I hate to break the news to Leslie Frazier, but when it comes to the stuff he’s selling about Josh Freeman, ain’t nobody buying. It’s a good thing Leslie doesn’t have to make a living peddling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, cause I’m pretty sure his kids would starve.
It’s always been a little painful watching the clearly media-uncomfortable Frazier attempt to put across whatever malarkey has been handed down to him from Slick Rick Spielman via his PR stooges, but I’ve never actually felt sorry for him until this week, listening to him stumble his way through his remarks about Josh Freeman and “his decision” to start Freeman Monday night against the Giants.
“If I had to do it over again, I don’t think I’d do it any differently under the circumstances,” Frazier said during his Tuesday presser. “I knew exactly why we made the decision. Felt very confident going into the ballgame with the decision.”
Pardon me for snickering, but everyone knows Leslie had nothing to do with the decision to start Freeman. That decision was dictated the second Josh Freeman was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seeing Freeman’s name on the wire made Rick Spielman’s eyes light up like a kid at Christmas. You expected Spielman to unwrap his shiny new toy of a quarterback and then stick him on a shelf for a few weeks?
Everyone knows Freeman is Spielman’s guy, that Frazier didn’t want to bring Freeman in, that Frazier was happy to muck through the season with Christian Ponder/Matt Cassel. Frazier surely realized that QB turmoil was the last thing the Vikings needed amid all their other problems including a crumbling defense.
But Rick Spielman always wanted Josh Freeman and when Freeman became available he just couldn’t resist. It was decreed that Freeman would be elevated to #1 as soon as possible and would start as soon as possible, limited prep time and obvious mechanical issues be damned.
At the same time, Spielman did not want to further undermine the credibility of a head coach who is already perceived as a pitiful character, a lame-duck slogging head down and shoulders sagged through a Bataan Death March of a final season. So Spielman did Frazier the “favor” of allowing him to pretend it was his own idea to start Freeman.
Now Frazier is stuck in this farce where each week he must act like Freeman’s ongoing status is somehow up to him, while selling fans and the media on Freeman being a viable quarterback despite what we all saw go down Monday night. Meanwhile Rick Spielman sits back in his big manly leather chair, puts his feet up and daydreams of Super Bowl glory with his guy Josh Freeman leading the way. Or maybe Teddy Bridgewater. Anybody but Christian Ponder.
Unfortunately Leslie Frazier makes a better sad sack than he does a salesman. Our eyes didn’t deceive us Monday night: Josh Freeman has issues that go way beyond his limited grasp of even a pared-down version of Bill Musgrave’s already small playbook. Frazier admitted that Freeman’s footwork is a mess, but in typical Frazier fashion, he tried to make it seem that this was a small, easily-correctable problem.
“One of the reasons the ball sailed at times, his footwork wasn’t ideal, his shoulders weren’t square all the time,” Frazier said. “So it was more technical stuff. But the mental part, he was sharp. He did a great job of running our offense throughout the night. Just some things from a technical standpoint that we’ll have to work on to get him better.”
Sure. Just like you worked on Christian Ponder for three years.
Should you note a lack of confidence in my remarks and the attitude of the fanbase, do not be alarmed. It’s just that we’ve been listening to Leslie Frazier drone on in this same way for so many months, ineptly attempting to sell the same company line game after game. Nobody even really pays attention to him anymore.
The truth is right there in front of us in spite of Spielspin and Baghdad Bob Frazier: Josh Freeman is a mess. The offense is a mess. The Vikings are in free fall. Spielman is already looking ahead to 2014, leaving Leslie Frazier and his embattled staff to scrape together however many wins they can this year, hopefully not so many that they fall out of contention for one of the big-time QBs at the top of the draft.
And it’s poor Leslie who has to drag himself out there every week in front of those microphones and say his lines and shrug his shoulders and take the heat. The good news for Frazier? He’ll only have to do this a few more times. Just till the end of the season when he and Bill Musgrave and Alan Williams are cut loose.
Then Rick Spielman will bring in a new coach, one who is hopefully better at managing a young roster and especially handling a young QB. One who is better at keeping the team together on game day. And, oh yeah, one who is better at selling Spielman’s carefully-crafted baloney on Monday afternoon.