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How will Freeman fare in the future? Part 1.5

With all the hoopla surrounding Josh Freeman and the back and forth of his season, as well as the attempts to place him historically against other quarterbacks, I figured a look at other quarterbacks in similar situations may help us get a better idea of where Freeman is as a player and where he may be headed. (To view all graphs, you can set your viewing to "Wide" as opposed to "Narrow" or you can click on links at bottom)

Now that Freeman's rookie season is over, we've run out of data to analyze on him.  But this doesn't mean we should just throw darts and hope our projections are right.  We can utilize other player's data and experience to formulate an idea for which direction Freeman will head.  Again, this is not an exact science, but just one possible way to look at Freeman's upcoming 2010 season and beyond.

In Part I (located here if you didn't read it), we looked at a total of 17 NFL quarterbacks and their first year as a starter.  We analyzed their stats and compared them to our young quarterback.  This did not give us any predictive data, but gave us the comparison of Freeman to other quarterbacks in that first year of starting.

In Part 1.5, we'll look at those same quarterbacks and begin to look to see if there are any differences amongst the make up of the quarterbacks and how that may have affected their rookie numbers.  Buc 'Em users FreeZorilla and McBuc both brought up good points in that veterans in the same offense may give us some insight into the offensive success or failures (i.e. How did Leftwich and Johnson do in the same offense as Freeman in 2009) and does a QB who starts in year 2 or partway through year 1 have an advantage or disadvantage over those who started right away in their rookie year. 

We'll flip through the data and see which direction it points us.  Hit the jump to dive into the data.

What we will try to gauge here is if amongst our selected few, there was any advantage or disadvantage to starting at a particular time.  A quick analysis of the numbers wesifted through last time will give us some insight as to how preparation or familiarity with an offense could effect a quarterback.   To get a better handle on those quarterbacks who played a partial year, like our own Josh Freeman, we'll look at the other quarterbacks who played during a given year.  For example, we'll look at Leftwich and Johnson during the 2009 Bucs year and Kurt Warner during Eli Manning's rookie year.

Now lets break it down by those who started right away in Year 1, partway through Year 1, and those who waited until Year 2.  Here is the breakdown on those groupings.  The players who started right away in Year 1 were Kyle Boller, David Carr, Drew Bledsoe, and Peyton Manning.  Those who started partway through Year 1 are Gus FrerotteDonovan McNabb, Eli Manning, Byron Leftwich, Joey Harrington, Kerry Collins, Charlie Batch, Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, and Josh Freeman.  The group who waited until Year 2 are as follows.  Daunte Culpepper, Tom Brady and Brian Griese

Additionally, I feel compelled to note the inherent weaknesses and possible roadbumps of this analysis.  It is not all-inclusive.  I did not run this study on every quarterback in the NFL.  It is impossible for anyone to exactly predict future behavior or performance, but by isolating a sampling of quarterbacks and charting their data, we may have a general idea of what to expect.

Lets first start with FreeZorilla's question, which is (slightly re-stated) "How did part year starters like Freeman fare when compared to the veteran's who manned the offense before him?"  As we noted above, lets list our partial year starters with the other quarterbacks who played that year in parenthesis.  Gus Frerotte (Heath Shuler, John Friesz), Tom Brady (Drew Bledsoe), Donovan McNabb (Doug Pederson), Eli Manning (Kurt Warner), Byron Leftwich (Mark Brunell), Joey Harrington (Mike McMahon), Kerry Collins (Frank Reich), Charlie Batch (Frank Reich, Scott Mitchell), Alex Smith (Ken Dorsey, Cody Pickett) , Ben Roethlisberger (Tommy Maddox), and Josh Freeman (Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson).  

We've established the partial year starters which means we can now look and see if the performance in for a Year 1 starter was biased on the type of offense run.  For example, none of the three Bucs quarterbacks in 2009 put up stellar numbers, so part of the reason for lack of performance may be the offensive system or personnel. 

Using the same statistics we looked at in Part I, we can evaluate each of our young quarterbacks with their counterparts.  Lets get the negatives out of the way and start with attempts per interception.  We'll chart the original starter, followed by our selected players.  The original starter (those in parentheses above) will be listed first, followed by those in our study. 

INT Sequential

This seems fairly typical.  Remember, the first notch on the chart is the original starter that year (not the quarterbacks we selected to review).  The second notch in a two person chart is the starter we want to review.  The third notch in a three person chart is the player we are studying.  As you can see, the "veteran" guys (those starting before our quarterbacks) typically had more attempts per INT, a good thing for them.  As the young guys came in, their attempts per interception dropped, which is a bad sign.  To point out the Bucs, we had Leftwich who averaged a pick every 35 attempts, to Johnson who was every 15.6 attempts and then on to Freeman, who was every 16.1 attempts.  I've cut off some of the extremes on the charts to enhance the bulk of the chart and make it so most of the sample size fits into a viewing range we can decipher. 

This is about what I would expect.  As young quarterbacks get a their first taste of NFL action, the one component you always hear mentioned is the speed of the game.  By misjudging the speed and not being accustomed to reading NFL defenses, mistakes tend to flare up, thus creating more interceptions per attempt.  There were a few cases of interceptions dropping, but this seems to be the exception, not the rule.

Now that we've got the interceptions out of the way, lets look at the money ball, the touchdown pass.  As I stated in the first article, we won't look the total of touchdowns thrown as this can be manipulated based on playing time and games.  We instead will focus on the number of attempts it took on average for each touchdown pass.  I've cleverly coined this as "Attempts per Touchdown."  Looking at each player in are partial year starter category, we see that outside of Alex Smith skewing the 49ers stats, in almost every instance for players in our study, the "veteran" or first starter of the year threw less touchdowns per attempt than the rookies or first year starters we listed above. 

TD Sequential

Quite honestly, this seems backwards to me.  I thought that the veteran starters would have performed adequately and the new starters (Freeman in our case) would underperform them.  Not so.  If nothing else, this particular stat seems to vindicate the coaches who made the change at quarterback.  As noted above though, we are looking at small sample sizes. 

Lastly, we'll look at quarterback rating for each of our candidates. 

QBR Sequential  

There seems to be no rhyme or reason here to the fluctuation and changing of QB rating.  Some increased dramatically, highlighted by the 2004 Steelers and2000 Patriots while othersdroppeddrastically like the 2004 Giants.  Others remained relatively flat like the 1993 Patriots or 1999 Eagles.  There appears to be no consistency here given our grouping of quarterbacks.

It's a very small sampling of quarterbacks and offenses, but in order to determine if the quarterback's play was due to the offense or skill of the player, this gives us a bit of an insight.  Looking back at all three charts, we can see that attempts per interception decreased (bad), attempts per TD decreased (good) and QB rating was all over the place.  I don't think there is enough information here to say that the offense is what made or didn't make a quarterback.  We have examples where the veteran quarterback performed well and the rookie did as well, and other examples where there was a wide divide between their performances.  As I've stated before, a lot of this boils down to the individual quarterbacks and his skill set in conjunction with the personnel and system he is running. 

Now that we've tackled FreeZo's question, lets get on to McBuc's inquiry.  He asked "Did the 2nd year starters, as compared to true rookie starters, perform any better?"  We'll look at those two categories, and also throw in the partial year starterstosee if there is any correlation between either age, or number of years in the league.  We've already broken down the groups above, so lets get on with it.

 Ive taken each player, assigned them a category based on their starting "time" and then pulled their stats for their first year starting.  I then calculated the attempts per TD stat and attempts per INT stat that we've been looking into.  I ranked each player from best (Rank #1) to worst (Rank #17) in each category.  You can see the first chart below, which covers completion percentage, yards per attempt and QB rating.

Name Category Pct Rank Avg Rank Rate Rank
Charlie Batch Mid Year 1 57.1 6 7.2 3 83.5 4
Tom Brady Year 2 63.9 2 6.9 4 86.5 3
Brian Griese Year 2 57.7 4 6.7 5 75.6 5
Donovan Mcnabb Mid Year 1 49.1 15 4.4 17 60.1 13
Daunte Culpepper Year 2 62.7 3 8.3 2 98 2
David Carr First Game 52.5 9 5.8 11 62.8 9
Drew Bledsoe First Game 49.9 13 5.8 12 65 8
Ben Roethlisberger Mid Year 1 66.4 1 8.9 1 98.1 1
Joey Harrington Mid Year 1 50.1 12 5.3 15 59.9 14
Byron Leftwich Mid Year 1 57.2 5 6.7 6 73 6
Kyle Boller First Game 51.8 10 5.6 13 62.4 10
Kerry Collins Mid Year 1 49.4 14 6.3 9 61.9 11
Eli Manning Mid Year 1 48.2 16 5.3 16 55.4 16
Peyton Manning First Game 56.7 7 6.5 7 71.2 7
Gus Frerotte  Mid Year 1 46.0 17 6 10 61.2 12
Josh Freeman Mid Year 1 54.5 8 6.4 8 59.8 15
Alex Smith Mid Year 1 50.9 11 5.3 14 40.8 17

 Roethlisberger came in tops in each of these three categories, pretty impressive for a rookie quarterback from a small school.  Eli Manning performed the worst, coming in second to last in each of the categories.  Freeman, as we noted in part 1, languished towards the middle on the first two categories, and on QB rating, fell to the bottom.

Next, we look at attempts per TD and INT and each quarterback's ranking.  I then totaled the rankings to give us a look across all categories, and finally, I took their average rank (total rank divided by number of categories) to give us a look at overall, who performed better.  

Name Category Attempts/TD Rank Attempts/INT Rank Total Rank Avg Rank
Daunte Culpepper Year 2 14.36 1 29.63 5 21 2.6
Ben Roethlisberger Mid Year 1 17.35 2 26.82 8 16 2.6
Tom Brady Year 2 22.94 5 34.42 2 30 3.2
Charlie Batch Mid Year 1 27.55 7 50.50 1 55 4.2
Brian Griese Year 2 32.29 13 32.29 3 13 6.0
Byron Leftwich Mid Year 1 29.86 10 26.13 10 51 7.4
Peyton Manning First Game 22.12 4 20.54 14 48 7.8
Drew Bledsoe First Game 28.60 8 28.60 7 13 9.6
David Carr First Game 49.33 16 29.60 6 65 10.2
Donovan Mcnabb Mid Year 1 27.00 6 30.86 4 37 11.0
Kyle Boller First Game 32.00 12 24.89 11 56 11.2
Josh Freeman Mid Year 1 29.00 9 16.11 16 57 11.2
Kerry Collins Mid Year 1 30.93 11 22.79 12 75 11.4
Gus Frerotte  Mid Year 1 20.00 3 20.00 15 39 11.4
Joey Harrington Mid Year 1 35.75 15 26.81 9 57 13.0
Eli Manning Mid Year 1 32.83 14 21.89 13 56 15.0
Alex Smith Mid Year 1 165.00 17 15.00 17 76 15.2

In these categories, Daunte Culpepper andTom Brady topped the charts while Alex Smith plummeted to dead last in both.  As you can see from the average rankings on the right hand side of the chart.  Big Ben and DaunteCulpepper tied at an average rank of 2.6.  There may not be any similarities between the two, but they both played in offenses that were not quarterback dependent, and both teams had strong running games.   

Two number one picks, Eli Manning and Alex Smith bring up the rear, with average rankings of 15th place and below. 

As you can see from the charts, those players who started their first game in Year 2 are towards the top of the chart, while the mid year starters and first game starters are mixed in amongst the remaining spots.  With the quarterbacks we sampled, it doesn't appear there is much correlation to when a player started and how well that player did in his first year as a starter. 

As we bring Part 1.5 to a close, we still haven't stumbled on to any predictive data.  The rookie year performances of our grouping of quarterbacks has simply been used to place Freeman amongst his peers.  Rookie year performance doesn't dictate the future as is evidenced by Daunte Culpepper or Donovan McNabb.  This will conclude our look at Year 1 for each of these guys (I promise).  In the next edition, we'll finally take that step forward and begin looking at the next few years of each of these player's careers and see if we can use that data to predict how Freeman will perform during his career.

As usual, feel free to comment and discuss below. 

In case any of the graphs above were not viewable for you, here are direct links to photobucket to use.  Once you hit the link, the picture should show up.  For optimal viewing, click the "Zoom In" button on the top left of picture.

TD Chart, INT Chart, QB Rating