Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman (12) sits by the other quarterbacks during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Packers defeated the Vikings 44-31. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The season isn’t over and I suppose there’s still a chance Josh Freeman could see action on the field for the Vikings, but really, does it even matter anymore? What is there left for us to learn about Freeman that we don’t already know from the way things have transpired? If Freeman had anything at all, would he not already be out there?
I admit, I was on board with the whole Freeman experiment at first. I bought the line of reasoning that the Vikings had nothing to lose by bringing Freeman in and seeing what he could do. What the heck? The season is in the crapper anyway. Give Freeman a shot.
Rick Spielman laid it all out pretty plainly: signing Freeman wasn’t so much about the present as the future. “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,” Spielman said. “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?”
I swallowed that stuff hook, line and sinker, as did a lot of other people. It should have become pretty obvious right away that Spielman was lying through his teeth.
Freeman’s acquisition was never about evaluating him for next season. That was just a cute way to sell what looked on the surface like a desperation move from a franchise that felt its season slipping away.
There was plenty of evidence that Spielman wanted immediate results from Freeman despite all his talk about evaluating him for next year. The way Freeman was immediately rushed into action on the field. Why do that if you don’t care about the short-term?
It’s right there in Spielman’s own statements. “You have the opportunity to keep a player around for a few months and learn a lot about him, whether he plays very much or not.”
But if you’re not concerned about seeing him on the field, why force him out there before he’s ready? Why take the risk of him embarrassing himself and you?
It should have been clear why the decision was made to hurriedly prepare Freeman and stick him into battle. It was because Spielman and Co. have no faith in Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel and knew they had no chance of salvaging the season with either of those quarterbacks at the helm.
Spielman wanted us to believe that acquiring Freeman was an opportunistic move made with an eye toward the future, but that was a flat-out load of malarkey. In fact it was a panic move. It was a move no less desperate than Brad Childress’ decision to trade a third round pick to New England for Randy Moss.
The Vikings were hoping for a quick fix with Freeman, but not wanting to look like panic monkeys, they sold it as something they were doing for the future. After seeing Freeman on the field they realized their blunder and decided to stash Freeman away for the rest of the season with the cover story of “evaluating” him in practice.
This is my belief now, after so many weeks of Freeman being totally out of the mix at QB. If you really and truly thought Freeman was worth evaluating, you would at least have him as the #2 behind Christian Ponder, so that if the game got out of hand or Ponder got injured, you could put Freeman in and get a look. Evaluating a guy in practice is fine, but nothing compares to live game action.
Freeman’s weekly status as the #3 QB speaks volumes. The Vikings think he is terrible. They think it was a horrible decision to sign him in the first place. This is the only conclusion we can reach.
Spielman knows he messed up thinking this guy could save their season, but rather than tacitly admit the blunder by outright releasing the QB, he will keep Freeman stashed away until the end of the year. Then Freeman will quietly walk away, and the Vikings will move on.
In the meantime, the Vikings will keep floating out the same baloney about evaluating Freeman. I bought it initially but I’m not buying it anymore. The Freeman signing was a horrific miscalculation by Rick Spielman, one borne not out of big-picture-minded calculation but absolute pants-soiling panic.
Spielman’s job must be in greater jeopardy than we guessed for him to respond that way to a bad start. I once thought for sure Spielman would be back in 2014, but now I’m not convinced. I think there’s a chance Spielman will be out with Leslie Frazier and everyone else. Maybe he and Josh Freeman can car pool to the airport.