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Greg Schiano: Josh Freeman Is Tampa Bay’s QB

The Buccaneers’ head coach clarified comments he made at the end of the regular season that seemed to insinuate Freeman would have to compete to remain Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback.

BY ZAC BOYER

INDIANAPOLIS – Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano insisted Josh Freeman will remain the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback after comments he made at the end of the season seemed to target Freeman as being replaceable.

“Josh Freeman is our quarterback,” Schiano said Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the NFL Combine. “With Josh Freeman, we’ll be able to accomplish our goals. That’s my belief, and our organization’s belief.”

Schiano said after the season ended that he wanted to see competition at every position through the offseason and into next year after the Buccaneers finished 7-9 and lost five of their final six games.

Freeman, Tampa Bay’s starter for the better part of the previous three seasons, finished 2012 with a 54.8 completion percentage, good for 29th amongst quarterbacks who started a majority of the season. He also threw for 4,065 yards, 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

It was easy to connect Schiano’s comments with that of Freeman’s performance, but Schiano apologized for making that link apparent and reiterated his faith in Freeman.

“The one thing that I believe in, whether it’s coaches or players – our whole life, we grew up around competitive athletics, and that competition is healthy, so I made the statement that I want competition at every position,” Schiano said. “My fault, but it kind of stood out at the quarterback position more than any other.”

Freeman also struggled with turnovers, which Schiano said will be a focus for the quarterback this offseason. He threw 17 interceptions, the fifth-most in the league, and fumbled the ball eight times, losing it twice.

“He had a very productive season as far as when you look at his stat line, but we have to continue to – the most important thing is taking care of the football and playing winning football, Buccaneers football,” Schiano said. “Those are the things that we talk about all the time. There are way too many specifics that go into that, but I think you kind of get the picture.”

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