Bucs Central

Josh Freeman: After His First 16 Starts

Freeman inching ever closer to elite status

They say you can’t truly judge a quarterback until after he’s started 16 games. Well, in the case of Josh Freeman, the proof is in the pudding. Through his first 16 starts that encompassed his rookie season and parts of his sophomore season. The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder has been on a meteoric rise.

His first 16 games in the NFL were a baptism by fire, filled with trials and tribulations. He completed 293 0f 514 attempts; with a completion percentage of 57%, for 3,388-yards, 18 touchdowns to 21 interceptions had a QB Rating of 71.7, averaged 211.75 yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt.

Over his final 9 games of the 2010 season he completed 156 0f 252 attempts; with a completion percentage of 62%, for 1,918-yards, 17 touchdowns to 3 interceptions had a QB Rating of 102.9, averaged 213.11 yards per game and 7.6 yards per attempt.

His 5.6-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio is remarkable when you consider he was calling the protection scheme – played with 8 different offensive line combinations, two rookie receivers and a rookie running back.

The maturation that has taken place has been incredible to say the least. At one time fans bemoaned the pick of Freeman by the current regime, some even went so far as to nick name him “Bust in Waiting” now those same fans are eating a hefty serving of crow pie.

Looking at what he’s been able to accomplish over such a short span, has many anointing him as the next young QB to cross over the above average threshold to join the company of the elite’s in the NFL. Of course it all begins with consistency.

Interestingly enough is that in ESPN.com’s recent rankings of NFL quarterbacks long time scribe, John Clayton opinions that Freeman is on the cusp, as  Clayton ranked Freeman as the 13-best quarterback.

13. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Analysis: With his ability to move his offense for fourth-quarter drives, Freeman has moved ahead of the good class of quarterbacks in 2008. He could easily be elite by his third season.
Chance of being elite: 85 percent

It’s hard to argue with where Freeman was ranked, but to give him a 10% less chance then Jay Culter and 14% less of a chance then Sam Bradford in his bid to join the who’s who list of quarterbacks with such players as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Rivers is ingracious at best.

Did anyone see the horrid play of Culter last year? What about his apparent non-injury where he took himself out of the playoffs? And as for Bradford, he has less starts then Freeman with which one can judge him.

Granted Bradford had a solid year by all accounts turning around a wretched Rams franchise, but lets be real. If anything Freeman and Bradford should have about an equal chance of becoming elite with Freeman having the slight edge due to his supporting cast and larger body of work.

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