Josh Freeman: the Possibility of a Franchise Quarterback
Everybody knows and can say that, to compete for championships in the NFL, a team needs a franchise quarterback. You need to find a good QB, and it is best to find a long-term good QB. Everybody knows this and everybody can say this. But it's not easy to do!
You can draft a quarterback, but of course that's always chancy business. You don't know if you've identified the right quarterback, and if you haven't, you wasted a draft pick and worse, probably two or three years of your franchise. Then you try again. Maybe you fill in with a stolid vet for a while, but you have to try again. You know drafting a QB young, grooming him to be the starter, and then letting him guide your team for the next 15 years is a terrific idea. But that QB has to be good to last.
You can try acquire a veteran, but that might be a short-term solution (which can be great! Ask the Denver Broncos, or any Viking fan during 2009). Younger veteran QBs do become available, but they often come with baggage. It can be on-field or off-field or both. It can be a simple personality conflict or system philosophical difference or injury concern or inconsistent performance. These players can work out: New Orleans got Drew Brees, Chicago got Jay Cutler (I consider that working out). But teams don't let other teams get their franchise QBs very often, so the players that do become available often don't work out. But it's another way to try.
You just have to keep going and keep looking. Eventually you might hit the answer you need.
Josh Freeman has on-field and off-field baggage: but now he's coming to a place where, apparently, he wanted to be. Josh Freeman is in his fifth season, but he's actually just 25 years old (so is Ryan Tannehill. Andrew Luck is 24. Hell, Christian Ponder is only a month and a half younger than Freeman). He's been pretty terrible in his last several games (the beginning of this season, the end of last). But a QB capable of throwing for 4,065 yards and 27 TDs at age 24, and who at 22 led his team to 10 wins throwing 25 TDs and 6 picks, has potential to boom.
It's worth a shot. Give Josh Freeman organizational, personal support from good people. Give Josh Freeman supportive talent, in terms of running backs, pass catchers, and blockers. Let's see what happens. Maybe he can be the next try.
The Vikings are going to keep searching for that franchise QB. Whenever they're wrong, they'll burn two or three years. When they're right, they'll be set for a decade. But there's probably not a better way to do it.
Don't listen to what Rick Spielman says; he has no credibility
I'm starting to respect Bill Belichick's approach to press conferences: at least he just says nothing. That's better than spewing unbelievable bullshit with a straight face and expecting anybody to nod along.
Darren already noted the Orwellian P.R. approach to the QB position. And if Spielman can say, after acquiring Josh Freeman, after Christian Ponder started his first three games with 2 TDs, 5 INTs, and a 65.9 rating (and he's been worse than his numbers, in my opinion), things like "This is no determination on where Christian Ponder is. We think Christian Ponder has a bright future" and "by no means is this a reflection on we’re disappointed in Christian Ponder," and he is not a deranged moron, then he is speaking generic, meaningless corporate-speak and should not be listened to.
The only way Ponder hasn't been disappointing is if Spielman expected him to be this bad, in which case he shouldn't have been starting at all. And I don't see how Spielman is doing Ponder any favors by telling him he's not disappointed: if Ponder doesn't know it, then he needs to know that this level of play is not acceptable.
And there's also this.
Assess Rick Spielman's job by what he does: look at the players he acquires, and look at the roster he constructs. Pay no attention to anything the man says.
Chronicle of Cliche
If I hear another wag say something along the line of "If you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any," my head is probably going to burst into lava. Today on Doug Gottlieb's radio show Rich Gannon told Gottlieb that John Madden had just told him this very thing: the comment seemed so interesting it seemed worth repeating and citing. This "wisdom" is historically false (Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin? Joe Montana and Steve Young? Aaron Rodgers groomed behind Brett Favre? Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe?). Furthermore, teams are often in the process of determining/discovering who their next QB is going to be: it's not always obvious, it can be a backup who eventually takes over, and at the time it can seem like a problematic choice (this is the Vikings' situation I think: they're in the process of determining what to do at the position). But what's so annoying about the pointless pundits that say this is that it allows them to offer no insight. All they are doing is repeating a cliche they've heard and sort of like: they are passing on received wisdom. They don't have to offer anything in the way of analysis or commentary on the actual players involved. How will Josh Freeman's penchant for the deep ball play out on the Viking offense? What are the differences in ability and style between the different Viking quarterbacks? How do players on the team respond to situations like this? Does the commentator have any contacts with the Vikings that have shared how the different coaches feel about it? It doesn't matter: the pundit doesn't have to say. All the pundit has to say is "If you have three QBs you don't have any." There. Laugh at my wit, the pundit suggests. I dismiss any specific commentary as pointless, the pundit says. "Har Har, three quarterbacks means no quarterback."
The Vikings face a team that has been terrible offensively (18.5 ppg) but excellent defensively (14.5 ppg allowed). Cam Newton is dangerous, but he also hasn't really made progress as a passer (yet?). There's a fair chance Newton can exploit the Viking secondary, but I'm more concerned about the Carolina defense. The Panthers have 12 sacks and nine forced turnovers in four games, and they are holding opponents to 3.6 yards per rushing attempt.
But for fans hoping for a season turnaround, it must be noted just how bad the Viking defense has been. Right now the Vikes have a potential long-term QB, a competently steady veteran, and a (hopefully) abandoned first-round bust. But if the Viking defense had performed better, the team might be 3-1 right now, and the team's perceived quarterback need going into Week 6 would have been very, very different. To be sure, the Viking defense forced turnovers that kept the team in games they would have been out of: two forced turnovers in a 10 point loss, four in a one point loss, four in a four point loss, two in a seven point win. Against the Bears, for example, the Vikes got an interception at the goal line and returned a fumble for a touchdown. But the team is also giving up tons of points (29th in points per game allowed), tons of yardage (30th in yards per game allowed), they're 22nd in net yards per pass attempt allowed, 22nd in rush yards per attempt allowed, and they're 19th in DVOA. With Jerome Simpson performing well, Greg Jennings looking good with a decent quarterback, and other potential playmakers catching passes (plus Adrian Peterson running), a good quarterback can keep the Vikes in games. But the defense needs to make as huge a turnaround as the potential quarterback turnaround for the Vikes to make the playoffs this season.
Have a good one, everybody.