To everyone that has been freaking out about Josh Freeman's slow start to the season, you can officially relax. I spelled out last week where Freeman was having trouble -- and why there were still some encouraging signs -- and then Freeman went out and had the fourth best week out of all quarterbacks in the NFL....at least, according to Football Outsiders.â†µ
Freeman went 23/41 (56%) for 303 yards and two touchdowns. And since he didn't throw an interception, he dropped his interception rate for the season down to a more reasonable 2.7%.â†µ
Of course, it's worth considering that Freeman was playing against the New Orleans Saints, who have had a below-average defense this season (22nd in league, by Football Outsiders). But even when you control for that, Freeman's performance was still good enough for a 121 DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), ranking him fourth in the league last week.â†µ
To temper the good news somewhat, one of Freeman's big struggles this season has been in leading scoring drives, and he still had trouble passing in enemy territory last week. His completion percentage inside the Saints' 40 yard line was a mere 38% (5-13), considerably worse than how he performed on the rest of the field (18-28, 64%). This is an aspect of his game that still need improvement.â†µ
But hey, it's a minor quibble; Bucs fans should take heart in Freeman's overall performance last week. The Bucs were banged up and badly needed a win, and Freeman stepped up his game at just the right time.