If you needed any convincing that situations can change on a dime in the NFL, you should be persuaded after witnessing the Vikings’ personnel moves the past two weeks.
Before the trip to London, it appeared that the Vikings were doomed to another lifeless and uninspiring season with Christian Ponder at quarterback. The pride of Coach Leslie Frazier and GM Rick Spielman seemingly blinded them from the obvious fact that the team was going nowhere fast and wasting Adrian Peterson’s prime years.
Matt Cassell breathed some life and confidence into the team in defeating the Steelers, but the Vikings’ top brass still maintained the position that Ponder was the team’s starting QB and that was that.
Then, after years of showing unwavering loyalty to the QB they reached for in the 2011 draft, Frazier and Spielman pulled an about-face and signed the recently discharged Josh Freeman off the street – not only signaling that the Christian Ponder era is all but over, but that Cassell was just keeping the seat warm as well.
This was a U-turn for the ages. It’s as if President Barack Obama, who is maintaining his position that he will not negotiate over increasing the debt ceiling and ending the government shutdown, were to reverse course next week and say that he will dismantle Obamacare if the Republicans pass a continuing resolution to fund the government and authorize the Treasury to issue new debt.
Freeman, who will likely start in Week 7 against the Giants, will surely be given every chance to win the starting job. Only 25, he already has five years of starting experience under his belt and is widely regarded as possessing all of the necessary tools to be a franchise-caliber quarterback – so much so that the Vikings were just one of 10 teams to inquire about signing him upon his release.
The Kansas State product’s tenure in Tampa Bay ended in ugly fashion, though, raising legitimate questions over what type of baggage he may bring with him. However, indications are that the problems rested primarily upon Greg Schiano –the Bucs’ second year coach who has done little aside from continually blowing up victory formations.
But the potential the Vikings saw in the former first round pick was enough to outweigh any potential distractions, and it was clearly sufficient for Frazier and Spielman to abandon their Christian Ponder experiment mid-season.
Before crowning Freeman as the newest savior of the Vikings’ franchise, one must tamper expectations just a bit. Learning an NFL offense halfway through a season is no walk in the park, so the rest of the season will basically serve as a probationary period to see what he brings to the huddle.
But make no mistake; this is no ad hoc, Randy Moss-style rent-a-wreck move by the Vikings, as they miserably tried in 2010. Signing Freeman should be seen as a serious investment into the team’s future.