Josh Freeman just had one of the worst debuts for a quarterback in the history of the NFL, but he is luckily surrounded by plenty of offensive talent and still has a shot at being a serviceable quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.
Freeman’s main struggle Monday night was the height of his passes as he ended the game with 16 overthrows, and he nearly got picked off numerous times by overthrowing a receiver and allowing the ball to travel into the secondary. Although it is quite concerning Freeman was so off with his throws, simple adjustments can be made on either his part or the receivers for those to become completions.
While Freeman did have two weeks of practice time with the Vikings before his start on Monday night, the game against the New York Giants showed that there is work to do in almost every part of Freeman’s game. The Vikings’ play-calling on Monday showed they will play to Freeman’s strengths as the strong-armed quarterback attempted nine passes of 21 yards or more, which is a drastic change from the conservative play-calling used when Christian Ponder was the team’s starter.
The willingness of the Vikings to adjust their game plan for Freeman is necessary for him to succeed, so don’t lose hope just yet that he could be this team’s future at quarterback.
Whether it was the play-calling or Freeman’s reads, the fifth-year quarterback targeted the left side of the field early in the game, and the right side late. Aside from the ugly overthrows, Freeman was actually quite effective when throwing the ball to the left side of the field, especially within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage as he completed six of his 10 passes, and should have completed one more if it had not been for a drop by the receiver.
The right side of the field, however, was Freeman’s Achilles’ heel as he ended up sailing the ball out of bounds most of the time, and completed just six passes to that side of the field all night. What this tells us is that the Vikings’ game plan should adjust so Freeman can attempt more throws to the left side of the field and completely stay away from the right sideline.
Freeman also completed five of his seven passes behind the line of scrimmage, which should be expected out of an NFL QB, but this allows Cordarrelle Patterson to get more involved as he has been the Vikings’ favorite screen pass option on the outside.
Greg Jennings was almost non-existent on Monday night as the veteran receiver caught just four passes and was not targeted until later in the game. This must change if Freeman is to succeed as Jennings has been effective running after the catch, and and shown to have reliable hands as well. Freeman did target Jennings deep late in the game, but he threw behind the open receiver by nearly 10 yards and was met with a clearly upset and frustrated Jennings.
It was very hard to watch the Vikings offense try and operate on Monday night, but given that the run game was non-existent and it was Freeman’s first start, things clearly will get better. Hopefully that happens this week as the Vikings host the Green Bay Packers, and although they will enter the game as the underdog, a strong offensive showing would be a great sign for their many disappointed fans.