Souhan: QB plan becomes clear, even if team won't say so

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 8, 2013 - 11:35 AM

Bringing in Josh Freeman can only mean that the Vikings didn’t see a long-term starter on the roster.

Reporters and fans crave access. So when the Vikings sign a new quarterback, hold news conferences and allow interviews in their locker room, 40 reporters will show up to ask questions and fans will devour the resulting quotes.

Here’s the key to covering and following the NFL: Step 1: Ask the right questions. Step 2: Listen carefully to the answers. Step 3: Ignore just about everything you hear.

Sunday night, the Vikings reached a contract agreement with quarterback Josh Freeman. Monday, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier spoke about a quarterback position that currently includes Freeman, Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Frazier said either Ponder or Cassel could start on Sunday. He said Ponder remains the team’s starting quarterback “when healthy.” He declined to cede the starting job to Freeman. He indicated the team could move forward with Freeman, Ponder and Cassel all on the roster.

Frazier is as honest a man as you’ll find coaching an NFL team. He’s also a member of management, so he is much more interested in avoiding statements that could hurt him and his team than he is in being blunt.

There is no upside for Frazier in admitting the obvious: That Freeman was brought in to be the starter, that Cassel should start on Sunday, and that Ponder’s career with the Vikings is nearing an end.

Freeman likely will not be active for Sunday’s game after spending the week learning a new offense. Cassel, coming off an impressive performance in London, will start unless the coaching staff has given up on the season and wants to spend the rest of the season preparing for the draft.

Frazier must guard against the possibility that Cassel or Freeman plays horribly or gets hurt the next couple of weeks, forcing the Vikings to turn to Ponder again.

While Frazier must hedge his bets, here’s how the next few weeks should play out, or at least how the Vikings would like them to play out:

Sunday: Cassel starts and plays well enough to beat Carolina.

Monday, Oct. 21: Assuming Cassel doesn’t look like Peyton Manning, Freeman makes his first start, beats the Giants and moves the Vikings to 3-3.

Sunday, Oct. 27: Freeman has fully grasped the offense in time for the Vikings’ home game against the Packers, a game that could be a key to the Vikings’ ability to contend for the playoffs this season.

Sunday, Nov. 3: Freeman settles into the starting role, demonstrates the ability to make big plays down the field, and becomes the penciled-in starter for the next five seasons.

With management, always judge actions, not words. The Vikings wouldn’t have signed Freeman if they believed in Ponder, or if they thought Cassel was a long-term solution. Freeman wouldn’t have signed with the Vikings, choosing them over a half-dozen other suitors, unless he was assured he will get a chance to start.

Ponder’s rib injury has enabled the Vikings’ attempts at vagueness and protected Ponder from the truth. If he were completely healthy, the Vikings would be forced to reveal more of their plans. The rib allowed the Vikings to start Cassel in London, in a move that might have saved their season. The rib allows them to pretend Ponder is relevant this week, and that there is a difficult decision to be made about the future of the quarterback position.

We haven’t seen a bunch of Minnesotans so thrilled to be in the presence of tender ribs since the first Famous Dave’s opened.

For all of his flaws, Freeman has performed, during two of his four full NFL seasons, like a quality NFL starting quarterback. In 2010, he threw 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. Last year, he threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns.

His bad is just as bad as Ponder’s bad. His good is far better than Ponder’s good.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close