Every two days, Rishi Pochiraju will reveal a quarterback on his grand list of quarterback rankings. Each quarterback will receive a grade out of 50 – 10 points for each category. Up next: number 25. See his page for the earlier rankings.
#25. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Freeman was 7th in passing touchdowns (27) and 9th in passing yards (4,065) last season. The stats might be misleading, however. The quarterback’s starting job may be in question because of the way he, along with the team, performed towards the end of the season in 2012 – Tampa Bay started 6-4 and finished 7-9.
Freeman’s numbers over the first half of the season were significantly better than those of the second half: 16 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions in the first eight games, compared to 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the last eight games. For the first ten games (Tampa went 6-4), Freeman’s average passer rating was 96.5, which is an excellent rating. For the last six games (1-5), his rating was significantly lower at 67.3
Freeman needs to regain the poise and preciseness he played with during the first ten games last season if he is to keep his job safe and away from rookie third-round pick Mike Glennon.
Physical traits and athleticism
Freeman is huge for a quarterback, listed at 6-6. This size helps him with his arm strength and also aids him in the pocket, showing extreme toughness. The game against the Redskins last year (Week 4) showed that, when he connected on several bombs with receivers such as Vincent Jackson. His size is an asset, but he is not a mobile quarterback. He rarely uses his legs to create plays, but often does not need to do so. Grade: 6.5/10
Freeman is known in Tampa for his strong arm. I believe he can make any throw on the field, but sometimes, he lets his arm strength get the best of him – meaning, at times, he fails to set his feet because he believes he is able to make any throw relying only on arm strength. He does have a rocket arm and can stretch the field, but needs to learn to control the “gunslinger” type mentality. Grade: 6/10
Although Freeman has a rocket arm, he often fails to set his feet and stands idle in the pocket. When he has pressure in his face, he relies purely on his arm instead of making slight movements inside the pocket to create space to throw. This results in inconsistent accuracy, something Freeman needs to improve on. His throwing mechanics are sound, however, and often puts nice touch on deep passes, giving his receivers a good chance to catch the ball over defensive backs. Freeman often throws perfect fade passes because of this. Grade: 6/10
The Bucs quarterback seems to have trouble recognizing blitzes and throwing to his hot read. Often, especially late last year, I saw Freeman just lob up a pass toward the likes of Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson as a defensive player was hitting him. Much too often last year, his above-average receiving corps bailed him out. Freeman will be hitting up the film room this summer and will be the starter when the season begins. Grade: 5.5/10
No legal troubles or, as a matter of fact, nothing negative off the field has been reported about the Bucs’ starter. He hasn’t been able to elevate his team as other young quarterbacks have, though – something he needs to work on this year. Doug Martin can’t do all the work, and Freeman needs to show that the leader inside of him can take control of the huddle as well as the game at hand. Grade: 6.5/10
Just as it is for many other quarterbacks ranked earlier on this list, Freeman must produce this season to cement himself as a starting quarterback. There are several physical assets that can push Freeman over the top, but as I like to say, 90 percent of this game is mental. Freeman needs to correct those mental errors to prove his worth as a first round pick. Overall grade: 30.5/50