On Josh Freeman the Third-Down Back and Quarterback Sneaks

As Football Outsiders continues to pound out articles, they showed that Cadillac Williams was the best third-down rusher in the NFL. But in doing the research, they came across the numbers for third-down rushes by quarterbacks as well. By DVOA, their efficiency rating, Josh Freeman was the fifth-best quarterback on the list, with 27 carries for 178 yards. But by first-down rate he was the best quarterback on the list, picking up a first down 78% of the time he ran the ball on third or fourth down. That's pretty impressive. 

It also brings into focus Greg Olson's hatred of the QB Sneak play. Time and time again it seemed the Bucs didn't call a quarterback sneak in short yardage, despite the fact that a quarterback of Josh Freeman's stature should be able to pick up a first down easily. In fact, that's exactly what happened when he did call the play: on 10 QB sneak's, Josh Freeman failed to make a first down only once (on 1st-and-10, interestingly enough) and didn't fumble once.

This low-risk, high-success play was only called 10 times, while the Bucs faced 3rd- or 4th-and-1 a total of 42 times. That includes punts and field goals, though, and if we cull those that leaves 35 such playcalls. Calling a play that's successful 90% of the time on only 29% of all opportunities is inexcusable. Especially when the Bucs failed to gain a first down on 38% of all other tries. So the next time you see the Bucs line up for a short-yardage play, you can start screaming at your television for a quarterback sneak. 

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