Yardbarker Horiz

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Josh Freeman vs. Steve Young

About 25 years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up a quarterback in the USFL supplemental draft.  He played 19 games over two years, then was traded away for a second and a fourth round pick to the San Francisco 49ers.  His name was Steve Young.

This weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fly out to San Francisco with a young quarterback who just completed his own 19 games of Buccaneer football.  

Steve Young is one of the best NFL quarterbacks to play the game.  He has three SuperBowl rings to prove it  (one as MVP) and won six passing titles during his career.  A stellar fourteen year career by any measure.  League MVP twice. 

Of course, Josh Freeman does not compare at this point having been in the NFL for less than two seasons.

But what about the start of their respective careers?

Certainly the game has changed.  This is not completely apples to apples. But it's fun nonetheless.  Both players started their NFL careers with Tampa Bay so, to start with, they have their NFL roots in common.

Steve Young threw 501 passes in his first 19 games as a Buccaneer, completing 267 for about a 53% completion percentage amassing 3,217 yards.  Josh Freeman has thrown 560 times in his first 19 games, completing 322 of them (about 57%) for 3,818 yards.

Josh Freeman has thrown 23 interceptions, two more than Steve Young with the same number of games.  On the other hand, Freeman has thrown 22 touchdowns while Young threw only 11 while he was a Buccaneer.

All those numbers are pretty comparable, and the minor differences are easlily attributed to how the play of an NFL game has changed (more passing, faster players, etc).  Young had James Wilder behind him in the backfield and threw to Jimmy Giles, Gerald Carter, Kevin House, and Calvin Magee while posting a 3-16 record over those nineteen games.

After just two years, the success-starved Tampa Bay fans considered Young a bust.  After Young's second season (1986) his coach, Leaman Bennett, was released.  In came Ray Perkins holding the #1 pick in the draft.  Out went Young (out west, to be exact) for two additional picks in the Buccaneer's 1987 NFL Draft which resulted in the selections of LB Winston Moss and WR Bruce Hill.  The rest is history.  A lot of history.  Much of it documented in the Hall of Fame.  None of it happened in Tampa.

This weekend, Josh Freeman takes a 10-9 record through his own 19 game NFL initiation out west to meet the team which landed Young all those years ago.  Freeman has a rotation of running backs and an extremely young group of receivers.  The fans in the (Tampa) Bay Area have slowly started to warm up to his presence in the backfield because of the solid improvement in his game this season.  Clearly Freeman is the future, which could not be said about Young during his stay.

Most impressively, the young Freeman holds up pretty well in comparison to the start of the career of Steve Young.  Not many teams with young quarterbacks (Jets, Lions, Rams, etc) can say the same.

The San Francisco 49ers have had their own share of trials and tribulations at quarterback recently -- how long has it been since the quarterback position in Tampa has been this settled?  I have no doubt those fans are restless with past succeses making them even hungrier for a return to winning.

So to the 49ers fans (and to unconvinced Tampa Bay fans, too) I say, hang in there -- as you work your way through a difficult season you may forget the lesson we here in Tampa learned over the course of about 12 years:  One Teams trash is Another Team's Treasure.

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