Sunday at Tampa’s Raymond James stadium – despite a possible television blackout – the fans that do show up to cheer on their Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be treated to something special in Sam Bradford vs. Josh Freeman. These two young quarterbacks, in my humble opinion, will be the best of the rest in three seasons. If their Head Coaches, General Managers and Player Personnel departments do their job and surround them with weapons, the sky is the limit for these two very talented football players, and should bump heads for years while battling for the NFC crown.
In my fifteen years as an Area Scout, Director College Scouting and VP Player Personnel, these are the two quarterbacks that I find very intriguing. Yes this includes Matt Ryan/Falcons, Mark Sanchez/Jets and Joe Flacco/Ravens of the young quarterbacks starting in the league. The three I just mentioned are very good in their own right. They joined teams that were set with good offensive lines, running games, receivers, and very strong defenses.
I like Bradford and Freeman more than the rest of their peers for several reasons. While playing with adequate supportive cast in comparison, they immediately make those around them better. Both sustain drives and score points while keeping their defense off the field and putting their teams in position to win games.
Each year at the NIC Combine, held in Indianapolis, IN all thirty–two teams take part in the interview process of 335 invited prospects. During my tenure I have taken part in all of the interviews. Each position has a different process. Some may be given position questions; technique questions, formation and strategic questions. For Quarterbacks, they must get on the board and teach everybody in the room (Head Coach, Coordinator, Position Coach, GM, VP Player Personnel) everything about their offense, from Play call in huddle, formation, positional assignment responsibility (other ten offensive positions), audibles, reading coverage’s, clock management and situational explanation.
For me there were three players that blew me away in the last five years for the quarterback position, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman and Tim Tebow. Sam worked in a spread offense, Josh a West Coast offense and Tim’s was a combination of several different offenses that created the University of Florida package.
Both Bradford and Freeman are articulate, extremely intelligent players with very good athletic skill sets. They are tall framed players, both right handed passers. Both are confident in their ability. Both are poised in pocket. Both spin a good ball with velocity. Where Sam has a strong arm, good touch, and is very accurate, Josh has a cannon inconsistent short area touch, his vertical passing game is better than Sam’s and is very accurate. Both are good leaders in their own right.
While Josh came out in 2009 Draft, a sophomore in the NFL he has gone thru the rookie blues and now works to establish himself as one of the leagues up and coming new stars. Josh sat and watched for several games in his first season, because of philosophy only.
The plan was in place for Sam to follow the same steps, until AJ Feely injured his thumb, breaking a bursa sac. Nevertheless both are competing at a high level, so let’s compare some stats in this early 2010 season.
NFC Leading Passers
Freeman 9th 83.4 Rating NFL Rank 21st
Bradford 15th 69.3 Rating NFL Rank 30th
Fourth Quarter Passing
Freeman 5th 87.4 Rating NFL Rank 11th
Bradford 19th 39.4 Rating NFL Rank 37th
Third Down Passing
Freeman 5th 88.3 Rating NFL Rank 10th
Bradford 6th 85.6 Rating NFL Rank 14th
Freeman 159/att 94/cmp 1043 yds cmp% 59.1 6 TD 3 Int 9 Sacks 83.4
Bradford 234/att 133/cmp 1357 yds cmp% 56.8 7 TD 8 Int 14 Sacks 69.3
Freeman 18/114yds 6.3 avg 33 long 0 TD (second leading rusher on team)
Bradford 9/18yds 2.0 avg 11 long 0 TD
While both of these young signal callers have a ways to go to achieve greatness, they are both establishing themselves as quarterbacks that have the skill, mindset, athletic ability and arm strength to earn the respect of every defensive coordinator in the National Football league. Sunday will be fun to watch two of the NFL’s young elite quarterbacks led their teams in a contest of two young Head Coaches and two young NFC football teams that mirror each other in several ways.