EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings hope Josh Freeman can settle the quarterback position. Freeman isn’t being looked at as the savior for a 1-4 season though.
“Oh man, I don’t know if one guy can save your season,” coach Leslie Frazier said Thursday. “This is the ultimate team game. That’s a cliché but in my mind it’s the truth. You need your offense, your defense, your special teams, and you need the chemistry to have a chance to be a good football team. One guy will not turn our season around; it’s going to take a collective effort and a good job by all of our guys, not just the quarterback. We need everybody to play well.”
Minnesota is hoping Freeman can play well and at least provide consistent play at the quarterback position after Frazier named him the starting quarterback day earlier.
Freeman took the podium on Thursday, fulfilling the weekly press conference duties of the starting quarterback. Here are five highlights of Freeman’s meeting with the media:
1. How is it in the (quarterback meeting) room? I assume there’s some level of disappointment with Christian (Ponder) and Matt (Cassel). How has that dynamic been?
FREEMAN: There’s always going to be, personally, some level of…You can say what you want, but there’s not a quarterback in this league that doesn’t believe he should be the starter in some capacity. I was on the other end of this just a few weeks ago. One of the awesome things about these guys, and you always wonder how the guys in the room are going to be, and I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career to have some quality rooms and this one’s no different. Both those guys, the decision’s made, we’re working and it’s just the level of preparation, the attitude, everything continues to stay at a high level. Like I said, I’m blessed and fortunate and that speaks volumes on those two guys and their character.
2. What would you say to fans that have very high expectations? They think you’re going to be the guy that’s going to come in and save the team.
FREEMAN: We’re looking at this game. We’re looking at one game at a time. I think that, obviously, you’re going to have goals down the long stretch of a season. But in the present, that’s the only place you can be. If you want to have a chance in this league, you have to focus on the next opponent. You can’t be looking down the road. You can’t be looking at anywhere further than this game, and what I’m doing right now is not trying to learn every single play that has been installed in the offense. I’m trying to focus on this week’s game plan and maximize the potential for this week and come back next week and do it all over again with next week’s game plan. The main focus throughout the entire game is finding a way to go out on Monday night and get a win.
3. How would you describe your personality?
FREEMAN: Um, I don’t know. I’m me. I like to maintain a cool, calm, collect on the field. And that’s kind of reflective of my off the field. But at the same time, you play the game to win. There’s also that serious side. You got to take things seriously, when your livelihood is on the line, when your passion is on the line. Because you really care about the people you really care about. I generally describe myself as pretty cool, pretty relaxed, and that translates into my play. Let’s say there’s a negative play or a positive play, being able to remove yourself from that previous play and get back in your zone and get ready for the next play.
4. Is this start sooner than you expected, or hoped for when you signed on with the team?
FREEMAN: Nah, I didn’t really set a goal. I didn’t really know what I was walking into, I didn’t really know anything about the situation, didn’t know anything about the exact offense I was running. What I did know, talking to Rick Spielman, is that it wouldn’t be an immediate pressure. ‘You got to get in and you got to save the season.’ That’s not how I feel at all. Talking to coach Frazier, there would be open lines of communication and let him know where I fit in the offense, and understanding concepts, and verbalizing plays. We talked a lot about that. Between him and me, there’s no way I would come onto that field, if I didn’t feel I was ready and he didn’t feel I was ready. Obviously, he spends a lot of time talking with the offensive coaches. But didn’t really set any parameters, didn’t say, ‘You got to be doing this by…’ I just came in and said I would work has hard as I can, focus on me every day, and try to learn this team and this offense. I feel I can give us a chance to win, with my knowledge of the offense and just being a football player.
5. In terms of timing with your receivers, does that come pretty quickly or is that process gradual?
FREEMAN: Different receiving corps, it really is. Great thing about this receiving corps is you have a lot of talented guys. Anytime there’s maybe a little off on some timing, it’s made up for by the talent level.That receiving corps, it’s kind of a shocker. In walk through, guys are flying around. It’s coming along. And are things going to be perfect this soon? No. But you find ways. The routes you’re a little bit off on in practice, maybe you didn’t quite understand why he came out of the break that way. Talking those instances out, and coming out and throwing after practice. I stayed after practice with Jerome, and worked a couple of routes yesterday. We got a bunch of willing young guys. Joe Webb’s been tremendous. He’s seen it from the quarterback standpoint and the receiver standpoint, and I’ve spent a lot of time talking to him. And I spend a lot of time talking about offensive principles, and guys strengths and weaknesses. Stuff like that, you wouldn’t get from being just thrown out there with limited reps.