Josh Freeman did an awful lot of things well for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010. Firstly, and most importantly of course, Freeman helped the Bucs finish a surprising 10-6 just a year removed from a dismal 3-13 season. Freeman improved his completion percentage from 54.5 percent as a rookie to a more respectable percentage of 61.4 in his second season. His 3,451 passing yards were the 12th most in the league, he cracked the top ten in passing touchdowns (25), and to the delight of his coaches and fans, he threw only 6 interceptions, the second fewest in the league behind Tom Brady amongst all quarterbacks who started at least 13 games for their team in '10.
How did Freeman fare throwing deep though last season? Well, the fine folks at Pro Football Focus just published a comprehensive look at the rate that each NFL quarterback threw deep, and the success they had when trying to stretch the field vertically. PFF defined a 'deep' pass as one that traveled 20 yards in the air.
The three primary categories analyzed were: (1) Completion percentage on deep throws...(2) percentage of total passing attempts thrown deep...and (3) percentage of deep throws that were intercepted.
Let's take a look at how Freeman stacked up in all three.
Completion Percentage: 23 completions, 72 attempts, 71.94% (12th)
Deep Throw Percentage of Attempts: 72 deep attempts, 474 total attempts, 15.19% (7th)
Interceptions on Deep Throws: 2 deep INTs, 72 deep attempts, 2.78 % (2nd)
So, what to take from this information? Well, for starters, I think it's smart to not keep the training wheels on Freeman. The temptation with young QBs sometimes is to limit the playbook and not entrust them to make good decisions down the field. But for a team that would like to run the ball first and foremost, it helps when you take some shots down the field, which the Buccaneers did in Freeman's second year. And hopefully after last year's results, Freeman will continue to be trusted to try to stretch the field vertically knowing that though he might not complete a very high percentage of his passes, he's at least not prone to forcing the ball into places that result in turnovers.
I encourage you to take a look at the lists and see how the rest of the league's QBs did throwing the ball deep during the '10 season.