Unless you’ve been in a coma or on the moon for the past 48 hours, you will have heard the news by now; Josh Freeman will start his first game at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football in Week 7.
This revelation should be music to the ears of the New York Giants and their supporters. Although the standings and statistics may not reflect this bold upcoming statement, the Vikings could very well be one of the few teams in the NFL that are currently worse-off than the Giants right now.
After all, the Vikings have only one win on the season so far (granted the Giants have zero), but they had to fly to another continent in order to get it. Heading into their sixth game of the season, Minnesota is already onto their third starting quarterback; at least the Giants, in comparison, have stability right now. Vikes’ head coach Leslie Frazier is now throwing his weight, and arguably his reputation, behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers misfit, throwing the long-term status of Christian Ponder up in the air whilst effectively ending any waning influence that Matt Cassell has in the NFL.
The latest move has all the connotations of a team devoid of any real structure moving forwards. It is also one that provides the unrecognizable Giants’ defense with an opportunity to salvage a little pride from what has so far been an abysmal season.
The once-revered Giants ‘D’ have been a shadow of their former selves in 2013, with a hangover from a poor 2012 season ever apparent. It’s unthinkable that a team with such respected defensive ends as Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka could be bottom of the pile on sacks recorded, though this is the grim reality of the present day. In addition, the Giants have forced the fourth-fewest fumbles, while making unwanted history with their inflated points allowed total through six games this season.
A Week 7 meeting with the Vikings provides the perfect opportunity for all of this to change. Corey Webster is back in practice and though limited, has extra time on the extended week to play his way into the Giants’ leaky secondary. The Giants are otherwise healthy up front, and can take some solace in the fact they conceded their fewest points total of the season in what was a tricky-looking road tie in Chicago in Week 6. One final plus point is the newly acquired presence of Jon Beason on his second start for the G-Men; after an all-action debut saw him lead the field in solo tackles, Beason gives the linebacker corps a bit of much-needed momentum to carry forwards.
Granted, all of the above points may seem like we’re clutching at straws in terms of progression, though at 0-6 that’s almost a necessity, but with baby steps it seems that the Giants are gradually improving.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the hypothesis of a much-improved defensive outing for the Giants is the debut man-of-the-moment. Aside from the usual first-day jitters and inexperience with his new offense, Freeman is a quarterback whose career has been coming to a halt. He emerged in 2010 as a second-season pro with the Buccaneers, in what was arguably his most impressive season in the NFL to date. Although his performance in 2012 saw him up on passing yardage and touchdowns, his interceptions and fumbles were also a concern.
In 2013, Freeman contributed heavily to a win=less start for the Bucs, throwing more picks than he did touchdown passes, and tossing in a lost fumble for good measure. His fantasy football relevance has plummeted, and the fact that the Bucs could not wait to get him off their books suggests that underlying character issues were prominent. Tampa Bay is currently ranked 31st in points scored and bottom of the pile in passing yardage, averaging just 190.8 ypg, for which Freeman is largely accountable for.
Frazier is banking on the hope that Freeman has simply just lost his way and a little direction can rekindle the talent of yesteryear; in reality, it just seems like an accident waiting to happen.
All eyes will be drawn towards the Vikings’ new quarterback on Monday night, and that almost certainly includes JPP, Tuck and company, who should relish the opportunity to spoil the party. Furthermore, this once-dominant Giants’ defense should be driven to rectify the fact that they are no longer noteworthy in the buildup to game day and the mission to regain a little respect begins at Metlife Stadium in Week 7.