the gig. But the alignment of quarterbacks didn’t give Freeman much of a chance to play during training camp and preseason, and he didn’t start getting more work in practice until Leftwich was demoted all the way to No. 3, allowing Freeman work as the No. 2 in practice.

“With the amount of blitzes that Philadelphia threw at Josh Johnson last week, it would have been asking a lot to ask Josh Freeman to get in there and handle all the protection calls that Josh Johnson did,” Olson said. “Now, in looking back at the film of that game on Monday, (Freeman) made all the right calls. So, if he had to play, yeah, he could play. But it's a matter of getting comfortable with everything.”

Doug Williams, a pro personnel scout for the Bucs, believes that Freeman is ready for action. That doesn’t mean he wants to see him play right away.

“(Mark Sanchez) started strong, but then the last two weeks he's gone through a few struggles,”Williams said. “So you have to look at it realistically. It may all look good at first, but then you take away Rex Ryan's defense and say, `Hey Sanchez, win it for me.’ That's tough.
“And so you have to ask yourself: Do you want to put that on the kid just yet?”

Williams makes a valid point. But the Bucs are wise enough to understand this season is going nowhere for them. It's a season of rebuilding. Turning to Freeman before he is ready could do him harm, no question. But the second he’s ready to play, he needs to be on the field. Otherwise, the Bucs will be squandering opportunities for growth.

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