Let’s preface this by recognizing the history of quarterbacks in Tampa Bay isn’t glorious. Now, let’s look at how Josh Freeman is changing all that.
The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information just tossed over a very impressive package on Freeman and his spot in Tampa Bay history -- already. Keep in mind, Freeman is only in his second season and didn’t begin starting until the second half of last year.
First off, let’s look at what the four quarterbacks and franchise history have done in their first two seasons when they’ve been in the starting lineup. Doug Williams went 14-12 and that’s the best of the bunch. But Freeman is 9-9 and within reach of catching Williams. Trent Dilfer went 7-11 his first two seasons and Vinny Testaverde was 5-14.
Next, let’s look at those same four guys and see how many touchdown passes they threw in their first two seasons, including games they didn’t start. Williams, again, is the leader with 25 touchdown passes in 26 games. But Freeman is closing in fast. He has 22 touchdown passes in 19 games. Testaverde had 18 in 21 games and Dilfer had five in 21 games.
Now, let’s consider all the quarterbacks to play for the Bucs. They’ve had 22 in their history. The group is less than illustrious and Freeman already is one of only eight quarterbacks in franchise history to play in 19 career games. Dilfer holds the record with 79 games and had 70 touchdown passes while with the Bucs. Testaverde played in 76 games and had 77 touchdowns. Williams appeared in 67 games and had 73 touchdown passes. Brad Johnson played in 49 games and had 64 touchdown passes. Craig Erickson was in 37 games and had 34 touchdowns. Shaun King played in 31 games and had 26 touchdowns.
After that it’s Freeman with 22 touchdowns in 19 games and Chris Simms with 12 touchdowns in 19 games.
Finally, we’ve written a lot about Freeman’s knack for late-game heroics. He has nine NFL wins and six of them have come with him leading a game-winning drive. That already puts him fifth in Tampa Bay history.
Williams holds the record with 16 game-winning drives and Dilfer had 13. Testaverde had nine and Johnson had eight.