One quarterback in the NFL has thrown for over 1,000 yards in the last three weeks: Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman. With only San Francisco and Arizona left to play in Week Eight, Freeman’s spot at the top of that list is secure. During that same span, only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has thrown more touchdowns than the Bucs’ dialed-in passer (11 to 9).
Freeman’s recent run gives him 1,800 passing yards and 14 touchdowns on the season, putting him on pace for 4,114 yards and 32 TDs over 16 games. Freeman may or may not became the first QB in franchise history to cross the 4,000-yard mark and/or the 30-TD mark, but he is virtually certain to move up the team’s all-time lists in both of those categories in the coming weeks.
Here are the top five quarterbacks in Buccaneers history in terms of passing yards and TD passes:
MOST PASSING YARDS
|1. Vinny Testaverde||1987-92||14,820|
|2. Trent Dilfer||1994-99||12,969|
|3. Doug Williams||1978-82||12,648|
|4. Brad Johnson||2001-04||10,940|
|5. Josh Freeman||2009-12||10,698|
MOST TOUCHDOWN PASSES
|1. Vinny Testaverde||1987-92||77|
|2. Doug Williams||1978-82||73|
|3. Trent Dilfer||1994-99||70|
|4. Josh Freeman||2009-12||65|
|5. Brad Johnson||2001-04||64|
As you can see, Freeman has recently passed Super Bowl-winning quarterback Brad Johnson on the touchdown passes chart, taking over fourth place. He remains 242 yards behind Johnson on that chart, but given the numbers he’s been putting up in recent weeks, you have to figure he’s at least within range of grabbing fourth place on that one this weekend, as well.
So, what are the odds that Freeman makes a few more moves up each of those lists before the 2012 season is over? Let’s make a few informed guesses.
It seems very likely that Freeman will at least take over third place on the touchdown passes lists, and a good bet that he’ll grab second place away from Doug Williams, as well. Barring injury, it’s hard to imagine Freeman not throwing at least six more touchdown passes over the next nine games, and he would need only nine more to pass Williams. He’s averaged exactly two TD passes per game through the first seven games; he would need to average only one per game the rest of the way to pass Williams. By that same token, one has to consider it at least a reasonable possibility that Freeman will rise all the way to the top of that list by the end of this year. He needs 13 more touchdown passes to supplant Vinny Testaverde as the recordholder.
Testaverde will still be the Bucs’ all-time leader in passing yards by the end of this season, however. As hot as Freeman is, he’s not going to throw for 4,123 yards over the next nine games (458.3 per game). He is going to pass Johnson, and that could happen in the next few games. The question is, will he continue to put up big enough numbers to reel in Williams in third place and then, not far beyond that, Trent Dilfer in second this year?
Well, Freeman would need to pass for 216.7 yards per game the rest of the way to catch Williams, and 252.3 yards per game to catch Dilfer. That’s certainly within the range of possibility; Dilfer’s current average is 246.6. And that’s really an outrageous number to keep up, even if it would be the best per-game pace in franchise history. The game of football has obviously changed quite a bit, even in the nine years since Johnson set the Bucs’ single-season yardage record at 3,811 in 2003. The Bucs’ passing attack has been very productive this season, but it still ranks just 14th in the league in yards per game.
So, let’s consider third place for Freeman on the team’s all-time passing yardage chart a good bet for this season, with second place an outside possibility.