As expected, today the Vikings named Josh Freeman the starter for Monday night’s game against the New York Giants. And with that, Christian Ponder was regulated to the job as Freeman’s backup.
Today, Minnesota’s head coach Leslie Frazier talked about why the team made the decision to roll with Freeman this week:
“I like the things that he’s done in his career, along with what he’s done since he arrived here with our football team,” Frazier said. “The time that he’s put in, how well he’s adapted to our system, and I like his work ethic. He’s done enough for us to say we want to give him this opportunity — which is something we had in mind when we acquired him. We think now is the time. We’ll put in just enough for him to be able to execute and execute well and lead our team to victory on Monday night. We’ll have enough in to do what we’ve got to do.”
The most interesting part of that quote is the he said “lead our team to victory on Monday night”. The Vikings have only seen one victory so far this year and need to get things going in order to be taken seriously this year. Normally, Frazier is quite mild mannered when it comes to statements like this, but this is borderline bulletin board material for the winless Giants. It is odd to see this kind of confidence from the head coach of a 1-4 football team with many issues on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The odd man out in this equation is Matt Cassel. Cassel led the Vikings to their lone win this year, but now may not even be active on game day since Ponder was named the backup. It is odd that the Vikings decided Ponder would be the backup instead of Cassel, but it may just be to keep the value of their former first round draft pick from plummeting the way that Freeman’s did in Tampa.
“I don’t want to pigeonhole Christian by any means,” Frazier said. “But Josh — we’re hoping that he does well. That’s why we’re putting him in the lineup.”
There is already speculation that Ponder wants out of Minnesota after the events that went down this season. If Freeman makes the most of his opportunity on Monday night, the Vikings may be ready to completely move on from the Ponder experiment.