When the Vikings signed Josh Freeman, the move looked like a decent gamble to see if Freeman could be the long-term starter in Minnesota. That may still prove to be the case, but his debut on Monday left a lot to be desired. Instead of talking about his play on the field, ESPN announcers Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden spent most of the game questioning Minnesota's decision to start Freeman less than two weeks after he signed.
That discussion continued during the postgame show with Steve Young criticizing the decision.
"It was brutal to try and watch him run a professional offense," Young said. "In the end, Leslie Frazier decided, 'I'm going to play him' -- maybe because my job is on the line and I want to get lightning in a bottle. But it was so obvious before the game that he was not going to be able to call the plays to get the job done."
Fellow ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer was also critical of the decision to start Freeman 13 days after he signed in Minnesota.
"A total lack of discretion and wisdom on the decision to put Josh Freeman in," Dilfer said.
It was apparent to most watching the game that Freeman was not ready to run Minnesota's offense, even the extremely limited offense the Vikings attempted to use. Freeman and his receivers were not close to being in sync and New York appeared to know what play was coming at times.
Freeman didn't get much help from the running game or his offensive line, but even when he he had time to throw, he didn't look anything like a franchise quarterback. He completed 20-of-53 for 193 yards and an interception. As bad as those numbers are, they are inflated by Minnesota's final drive. With New York playing prevent defense, Freeman completed 4-of-7 passes for 28 yards. Take that series away and a 22-yard dumpoff to Adrian Peterson earlier in the game and Freeman completed 15-of-45 passes for 143 yards.
While not all 33 incompletions were his fault, but he was far from accurate and sailed several passes over the heads of his receivers. He threw an interception deep in New York territory and took a sack during the third quarter that knocked the Vikings out of field goal range when the game was still within reach.
Freeman averaged 3.6 yards per attempt, becoming the 10th player since 1960 to attempt 45 or more passes, but average less than 3.75 yards per attempt. New York appeared set on slowing Peterson and forcing Freeman to win the game for Minnesota. Even when New York put nine defenders in the box, Freeman was unable to take advantage.
If Freeman and the Vikings are looking for a silver lining, his Minnesota career will likely only go up from here.