If you didn’t watch last night’s “Monday Night Football” matchup between the Giants and Vikings, consider yourself lucky — it was horrible. We knew going into the game that it would feature the worst combined winning percentage (Week 7 or later) ever seen on MNF, and it lived up to the billing.
There was a ton to dislike about the game, on both sides of the ball, for both teams, but the Vikings offense — which features last year’s MVP in Adrian Peterson — was horrifying in its ineptitude. Let’s break down the most egregious errors made by head coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, which all center around the curious (read: bad) decision to start newly acquired Josh Freeman at quarterback:
They started newly acquired Josh Freeman at quarterback!
This made absolutely zero sense. Freeman has only been with the Vikings for two weeks. It doesn’t matter if your quarterback is a some crazy scientific cross between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and Dan Marino — you need to give that lab freak a chance to learn the offense. But Josh Freeman isn’t an amalgamation of the league’s best quarterbacks: He’s the dude that was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We can talk all we want about “raw talent” and “size” and, um, I guess that’s all we can talk about with Josh Freeman. But those things don’t mean shit after two weeks in a new offense.
They started Josh Freeman on Monday Night Football.
No pressure, guy, but why don’t you make your first start for our team on the game’s biggest stage? Maybe the Vikings wanted to take advantage of what they perceived to be a crappy Giants defense, but throwing your ice cold quarterback into the fire, in New York City, against a proud team hungry for a win, was a recipe for disaster. Jon Gruden called the rest of the season an “11-game tryout” for Freeman. Was there anything Freeman was going to show in 11 games that he couldn’t show in 10? The answer is yes: That he sucks.
They started Josh Freeman when Adrian Peterson wasn’t 100 percent.
Everyone knows what AD can do when healthy. But all week, Peterson has been nursing a hamstring injury, and he clearly lacked his usual burst against the Giants. When you start a new quarterback, you need to lean on your run game. But the Vikings, even though they knew Peterson was limited, decided to go ahead with the Freeman experiment.
They didn’t take advantage of the Adrian Peterson they did have.
AD was out on the field, which still makes him a dangerous weapon. But he got 13 carries. Yes, the Giants defensive front turned in a great performance and stuffed AD on almost every run. But Freeman rarely looked for his running back leaking out of the backfield, even though AD’s biggest gains of the night came through the air. Freeman was way too dependent on his first and second options on every play, and often forced the ball downfield when he should have checked down. Peterson fantasy owners everywhere went into a rage-coma around the third quarter.
They had Freeman throw the ball 53 (yes, fifty-three) times.
This is an outrageous number of throws, for an quarterback, even when playing from behind. The Vikings were only down 10 midway through the third quarter, and the game didn’t get out of hand until late. And yet, there was Freeman, chucking away, overthrowing his receivers on almost every route and generating no offense. He had less than 200 yards to show for his efforts.
They started Josh Freeman at quarterback.
If you didn’t watch the game, you can’t know how truly bad Freeman looked. Very few passes were on target. Many throws sailed out of bounds. He led his receivers into truly dangerous situations, and Greg Jennings paid the price in the fourth quarter on a big hit over the middle. He made the Bucs look smart in cutting him, and the Vikings look foolish for starting him.
Total number of points on offense for the Vikings: Zero.
The worst part about starting Freeman so quickly is that the Vikings have no backup plan now. Will they switch back to one of their three other quarterbacks (if you count Joe Webb) after that disasterous showing? If so, they’ll likely destroy whatever confidence Freeman had left and utterly waste this opportunity to salvage a “big” guy with “raw talent.” The Vikings, already out of the playoff picture, completely bungled their quarterback situation, again, and on national TV no less. A complete embarrassment all around.
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