JAY DAVIS: The bad thing is I can’t un-watch it
Before kickoff on Monday night, I thought the Vikings-Giants was must-watch television. Now I can’t un-watch it no matter how hard I try.
The expectations were not high, but the hopes were, as the Vikings introduced their third different starting quarterback of year. Josh Freeman has only been a Viking for a couple of weeks, but the team seems to have already decided the future of the team is not going to include Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel.
So the Vikings threw Freeman to the wolves even though he was not with the team nearly long enough to learn any but the first few pages of the playbook.
My son Michael and I thought we had the game plan figured out. We knew the Giants would be putting eight, nine and maybe even 10 players in the box to stop Adrian Peterson. That meant the Vikings would be running a few fly patterns and throwing the ball deep. Besides long throws loosening up a defense hell-bent on stopping the run, they were throws Freeman could launch without having to know too much of the playbook.
Michael and I were not on the same page as the Vikings’ coaching staff. Not even close. The Vikings did not run one play in the first half where they threw the ball downfield. In fact, they ran pretty much the same package they would have run if Ponder had been playing quarterback. There were little dumps and bubble screens, quick ins and quick outs. And, of course, there were handoffs to Peterson that could go nowhere because the Giant defense was crammed up close.
In fairness to the Viking coaches, Freeman flat-out stunk it up. He threw high and he threw wide. At one point he missed a sideline throw so far that I checked behind my TV to see if there was a dent in the wall.
But you have to lay most of this on the coaches. The guy has been wearing purple for 12 days and he’s throwing 53 passes? It turned into the worst performance a quarterback who has thrown more than 50 passes in a game has ever had. Freeman had just 20 completions (37.7 completion percentage) and 190 yards. No quarterback before had ever thrown 50 passes and had fewer than 200 yards and at least one touchdown.
We’ll find out Sunday if another week’s practice will help as Freeman is set to start this week against the Packers.
When they added Freeman to the team the Vikings said they would use the rest of this season to evaluate the quarterback position.
It may not make a difference. Unless things make a dramatic upturn, there will be a new set of coaches making the decisions next year. After Monday’s performance, head coach Leslie Frazier and his assistant coaches have to all be on double secret probation.
Should the losing continue, the Vikings’ quarterback woes would be the least of their problems.