EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — For the past two games, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has waited until Friday to name his starting quarterback.
Frazier doesn’t want to wait as long this week with a decision that might affect the rest of the season. He wants to have a starter set by the time the team reconvenes at Winter Park on Wednesday for practice. He might even reveal his decision on Wednesday.
Frazier said he’s not a big believer in secrecy as an advantage over his next opponent, in this case the New York Giants on Monday night.
“I don’t know if I’d do that this week,” Frazier said about keeping the decision a secret. “I think everybody’s pretty healthy. We can come to the conclusion where they are as we meet with them. You guys will know when I know.”
Frazier said Monday he isn’t leaning one way or another, but he expects to know by Wednesday when deciding between Josh Freeman, Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder.
“I’d like to by the time we get back in practice on Wednesday, which is a shorter practice, have an idea of which guy is going to be leading our team,” Frazier said. “We’ll talk about it today and tomorrow, because we’ve got to put the game plan together, so we’re going to try to have a conclusion by Wednesday, so we can go out and get that guy the reps he needs for the game.”
In regards to Freeman, it’s a matter of whether he will have had enough time to become familiar with Minnesota’s offense. Signed last week after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Freeman will get a chance to start this season. The only question becomes when?
The Vikings signed Freeman for an audition for the right to become a possible long-term answer at the position after Ponder couldn’t seize the job for good. Minnesota has 12 games left to decide if next year’s starter is on the roster.
Freeman has had a week with the Vikings and would have an extra day this week because the team plays on Monday night in New York. But Frazier wants to sit down with Freeman and evaluate whether he’s ready now or needs more time.
“I want to talk with him a little bit and just pick his brain some, talk through some things and see where he is,” Frazier said. “Our offensive coaches will do the same.”
Minnesota is trying to accelerate Freeman’s learning curve, and knows how tough it is for Freeman coming to a new team and new offensive system midway through a season.
“He’s a bright young man,” Frazier said. “We saw that last week watching him, working with him and seeing how he picked things up during the course of the week. Yesterday on the sidelines, he had the earpiece in and he was asking questions on the sideline, talking to our offensive line, he’s intuitive. He’s a guy that can grasp information and be able to process it as well. But there’s no question, missing all of offseason and training camp as well that there are challenges. But we can help him from a coaching standpoint as well. “
Frazier has waited until Friday to announce a starter the past two games because of injury. First it was due to Ponder’s fractured rib and Frazier turned to Matt Cassel in London. Ponder returned to practice last week after the bye, but Frazier stuck with Cassel for another start.
Cassel was 32 of 44 for 241 yards passing last week with a touchdown and two interceptions, leaving the starting spot in doubt after the Vikings’ 35-10 loss.
The question Frazier is trying to answer the next couple of days is whether Freeman is ready. Freeman’s ascent to the starting lineup would probably answer the question going forward this season.