As Tampa Bay has struggled through a four-game losing streak, it’s become trendy to pick apart the Buccaneers.
They’ve got plenty of problems on both sides of the ball. Coach Raheem Morris and his staff are frequent targets of criticism, having the league’s youngest team and a difficult schedule are convenient and somewhat-legitimate excuses, and injuries (particularly the loss of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and running back Earnest Graham) have played roles.
But let’s take a look at a big problem spot, one that I never would have guessed would have been an issue at all. After watching quarterback Josh Freeman and tight end Kellen Winslow work out together at the University of South Florida during the lockout, I was certain I was seeing a special chemistry building. As a matter of fact, if I had time to have a fantasy football team, I would have drafted Freeman and Winslow very early.
That would have been a huge mistake. As it turns out, Freeman and Winslow simply aren’t clicking. With lots of help from NFC West colleague Mike Sando, who works part time as a rocket scientist and actuary, I got a breakdown of how Freeman has fared when targeting each of his receivers. We’ll leave out Collin Franklin and Micheal Spurlock because they each have been targeted only three times.
Although Winslow leads the team with 47 receptions and is second with 476 receiving yards, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call his connection with Freeman horrible. Winslow has been targeted 78 times. When throwing to Winslow, Freeman’s NFL passer rating is a dismal 48.9. Winslow has caught two touchdown passes. But seven of Freeman’s 15 interceptions have come on passes intended for Winslow.
Freeman’s passer rating when throwing to Winslow is worse, by far, than any other wide receiver, running back, fullback or tight end on the roster.
In fact, Mike Williams, who allegedly is Tampa Bay’s No. 1 wide receiver, is next as we move up from the bottom of the list. When throwing to Williams, Freeman’s passer rating is 70.0.
Here’s Freeman’s passer rating when throwing to all of the other Tampa Bay players who have been targeted more than twice and we’ll continue to work our way up from the bottom:
LeGarrette Blount: 76.4
Erik Lorig: 80.1
Arrelius Benn: 81.8
Luke Stocker: 83.3
Earnest Graham: 88.6
Kregg Lumpkin: 91.3
Preston Parker: 103.6
Zack Pianalto: 112.5
Dezmon Briscoe: 135.2