Freeman may be better without Winslow

There’s a perception out there that Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman relied too much on tight end Kellen Winslow last season.

Just watching the Buccaneers play last year, I shared that perception. But let’s turn to ESPN Stats & Information for some evidence that Freeman was forcing too many throws to Winslow, who was traded to Seattle on Monday night.

Freeman and Winslow formed a pretty good tandem back in 2010 and that led to some talk from Winslow about how he believed he could double his statistics in 2011. That didn’t happen.

In 2010, Winslow, when playing with Freeman, was targeted 94 times and had 66 receptions (a 70.2 completion percentage) while averaging 7.8 yards per attempt with five touchdowns and one interception. Winslow also had three drops. Freeman turned to Winslow even more frequently in 2011, targeting him 111 times. But the rest of the numbers weren’t as good as the previous season. Winslow and Freeman connected on only 64 percent of their passes last year and averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt. More importantly, Winslow caught only two touchdown passes from Freeman, but the quarterback was intercepted 10 times when targeting his tight end.

Over the past four seasons, the only quarterback-receiver tandem that combined for more interceptions when a specific receiver was targeted was Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer and Terrell Owens in 2010.