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Is Josh Freeman The Best Quarterback Of The 2009 Class: Fourth Quarter Heroics

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I'm going to answer the above question with one word: yes. John Clayton spends a lot more words explaining why this is the case, but it's undeniable that as a passer and leader Josh Freeman has done more than any other quarterback from 2009. He's clearly been the Bucs leader, he was a top 10 quarterback during the regular season and the only black mark on his record is the lack of playoff victories. I can't blame him for that behind this offensive line, with rookies as his offensive weapons and a poor defense. 

But hey, Mark Sanchez won more games so he has to be better, right? Obviously not. Mark Sanchez hasn't been the kind of leader Josh Freeman has been and he's played with a much more talented supporting cast on both sides of the ball. Getting to the Conference Championship as the quarterback of a team with the best defense in the NFL is not an amazing feat, as Trent Dilfer and Shaun King should tell you. And while some may point to Sanchez's clutch play late in games, his late-game statistics don't support this. In fact, he does worse in the 4th quarter than at any other time in a game. Counter-intuitive, right? I saw him make all those clutch throws last season, so how does this statistic happen? Apparently, the highlights don't show Sanchez's full performance in the fourth quarter. 

 

The same can't be said for Josh Freeman, though. John Clayton builds his argument for Freeman on his fourth quarter statistics, pointing out that he had the seventh-best quarterback rating in the fourth quarter of all QBs in the NFL. Interestingly, Josh Freeman also excels in the second quarter. The big quarterback makes his money right before the half and right before the end of the game, when deficits have to be erased in a limited amount of time. He threw 19 of his 25 touchdown passes in those 2 quarters.

Interestingly, he's worst in the first quarter, completing only 55% of his passes for just 473 yards over the entire season. This reflects the poor performance of the entire team in the first quarter. While the Bucs often recovered later in games, that is one area where the Bucs have to improve. Josh Freeman has been able to compensate for this deficiency later in games, but this isn't sustainable. To win, the Bucs need to come out of the locker room firing. Good thing the Bucs have the right QB to do so.