Late Sunday night, reports came out that the Minnesota Vikings had signed recently-released quarterback Josh Freeman to a one-year deal. The popular theory among Vikings fans is that Christian Ponder‘s lack of development is to blame for the team’s offensive struggles, especially when it comes to defenses sending everything they have after Adrian Peterson.
Here’s the problem — Freeman really isn’t a huge upgrade over what the team already has at quarterback.
If you believe what head coach Leslie Frazier said regarding Ponder’s supposed non-demotion this past week in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers, then Ponder was still the guy. With just two touchdowns to five interceptions, nobody would have questioned Frazier if he just said the team needed to make a change to try to spark something on offense. It’s a results job, and Ponder’s numbers have been poor, to say the least.
Of course, the team didn’t sign Matt Cassel for nothing. The nine-year veteran performed mostly well against Pittsburgh in his first start for Minnesota, going 16-for-25 for two touchdowns. No doubt, Cassel may not be a full-time answer, but why couldn’t he be the caretaker of the team until they find their new “franchise” player?
In Freeman, the Vikings are getting a career 58 percent passer who has thrown just 14 more touchdowns (80) than interceptions (66) in five years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ponder’s interception-to-touchdown ratio isn’t anything to be proud of (30 INT’s, 33 TDs), but the Minnesota offense has always been centered on Peterson, and losing targets like Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin wasn’t going to help any passer. The targets don’t get better just because there’s a new passer, but again, Cassel seemed to do just fine.
The interesting question for the team is this: what’s the endgame? If Freeman had been performing any better than Ponder this season — and he hasn’t — he wouldn’t be available right now. If he comes to Minnesota and plays well, not only could he be gone after the season, but then the team moves further away from a top draft pick to try to find that franchise signal caller.
If the Vikings continue to struggle, well, they could do that with Ponder or Cassel just as easily.
If you’re a Vikings fan, you have to hope that not only does Freeman bring a new fire to the offense, but that he sticks around after this year is over. If that doesn’t happen, this signing will have been for basically nothing.