All those passing yards
All the talk in the NFL this week has been about Drew Brees passing Dan Marino's NFL record of 5,084 yards in one season. Even the BBC Sport website had a patronising article about the modern crop of quarterbacks being the best in the history of the league.
The explosion in passing yardage totals is once again down to the change in the rules that pretty much means that even farting in the general direction of a receiver will cause a flag for pass interference.
Every team and their dog runs most of their offense out of the shotgun these days and the basic rule of thumb in the NFL now is thirteen yards and a puff of dust from the astroturf grass.
1984 was one of the first seasons I followed the NFL and I always admired Marino as a pure passer. He may never have won the big one but in terms of sheer throwing abiity, he is head and right shoulder above the rest and deserves his place in the Hall of Fame. I feel honoured that I got to see him play in the flesh in 1997 and was on the field with him pre-game.
It would be suitably ironic if Brees' first pass on Sunday is a loss of four or five yards and he got injured on the play. That would then take him behind Marino's magical mark again and all the celebratory articles would need to be unwritten.
Buccaneer passing marks
|2003 ||Johnson, Brad ||570 ||354 ||62.1% ||3,811 ||21 ||26|
|1981 ||Williams, Doug ||471 ||238 ||50.5% ||3,563 ||14 ||19|
|1984 ||DeBerg, Steve ||509 ||308 ||60.5% ||3,554 ||18 ||19|
|2010 ||Freeman, Josh ||474 ||291 ||61.4% ||3,451 ||6 ||25|
|2001 ||Johnson, Brad ||559 ||340 ||60.8% ||3,406 ||11|| 13|
|1980 ||Williams, Doug ||521 ||254 ||48.8% ||3,396 ||16|| 20|
|2011 ||Freeman, Josh ||506 ||315 ||62.3% ||3,318 ||19 ||14|
|1988 ||Testaverde, Vinny ||466 ||222 ||47.6% ||3,240 ||35|| 13|
|1989 ||Testaverde, Vinny ||480 ||258 ||53.8% ||3,133 ||22 ||20|
|1993 ||Erickson, Craig ||457 ||233 ||51.0% ||3,054 ||21 ||18|
|2002 ||Johnson, Brad ||451 ||281 ||62.3% ||3,049 ||6 ||22|
11 times in the 36-year history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has a quarterback passed for over 3,000 yards in a season. Josh Freeman has just done it for the second time matching Doug Williams and Vinny Testaverde, all of them trailing Bucs UK quarterback Brad Johnson who has three of them.
Freeman needs 246 yards in Atlanta to take second place in the single-season mark and would quite probably have passed Johnson's 2003 mark had he not missed the Carolina home game with a hand injury.
Jack Thompson exceeded 2,900 yards in the 1983 season having only first appeared in Week 3 of that season, and Trent Dilfer never got that close to 3,000 yards, even his Pro Bowl season of 1997 only bringing him a total of 2,555.
But when you look at that table of passing stats on the right, you cannot help but notice Vinny's 35 interceptions in 1988. And that included a mid-season game with Miami which he missed through injury/was benched by Ray Perkins (delete where you think appropriate).
So if you think Josh has had a bad season and has hit rather too many linebackers in the numbers with passes intended for Kellen Winslow this year, consider then just how bad Vinny was during his second season. And he was not much better the year after either.