One of the main reasons that Minnesota Vikings fans are excited about Josh Freeman is his ability/propensity to throw the deep ball. Since 2011, he’s thrown 139 passes that traveled 20 yards or more, good for 11th in the league, and completed 50 of them. Freeman’s QBR rating on deep balls may only be 15th in the league since then. Christian Ponder rank 23rd and 24th respectively. One beneficiary of more deep throws will be rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Raw, rookie wide receivers like Patterson usually know how to do things: catch short screens/passes and run straight down the field. While Patterson continues to refine his route running, Freeman will give him the opportunity to make an impact with deep routes down the field. With the exception of kick returns and a couple deep catches, Patterson has been a non-factor for the Vikings. Freeman’s propensity to throw the ball down the field may result in more turnovers and risk-taking; it allows the team’s wide receivers to make the big play.
I’m not discounting the idea that Freeman needs to work on his accuracy. His 58.2 career completion percentage is mediocre, but his ability to make/go for the big play is something the Vikings have been lacking the last couple years. When you draft Patterson in the first round and sign receivers like Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson, you expect them to make a profound impact on your team. With Josh Freeman in the fold, look for Patterson and company to increase their production and change the mindset of the Vikings’ offense.