Don't overlook Josh Freeman's feet

As Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman emerged as a franchise quarterback in 2010, a lot of people compared him to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.

FreemanFreemanUnderstandable. Both of them are the size of a tight end, can throw the heck out of the ball and can bounce off defenders. But one other comparison got overlooked. In some ways, you can put Freeman in the same class as Michael Vick.

The Philadelphia quarterback is known for his running ability, particularly his speed. Freeman’s not nearly as fast and most of his runs aren’t by design. But look back at the quarterback rushing statistics from the 2010 season and Freeman was the closest thing there was to Vick.

Vick was the league’s top rushing quarterback with 100 carries for 676 yards. But Freeman was second with 364 yards on 68 carries. That put Freeman ahead of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Jacksonville’s David Garrard, who are known as strong runners.

Freeman also finished second in rushing first downs by quarterbacks with 29. Vick was first with 38. Freeman had one more than Garrard and seven more than Rodgers, who were third and fourth.

Freeman tied for the league lead in percentage of converting third-and-1 rushing opportunities into first downs. He was successful on all seven attempts. Eight other players also had perfect percentages, but none had as many attempts as Freeman.

Oh, if you want to compare Freeman to another big-name quarterback who was known for his rushing, try Steve Young. He spent a couple years with the Bucs back in the 1980s and set the team’s rushing record for quarterbacks with 425 yards on 74 carries in 1986. Doug Williams’ 370 yards on 58 carries in 1980 rank second and Freeman’s 2010 output is third.