Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman has enjoyed a recent resurgence, but his hot streak has come at the hands of very suspect secondaries.
The Bucs have become much more of a run-first offense under first-year head coach Greg Schiano. And, the improvement in the running game highlighted by Doug Martin's breakout performance on Thursday night has allowed Freeman more opportunities to take shots deep to new favorite target Vincent Jackson and incumbent starter Mike Williams.
ESPN Stats and Info tweeted out a very impressive stat that will have Bucs fans, fantasy owners and probably most NFL outsiders high on his stock:
Josh Freeman: 1st QB in Buccaneers history to throw 3+ TD passes in 3 straight games
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 26, 2012
Here is the caveat for counting on Freeman for the remainder of the year: in the last four games he has faced the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings.
The Skins have the worst secondary in the league, which was on full display in their last-second loss to the New York Giants in Week 7. KC doesn't yield very many yards through the air, but do give up 30.5 points per game, third-worst in the league.
New Orleans can't stop a nosebleed against the run or the pass, which sets up big, easy passing plays as a result. Finally, the Vikings game was definitely misleading in terms of Freeman's passing.
Not only did he complete just 19-of-36 passes, but the three touchdowns Freeman threw weren't particularly jaw-dropping from his end of the connection. A one-yard pass to Erik Lorig made the game 10-0, and the next TD was three yards to Williams, who made a sensational, toe-tapping catch in the back of the end zone.
For the finale, Martin took a screen pass 64 yards for a score in the third quarter, weaving his way through a sea of sloppy tackling Minnesota defenders.
Even though he is asked to throw a higher percentage of passes down the field than most of his counterparts, Freeman's numbers in terms of accuracy have been underwhelming all season.
He has completed just over 55 percent of his passes, and has only gone above the 60 percent mark once in his current four-game stretch of improvement. Accuracy is the No. 1 attribute that can make or break a quarterback's chances between being a solid starter and an elite-caliber QB.
Freeman ranks ahead of only Andrew Luck and Mark Sanchez in terms of that vital statistic.
There is no denying Freeman's natural ability, and the fact that he is taking much better care of the football than he did in his disappointing 2011 campaign. The 14-to-5 TD-INT ratio and eight-plus yards per attempt are encouraging as well.
That said, there are still some discouraging trends present in Freeman's recent play that would indicate this recent stretch is more of a blip than a trend.