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The Answer Man, Series 9, Volume 5

Posted Jun 24, 2013

The Buc fans' inside man returns with another Q&A session, touching on such topics as the chain crew, snapping losing streaks, rule changes and, of course, the long-waited Answer Man superhero movie


So, a few weeks ago in my last column, I essentially skipped my usual long intro for some trumped-up reason that was supposed to mask my laziness…and my editors didn't even notice.  (Or maybe worse, they did notice and thought it was a good idea.)  Anyway, you know what that means: We go straight to your questions once again.

 

The only thing I'll add is the usual.  Go here to send me a question, or go here to check out my extensive archives.  Now, we'll begin with a question I promised I would answer at the bottom of my last column.

 

**

 

1. Matt of Orlando, Florida asks:

Answer Man, first off I'd like to say I'm a long-time fan of yours and love your attention to grammar and your ability to call people out for silly little errors. Keep it up! Also, I'd like to thank you for years ago calling attention to my 2 favorite side-show people at Bucs games: green hat guy & orange glove guy. Never knew about them until you, and now I watch for them each game & educate my fellow season-ticket holders (not always to their liking) about those jobs. The question I have today is related to my wife's favorite side-show people at games: the chain gang. Ever since she watched one guy throw down his marker and scamper away from at least a dozen plays (in her first-ever NFL game attended) headed out-of-bounds in his direction, she's fascinated by them and their occasional panicked sprints (her favorite times are when the plays are NOWHERE near them & yet they run). My question is: Who do the chain gang work for? Are they NFL employees or Bucs or Raymond James Stadium employees? Are they considered officials on some level? And what happens when they make mistakes? Does (understandably) dropping the maker & running for safety when half a dozen bodies come flying at them out-of-bounds ever affect the first down spot? Did I ask too many questions at one time?

 

Answer Man: Let me start with your last question first.  Yes.  Yes, you did.  But I'll forgive you this time because I got a kick out of your e-mail and your wife's fascination with the mostly unnoticed workers on an NFL sideline.

 

Let's take this in order.  Thanks for the compliments, and just let me say that I'm okay with your wording as long as we agree that a large part of what is "silly" about some of the errors you mention is my preoccupation with them (e.g. it's Super Bowl, not Superbowl).  We all know how quickly innocent corrections can turn into pedantic obnoxious, and I don't want to cross that line.  I've crossed it at home on occasion (the Answer Wife would say many occasions) and I get the same chilly response you're apparently getting from your fellow season ticket-holders.

 

Alright, the Green Hat and Orange Sleeve guys.  I know you didn't ask about that, but since I did indeed answer this years ago, I might as well provide a refresher for those who are reading this now and don't know what we're talking about.  Actually, instead of writing a "refresher," why don't I just "save myself a bunch of work and lazily cut-and-paste" what I wrote in a column back on New Year's Eve day of 2004.

 

The term [Orange Sleeve] refers to an actual orange sleeve, naturally, but it is also used to describe the person who wears this particularly gaudy accessory. The Orange Sleeve stands on the sideline with his extremely visible arm and signals to the officials when it is time to take a commercial break in the TV broadcast.

 

There is also a person known as the Green Hat, for similar reasons. Actually, the Green Hat and Orange Sleeve are running a joint operation. Perhaps the Answer Man is thinking into this a bit too much, but you can remember the roles of those two by the part of their bodies that their work-related accessories cover.

 

That is, the Green Hat is the real brains of the operation. He is an actual representative of the network and he is wired into the network TV control truck, which is parked somewhere in the bowels of the stadium. (The Answer Man says ‘he’ because, in the Bucs’ case, the Green Hat is a man.) He coordinates the breaks with the truck, then tells the Orange Sleeve when to put his neon arm into action. The Orange Sleeve acts out what the Green Hat thinks up. The officials want to be able to find both of them easily on the sideline, thus the bright sleeve and hat.

 

The Green Hat-Orange Sleeve duo always stands on the press box side of the field, usually near the 30-yard line on one side of the team’s bench.

 

That's all the info you need, so you don't have to follow that link to the original column that I provided above.  Actually, I'd kinda rather you didn't, since that was nearly nine years ago and there are a few, well, slightly embarrassing details in there for ye ol' Answer Man.  There's a really old picture of me, for one thing, when I had a more cartoonish appearance that some of you occasionally took jabs at.  There's also a whole list of my proposed New Year's resolutions, many of which I failed spectacularly (still keeping Diet Coke in business, for instance, and still seething over announcers who yell at teams for throwing a five-yard pass on third-and-seven).  There's even an apparently witty reference to Blockbuster.  Oh, how timely.  Blockbuster.  They're doing great these days.

 

Anyway, I digress.  Badly.

 

So, Matt, we'll move on to the next part of your question, which is actually a question.  Well, at least there's a question after the amusing bit about the chain gang guys scattering when players approach.  And let me just add a little note on that part.  I can see why your wife finds that amusing, presumably because she's imagining those guys also shrieking in terror as a 250-pound human missile, armored and muscled to the hilt, comes flying in at a hundred miles per hour.  Yes, that is probably terrifying, but let's not question these guys' manhood.  In addition to self-preservation, you can bet that part of their motivation for being extra-careful to get out of the way is to not disrupt a play or lead to a player being injured.  You can rest assured that it is a very real part of these guys job instructions to make sure they get out of the way when the action on the field comes in their direction.  Some teams use flexible or collapsible sticks specifically so they won't hurt a player if he runs into them, but everybody still prefers to avoid sideline collisions when at all possible.

 

Since we're on that part, let me skip ahead to your second-to-last question (the last one being, "Did I ask too many questions?" which I answered before but may be changing my mind about).  You ask (and I paraphrase) if in the chain gang's haste to get out of the way, which leads to dropped markers, do they ever compromise their primary purpose and lose the exact spot?  Well, don't you worry, Matt.

 

You may have noticed – shoot, I'm sure your wife noticed, given the attention she apparently pays to these guys – that when the chains are brought on for a measurement that an official always runs onto the field from the sideline along the nearest five-yard marker line.  That's because, when the sticks are placed to mark a new first down spot, a clip is placed on the chain at that nearest five-yard marker line.  So there's the solution to your "running-away-shrieking-in-terror-and-dropping-your-sticks" issue.  You simply pick up the whole two-sticks-one-chain apparatus, align the clip on the chain with that same yard line and stretch them back out from there.  Voila!

 

By the way, we're not talking about a simple little paper clip here.  The clip attaches to the chain with a thin strand, and that's the actual marker, but on the other end of the strand is a circular dial.  The dial can be turned so that the various multiples of five show up in the display window.  Thus, if you get a first down at your own 42, going toward midfield, the clip will be placed on the 45 and the dial will be turned so that "45" shows.  That way, when the terror of approaching players has ended and the chain crew picks up the sticks again, they know for certain where the clip should be repositioned.

 

A few more things about that.  One, the clip is specifically placed directly on one of the two edges of that yard-marker stripe, and if a measurement is needed, the chain crew tells the on-field official that information so he knows where to place it when he gets out to where the football is spotted.  Two, since the chain gang doesn't stand on the very edge of the field but back a bit, and because the yard-marker lines actually end a little bit before meeting the sideline, there is some extra paint on the field you probably haven't noticed.  At the far end of the broad white sideline stripe, the field crew paints little nubs of white that correspond with the yard-marker lines on the field.  The chain crew guys use those little nubs to spot their clips.

 

But wait, there's more!  Did you know that there is a separate chain crew guy with specifically the job of placing that clip?  Well, since I'm assuming you didn't know about the clip, you probably did not know that either.  Well, there is.  One guy holds the stick at the first-down mark, one guy holds the stick 10 yards away and a third guy attaches the clip.

 

So it's a three-man crew, right?  Nope.  Try six.  That's because, as you've probably noticed, there's a set of sticks on each sideline.  Now, only one of those sets has a chain connecting the sticks and is thus used for measurements.  On the other sideline, you have an unofficial mirror of the official markers on the opposite side, and that's run by a three-man crew as well.  In this case, the extra person isn't a clip-attacher, he's a stand-in-one-place guy.  See, when a drive starts, the set of sticks without a chain is set up just like the one on the other side.  However, as a drive progresses, one guy stays with a stick at the original starting yard line of that drive.  He never moves until possession changes and a new spot is needed.  Meanwhile, a third stick is used as the drive progresses so that there will still be two to mark the first downs as the team moves.  Out of all six chain crew guys, that one who just stands in the same spot for an entire drive sure has it the easiest, huh?

 

Am I done yet?  No, I am not.  Remember, you asked for this, Matt.  I'm a little worried that I'm going to pull back the curtain too far and take all the magic out of this for your wife, so that she won't enjoy the running and shrieking as much going forward.  Still, I am the ANSWER Man.  It's what I do.  It's my nature.  With great questions come great responsibility.

 

So have you noticed that sometimes a ball will be spotted near one sideline but the guys with the sticks will come running from all the way across the field to make the spot?  That used to confuse me, too, until I learned that part about only the sticks with the chains being official.  You've got to have that setup, with the clip at the five-yard line marker, to be completely accurate.  Usually, the official chain crew will start the game on the sideline opposite the stadium's press box.  In Raymond James Stadium, that's the visitor's sideline, and indeed the official set of sticks is always on that side in the first half of Bucs games.  At halftime, the two crews switch, putting the official crew on the Bucs' sideline at Raymond James Stadium.

 

Okay, now I'm done…with that part at least.  There's till the matter of your other question, which is probably the least important/least interesting part of your submission – unless you (or your wife) are sniffing around for a part-time job.  That question is, who employs these chain-gangers?  (By the way, the official name of this group is the "Chain Crew," probably because "chain gang" is already associated with something less than complimentary.)

 

Actually, the chain crew is officially part of the game's officiating crew, and thus reports to the NFL, not the Bucs or TSA.  The Buccaneers are responsible for supplying the necessary equipment at each game – the sticks and chains and clips – but you know where they put them?  In the official's room.

 

**

 

2. Glenn of Rochester, New York asks:

After the week 17 victory for the Falcons there was a lot of talk about that win, snapping the 5 game losing streak, would give the team momentum to carry into the next season. I would like to know how true that is for teams breaking a significant losing streak in their last regular season game and there win-loss record the following season. Maybe win-loss records or post season success of teams that broke a five game losing streak in their final game of the prior season vs. teams that ended their prior season with a 5 game losing streak, or any parameters you find interesting with this topic.

 

Answer Man: Boom!  Now THAT'S how you write a question to the Answer Man!  A Buccaneer occurrence looked at in a different way.  A statistical/research challenge for me.  Some good parameters with an invitation for me to define them further.  Succinct and to the point.  This one had it all.  Good work, Glenn.

 

Actually, I find your parameters just fine, so let's go with them.  When teams break a losing streak of five or more games with a win in the season finale, does it translate to regular season and or postseason success the following year.  First, let me answer it from a purely Bucs' perspective.

 

It has only happened twice before, and in neither case did it portend anything special.  In 1991, Richard Williamson's Buccaneers snapped a five-game skid with a 17-3 win over Indianapolis in the season finale.  That was Williamson's last game at the helm; he was relieved of his duties after one-plus seasons as head coach and replaced by Sam Wyche.  Wyche's first team shot out of the gates with wins with a 3-1 record but won just one of the next 11 games.  After dropping five straight in November and December, the team rebounded with a 7-3 victory at Phoenix on the season's last weekend.  The following season, the Bucs would post an identical 5-11 record in Wyche's second year.

 

Notice I didn't say a "thrilling" 7-3 victory at Phoenix.  That it was not.  The field conditions at Sun Devil Stadium that day were some of the worst the Bucs have ever encountered, loose and gravelly, and that made the game very sloppy.  Kickers Eddie Murray of the Bucs and Greg Davis combined to miss six of seven field goal tries because their plant feet wouldn't stick, and the Bucs' defense forced six turnovers.

 

Anyway, beyond the (unsolicited) history lesson, I bring that up for a reason.  Neither of those streak-snapping wins was terribly impressive on its own.  The Cardinals were 4-12 that year, including another loss to the Buccaneers in the season opener.  The 1991 Colts were 1-14 coming into their season-capping game in Tampa, 1-15 going out.  Yeah, the Bucs broke their losing streaks, but not in a way that had everybody thinking bigger things were on the way.

 

That's in stark contrast to what happened last year.  The 2012 Buccaneers, on the heels of a five-game losing skid that included a one-point loss to first-place Atlanta and a last-play-of-the-game heartbreaker against Philadelphia, finished their year with a rousing 22-17 win at Atlanta.  Against the #1 seed in the NFC.  Which had won five of its last six.  Which was undefeated at home that year.  Which would come within a few seconds of making it to the Super Bowl in the weeks that followed.  And which, to the surprise of many analysts, played ALL of their starters for almost the entire game.

 

Now THAT is a game that will get people excited about what's to come.  In no way does it PROVE that 2013 will be a great year for the Bucs, but neither do those 1991 and 1992 outcomes mean that 2013 won't be great.  Too few samples, and too big of a difference between the situations.

 

You asked for a more thorough answer, though, so let's go get it.  Across the NFL as a whole, how often have teams ended a losing streak of five or more games with a win in the season finale, and then what happened to them the next year?  I'll check, but I am going to add one more parameter here – I'm only going back as far as the 1970 merger.  I do have a life, you know.

 

In the table below, "Streak" refers to the losing streak that preceded the season-ending win, and "Opp." is the team they beat in that final win.  A description of the streak-snapping team's following season is the final column.

 

Season

Team

Streak

Opp

Next Season

1974

Atlanta

8

GB

4-10

1976

Philadelphia

5

SEA

5-9

1979

Indianapolis

5

NYG

7-9

1981

Indianapolis

14

NE

0-8-1

1983

Indianapolis

5

HOU

4-12

1984

Atlanta

9

PHI

4-12

1991

Tampa Bay

5

IND

5-11

1992

Tampa Bay

5

PHX

5-11

1994

Cincinnati

5

PHI

7-9

1994

Tennessee

11

NYJ

7-9

1994

Washington

7

LA

6-10

1995

Jacksonville

7

CLE

9-7, Lost AFC Champ. game

1997

Minnesota

5

IND

15-1, Lost NFC Champ. game

2000

Atlanta

6

KC

7-9

2003

Arizona

7

MIN

6-10

2003

Cleveland

5

CIN

4-12

2004

Cleveland

9

HOU

6-10

2004

N.Y. Giants

8

DAL

11-5, Lost Wild Card game

2004

Tennessee

5

DET

4-12

2006

Detroit

7

DAL

7-9

2007

Atlanta

6

SEA

11-5, Lost Wild Card game

2007

Baltimore

9

PIT

11-5, Lost AFC Champ. Game

2008

Green Bay

6

DET

11-5, Lost Wild Card game

2009

Kansas City

5

DEN

10-6, Lost Wild Card game

 

That's 24 occurrences in 42 years, which is actually more than I expected to find.  That might even be a meaningful sample size (note: I have no scientific basis for that statement).  If it is, well then it proves…um…not much, that I can see.

 

Seven of the 25 teams went on to make the playoffs the following season, with three making it as far as the conference championship game.  Probably the most encouraging examples for Buc fans would be the 1997 Vikings and the 1995 Jaguars.  You might remember those Vikings as the team that added Randy Moss the following year and nearly went undefeated (losing only to your very own Buccaneers during the regular season), eventually falling to Atlanta in a heartbreaking NFC Championship Game.  Those Jags were an expansion team in 1995, so it wasn't surprising to see them lost seven in a row (a loss to the Bucs was in there).  It was surprising the next year when both Jacksonville and its expansion twin, Carolina, blasted all the way to their respective conference championship games.  That Jacksonville team was obviously a group in its second year under a new head coach, and the expansion rules of the time had made it possible for them to add some very important veterans between seasons, as the Bucs have now done in 2013.

 

However, let's take a closer look at the fourth column in the table above, and think back to what I said about the three times this has happened in Bucs history.  Twice, in 1991 and 1992, the Bucs broke their streaks with wins over teams that were pretty darn bad themselves.  Last year, they did it against one of the best squads in the entire league (at their place, to boot).  That season is not included above because we don't yet know what the Bucs will do in 2013 (that was the whole point of this question, of course).

 

Do you know how many of the 24 instances above involved teams breaking their losing streaks against teams with winning records?  Only six (and all of them since 2003, weirdly).  Two of those seven were against teams that did not finish with winning records, because they were 8-7 coming into the season finale and then obviously lost to drop to 8-8.  Still, they were a winning team when they came into that last game against the team on a losing streak, so I think we have to count them.

 

The 2007 Falcons, 2007 Ravens and 2009 Chiefs all broke their streaks against teams with winning records and then went on to make the playoffs the next season.  That's actually pretty encouraging, in the Answer Man's opinion.

 

Seriously, there's some good stuff here.  Of the six teams before the 2012 Bucs that ended a five-game losing streak by beating a winning team in the season finale, five improved their records the next year (the 2003-04 Browns were the exception).  And not by just a little.  Four of those five improved by at least four games, which is a huge jump, and three improved by at least six games, which is an enormously huge jump.

 

So, to sum up: Those six teams who did what the Buccaneers did at the end of last season improved the next year by an average of exactly four games.  Add four wins to the Bucs' 2012 tally and you have what?  That's right, an 11-5 record, and that's going to get you into the playoffs virtually every time.

 

So not only was that a great question, Glenn, but it led to a great answer.  I thank you for your contribution and hope to see your name in my mailbag again.

 

**

 

3. Jay of Wesley Chapel, Florida asks:

Answer man I wrote to you about 5 months ago and asked a couple questions and also made several jokes about, well, numerous things. I hope to be more serious this time. My last question was about the change to the rules last year moving the kick-off line 5 yards. Personally I like changes because some make the game faster, safer and some even make it more fun. This is my question. Are there any major changes to the rule book this year and I will leave it to your discretion on what you view as major? I'm Sorry I don't think you will need any charts, graphs, statistics or power points to bump up your word count with that question. My second question is with all of the super hero films coming out the last couple years, will they be making any movies of you soon? Sorry I couldn't resist. Jay

 

Answer Man: There are changes to the rules every year, Jay.  There's not always something as big as that change of the kickoff line or the recent revision of overtime procedures.  The advent of free agency with the new CBA in 1993, the (re-)adoption of instant replay in 1999, the change to allow underclassmen into the draft in 1990…those are huge deals.  I don't think there's anything this year on a level with those sea changes, but there is at least one new rule that has caused a lot of huffing and puffing around the league.

 

That one, of course, is the new runners-leading-with-their-helmets penalty that the Answer Man thinks has been blown a little out of proportion.  I guess we'll know for sure when the season arrives and we some calls made, but I don't think this is going to be as dramatic as some running backs seem to fear.  Now, that doesn't mean I blame an NFL back like, say, Cleveland's Trent Richardson for speaking out against the rule.  Those guys know their jobs a heck of a lot better than I do, and if they think it's going to be a problem they could be right.  But the main difference between the actual rule and many people's perception of it is that it doesn't apply until the runner gets out into the open field.  A back can still take a handoff, put his head down and bust through the traffic at the line of scrimmage.  He just can't be running "at least three yards downfield or outside of the tackle box" and then purposely use his helmet to spear a defender.  That's something defenders can't do to the ballcarrier, so it only seems fair.

 

The competition committee emphasized after the rules were announced that the back has to be "clearly" out in space before the rule applies, and that it only applies to leading with the crown of the helmet.  The committee said they reviewed 16 games during one week of the 2012 season and found five instances where such a flag might have been thrown.

 

Anyway, there's a lot of disagreement over how much of an impact this rule is going to have.  As you can see, I'm on the less hysterical end of that spectrum, but the coming season could prove me wrong.

 

The Answer Man thinks the more interesting rule change this year was the "repeal," if you will, of the infamous tuck rule.  That's the one that was most famously called in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game between Oakland and New England; in fact, that is now known as "The Tuck Rule Game," though I imagine then-Raiders coach Jon Gruden has some more colorful terms for it.  In basic terms, the tuck rule – instituted in 1999 but just quietly lurking there for years, waiting to explode into controversy – says that if a quarterback is holding the ball in position to pass it, any forward movement of the throwing arm is considered the beginning of a pass, even if he is attempting to tuck it back into his body.  Tom Brady was ruled to be tucking the ball when Raiders CB Charles Woodson sacked him and caused what was initially called a fumble, which the Raiders recovered.  At the time, the Patriots were losing by three with less than two minutes to play in the game and were trying to get into field goal position.  When the fumble was overturned via the tuck rule, the drive was preserved and the Patriots did indeed tie the game with a field goal before eventually winning it in overtime.


It's kinda surprising to the Answer Man that the tuck rule stayed on the books for another dozen years after that, because it just didn't smell right.  If you're watching the game with nine buddies and all 10 of you think the play looks like a fumble, it probably should be a fumble.  Through the years, many people (not all of them) have conceded that the Raiders-Patriots play was probably interpreted correctly by the officials, even if the rule was misguided.  That's the Answer Man's opinion, but I also am glad the rule is gone so what walks and talks like a fumble will now be called a fumble.  The competition committee members specifically said that the Raiders-Patriots play would indeed be called a fumble if it were to happen in 2013.  I'm sure that's enormous consolation to Raider fans.

 

The league also wisely did away with the penalty that penalized a team and took away the replay option if a coach threw a challenge flag when he wasn't allowed to.  That change was obviously after the Justin Forsett Thanksgiving debacle.  The only other changes were ones you and I won't notice much: tight ends can now wear jerseys in the 40-49 range; no more "peel-back" blocks within the tackle box; and a bunch of gibberish about where defenders can line up and what they can do on field goal attempts.

 

As for your last question…Jay, you're a movie critic, right?  I think you and I can agree that if Answer Man: The Motion Picture were made it would break box office records.  And not in a good way.  What's the lowest-grossing superhero movie of all time?  Blankman?  Jonah Hex?  Whatever that Shaquille O'Neal thing was called?  An Answer Man flick would top them all…or out-terrible them all, or whatever the term would be.  I can't see a studio putting money into that.  Perhaps you and I could get together and film it independently.  I can spare about $600 to get us started.  Will that work?

 

Anyway, if they did make an Answer Man movie (again, no, they will not), I'm sure it would follow the usual superhero movie arc.  I'm guessing it would start with an origin story, with my birth on the far-off planet of…well, I don't want to give it away just in case we do get funding.  There would be the part where I discover my powers, like maybe when my mom asks five-year-old me what I want for dinner and I know the answer!  (Everyone in the room gasps.)  There would be the awkward years where I try to fit in like a normal human being and learn to keep my powers in check (thus the not-so-stellar high school grades; I couldn't be too obvious).  Then I would at some point accept my destiny and start becoming a superhero, only to go through a dark phase where I fail/appear to turn evil/renounce my powers.  That renouncing part could be bad, because there really are a lot of times in life when it helps to be able to answer a question.  Superman got beat up in a diner; I might not be able to give my name to the hostess at a crowded restaurant.  Finally, my love interest (Scarlett Johansson) would be in some danger and I would have to put the cape back on and save her from the villain with, uh, some really good answers.  I think you can see where this project is going to come off the rails.  And, in case the Answer Wife decides to read this column, that "love interest" thing is just Hollywood trying to spice up the story.  I don't even know who Scarlett Johansson is.

 

The other problem with the Answer Man movie, Jay, would be casting.  Who would play me?  Obviously, it would have to be someone devastatingly handsome.  That's a given.  You'd probably have to pay big bucks to get a Clooney or a Pitt and, again, that's going to hurt the bottom line.  I don't think this one's getting off the ground, Jay.  Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of superhero flicks for fans of that genre.

 

**

 

4. Jake G. of Ishpeming, Michigan asks:

Answer Man, I hear your cry for questions and I will happily oblige. Just as you have an extraordinary power to answer questions, I have an uncanny ability to ask them (although yours is more of a gift, and mine a curse). One of the recent topics of discussion around the water cooler for any Bucs fan is Josh Freeman setting franchise records for passing yards and touchdowns last season. My questions to you are: On which other NFL teams would those totals be records? How many of them would he be close? Where do those numbers stand on an all-time list for QB's 25 and under? I am a big Josh Freeman fan and hope that he and the Bucs decide to extend his contract soon. That's it for now but I'll be sure to write in again soon if your inbox needs the bulk.

 

Answer Man: There's a reason I put this question last, right after the one above from Jay.  You see, if they DID make an Answer Man movie (again, they WON'T), you'd have to at least consider Jake from Ishpeming as one of the villains.  I mean, that seems harsh because Jake always comes off as very nice and helpful in his e-mails, but superheroes need foils (not FOOLS, Jake, FOILS) and he has been that at times for me.  Not sure if anybody has gotten more questions into my columns than Jake, which means nobody has been more responsible for causing me hours of research and rulebook-thumbing.  And that's kinda evil, right?  A little dastardly?  Okay, slightly mischievous, maybe?  Yes?  I'm being granted "slightly mischievous."  That's you, Jake, slightly mischievous, you foul supervillain.

 

All of which is to say, great question!  Thanks!  Let's have at it.  Ah, heck, let's just put all the numbers in a chart.  Love me some charts.

 

Team

Yards

TDs

Team

Yards

TDs

Arizona

4,614

30

Miami

5,084

48

Atlanta

4,719

32

Minnesota

4,717

39

Baltimore

4,177

33

New England

5,235

50

Buffalo

4,359

33

New Orleans

5,476

46

Carolina

4,436

36

N.Y. Giants

4,933

36

Chicago

3,838

29

N.Y. Jets

4,007

29

Cincinnati

4,131

32

Oakland

4,689

34

Cleveland

4,132

30

Philadelphia

3,916

32

Dallas

4,903

36

Pittsburgh

4,328

32

Denver

4,659

37

St. Louis

4,830

41

Detroit

5,038

41

San Diego

4,802

34

Green Bay

4,643

45

San Francisco

4,278

36

Houston

4,770

29

Seattle

3,966

32

Indianapolis

4,700

49

Tampa Bay

4,065

27

Jacksonville

4,367

23

Tennessee

4,960

36

Kansas City

4,591

30

Washington

4,109

31

 

 For chart space purposes, I didn't include the names of the individuals who set each of those records, though you can probably guess a lot of them.  It's Tom Brady in New England and Drew Brees in New Orleans for instance.  Still Dan Marino in Miami and Dan Fouts in San Diego.  The Manning brothers account for three of those teams, with Peyton in Indy and Denver and Eli in New York.  Well, actually that last part is only half true; Eli Manning set the Giants' passing yards records in 2011 with 4,933 but the great Y.A. Tittle still holds the team's single-season passing TD record with 36 in 1963.

 

Anyway, you can figure out the answers to your questions in the chart above, but I'll spell them out here anyway.  Freeman's 4,065 passing yards last year set a Buccaneer record and would also be the all-time best mark for four other franchises: Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and the New York Jets.  Freeman's team-record 27 touchdown passes last year would only be the top mark for one other club, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

Okay, that's not all your questions.  You ask for which teams Freeman's 2012 numbers would be "close" to their single-season record.  I guess that somewhat depends on what you consider close, but I think we can agree it's not the case for New England, New Orleans, Miami, Detroit and a few others.  In terms of yards, I guess you could say Freeman's marks are close to the records for Baltimore (4,177), Cincinnati (4,131), Cleveland (4,132) and Washington (4,109).  Maybe San Francisco (4,278).  In terms of touchdowns, Freeman's 27 TDs would only be two behind the records in Chicago, Houston and New York (Jets, that is).

 

Finally, where do those numbers rank for passers who put them up when they were 25 or younger?  Freeman's 4,065 yards last year ranks 16th in NFL history for quarterbacks who were 25 or younger.  Dan Marino and Peyton Manning are each responsible for three of the 15 seasons above Freeman's, with Drew Bledsoe and Matthew Stafford accounting for two each.  Since I've just identified 10 of those 15 seasons, I might as well tell you the other five men on the list: Neil Lomax, Jay Cutler, Andrew Luck, Don Majkowski and Jay Schroeder.  Freeman's 27 touchdowns last year would tie for the 17th-best total among passers who were 25 or younger.

 

**

 

Okay, that's it for this one, as I try (and only partially succeed) to continue with this shorter format.  Some of your questions are just too good to answer in a paragraph or two, and I also didn't get to all of the most recent good submissions.  Good job adding a little bulk back to my mailbag, but there's still room for more, so feel free to send in what you've got.  Again, go here to submit a question at any time.