Posted October 22, 2013

Josh Freeman fed to the wolves in predictably poor Vikings performance

Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, NFC East, NFC North
Josh Freeman misfired on 33 of his 53 passes in his Vikings debut, a 23-7 loss to New York. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Josh Freeman misfired on 33 of his 53 passes in his Vikings debut, a 23-7 loss to New York. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The dream for the Minnesota Vikings went something like this: Josh Freeman steps in as the starting quarterback on a Monday night in New York, dazzles after freeing himself from a toxic situation in Tampa Bay, and the Vikings’ entire season clicks back on track.

The reality was far more pitiful.

Minnesota’s call to rush Freeman onto the field backfired in spectacular fashion, aided by an absolutely mind-numbing display of playcalling, in a 23-7 loss to the Giants. Freeman, who signed just two weeks ago and was named the starter only a few days later, finished 20-of-53 — a 37.7 completion percentage that was the worst showing by an NFL quarterback with more than 40 attempts since Eli Manning, Monday’s victorious quarterback, posted a 36.6 mark in 2007.

“I definitely need time,” Freeman said in his postgame press conference. “You come in with goals and expectations … it’s frustrating, it’s disappointing, but at the same time, I see a lot of areas that are manageable and we can definitely get better at.”

“His performance was up and down,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, painting an even rosier picture than he really needed to. “His numbers aren’t the greatest, for sure.”

Freeman was awful. And he never had a chance to succeed in this game, despite matching up with the league’s 32nd-ranked defense.

When Freeman opted to sign with the Vikings, he justified that choice by saying that Minnesota gave him “an opportunity to pump the brakes” after his fall in Tampa Bay. “It’s been a crazy couple of weeks,” he added.

Surely, Freeman, three years removed from a breakthrough 2010 season, wanted to find a place he could battle for the starting job. Even he may not have expected it to happen so quickly, and the argument for patience in hindsight was on full display Monday.

Freeman consistently overshot his receivers — that is, when he was not being blasted by the Giants’ pass rush. Minnesota still asked him to throw more than 50 times, compared to just 13 rushes for Adrian Peterson. The Vikings’ hands were forced a bit by a second-half deficit and their inability to spring Peterson (who finished with 28 yards), but if there ever was a game to ease a quarterback in and let him play it safe, this was it.

Instead, the Vikings continued their string of desperate moves: Signing Freeman, starting Freeman, then asking him to win them a game on the road. There was no logic behind at least the final two decisions, and Minnesota paid for them in the Meadowlands.

“They had a lot of people at the line of scrimmage and made it hard for us to get our run game going to take some of the pressure off the quarterback position,” Frazier said. “We put together a good plan we thought would help him be successful in this ballgame, and it didn’t work out.”

For all the early frustrations, the Vikings still trailed by just three at halftime. Freeman nearly coughed up a pick-six to end their first possession of the third quarter. After the Giants fumbled the ensuing punt, he did throw an interception and followed it up moments later by nearly depositing another one into a defender’s arms.

Add in a couple of special-teams miscues — a fumble by Marcus Sherels inside the Minnesota 5-yard-line, another by defensive tackle (yes, defensive tackle) Sharrif Floyd on a kickoff return — and the Vikings were a lost cause. Special teams actually accounted for their lone score of the night, too, with Sherels taking a punt back for an 86-yard score in the first half.

Which of course means that the Freeman-led offense generated nothing on the scoreboard itself. Freeman’s interception killed Minnesota’s best chance, on a drive inside the Giants’ 25-yard-line, and it was perhaps his most inexplicable moment in a nightmarish outing. With pressure coming up the middle, Freeman tried to muscle one downfield to Kyle Rudolph. Instead, Antrel Rolle tipped the ball away and picked it off.

“As time moves on, we’re going to develop that chemistry,” Freeman said of his relationship with his new receivers. “A lot of those plays that were just a hair off are going to start hitting for us.”

Minnesota really has no choice now but to stay the course with Freeman, at least for a bit. In signing him and handing him the reins to the offense, the Vikings made quite clear how they feel about Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. Plus, let’s be honest: This Vikings team simply is not very good. Neither Freeman nor Ponder nor Cassel nor Joe Webb nor Brett Favre was going to change that Monday. Freeman is capable of much more than he showed against the Giants, even if Minnesota ultimately has dug itself too deep a hole

Down the road, after Freeman has time to settle in as a Viking, learn the playbook and grow some rapport with his receivers, there might be a future with this marriage. At the very least, Freeman brings more to the table than the underachieving Ponder or aging Cassel.

Monday night, though, he and his new team were doomed to failure. Minnesota could not have anticipated its Week 7 flying off the rails so aggressively. But Freeman was not put in a position to succeed, either. The eventual result, then, was rather predictable: A Freeman flop, another Vikings loss and plenty of questions about what’s to come.

55 comments
Splendid
Splendid

After the game Leslie says, "we put together a good plan". Fire him now. Unless management forced him to start Freeman and that disrupted his "good plan", I am sorry folks he completely incriminates himself. Watch any press conference this year online. Enough said.

rodp236
rodp236

It was a fun game--- my wife and I would make bets on how far off his passes were.  

watchthezebra
watchthezebra

I wish I didn't get so much enjoyment reading about how miserable the vikings and their fans are....I really wish I was a better person.  I will try harder this next week, after a good team with real fans finishes off what is left of this silly franchise.

T.Christian
T.Christian

If/When Frazier gets fired he should punch Musgrave in the face on their way out the door. Sitting at home I knew what was coming. 1st down-Sprint Pass, 2nd AD up the middle, 3rd Screen to 84 or faked screen and shot out of bounds. So many possessions went like this. I laughed when the camera showed Muskrat covering his mouth so the other team wouldn't know what he was calling!! I know Frazier is a defensive coach, but heck to save your job why not give it a try calling offensive plays. He couldn't possibly do any worse.

closetjaysfan
closetjaysfan

Freeman has been bad this season (and last) but I don't think he can be blamed for this game.  1) Play calling was terrible:   at least one pass that should have been picked was the third time the same play had been called.  2) Receivers dropped catchable passes all night: one was for a touchdown and there were at least 7 or 8 others... enough to get him to his season ave. pass% (which isnt great admittedly).  3) Unfamiliarity with offense/players: ties in with the limited play calling but manifested itself in some overthrowing (doesnt explain one that flew out of bounds for no reason).  4) Offensive line = terrible:  one of the leagues worst defenses was able to pressure the QB on every play.

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

Freeman sucked in Tampa.  He'll do the same in Minnesota.

LamontSmith
LamontSmith

if you watch the game he didn't play as bad as they making it seem to be.. WR's dropped 10 balls including a touchdown and the kicker missed a field goal on a decent drive. i personally felt like he did decent for the time he was given for preparation. after he builds chemistry with the WR i feel like he will be perfect. offensive coordinator needs to be fired tho.

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

Ah there it is. The playbook specifies "your receivers are not 10 feet tall, so don't throw passes that high", since he never got to read that part he was throwing them all over the place. 

I guess he didn't have time to read the pages that say "if they are wide open make an effort to throw it to them" "don't walk backwards to get sacked out of FG range". Hope he has time this week to read those pages.

Linda11
Linda11

vikings blew it....they should have signed Tebow....media bends over backwards to make excuses for other qbs....rips Tebow at every turn...Tebow and Peterson..would be hell to stop....look how good McGahee was with Tebow..and sucks now...that extra defender not concerned with QB running...

WilliamHolz
WilliamHolz

Maybe if every quarterback is awful it's time to start looking at the coaching, especially Musgrave.

The team has talent, what it doesn't have is coaching, why are the networks giving the coaches such a pass?  Have they watched the same games I have?  I haven't seen a team more consistently outschemed in years.

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

Freeman is signed for this season only in the hopes he would burnish his image and then get a real contract the next. Now he needs more time to learn the Vike's system? Like maybe until the end of this season? He did his future no favors by his performance last night.

And if Frazier doesn't win with Freeman then he's more than likely made this his last season because he'll have difficulty returning to Ponder or Cassel. Sort of the Hue Jackson-Carson Palmer deal all over again.

Joseph F
Joseph F

This article was all about how bad the Vikings were...did you ever stop and think that just maybe the Giants are much better than their record showed, and that despite all the injuries they are capable of beating mediocre teams like the Vikings?

Cool
Cool

Waiting for the Tebow fanatics to come out and tell us how much better he would have been in this situation.  I think Freeman needed more time to learn the system before being thrown to the wolves.. and yes, I would have made the comment if Tebow had this kind of showing after just two weeks.

ApolloOne
ApolloOne

"Pump the brakes"? What did he mean by that? Was being let go by the Bucs like driving through puddles?

JOHN140
JOHN140

When you have a job and your boss says do this, then you do it. Hard to believe this was Frazier's idea. No one knows who gave the command or why but Joe Webb is a decent B-Grade QB who knows the system and players. They could have won this game with him.  Very mysterious.

NYRedd42
NYRedd42

Dear: Hakeem "Stone Hands" Nicks,


Shut up, relearn how to catch, and enjoy Free Agency.


Go NY.

SQZ
SQZ

I'm sure the story line would have been different if the Freeman's numbers were Tim Tebow's.

RandySandberg
RandySandberg

There was a reason Tampa let Freeman go.  Last night we saw the reason.

6marK6
6marK6

I don't follow the Vikings, but what is the status of Matt Cassel? He seems to me the best of what they have at QB.

laurielynn78
laurielynn78

horrible horrible coaching on the part of the Vikings. Frazier is no strategist of the game. The decision to play Freeman this early smacked of desperation. Frazier didn't want Freeman and I'm sure was told to play him by Spielman who is just as complicit here.

6marK6
6marK6

I hesitate to call what I saw on the field last night football. Two horrible teams. But man, the Vikes are beyond terrible. 

Tom_Weiland
Tom_Weiland

Of course Freeman was awful; he plays for the Vikings.  They're a one-man team; just like Detroit was with Barry Sanders.  They pick up players willy-nilly every year instead of truly 'developing' a team for the future.  They should cancel their stadium plans and move to L.A. to start anew.

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

QB is not the problem position at Minnesota. The o-line is turrible, the receivers are (mostly) turrible, the coach is turrible and the GM who started this QB merry-go-round is also turrible. And let's not even get into the defensive secondary. Team needs a do-over from top to bottom. 

Keats1821
Keats1821

Maybe now people understand the reason the Bucs let this guy go. He was and still is awful. Frazier hit it on the head with Freeman: His performance was up and down. Freeman gives you a few great passes in a row, then more that are over or under thrown. I honestly feel bad for Vikings fans having this guy as their starter. You all want Schiano, too? We'll give him to you for a six-pack.

MarkB1
MarkB1

I <3 the Giants, and except for Jarod Allen's truly amazing sack of Eli Manning, I have seen High School games that were more entertaining and well played. 

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

As I watched this game and started seeing the pass plays continue to get dialed up....wow!  This game was the definition of bad coaching and showed poorly on the organization in general to chuck a player to the wolves like that.  Peterson should have gotten 30-40 total touches that game.

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

Can't believe Frazier is still the coach. Helluva player in his day, but damn...

samschoen92
samschoen92

Announcers made far too many excuses for Freeman and the 'limited playbook'. He missed badly at least 50% of the time. Christian Ponder is better on that performance. 

Jo'leenAnn
Jo'leenAnn

That game was terrible. There is no justifying it. Freeman is just a terrible QB. He has not done anything for any team he has played on. Time to let this kid go. 

divirgilio33
divirgilio33

imagine if they had a quarterback? Man, this would be a great team...One guy.....Tough!


Go_paul
Go_paul

freeman didn't read the bible.  enuff said!

wetsu01
wetsu01

No time to pass...no one to pass to, and not the most confident passer these days...equals not too good of a game!

George in PA
George in PA

Looks like the Vikings should rush to be in the Tebow sweepstakes. 

dmacaoda
dmacaoda

The problem was never Ponder, who does have an an NFl quality arm, great mobility and smarts. The problem is with an inept offensive coordinator & an o-line that seems to have forgotten how to run block and is weak at pass protection. 

They signed Freeman as a distraction from weak coaching Freeman is now and will likely always be an arm that is inaccurateLast night has nothing to do with being unfamiliar with the  playbook or not. He managed to miss receivers that were often wide open in all possible combinations of over throws, under throws, short hops and wide left or right. It was perhaps the most glaring display of bad throwing that I have ever seen. Ok, now I get why the Bucs threw him out of town. 

Ditto on DGB62 - the pundits somehow managed to overlook his downhill trajectory and made him out to be some big deal. and then got stuck with egg on their face adn resorted to making their excuses. 

THe problem in MN i snot and never was Christian Ponder. Basicalty, their defense cost them 3 games in the waning moments of games. Even if Ponders ststs looked bad , but they had won  those games, the Freeman signing would not have happened. 

cmcapcathletic
cmcapcathletic

@LamontSmith Lamont with all due respect he was not well prepared to play that game and he was sailing balls and rifling his passes at hyper velocity. I think he deserves a break,too, but reality is reality and he was stinkin' it up out there.

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

@LamontSmith WRs dropped one or two catchable passes, the rest were nowhere near the WRs or DBs or people not in the stands. Freeman was horrendous, the only high point is that he avoided the pass rush well enough to be able to make awful throws.

MarkCleary
MarkCleary

@Linda11 "McGahee...sucks..."

Not in this universe does Willis McGahee suck, ever.  Of course, he's be even better if a defender hadn't intentionally destroyed his knee in his last college game.

closetjaysfan
closetjaysfan

You didnt see the game then.  Neither team deserved to win.  10 giants pts. came off dropped kicks in the redzone.  There were fumbles all around and back-to-back-back-to-back 3 and outs.  Worst game ive seen in 10 years.

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

@Joseph F no, the Giants are awful, but the Vikings are a pile of manure. Don't kid yourself, both teams were dreadful, the difference lies in the fact that Eli Manning knows how to play QB and Coughlin is a coach, Freeman and Frazier are two dudes who could be packing groceries in Wal Mart and nobody would be surprised by that.

pk_sea
pk_sea

@Joseph F That was a game of bumbling on both sides. One just bumbled better than the other.

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

@Joseph F "Much better than their record shows"? No, we witnessed a team that was gifted a victory and not one who went out and grabbed one. Most of the game was a real snorer. Most of us understand the Giants got lucky last night. After all - per the rules of the NFL - one participant is guaranteed a victory in every game and last night it just happened to be the Giants. But it could have been the Vikes if not for the Freeman Fiasco.

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

@Tom_Weiland Or just cancel the team. If they cancel the Vikes and Jaguars altogether you'd have one less horrendous team per conference.

samschoen92
samschoen92

And this was against the worst defense in the NFL. Embarassing.

HarshRealities
HarshRealities

@wetsu01 Freeman overthrew wide open receivers all night. When Special teams and the defense put Freeman in scoring position what did he do? He threw an interception and ran backwards before taking a sack that put the Vikings outside field goal range. Freeman played last night just like he did for the Bucs over the past 2 seasons.