Sometimes, Reddit is an interesting source of analysis. Jaeden Stormes (real name: Matt Holden) took a look at a couple of quarterbacks to try to determine whether Josh Freeman is the quarterback of the future. He selected six quarterbacks from various different eras, and came up with the following chart:
Those are a lot of numbers with a lot of variability and no names. If you look at those numbers, I don't know if you can tell who's Josh Freeman or not without cheating. You can find the same chart with names right here. Here's what Holden took away from those numbers:
We can see that total yardage ranges from 11385 yards to 13816. Total TDs range from 66 to 84, INTs from 44 to 65.
Since the number of attempts varies so widely, and more attempts tends to mean more yards, TDs and INTs, I added percentages for completions, touchdowns and interceptions. Completions runs 54% to 63%, TD% from 3.7 to 5.84, and INT% from 2.34 to 3.71. These are pretty fair numbers to work with for most of our calculations.
So, we've defined a "pack" of seven QBs. Since the numbers (by percentages, and in some cases by totals) don't vary that widely, we can argue that in their first four years in the league, these 7 QBs were comparably skilled.
Of course, this doesn't factor in things like coaching changes and surrounding talent level that impact a QB's play, and we all know the story of Josh Freeman's last 4 years (2 head coaches, 4 OCs, 5 QB coaches, 3 playbooks, different WR/RB/OL every year, no #1WR until 2012).
Those are some hefty excuses for Josh Freeman, honestly, and the selection of quarterbacks is a little dubious, too. The inclusion of Joe Montana and John Elway is meaningless. Those quarterbacks played in completely different eras, when every quarterback put up completely different numbers than they do now. Any direct comparison is pointless. (Note: Holdencontacted me to tell me that Montana's numbers are off by one year, anyway, so you can really throw those out)
Meanwhile, I don't think you can say that those numbers are all very close, either. The differences may seem small, especially when looking at percentages, but going from throwing interception on 2.4% of plays to 3.4% of plays can be very significant over a season. With 500 passes, that's a difference of 5 interceptions -- in part just variance, but individual interceptions can have big impacts.
What's most intriguing is that once again, Eli Manning stands out as the most comparable player for Josh Freeman. The Giants quarterback took years to get going in the NFL, and he's still a little inconsistent -- but certainly more than good enough to win a lot of games and Super Bowls.
Ultimately, though, Freeman has yet to take the step that Manning did take, despite a very good 2010 season. He is still inconsistent, misses too many throws, and makes a few too many bad decisions. That much is obvious. He simply has to improve.
Nonetheless, those numbers certainly are intriguing. They don't suggest that Josh Freeman will be a good quarterback, of course. The sample is too small and suffers from massive selection bias to draw any kind of strong conclusion like that. But it does, once again, suggest that Josh Freeman doesn't need to be a failure going forward -- which isn't surprising, since he hasn't really been a failure so far, either.
And yet, some fans are ready to write off the quarterback already. That's nonsense -- and these numbers at least corroborate that it's too early to give up on Freeman.