Around the NFL
In defense of Josh Freeman
Posted Jul. 12 at 10:13 PM
Josh Freeman threw 18 interceptions in nine starts, a terrible number by any measurement -- and typical of rookie quarterbacks a year ago. Matthew Stafford threw 20 in 10 starts, while Mark Sanchez threw 20 in 15.
But Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times, while not sugarcoating Freeman's number of mistakes, thinks the ugly total isn't quite as bad as it looks. In this column, he says fans shouldn't worry too much about Freeman. At least, not yet.
Among Shelton's observations:
- None of Freeman's picks came when the Bucs had the lead. He concedes that the Bucs didn't have many leads last season, but concludes that Freeman's comparative carefulness when the Bucs weren't in catch-up mode suggests as the team gets better, so will Freeman.
- Five interceptions came in games when the Bucs had under 50 rushing yards. Two thirds of them came when Freeman was in the shotgun. In both instances, defenses were able to ignore opposing run games.
- All of Freeman's picks came on throws to wide receivers. "The more you look at the interceptions, the easier it is to understand why the Bucs tried so hard to upgrade their receivers in the offseason," says Shelton. Tampa Bay will likely have two new starters at wideout this season, with Antonio Bryant gone and Michael Clayton unlikely to be one of the team's top two at the position. Not that the receiving corps was responsible for all of Freeman's picks -- Shelton breaks down exactly which ones they can be faulted for -- but they didn't help.
All this is not to suggest Freeman is going to be a fantasy star. But there's been a lot of talk about how Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez will make a leap in their second seasons, and this article makes a pretty good case for expecting improvement from Freeman, too.
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