EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The quarterback carousel has stopped for the Minnesota Vikings, even if Josh Freeman didn’t look ready to take the reins on Monday night.
Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier didn’t back down from his belief that Freeman is the best option for the 1-5 Vikings and said he would be the starter when Minnesota hosts the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Frazier said he hasn’t thought about Freeman’s status for the rest of the season, but he had no regrets in sending out Freeman on Monday night, two weeks after he signed with the team.
“The ball kind of sailed on him a few different times, but I don’t think it was a lack of preparation,” Frazier said. “But anytime you make a decision like the decision that myself and our staff made, if it doesn’t work out, you open yourself to second-guessing. If I had to do it over again, I don’t think I’d do it any differently under the circumstances. I knew exactly why we made the decision. Felt very confident going into the ballgame with the decision; didn’t work out for us this time.”
Freeman, who was the third starter in four games for the Vikings, misfired repeatedly on Monday night with a heavier workload than expected. Released by the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this month, Freeman was thrust into the starting lineup for Minnesota and was plagued by overthrows on Monday night.
Freeman — who entered the game as the league’s lowest-ranked quarterback in terms of completion percentage at 45.7 percent — finished 20 of 53 passing for 190 yards and one interception.
“We didn’t have any mental errors in that area,” Frazier said of Freeman handling the offense. “It was more mechanical things. One of the reasons the ball sailed at times, his footwork wasn’t ideal, his shoulders weren’t square all the time. So it was more technical stuff. But the mental part, he was sharp. He did a great job of running our offense throughout the night, just some things from a technical standpoint that we’ll have to work on to get him better.”
Frazier hopes Minnesota, with more time with Freeman, can help rectify some of the accuracy issues and work on his mechanics. Freeman has never been considered an accurate quarterback, even dating back to his college days at Kansas State. In 61 career NFL games, Freeman is a 57.6 percent passer and he’s last in the league this season at 42.9 percent after Monday night’s game.
According to Pro Football Focus, Freeman overthrew his intended receiver on 15 of his 33 incompletions, threw two passes behind receivers and had two underthrown. Pro Football Focus graded Freeman’s game on Monday night at a minus-11.3, the lowest single-game grade for a quarterback since the website started grading games in 2008.
Frazier said the team had seen some of the mechanical problems with Freeman in practice, but in the rush to get him ready for Sunday couldn’t work out all of the issues. “That’s the balance when you’re trying to get him ready for a ballgame with the install as well as the mechanical things,” Frazier said. “You’re trying to get both done and it’s something we worked on but maybe a little more time probably would have helped with that as well.”
Frazier said he never thought about turning to backup Christian Ponder, who had 29 straight games for the Vikings until suffering a fractured rib and missing the Week 4 game in London.
Minnesota only ran for 30 yards as a team. Frazier said the lack of a running game has added pressure on the Vikings’ passing attack and the team’s quarterbacks and he wants more offensive balance.
“We didn’t go into it thinking we were going to be throwing it 53 times,” Frazier said. “We never go into a ballgame thinking we’re going to have to throw it 53 times. It turned out that way, but we do want to be an offense that relies on Adrian Peterson.”
Freeman signed two weeks ago with the expectation he would be given a chance to start for Minnesota. He’s the 11th starting quarterback for the Vikings since Daunte Culpepper suffered a major knee injury in 2005.
No one outside the organization knew Freeman’s first start would come as quickly as it did, but Frazier said Freeman’s start and the fact the team is sticking with him as the starter going forward isn’t based on obligation.
“No obligation, the only reason the decision was made to start him (was) because we believed that he would give us the best change to be successful in that ball game with the Giants, and the only reason he would start on Sunday is for that reason,” Frazier said. “No obligation other than that.”
The carousel has stopped with Freeman in the lead. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter