Freeman must be leader

By Rick Stroud
Updated: February 6, 2010

MIAMI — Josh Freeman has the size, arm strength and poise in the pocket to become an elite NFL quarterback, Alex Van Pelt said Friday.

But the Bucs’ new quarterbacks coach said he believes Freeman’s voice doesn’t just need to be heard in the huddle going into his second season.

“I think the first thing you have to discuss is your philosophy,” said Van Pelt, hired Monday by Tampa Bay.

“We want him to complete 65 percent of his passes. He has to get the ball to his playmakers. But what I’m talking about is to let him know exactly what we’re looking for, what we need him to do.

“You can improve accuracy by incorporating drills that put pressure on him to make decisions quickly. But he needs to be the first guy in the building. It’s the leadership aspect we need from him.”

“He needs to be more vocal with teammates, in and out of the huddle.”

Van Pelt, 39, spent 15 seasons with the Bills as a quarterback or assistant. And he soaked up some lessons backing up Joe Montana in Kansas City and Jim Kelly in Buffalo.

“I took away some things, especially from the great ones I played behind like Montana and Kelly,” Van Pelt said. “It’s how important it is for the quarterback to lead the team. You’re the face of the franchise.”

“And you have to lead not just with work ethic.”