COMMENTARY | Somewhere deep inside, Christian Ponder had to be smiling a little bit after watching the Minnesota Vikings get pummeled 35-10 at the hands of Carolina on Sunday at Mall of America Field.
The longtime whipping boy for the Minnesota Vikings, Ponder saw from the sidelines what he already knew: The team's biggest problem isn't at quarterback.
The Vikings' most glaring weaknesses are poor offensive-line play, a defense that appears to be intent on proving it's the worst in the league, and a coaching staff that is hopelessly outclassed on a weekly basis. To be manhandled by a 1-3 Carolina team at home after a bye week is an embarrassment to the organization.
Still, quarterbacking is a problem. It may not be the team's biggest area of concern, but it is still a problem and it was evident Sunday. With Matt Cassel playing a below-average game, the Vikings were doomed early on and it was no surprise that they were out of the game just more than a minute into the second half.
Now sitting at 1-4 after playing the softer portion of their schedule, the Vikings need some sort of boost and that should come in the form of Josh Freeman getting the start against the New York Giants next week in one of the most dismal Monday night games in recent memory.
The Vikings have nothing to lose by handing the reins to Freeman for the balance of the season to see where he can lead them. They are not going to make the postseason, but Minnesota will know if Freeman is the one to lead the team in 2014 and beyond by giving him an extended trial run.
If Freeman proves to be nothing special, the Vikings can simply target a quarterback through the draft. If Freeman doesn't post amazing numbers, that draft choice is likely to be pretty high as the defense will continue to give up its share of points. That means a Marcus Mariota or Tajh Boyd will likely be available when it's time for the Vikings to select.
If Freeman plays the way he is capable of -- which will be no easy feat in a Bill Musgrave offense -- the Vikings will have the option to look for help on the defensive side of the ball and nab a cornerback like Ohio State's Bradley Roby or Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Vikings need plenty of help defensively, so they can also target a linebacker or defensive lineman. Anybody Minnesota selects is likely to be an upgrade over who is playing now.
Freeman is still young enough that a team could build around him and his skills. If a change of scenery is all that he needs, the Vikings have a quarterback for the next five years. What they could really use is a defense and a coaching staff to go along with him.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since the 1970s.
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