We know that Rick Spielman always coveted Josh Freeman, which explains why Spielman was so eager to bring him in despite already having two competent-if-unspectacular QBs on the roster. What we didn’t know was where Leslie Frazier stood on the whole question of adding a third starting-caliber QB to the mix.
Frazier’s public comments have been vague as usual: excited to have Josh there, still thinks Christian Ponder has a bright future, hey look at that shiny object weeee. If nothing else, Frazier is a company guy who will always say the right things, which basically means never really saying anything.
So if we wish to know the mind of Leslie Frazier, we must get it from somewhere other than the horse’s mouth. This time we have someone who thinks he knows what’s going on inside the Viking coach’s mind. Former Buccaneers player and sometime commentator Shaun King says he has spoken to people on the Vikings, and they’ve told him that Frazier didn’t want Josh Freeman.
“I talked to some people within [the Vikings] organization, they pretty much made up their mind on Christian Ponder,” King told WDAE radio in Tampa. “They like Matt Cassel but they think Matt Cassel’s a backup, so they’re going to give Josh [Freeman] every opportunity to prove down the stretch the rest of this year that he should be their quarterback moving forward.”
King continued, “It’s interesting there, Leslie Frazier won’t handle it like Greg Schiano did but Leslie Frazier really wasn’t in favor of bringing Josh Freeman in. This is Rick Spielman and the owner who overruled the head coach and said, ‘No, we’ve kind of figured out what Christian Ponder is. We want to see what Josh Freeman can bring this team.’”
King then reiterates that he doesn’t think Frazier will make it an “abrasive relationship” but believes Frazier will “embrace Josh.” That jibes with everything we know about Frazier who is a players’ coach possibly to a fault. But King makes it clear once again, it was the front office and owner who wanted Freeman, not Frazier.
The key takeaway from these statements, if in fact they have any validity, is that Rick Spielman and the front office have evidently entirely given up on Christian Ponder. They’ve seen enough of him now to know what he can and can’t do and they’re convinced that an upgrade is necessary. And when Freeman became available they felt they needed to jump at the chance to add him to the mix.
Frazier sticking up for Ponder really isn’t a surprise given his massive sense of loyalty, but I think in this case management is probably correct. Not that Ponder should be thrown out with the bath-water, but despite his development over the last three years, there are still major questions marks about whether he can be a true leader and consistent winning quarterback.
The same questions exist about Freeman, but he has more success in his past and better physical tools than Ponder. It’s basically a one-year, low-cost roll-of-the-dice, and if Freeman catches on quick then Ponder is just SOL.