The following Bold Prediction is courtesy of Paul Johnson, FFSpin.com and FantasyFootballCrystalBall.com Contributor.
The new sheriff, Greg Schiano and new Offensive Coordinator, Mike Sullivan, like what they see in Josh Freeman. He stands taller than most offensive line-men at 6′-6” and tipping the scales at 246 pounds – he remains a threat in the red zone (scored 4 rushing TDs last season) – although Cam Newton he is not.
OC Sullivan spent the last two years coaching Eli Manning, who threw for 4,002 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2010, followed by 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011. Averaged out is a 25% increase in production before Sullivan reported for duty in New York. Freeman is apparently showing himself to be more of a student of the game this offseason with the new coaching staff in place.
To help Freeman, the Bucs brain trust tossed the West-coast Offense and Kellen Winslow (now in Seattle), bringing in a true #1 wide-out in Vincent Jackson, veteran TE Dallas Clark. Tampa also now owns the most expensive O-line in the game after they locked up OG Carl Nicks (Saints) to help protect the blind side with LT Donald Penn. R Mike Williams is also showing tremendous improvement in his work ethic and has impressed the new staff. Instead of fighting with teammates, LeGarrette Blount is fighting for the starting RB job, which is only helping Freeman. Rookie Doug Martin is a solid receiver out of the backfield which will provide the Tampa offense a weapon it sorely missed since Warrick Dunn retired.
Freeman’s ADP has him coming off draft boards between rounds 11-13 in a tier with Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton, and Carson Palmer. The Buc QB is just one season removed from 25 TD: 6 INT campaign in 2010 and despite a more conservative offensive game plan expected under run first head coach Greg Schiano - the stars are aligned for a bounce back season from Freeman as he enters his 4th season in the big leagues. Behind an improved O-line, better receiver in the backfield and bolstered WR corps – Freeman could challenge Phil Rivers, Big Ben and Jay Cutler as fringe QB1s in 2012.