Zulgad: It's hard to figure what the heck is going on with Vikings QBs
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One has to wonder if Josh Freeman is having a case of signer's remorse right about now.
If nothing else, the quarterback must be wondering why he decided to jump from one dysfunctional situation to another. Freeman finds himself playing for a team that reportedly plans to start Christian Ponder on Sunday, despite the fact it appears he has no future in Minnesota.
Freeman was the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first three games of the season. The Bucs lost all three, Freeman's already deteriorating relationship with coach Greg Schiano grew more strained by the day and finally Tampa Bay management felt it had no choice but to release Freeman.
Given a fresh start, and playing in a league that puts a massive value on a capable quarterback, Freeman examined his options and decided the best situation for him would be to sign a $3 million deal with the Vikings for the remainder of the season.
When Freeman joined the Vikings on Oct. 6, the assumption was that he would take over as the starting quarterback as soon as possible. This made sense considering the Vikings had appeared to have given up on Ponder and considered Matt Cassel nothing more than a backup.
But figuring out the decision-making at Winter Park has become nearly impossible.
The latest indication of this came Wednesday when coach Leslie Frazier declined to name his starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Dallas. Frazier told the media he had an idea who was going to start and that his players know but that no announcement probably would be made until Friday.
The Vikings are 1-6 this season and the wheels already have come off. Do you really think the Cowboys are sweating this one out?
The wise move, if the Vikings believe that Freeman will be effective in the long run, would be to put their support behind him now. Ponder and Cassel aren't going to be back in 2014, so the only important decision is going to be about whether Freeman should be signed to a multiyear contract.
But instead the team created an environment where it is playing unnecessary mid-week games with an opponent and daring players not to leak something they already know. It appears wide receiver Jerome Simpson was more than happy to tell the St. Paul Pioneer Press he believes Ponder is the choice for Sunday.
All of this is downright Brad Childress-like.
As for Freeman, he has to be glad to be rid of Schiano but wondering what exactly is going on when it comes to his new employer.
He made his first start in an Oct. 21 loss to the New York Giants and the offensive-game plan proceeded to embarrass him on national television. Somehow in a 16-point loss that really was never out of control, Freeman ended up throwing 53 passes.
This should have been a game where the Vikings featured the run and put Freeman in a position to succeed. Instead, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave put the game on Freeman's shoulders and used Adrian Peterson as a supporting member of the offense.
Freeman looked terrible, overthrew 15 receivers and received some heat for his performance. But privately he had to wonder what Musgrave was thinking.
There are some who have suggested Frazier might have had Freeman throw the ball so much to prove a point. The speculation, among these folks, was that general manager Rick Spielman ordered that Freeman start.
Basically, their take on what Frazier thought went like this: If you're going to make me start a QB who isn't prepared, I'm going to show you what will happen.
While it's a great conspiracy theory, it's difficult to believe Frazier would do such a thing. First, that's not his style. Second, if it turned out to be true, it wouldn't exactly be a ringing endorsement when he's looking for another job and needs a reference.
With Freeman sitting out last Sunday's embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome, the logical move would have been to go back to Cassel. Cassel was the starter in the Vikings' only victory of the season and while he's not great, he is going to provide the even-keel presence of a veteran who has been around. Remember, what all the veterans said about him controlling the huddle before the Vikings beat Pittsburgh in London?
Plus, no matter how Cassel played, it would be easy to go back to Freeman. The Vikings instead started Ponder. The move made no sense. If Ponder had played well, that could have created unnecessary competition with Freeman. If Ponder played poorly, the Metrodome would become even more toxic.
That, of course, is what happened. Ponder and the Vikings were terrible.
Somehow that led to this week's decision that if Freeman couldn't play, the starter would be Ponder. Why? Nobody can figure this one out. It was assumed Frazier would announce on Wednesday that Freeman, who has been cleared to return from his concussion, would be the starter.
The only logical guess about what was going on was that someone had decided Freeman wasn't ready to play yet because he's still learning the offense and that the ongoing debate was whether the Vikings would be better off starting Cassel. Considering how bad things are going for Ponder that would have been the most logical move for everyone involved.
Instead, assuming Simpson's information is right, Ponder will get the start Sunday.
This only goes to prove, once again, that logic isn't being used at Winter Park when it comes to the quarterback position in 2013.