Quarterback question again surrounds Vikings

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 18, 2013 - 10:37 AM

As Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel struggled, Josh Freeman sat.

– Three quarterbacks, one head coach and not a single one of them had any idea who will start under center six days from now when the 2-8 Vikings limp into Lambeau Field to play the Packers.

Yes, a season-long bad situation has gotten even worse because the second half of Sunday’s 40-21 loss to Seattle at CenturyLink Field was just plain, well, awful. So awful that Christian Ponder went from a 122.0 first-half passer rating to getting benched, again facing the possibility that he’s played his final snap as a Viking and creating another opening for Josh Freeman’s 2014 audition.

“I want to get out there against Green Bay and try to forget this one and kind of redeem myself,” said Ponder, who threw two second-half interceptions, including a pick-six that got him benched with a 53.0 passer rating and the Seahawks leading 38-13 early in the fourth quarter.

That’s something coach Leslie Frazier said he wouldn’t begin discussing with his staff until Monday. As for Matt Cassel, Sunday’s backup, and Freeman, who was inactive and not in uniform, well, they aren’t sure what to think.

“It’s not really my job to make sense of the situation,” Freeman said. “It’s my job to be the best Josh Freeman I can be on a day in and day out basis. Things that are out of my control and not my decision, they don’t really trouble my mind or weigh on me.”

Cassel, who completed only 38.5 percent of his passes (five of 13) for 78 yards, a touchdown, one interception and a 52.7 rating on Sunday, hasn’t been in the discussion for starting quarterback since losing his job in a 35-10 loss to the Panthers on Oct. 13. He said he doesn’t know why that’s the case.

“That’s a question you’d have to ask Leslie,” he said. “I don’t complain or do anything like that. I’ve been around this league long enough to know you have to fall in line.”

This was the fourth time Freeman has been inactive since being signed Oct. 6. His only action remains his start in the 23-7 loss to the Giants on “Monday Night Football” on Oct. 21. Freeman completed 37.7 percent of his passes (20 of 53) for 190 yards and suffered a concussion in that game.

Freeman, however, did say he is much more prepared. After all, he started that game after only four practices with the first team.

“It’s been four weeks to learn and digest stuff that you had a week to do the first go around,” he said. “I’m just working, trying to build and understanding everything, how we do it, why it’s called what it’s called, and just continue to grow in this offense and stay sharp physically as well as mentally.”

Freeman, who doesn’t have a contract beyond this year, was asked how he would handle not getting the start at Green Bay after Ponder’s second-half free-fall on Sunday.

“I have no preconceived notions about who is starting,” Freeman said. “It’s not going to change my approach. It’s not going to change my attitude.”

Cassel, meanwhile, has a contract option that both he and the team would have to exercise.

“I’m not even thinking about that right now,” Cassel said. “We’ve still got however many games left. Right now, I’m sold out to this team. I’m going to give it my all and then we’ll make those are decisions in the offseason. You never know what will happen.”

Especially when it comes to the Vikings quarterback situation.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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