Time For Josh Freeman To Be ClutchMay 20th, 2013
In recent months, Joe has heard former NFL coach and player personnel man Pat Kirwan, who co-hosts “Movin’ the Chains” with Tim Ryan on SiriusXM NFL Radio, harp a few times on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
In Kirwan’s eyes, Dalton still has a lot to prove and is not an established NFL quarterback. Kirwan believes this year is a do-or-die season for Dalton as a starter and the Bengals likely will go quarterback shopping after this season if Dalton does not improve.
Why does Kirwan believe this? Kirwan specifically cites Dalton’s record as a starter against teams with winning records, a paltry 3-12.
Why does Joe write this? Because Kirwan is a firm supporter of Josh Freeman, yet Freeman’s record against teams with winning records isn’t much better than Dalton’s.
In three and a half years, roughly, as a starting quarterback, per Pro-Football-Reference.com, Freeman’s record against opponents with a winning record is 6-15.
If one was to nitpick, two of those wins came in the final week of a season after the opponent (New Orleans in 2010 and Atlanta last season) had already secured their postseason positions.
Ironically Sunday morning, Evan Silva, the superb NFL analyst for both NBC Sports and Rotoworld.com, was Twitteringlike a man who just slugged down an Americano Grande about Freeman and Silva linked both Dalton and Freeman.
@evansilva: Buccaneers playing serious mind games with Freeman. Response will be critical to his career. Seems mentally fragile based on on-field play. … 2 most deceiving QB stat lines in 2012 were Josh Freeman & Andy Dalton. Neither played remotely that well. In fairness, Free has big issues.
Before Joe’s readers starting furiously typing that Joe is a Freeman hater, slow down! As Joe has written several times before, the absolute best chance for the Bucs to make the playoffs is for Freeman to not just start (ahead of rookie Mike Glennon), but to play well.
To Joe, it is very telling that Freeman struggles more often than not against good teams. Yes, yes, players should struggle against good teams. But upper echelon players rise to the occasion and don’t wilt under the pressure of, or vanish in the face of, a tough opponent.
No, Dalton’s numbers are not good at all against winning teams. But to his credit, Dalton has done more in his two seasons than Freeman has in four: Dalton has led his team to the playoffs twice.
And like the NFC South during Freeman’s career, the AFC North is annually dominated by two teams often battling for a Super Bowl, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
Today is the first OTA practice of 2013 for the Bucs. And yes, Joe will have loads of content from this morning’s practice.
Today is the day for Freeman to begin playing on Dalton’s level. The level of a playoff quarterback.
For Freeman, that trek begins this morning.