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Just The Sports: What A Shame

Just The Sports

Friday, October 02, 2009

What A Shame

What a shame it is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not give Josh Johnson a fair chance as the team's starting quarterback. In Josh Johnson, if the Buccaneers do not have the next great young quarterback, they do have a quarterback who will be more than serviceable and will be a great surprise to those who have never heard his name before. Unfortunately, as head coach Raheem Morris has so clearly stated, the Buccaneers are married to the vastly overrated, wildly inaccurate, and terribly overpaid rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, which means Josh Johnson will have to endure the embarrassment of warming the seat for a player clearly inferior to him.

As always, we can look at Josh Johnson's college statistics to see what a crown jewel the Buccaneers have on the roster. With players like Johnson, who played a lesser brand of football at his Division I-AA alma mater, the University of San Diego, it is imperative that they dominate on the college level if they want to succeed in the NFL. There is already a slight regression for Division I-A college quarterbacks, who play at the top level of college football, moving to the NFL and the regression for Division I-AA quarterbacks is even steeper.

In Johnson's case, though, even with the regression he will experience on the NFL level, he will still be a more than adequate quarterback because of his outstanding college football resumé. Over his thirty-two collegiate games, Johnson completed a sublime 67.9% of his 973 passes with 9.2 yards per pass attempt. Even more impressive, Johnson accumulated an amazing 7.7 TD:1 INT ratio. Accuracy is the most important tool a quarterback can have and Johnson possesses it in abundance.

However, Johnson's positive attributes do not stop with his ability to be an extremely proficient passer because he is also an excellent runner and is mobile in the pocket. Despite the fact that in college football quarterback's sacks count against his rushing totals, Johnson still managed to average 6.1 yards per rush every time he took off running with the ball.

What I hope happens is that Johnson remains faithful to who he is as a quarterback. There has been a disturbing trend against black quarterbacks who have the ability to run well to eschew that part of their game, thinking it makes them less of a quarterback. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true that those quarterbacks who are actually running backs masquerading as signal callers (i.e., Michael Vick) do not help their teams, uniquely talented quarterbacks like Johnson who can pass and run at an elite level should use all their physical tools available to them every time they step on the football field. Not doing so is to cripple themselves needlessly.

Johnson may not succeed right away because he is playing for a team with many deficiencies, but if the Buccaneers would think with their minds instead of their eyes, he has the chance to lead a resurgence in Buccaneer football. It has been a long time since they had a young, reliable quarterback at the offensive helm and they should treasure their treasure. Keeping Johnson on the field and Freeman buried on the bench is the best course of action for the Buccaneers.



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