This afternoon, the Vikings officially made Josh Freeman the newest QB to come to Minnesota. In doing so, the team had to decide who would be released from the team to make room for the ex-Buccaneers signal caller. Ultimately, the team decided to waive third-string QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Though he never saw regular season playing time with the Vikings, many fans were intrigued by the prospect of Bethel-Thompson continuing to develop and potentially turning into something worthwhile eventually.
The #Vikings have waived McLeod Bethel-Thompson, and have signed Josh Freeman.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 8, 2013
Of course, the decision to release Bethel-Thompson instead of a certain Christian Ponder, who is currently dealing with a rib injury, sparked some backlash amongst fans. While there were other routes the Vikings could have taken to make room for Freeman, to me, waiving Bethel-Thompson seemed the most obvious and correct move to make. While it was fun to think that maybe, possibly, someday MBT could develop into a franchise quarterback and great story, it was highly unlikely. Instead, the Vikings chose to retain three more experienced quarterbacks and have a full-fledged quarterback battle.
If you are a frequent VT visitor then surely you know I have been a Ponder apologist for quite some time. While I have accepted the fact that he is very likely not the future of this franchise, the hate has gone a little far. Not quite sure why some out there are so insistent that he should be just completely kicked to the curb. Even if he’s not starting franchise material he is a more than capable back-up. And I stand firmly behind my belief that Ponder has not been horrible this season. He hasn’t shown signs of greatness either, though. Unfortunately for him, in the third year of your franchise QB audition, that is exactly what is expected of you.
Ironically, it was just a week ago that Coach Frazier stood in front of the press and reaffirmed that Ponder was the starting quarterback… While he essentially danced around saying something similar in his most recent press conference, make no doubt about it, Ponder’s job as the starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings has all but disappeared.
For those looking for my personal opinion on the whole situation, here it is: I support the move to bring in Josh Freeman. In fact, I think Freeman should start as soon as he has learned all five plays in the Musgrave playbook. I really don’t care if Cassel is playing better and has “earned” a chance at the starting role… Cassel is not the future of this franchise. Is Freeman? I’m not confident he is but we can’t say for sure. What I absolutely don’t want to happen (which means this is exactly what will happen) is for Josh Freeman to play the last 8-9 games of the season and do just enough to convince the Vikings front office that they don’t need to address the QB position in next year’s draft. Regardless of how Freeman does, it would be wise for this team to invest in an insurance policy in a deep draft class.
After learning about the Freeman signing I spent some time watching some tape on Josh Freeman and there were a couple things I took away.
- Freeman has a nice deep ball. With that being said, a lot of his success comes from chucking it up and letting his receivers go up and get it… But there are also some throws outside the hash-marks and down the field that are down right gorgeous. It will be interesting to see how the addition of Freeman affects the Vikings play calling. Everyone knows that our west coast offense revolves heavily around, outside of handing #28 the rock, passes into the flat and quick routes typically inside the first-down marker. Is this because Musgrave didn’t have a quarterback he could trust to rocket the ball down the field? Is it by design with no regard to the abilities of the quarterback? Time will tell…
- Freeman does not progress through his reads. This is worrisome to me as it is one of my biggest gripes with Ponder. Almost everything I saw involved Freeman snapping the ball and immediately starting down one receiver. Sound familiar? Yeah…
The Vikings have managed to inject some excitement into an otherwise uninteresting and frustrating season so far. While Matt Cassel will likely start this weekend at home against the Carolina Panthers, it’s incredibly likely Freeman will get his first shot the following week against the Giants. When Freeman does start, he’ll begin his own audition and can hopefully provide stability at a position that seems to be forever in flux for the Vikings.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson will now go through the waiver process. If he makes it through without being acquired by another time, the Vikings can choose to keep him on their practice squad.