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Updated: October 22nd, 2013 12:58am
Mackey: All parties share blame for Monday night's Giant embarrassment

Mackey: All parties share blame for Monday night's Giant embarrassment

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by Phil Mackey

On Sept. 4, prior to the start of the regular season, - one of the top football analytics sites on the web - projected the Minnesota Vikings as the team most likely to pick No. 1 overall in the 2014 draft.

Football Outsiders gave the Vikings a 4.9% chance to make the playoffs and a 0.1% chance to win the Super Bowl.

We all laughed.

While the Jacksonville Jaguars are leaders in the clubhouse to pick No. 1 overall, nobody should be laughing anymore at the notion that the Vikings are one of the worst teams in the NFL. Not after the embarrassment we saw on Monday night in front of a national audience.

Consider this: The previously winless New York Giants averaged 2.0 yards per carry and 4.9 yards per pass on offense. Eli Manning needed 39 passes just to reach 200 yards. The Giants also fumbled four times, were hit for 72 yards in penalties and handed the ball 18 times to Peyton Hillis, who they signed off the street on Wednesday. Check that. Hillis was actually volunteering as an assistant coach at a high school in Tennessee last week.

And the Giants looked like the 1999 St. Louis Rams standing next to the Vikings.

Everyone deserves to be ripped here.

General manager Rick Spielman, for turning this into a midseason quarterback evaluation.

Head coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, for putting Josh Freeman in a situation where he could not possibly succeed.

And Freeman, for making Tim Tebow look like a surgeon. Yes, Freeman's accuracy has always been sporadic, but not even the Foshay Tower could contain some of the throws we saw in this game.

Freeman told reporters after the game the offense was "a hair off" on a lot of plays. 

And I'm a hair off from being able to dance like Usher. 

Monday night was a pathetic, desperate cluster. The Vikings appeared so desperate for Freeman to be the franchise quarterback - probably Spielman more so than Frazier - that they put him in a near-impossible situation. And Freeman compounded the situation with atrocious accuracy and bone-headed decision making. 

Monday was a systematic failure across all levels. 

Color analyst Jon Gruden was 100% correct on the ESPN broadcast. Freeman clearly didn't know enough of the playbook to implement adjustments or audibles, and it appeared the Giants knew all of the Vikings receivers' routes after about the third series. Maybe sooner.

So with Freeman unable to run a full slate of plays, and also unable to knock off the rust and hit open receivers, he still wound up throwing the ball 53 times, including on 30 of 31 snaps in the fourth quarter.

On the surface, it makes sense to play Freeman as much as possible after signing him two weeks ago. Matt Cassel is a backup. Christian Ponder has a low ceiling. The Vikings need to find out whether Freeman can be a viable starting quarterback going into 2014. If not, no harm done. They can just draft one of the many potential top college quarterbacks that are likely to be available in the first round.

But everything we saw on Monday night seemed forced, awkward, rushed and disorganized. What, if anything, did anyone gain out of that?

Even if the conclusion to all of this is that Freeman simply isn't any good - that his body of work over the past couple seasons in Tampa Bay is indicative of his future performance - Monday's process was entirely flawed. 

And now we're not laughing quite as hard at Football Outsiders. 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd