I read a post at Grantland when Josh Freeman was benched that painted the picture of a quarterback that was teeming with talent, but was so misused and was neglected the opportunity to develop that his career has fallen apart. Bill Barnwell brought up some interesting points and had good observations on Freeman’s career, that I think all Vikings fans should check out.
I’ll boil it down, though. Josh Freeman has all the physical ability in the world, but it might be too late to turn his career around if his development has been too mismanaged.
Going forward, it raises an interesting question as to who will be the starter for the Vikings for the remainder of the season. The Vikings have three QBs with a legitimate stake to the claim. Christian Ponder was the number 1 draft choice, and despite 3 games of work this year, he has shown remarkable improvement over his career. He’s just not worth the first round selection that was used on him yet. Matt Cassel has been a terrible QB for most of his career , but he led the team to their first win in London and has the support of the players. Josh Freeman just signed a 3 million dollar deal. He wouldn’t have got that money if he wasn’t going to start.
So how will this play out? Poorly. As they say around the league, when you have 2 quarterbacks, you actually have no quarterback. The same can be said for a team with 3 QBs. This week, the only option will be to start Matt Cassel. Freeman still needs to learn the offense and Ponder has a broken rib. After this week, it gets a little more interesting.
Here’s how I think it plays out. Cassel starts against Carolina and is a disaster (he has a track record longer than his one game against Pittsburgh) and that will likely end his time as a starter in Minnesota. Then, Josh Freeman will be inserted into the starting role against the Giants, Packers and Cowboys. He will do well against the Giants, because they are awful, and he will be lauded. It will come down to his games against Green Bay and in Dallas. If he can remain respectable and win one of those two games, Freeman will start the rest of the year, regardless of how he does. If he falls apart, then the Vikings will turn back to Ponder.
The best case scenario for the Vikings is that Freeman can hold onto the job and re-signs with the team next year. Other than that, this is a risky gamble that will inevitably paint the Vikings locker room as a toxic environment for quarterbacks and their development. Will Ponder want to mentor the Vikings first round pick next year? Will Cassel?
The Vikings may or may not provide viewers with good football, but they will be an interesting socialogical experiment.