Josh Freeman signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday and he will give Matt Cassel a run for his money as the starting quarterback as soon as he gets familiar with the Vikings offensive playbook.
I am going to take a look at the QB’s on the roster and which one gives them the best chance to win. Here are their stats so far this season:
Christian Ponder, 59%, 230.3 yards per game, 6.9 yards per attempt, 2 touchdowns, 5 interceptions with a 65.9 Passer Rating.
Cassel, 64%, 248ypg, 9.9ypa, 2 TD’s, 0 INT’s with a 123.4 PR
Freeman, 45.7%, 190.3ypg, 6.1ypa, 2 TD’s, 3 INT’s with a 59.3 PR.
I’ll start with Freeman and Cassel since they are both healthy and Ponder is out of the equation with a rib injury that will prevent him from playing for several more weeks. His injury is more serious than the team originally thought, thus the reason for them going out and bringing in Freeman.
Freeman and Ponder have both played in 3 games this season, compared to Cassel’s one game, but Matt looked very good against Pittsburgh’s aging and restructured defense. Cassel came off the bench, with very little time with the first team, and looked like an upgrade over Ponder.
Freeman faced the Jets (14th in points per game allowed), Saints (4th in ppg allowed), and Patriots (2nd in ppg), 3 teams that have a pretty formidable defense. So that’s a huge reason his numbers aren’t as good as Cassel and Ponder’s.
Ponder struggled mightily against Detroit (18th in ppg allowed), Chicago (26th) and Cleveland (9th). The alarming thing about Ponder is his decision making (1 INT every 20 passes) with a running back like Adrian Peterson to hand the ball off to. Having a player like AP should make the game a lot easier since opposing defenses have to game plan for Peterson.
At 31, Cassel is really just a caretaker/game manager and his upside is somewhat limited. His long term potential isn’t nearly as high as Ponder’s or Freeman’s. And he has a history of turning the ball over as he showed with Kansas City from 2011-12 (16 TD’s to 21 INT’s, plus 13 fumbles).
Freeman is just 25, but with 5 years of professional experience. Freeman is a few seasons removed from a 2010 season where he completed 61.4% of his passes for 215ypg, 7.3 ypa, 25 TD’s to just 6 INT’s and a 95.9 PR. That season he had RB LeGarette Blount to shoulder the load for the Tampa Bay Buccaneer offense.
I would have to think he could recapture those numbers (maybe even exceed them) with a player like Peterson carrying the rock. It should open up passing lanes for Freeman and he has some talent to throw to in WR’s Jerome Simpson, (19 catches, 342 yards, 18 yards per catch, and 5 plays of at least 20 yards) and Greg Jennings (14 receptions, 252 yards, 18ypc, 5 plays of at least 20 yards, and 2 TD’s). Kyle Rudolph isn’t a big play threat at tight end, but he is a dependable outlet receiver/safety valve when the WR’s are covered.
Ponder is a free agent after the season and probably going to be the odd man out since Cassel is under contract for 2 more seasons. And with a strong showing for Minnesota, Freeman could set himself up for a nice payday with the Vikings who need a QB to pair with AP for the next several years, which should be the prime of his career. Freeman gives them the best chance to win (last years team won with Peterson and not much from Ponder) because Freeman has a stronger arm and is more mobile than Ponder, a huge factor since Minnesota’s offensive line has been inconsistent. Freeman’s ability to buy time with his feet in the pocket would be a huge asset.
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