The Minnesota Vikings now have a type of quarterback they haven’t had in years: one with a strong arm. Josh Freeman has all the physical attributes to be a star quarterback. He has the arm strength Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel lack, which may have been the main reason why the Vikings signed Freeman late Sunday night.
In the Vikings’ most recent game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they displayed a more vertical offense, which is hopefully just the outline for the new Freeman offense they will employ going forward. While Cassel didn’t chuck the ball down the field too often against the Steelers, he did make plenty of 15-yard throws that Ponder rarely attempted and in return, Adrian Peterson was able to run free for 140 yards with a 6.1 YPC.
Implementing Freeman into the offense now should hopefully lead to more downfield passing, as he clearly has the arm to do so. This in turn will open up plenty of running space for the best back in the game. Not only would more downfield passing help the run game, but it would also help the play of wide receivers Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and Cordarrelle Patterson.
Jennings has quickly proven to be a star receiver for the Vikings as he turned a simple curl route into a 70-yard touchdown against the Steelers and has made a few jaw-dropping catches this season as well.
Patterson, while not an important member of the passing game yet, has been targeted deep downfield a few times this season and has shown the speed to blow by defenders, which gives Freeman the downfield threat he didn’t have in Tampa.
Bill Musgrave is still the offensive coordinator the Vikings despite showcasing one of the most conservative game plans in the league, but now with Freeman on the roster, Musgrave should be forced to implement a more aggressive offensive scheme.
Looking forward, the Vikings play the 1-3 Washington Redskins this weekend at home, and although Freeman was signed just six days before the game, he will likely be the starter for the Vikings from here on out. Ponder’s time has presumably run out in Minnesota, and we all knew Cassel was brought in as an insurance policy to Ponder.
The signing of Freeman is likely the Vikings’ last-ditch efforts to compete this season as the division is still wide open. The first place Detroit Lions are just 3-2 on the season, and the Vikings seem to be improving. However, the Vikings must begin winning now if they have any hopes of making the playoffs, and the big arm of Freeman gives them their best shot at doing so.