The truth is slowly beginning to emerge about what really went down with Josh Freeman. Anonymous Viking players have spilled the beans to Tom Pelissero, painting a picture of a directionless organization led by a desperate general manager and a delusional head coach.
Oh, and Josh Freeman is kind of a bleephead too.
Four unnamed Viking players sold out Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier to USA Today, with one flat out calling the whole situation a “debacle.”
One player spoke about that weird week when the Vikings decided to throw Freeman into the fire against the Giants. We all remember what happened in the game (Freeman’s PFF score almost broke the PFF scoring system, he was so bad). We all remember how confused we were about the decision to start Freeman despite his lack of game prep.
Turns out the players didn’t get the move either. “When they started Josh in that Giants game, we were as confused as anybody,” one player said.
Another player spoke of Frazier’s bizarre efforts to convince the team that Freeman was ready even though everyone could see he wasn’t ready. “Practices did not really go that well that week. But Coach Frazier was in the team meetings like, ‘Oh, I think this is the best week of practice we’ve had all year.’ And everyone’s like, what? What are you talking about?”
While Frazier tried in vain to sell Freeman as a viable option to the team – and himself – Rick Spielman was busy spinning the move to fans.
“In this scenario you’ve just got to take your shot. You have the opportunity to keep a player around for a few months and to learn a lot about him, whether he plays very much or not. When does the opportunity present itself that you don’t have to spend a high draft choice or a big contract to acquire a young quarterback with lots of starting experience?” Spielman said at the time.
One suspects however that the Freeman move really had less to do with evaluation for the future and more with salvaging a season that, in its early stages, looked like it was headed swiftly downhill.
Spielman, concerned about looking too panicky and desperate, tried to make it seem like Freeman was being brought in for an extended try out. But then why start him right away? Those two things don’t jibe and never will jibe. But Spielman stuck to his lame cover story, even late in the season after it became clear the Freeman thing wasn’t going to work out.
The whole Vikings spin on Freeman was that he was working hard and doing the right things in practice, even though he never got to start again after the Giants game and was in fact inactive most weeks. But the truth on Freeman according to Pelissero’s sources is quite different than the picture painted by Spielman and Frazier of a QB doing everything he could to prove himself for 2014.
On the contrary, the players say Freeman was anything but a hard worker. He missed numerous meetings and was often one of the last guys to show up at the facility.
Consider that information in light of all the times Spielman and Frazier said Freeman was doing all the right things. But why keep such a negative guy around when you know he will never give you anything on the field? Why not cut him and move on?
Because cutting him and moving on would have meant admitting what a mistake it was to sign him in the first place. It would have meant admitting to flushing $2 million down the toilet. Why admit such an ugly truth when you can just stash the player for the rest of season, lie to the fans about how he looks in practice and then, when the season is over, throw Leslie Frazier under the bus?
Rick Spielman may not know what he’s doing when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks, but he sure knows how to spin a yarn. Too bad this yarn is starting to unravel.