Josh Freeman is inaccurate, which is why he’s no longer a starting quarterback in the NFL, and it’s why he’ll likely be traded prior to the deadline to do that in a few weeks. That much was clear yesterday in the initial reaction to his benching. But since then during some further number perusal it’s evident that he’s inaccurate in a special kind of way, the sort of way that’s just the worst.
The average depth of Freeman’s throws was 11.1 yards, which is the second highest rate in the NFL this side of Michael Vick. The inclination then is to wonder why he was throwing deep so often when that obviously isn’t a strong skill anymore, and to wonder if there’s a flaw in Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s thinking. There most certainly is, because as Andy Reid and Doug Pederson are currently showing us in Kansas City, it’s very possible to be successful with a quarterback who rarely throws a ball that travels a great distance in the air. In their Week 3 win over Philadelphia, Alex Smith didn’t attempt a pass that was airborne for more than 15 yards. Meanwhile, Freeman was playing a similar just less effective game due his incompletions (45.7 completion percentage) that have resulted in only 345 total yards through the air (19th).
Here’s the thing, though: to succeed with that approach, the quarterback has to have pinpoint and consistent accuracy on short throws, the kind that often have to be completed with intricate timing, and through traffic. That’s Freeman’s fatal flaw.
Through three games he’s targeted running back Doug Martin 13 times, which has ended in only four receptions. That’s downright putrid, especially after Freeman was a much better passer on deep throws with a higher degree of difficulty last year, setting a career high with 55 completions for 20 yards or more (his previous high was 48, and he had only 33 in 2011).
That said, Freeman has something on quarterbacks in Minnesota and Jacksonville: past success and confidence. Despite his spiraling accuracy on both short and long throws, there will be hope that he can recover his old form. And in the NFL, when there’s hope for a quarterback, there’s also an employment opportunity.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Today in truth talk
These words from Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams are beautiful in their simplicity. You see, he knows what we all know (or should know): Freeman was playing poorly and he was a problem, but one man does not make a team. If Tampa’s struggles continue, more jobs will be in jeopardy. Job security in the NFL is minimal during even the best of times, but life expectancy drops below zero when that’s also the number in the win column.
#Bucs WR Mike Williams on QB change: “They made this decision for a reason. They didn’t make this decision for us to keep losing”
— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) September 25, 2013
Fancy stats time: Mike Glennon could be in a world of hurt
There’s inherently mystery around a rookie quarterback, simply because we’ve never seen him do anything in a meaningful football game before, and all we have to look back on are August games against second and third teamers and college highlights. But we have history, and according to Chase Stuart’s dusty digital archives, quarterbacks similar to Glennon (quarterbacks who were not first-round picks, did not start Week 1, and started at least four games in their first season) are generally first-year floppers.
Stuart conveniently charted the data for your perusal, but here’s the most significant takeaway: of the 30 quarterbacks who fit that criteria, only two finished above the league average in net adjusted yards per attempt.
Jake Locker is…back?
I’m not sure if Jake Locker had ever really arrived to begin with, though in fairness his NFL career thus far has been derailed by injuries (both to himself and other key offensive pieces), and a stagnant running game led by the often sputtering Chris Johnson. But in Week 3 he looked like what we thought he would be: a quarterback who’s inaccurate at times, but that flaw is far easier to tolerate with his booming arm, and ability to be creative while on the run. He rushed for a career single-game high of 68 yards, and although it was the league worst Chargers secondary (allowing an incredible 9.0 yards per pass attempt) he tore up, that matters little right now. Previously, Locker was always ineffective, regardless of the opponent.
And about those opponents: ugh. Locker quickly goes in the opposite direction over the next three weeks while facing a fiery gauntlet of the Jets, Chiefs, and Seahawks. So even during the emptiness of bye weeks he should probably be avoided for fantasy streaming purposes. Right now, though, let’s remember the good times. What say you, Bill Barnwell?
I’ll take away some positives and negatives from my three weeks with Locker. To be honest, I saw more functional accuracy on shorter throws than I was expecting; Locker still misses the occasional easy pass, but so does just about every quarterback. I don’t think his zero interception rate means much of anything, since we saw how lucky he was to avoid one and there has been little change in any of his other rate statistics. What I’ll be watching for is that final step Locker has to make to go from being a promising quarterback to a prosperous one. He needs to stop being the guy who can make all the throws and become the guy who does make all of them.
Trent Richardson is one slippery dude
Trent Richardson has been a Colt for just over a week, and the trade is still polarizing. Some wonder why the hell the Browns would trade a player who’s only one draft removed from being a third overall pick, but those people are also looking past the fact that a new front office doesn’t care at all about what the old management team did. Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner are living in the now, because thinking about the Browns in the past tense is far too depressing.
However, here’s a Richardson fact that’s not debatable: he makes a lot of defenders look rather foolish.
Trent Richardson – Tough to bring down: pic.twitter.com/Do4mmmduRl
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 25, 2013
Through just three games and only 44 carries, Richardson has already made 18 tacklers miss. Put another way that makes jaws drop even quicker, he’s creating a missed tackle on 41 percent of his carries.
For the artistically inclined
And I don’t include myself in that group, since drawing a properly proportioned stick man has always been a problem. But this photo series by Jordan Matter Matter is a pretty cool thing. The photographer put athletes in different everyday situations, and then had them do something specific to their sport that isn’t at all normal. Former Lions and Falcons safety Erik Coleman represented fooseball with this innovative approach to grocery shopping.