Josh Freeman's Disastrous Debut Highlights Vikings' Long Road to QB Salvation
Monday night's disaster of an offensive performance from the Minnesota Vikings was preseason football in October, a calamity whose blame should fall at the feet of every single member of the organization.
Given less than two weeks to learn a new NFL offense and prepare to play a football game, Josh Freeman predictably put together 60 minutes of the worst quarterbacking possible. And after failing to score a single point on offense, the Vikings fell to 1-5 with a 23-7 loss to the previously winless New York Giants.
To be completely fair, the entire situation surrounding Freeman as the Minnesota starter deserves more than one week to get a full evaluation. But it's now painfully clear that the Vikings face a long road to fixing what ails their quarterback position.
Consistently under pressure and operating with a limited play sheet, Freeman completed just 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and one interception against the Giants. He was wildly inaccurate to every level, and a dozen or more dropbacks ended with Freeman picking himself up off the MetLife Stadium turf.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but this was a predictable outcome given the circumstances.
A desperate team lacking a real answer under center, the Vikings made a midseason move for Freeman and then threw him to the wolves just days after acquiring him. The 25-year-old is certainly much better than what he showed Monday night, but there was no chance for anyone to see it.
In fact, this was akin to a team acquiring a quarterback sometime in August and giving him live-game reps in the preseason. Those players typically struggle, and usually to the magnitude in which Freeman did against the Giants.
However, the difference here is this was a regular-season game on Monday Night Football, making the Vikings' decision to start Freeman an embarrassing mistake that should now reverberate throughout the organization.
Put this disaster on general manager Rick Spielman, who lured Freeman to Minnesota and then signed off on starting him so quickly after his release from Tampa Bay. Put it on Leslie Frazier, a lame-duck coach who is looking for any way to salvage a sinking season and job. Even offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave deserves blame, as he continued a season of clueless game plans and zero adjustments.
Who is the most likely answer to the Vikings' problem at quarterback?
The Vikings set up Josh Freeman to fail, and he did so in terrific fashion Monday night.
Now, the answers at quarterback in Minnesota seem so far away.
The organization, for all intents and purposes, gave up on Christian Ponder the day it acquired Freeman. Matt Cassel is an older, fading QB who shouldn't be a starter for any NFL team now or in the future. And both internal and external doubts on whether Freeman is anything near an answer at signal-caller, in 2013 or beyond, have only been exasperated.
The Vikings look like a team that needs a clean sweep, from general manager to head coach to quarterback.
Freeman will likely continue to get looks, for no other reason than the Vikings are paying him $2 million for the rest of this season. He'll be better, too, as Monday night was probably the basement for NFL quarterback play.
The Vikings still have no answers at the game's most important position.
At 1-5, and with two games against division rivals up next, Minnesota can all but call 2013 a lost season. If that's the case, Coach Frazier will be gone, and either Spielman or the next general manager will be picking Minnesota's future franchise quarterback next May.
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