Minnesota Vikings: 2013 Week 6 QB Watch

QB Watch: Vikings' Cassel, Freeman

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Minnesota Vikings' quarterback play:

Freeman
Cassel
Cassel
Rewind: Matt Cassel didn't play terribly in the Vikings' 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but two interceptions marred his day and might have hindered his chances to hold off Josh Freeman for the starting job. He completed 32 of his 44 passes for 241 yards, but overshot Greg Jennings on both interceptions and was unable to complete anything longer than 23 yards as the Panthers put consistent pressure on him.

Fast-forward: The Vikings will have to decide who is going to start at quarterback on Monday night against the New York Giants, but it wouldn't be surprising for Freeman to get the call. Coach Leslie Frazier said he wanted to have the team's starting quarterback named by Wednesday, adding he didn't have any interest in keeping the Giants in the dark about the starter because the team's need to develop a game plan was more important. If Freeman is starting, the Vikings will need a lot of advance planning, and at 1-4, they might as well see what they have after signing the 25-year-old to a one-year, $2 million deal.

Freeman versus Giants: When Tampa Bay traveled to MetLife Stadium in Week 2 last season, Freeman completed 15 of his 28 passes for 243 yards, a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions. The Buccaneers were up 27-16 when Freeman threw his first interception in the third quarter, triggering a Giants comeback that eventually led to a 41-31 New York win. He hit Mike Williams on a 41-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 2:08 left, but after the Giants scored a touchdown with 34 seconds left, Freeman was picked off on a pass over the middle at the Giants' 24, sealing New York's win.

Prediction: Freeman gets the call against the Giants, and gets off to a respectable start against their porous defense. He'll throw for around 225 yards, a pair of touchdowns and an interception.

QB Watch: Vikings' Ponder, Cassel

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the Minnesota Vikings' quarterback play:

Freeman
Cassel
Cassel
Rewind: The Vikings were on their bye last week, but time away from their previous game didn't lend any clarity to their quarterback situation. In fact, it got more complicated. The team signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman on Monday, adding him to a roster that already includes Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, who went 16-of-25 for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Vikings' Week 4 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ponder is still recovering from a broken rib he sustained in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, and the Vikings will have to decide whether he or Cassel starts Sunday with Freeman still learning the offense.

Fast-forward: Whoever starts at quarterback Sunday could be facing his final opportunity to sell himself for a while. Ponder has thrown just two touchdowns against five interceptions in three games, and he'd be facing one of the league's stoutest defenses in the Carolina Panthers. Cassel won praise from players like Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings for his performance against the Steelers, but with Freeman now joining the roster, his best chance to stake a claim to the starting job would be to put the Vikings on a win streak. Coach Leslie Frazier said Ponder is still the starter if he's healthy, but the Vikings will make the final call on whether they think Ponder is healthy enough to play -- or whether his injury provides them a reason to go in a different direction.

Freeman waiting: In a conference call with reporters Monday night, Freeman said the Vikings appealed to him because they represented an opportunity to "pump the brakes" after his contentious exit from Tampa Bay. "From the standpoint of a career move, the thing about the Vikings I like is, they've got a guy," he said. But it seems highly unlikely the Vikings would have signed Freeman -- and paid him $2 million -- to sit on the bench the rest of the year.

Prediction: As much of a lift as the Vikings got from Cassel in London, it's hard to see them going back to Ponder. The guess here is Cassel starts this weekend against the Panthers and performs respectably -- call it 200 yards, a touchdown and an interception -- and if the Vikings lose, they start thinking about a transition plan to Freeman. If they win? Well, that would make things a little more complicated.

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