We didn’t realize it at the time but we witnessed history Monday night. We thought we were just watching a tremendously (and not altogether unpredictably) crappy performance by Josh Freeman and the whole Vikings offense from Bill Musgrave on down, but now the tape has been viewed and the players graded, and it turns out Monday night’s display of ineptitude was in fact one for the record books.
According to the all-knowing, all-seeing pigskin oracles at Pro Football Focus, Josh Freeman didn’t just stink against the Giants, he stunk on a level that has never been seen before…at least since 2008 when PFF came into being. Right now in the bowels of PFF someone is chiseling Josh Freeman’s all-time-PFF-low QB grade of -11.3 into granite so that it may be remembered for all time or at least until next week when Freeman posts an even worse grade against the Packers.
How does a guy who by all prior indications should not be a totally stinky quarterback come to post the worst PFF score ever? He couldn’t do it alone. He got plenty of help from those around him, his teammates, coaches and even those guys in the suits in the leather chairs sipping their exotic coffees.
Much credit goes to Freeman’s offensive linemen, each of whom surrendered at least two QB pressures on the evening, with the two guys on the left, Matt Kalil and Charlie Johnson, surrendering seven each. To Freeman’s credit, he didn’t bail on the pocket quite as quickly as Christian Ponder would have done under similar circumstances, and was actually able to step up on a couple of occasions and at least get the ball out, usually too high for the receiver to make a play.
Freeman hung in so tough against the relentless pressure early that Bill Musgrave, clearly concerned for Freeman’s safety or maybe just longing to recapture the magic he had with Ponder, began rolling Freeman to the right on nearly every third down play.
Musgrave himself also gets lots of credit for Freeman’s historic performance, by completely giving up on the run game despite having arguably the greatest running back in the history of the NFL. Some are puzzled at the normally run-happy Musgrave’s unwillingness to hand the ball off but in fact there’s a simple explanation for why Musgrave quit on the ground game. He was obviously ordered by Rick Spielman to make Freeman pass so Spielman would have plenty of tape to evaluate this weekend while he’s at home sipping wine coolers and working on his hair.
Of course a quarterback can’t be horrifically terrible without some help from his receivers. Mad props to Jerome Simpson for flat-out dropping Freeman’s one really pretty pass of the night, a pass that would’ve given the Vikings a touchdown and possibly goosed Freeman’s QB rating slightly above Brandon Weeden levels.
Whenever history is made there are also the unsung heroes. A shout out to Marcus Sherels for dropping an interception that he might have housed, thereby making the game closer and forcing Bill Musgrave to run a balanced offense. Sherels also gets props for his self-inflicted fumble, which helped the Giants build the insurmountable lead Freeman would battle in vain to surmount all through the second half by firing unguided missiles every which way except at his receivers.
Sharrif Floyd also deserves some love for fumbling while trying to be the hero as the up-man on a kick return. Freeman owes you boys a dept of gratitude. He could not have sucked at never-before-seen levels without you and your dumbness.
As we’ve seen, lots of people played a part in making Monday night history, but I think most of the credit for Freeman’s all-time stinkfest should go to one man, the man who made the whole thing happen by giving up on Christian Ponder in the middle of the season and bringing Freeman to the Vikings. That man of course is Rick Spielman.
Without Spielman’s amazing lack of foresight in realizing that Freeman could not possibly be ready to start a game against the Giants just two weeks after being acquired, and without his arrogance in ordering Leslie Frazier to start Freeman against Frazier’s own likely objections, Monday night would have wound up as just another boring Vikings road loss featuring a wasted 100-yard Adrian Peterson game, a nearly-adequate defensive effort and a semi-competent Christian Ponder performance marred by one or two inexplicably terrible decisions.
(Hell, without Freeman in there the Vikings might have even accidentally won the game, given a few breaks and some special teamers not experiencing epic brain farts. Then again, Blair Walsh does have an injured plant leg, so maybe it was hopeless no matter what.)
Kudos to you Rick Spielman. You are the man with the vision. You saw something in Josh Freeman that no one else saw. You brought him in and put him in a position to make history. Your Hall of Fame bust is being prepared even as we speak. Did you know John Madden thinks the busts talk to each other at night when no one is around? I bet they tell a lot of dirty jokes.