QB coach Steve Clarkson believes Josh Freeman ‘is as good as ever’

By Ross Jones, FOXSports.com

With the growing disconnect between Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman reportedly having intensified, one longtime QB coach believes that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be doing itself a disservice if they divorce their franchise quarterback.

“In terms of where he is athletically and skillset wise, I still think [Freeman] is as good as ever,” Steve Clarkson told FOXSports.com in a telephone interview. “Now the question is schematically, I’m not sure what they’re doing so much.

“I know there’s a lot of talk about if he’s on the hot seat and I would tell people that patience would probably be the word that you would want to use with Josh Freeman. This position isn’t easy and when you have a new coach that is something that you have to consider, but [Freeman’s] skillset doesn’t grow on trees.”

Clarkson worked extensively with Freeman while he was preparing for the NFL Draft in 2008 and has monitored his career. Clarkson boasts of Freeman’s big-time arm, intelligence and how athletic he is for a big guy.

Freeman, 25, is 6-foot-6, 248 pounds and Clarkson believes undoubtedly the fifth-year quarterback could be a mainstay in the league.

“He’s thrown for quite a few yards and the team has gone through a couple of coaches, so they’ve had some transitional things to get through,” he said. “That’s always going to be toughest on the quarterback. In terms of what I think he can do, I think he’s a Pro Bowl quarterback, there’s no question about that.”

Freeman, following a Week 2 loss against the Saints, denied reports that he would be requesting a trade before the Oct. 29 deadline.

“No, not at all,” Freeman said. “The first I heard of it was literally 10 seconds ago, or right before I walked in here. Without a doubt, I am a Buccaneer and am continuing to prepare and try and go out every week and give my team a chance to win the game.”

Some speculation has grown that the rift between Schiano and Freeman stems from the promise rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has shown. Glennon, who was selected in the third round in the 2013 NFL Draft out of North Carolina State, earned praise from Schiano during training camp.

“[Glennon] was drafted for a reason,” Clarkson said. “They’re trying to create a competitive atmosphere, I get that. But if you’re trying to tell me that Mike Glennon’s skillset is anywhere remotely close to Josh Freeman’s, I would say that you need to look closely.

“Mike’s a big kid, he’s a young kid but he still has a lot of growing to do. Obviously the potential is there for him to be a solid NFL starter at some point, but to think that’s going to be in the next couple of weeks I think may be mistaken.”

Glennon might have the big-time arm and show all the promise – just like Freeman once did – but the only way he’s going to get better is by playing. Freeman hasn’t played up to his ability in his first two starts this season, but has a chance to pick apart a beleaguered unit in New England Sunday.