Figuring out whether or not Josh Freeman should be trust into the starting role as he grows as an NFL quarterback, one might want to revisit history to get a clearer picture. I guess I should preface this by stating I am not 100% sure on if Freeman will be a clipboard holding sideline watching cheer leading player in 2009 or the guy under center.
But after perusing back through history in this case the stats to gauge what players did when starting zero games there rookie season, 1-8 games as a rookie, or 9-16 games. We first need to figure out what we are going to use to determine whether or not a player is good. For the sake of simplicity lets just go with a player who has had some level of sustained success.
QB’s who were drafted in the first round between ’98 and ’05 and who have at least 100 career pass attempts is what we will use for gathering information. Note that since players over the last three years can’t be judge objectively we stopped at 2005:
Started 0 Games in Their Rookie Season:
Daunte Culpepper, Chad Pennington (sat 2 years), Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers (sat 2 years), J.P. Losman, Aaron Rodgers (sat 3 years), Jason Campbell. Has five of seven QB’s at or above the level of very good (Culpepper is being counted because he was very good prior to blowing out his knee). Which equals about 71% success rate, by a quarterback sitting and learning his first season. Of course depending on how Campbell does this season the number could improve to 86%, which lends credence to QB’s who sit for a minimum of a year fair much better. Players who sat there rookie season have a combined career quarterback rating of 87%.
Started Between 1 and 8 Games in Their Rookie Season:
Donovan McNabb (6), Akili Smith (4), Cade McNown (6), Michael Vick (2), Patrick Ramsey (5), Rex Grossman (3), Eli Manning (7), Alex Smith (7). Has two currently, but depending on how one grades Michael Vick as he did manage to get the Falcons to the playoffs a few times before being stupid the number could be three, but for this study we will just go with two. Which works out to be a success rate of 25%, which is alarmingly low considering many felt these players were franchise caliber type players when drafted. This group of quarterbacks have an average career quarterback rating of 71%.
Started Between 9 and 16 Games in Their Rookie Season:
Peyton Manning (16), Ryan Leaf (9), Tim Couch (14), David Carr (16), Joey Harrington (12), Byron Leftwich (13), Kyle Boller (9), Ben Roethlisberger (13). Group three has a suceess rate of 25% with only Manning and Roethlisberger being able to play ata high level and a career quarterback rating of 76%.
If Mark Dominik & Raheem Morris have hopes of a long tenured stay in Tampa Bay they may want to consider the above numbers, as the data suggest the best approach to take with the young strong armed charismatic Freeman would be to allow him to acclimate to the NFL on the sidelines where he can adjust to the speed of the game along with digesting his new playbook and getting a crash course in the finer points of reading complex defenses.
While using data alone is never as cut and dry as it would seem, there are many contributing factors that leads certain players to fair better then others, but after looking at the numbers, let’s hope that with what has come out about Freeman getting to watch McCown and Leftwich battle it out for the top stop is true as it would greatly increase the chances for the Bucs in finding and developing what they think is a franchise quarterback in Freeman.