Vikings make big mistake starting Josh Freeman too soon

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Josh Freeman was completely lost on Monday night.
Josh Freeman looked lost for the Vikings on Monday night. (USATSI)

What were the Vikings thinking starting Josh Freeman on Monday night? Scratch that. Were they thinking? It doesn't look like they were, because Freeman was horrible in his Minnesota debut, a head-scratching 23-7 primetime loss to the Giants that was historic for all the wrong reasons.

Freeman became just the second quarterback ever to attempt 50 passes, pass for fewer than 200 yards and fail to throw a touchdown.

Making jokes about Freeman's play on Twitter was fun and all, but there's zero excuse for the Vikings putting him out there Monday night and then leaving him for that entire horrid affair. Freeman literally looked lost on the field, often missing his intended receiver by yards at a time.

In his Vikings debut, Freeman completed 37.7 percent of his passes and finished with a 3.58 yards per attempt. He becomes just the third quarterback ever to do that. And here's where it becomes problematic: Freeman's supposed to be the future of this franchise.

Only on a one-year deal, Freeman could ultimately be a rental. But the Vikings made it apparent they were moving on from Christian Ponder -- a former first-round pick -- and Matt Cassel -- an offseason free-agent signing -- in favor of Freeman when they started him less than two weeks after he signed in Minnesota.

Neither Ponder nor Cassel is remotely passable for quality NFL quarterbacks. I don't blame the Vikes for wanting to make a switch at all. But it was pretty obvious the coaching staff and front office wanted to avoid either Cassel or Ponder playing well against the Giants and then having to force Freeman into the lineup under less-than-ideal circumstances. I get that.

But the lack of foresight in rolling Freeman out there when he quite clearly wasn't ready to play is beyond senseless.

He sailed passes and didn't appear to have any real grasp on Minnesota's offense. That offense, by the way, featured just 13 runs from Adrian Peterson. The reigning MVP had fewer rushing yards -- 28 -- than Freeman had passing attempts. That's an inexcusably bad offensive gameplan.

This is two straight games in which the Vikings have looked lost, too, although it's not fair to pin everything on Minnesota's coaching staff and its decision making. Freeman is at fault here, too. He picked Minnesota because he knew there was a good opportunity to start. He double-dipped on big bucks, signed on with the Vikes and took the rock when they called his number. Then he promptly threw that rock at everything except his wideouts.

It's entirely possible Freeman will turn things around. He's talented, young and can spin the ball when he's rolling on a hot streak. He doesn't have weapons in Minnesota like he did in Tampa Bay, but with Peterson in the backfield and the Greg Jennings/Kyle Rudolph combo catching the ball he shouldn't be this bad for the rest of the season.

It will probably require some time to prepare, though. Unfortunately Minnesota is already down the rabbit hole with Freeman. They can't turn back, as Leslie Frazier showed on Monday when he left Freeman in to spray awkward garbage-time passes all over the place.

Too bad they didn't realize any of this before Monday.

 
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