The Vikings announced Freeman will start against the New York Giants two weeks after they signed him. That means - unless Freeman gets hurt in the game - Vikings fans won't have to watch Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel quarterback their team on Monday Night Football. Congratulations, you've just been given a reason to watch this team again.
But today's latest QB move went from getting me a bit excited to leaving me wondering what the hell the management and coaching staff is doing when it comes to the most important position in football.
It's not that I disagree with starting Freeman so soon - although some Vikings fans on twitter today thought the team is setting Freeman up to fail miserably by throwing him out there before he's been able to get a good handle on offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's expansive (insert smirk here) playbook. What makes me think head coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman are either hopeless QB evaluators, desperate men or a combination of both is naming Ponder as Freeman's backup.
Let me go over the Vikings recent QB movements so I can explain what I'm getting at here.
1. A struggling Ponder cracks his rib against Cleveland, is deemed too hurt to play against Pittsburgh and Cassel is named the starter for the Steelers game.
2. The Vikings beat the Steelers with Cassel at QB. Frazier stresses after the win Ponder is still the starting QB as long as he's healthy.
3. The Vikings sign Freeman during the bye week.
4. After the bye week, Ponder is cleared to play against Carolina. The Vikings name Cassel as the starter.
5. The Panthers whup the Vikings asses at the Metrodome 35-10, as Cassel and just about every other Viking player plays poorly.
6. The Vikings name Freeman as the starter, Ponder as the backup and say Cassel will be the team's third QB, which means he likely will not dress against the Giants.
Here is what bothers me about all of this. In the span of a week, the Vikings named Cassel as the starter against the Panthers even though Ponder was healthy enough to play. That means they were benching Ponder after one decent game by Cassel, which means they must have felt Cassel gave them the best chance to beat Carolina. And now - after one poor Cassel performance - the Vikings coaches and management have decided that a guy who has been with the team less than two weeks gives them the best chance to win against the Giants and that Ponder is once again a better option than Cassel - who just a week ago was considered a better option than Ponder. Got all of that?
This all sounds very much like a coaching staff and front office that doesn't know what it's doing anymore. In his Wednesday press conference (you can see the whole thing here), Frazier said that it was his call to start Freeman against the Giants. That almost made me feel better about the Vikings future because I don't expect Frazier to be coaching this team next season, and so he (and presumably Musgrave) won't be around to make anymore dubious QB evaluations like they have with Ponder and Cassel. But then Frazier said this about naming Freeman as the starter:
"This is not a decision you make alone. I informed them [Spielman and owner Zygi Wilf] of what I was thinking and why I was thinking it and what I wanted to do and they signed off on it."So it's not just Frazier who is responsible for this QB clusterfuck. Spielman, who is in charge of player procurement and who is more likely to be back next season than Frazier, is also culpable.
Josh Freeman has a lot of talent and he may end up working out great for the Vikings. But with the guys running the Vikings having been so wrong about Ponder and Cassel, how confident can we be that they will be right about Freeman? Or any other quarterback they bring to Minnesota in the future?