When the Vikings turned to Josh Freeman at quarterback this week, it was about more than just one game. Their season was, realistically, not fixable at 1-4. Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel are mediocre and weren't taking the Vikings anywhere.
The move was mostly about giving Freeman, who began this season as Tampa Bay's starter before he was cut in a messy divorce, a chance to see if he could be an option for the future. He's 25 years old, a former first-round pick and has had success before. And if he gave the Vikings a spark in 2013 as they evaluated him, so be it.
The Vikings have to swallow hard and figure out after Monday night's 23-7 loss to the Giants, one of the ugliest games of this or any other NFL season, how much more of Freeman they can watch.
Freeman was absolutely horrible on Monday night. He looked worse than he did with the Buccaneers before Tampa Bay cut him, as hard as that is to believe.
He didn't get a ton of help from a weird and embarrassing gameplan. The reigning NFL MVP, Adrian Peterson, had 13 rushing attempts. Freeman, who was signed two weeks ago, attempted 53 passes, most of them low-percentage deep throws. And few of his throws hit the mark. He went – quick, hold your nose – 20-of-53 for 190 yards. Freeman's 37.7 completion percentage was the worst in a NFL game since 2007 among quarterbacks with at least 40 attempts, according to ESPN. Minnesota's only touchdown came on a punt return. Freeman played one of the worst games you'll ever see from a NFL quarterback.
It's not easy to play quarterback in the NFL after just two weeks on the roster. But that doesn't explain everything. Freeman missed most of his throws badly. With each horribly sailed toss, his receivers' body language would get worse. Freeman had 16 overthrows, the most in a NFL game since 2006, ESPN said. There was nothing in this debut to give the Vikings any optimism.
But still, the Vikings' plan with Freeman couldn't have been to evaluate him week to week. Going back to Ponder or Cassel doesn't help the 1-5 Vikings. Anyone who thought the Vikings should have put in Ponder on Monday night obviously haven't seen Ponder play that often. The only difference in starting Ponder would be that Vikings fans would be complaining about a different quarterback.
Coach Leslie Frazier might not want to stick with Freeman when he considers his job security and whether he can survive more games like this. The prudent long-term move is for the Vikings to stick with Freeman, live with the results and see if he can get more comfortable the more time he has with the team.
We'll see how patient the Vikings can be with Freeman. If they do decide after one game that they've seen enough out of Freeman, he has only himself and that dreadful performance to blame.
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