Cassel to start again; what about Freeman?

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
4:20
PM ET
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday that the Vikings plan to stick with their current pecking order at quarterback, starting Matt Cassel on Sunday against the Detroit Lions and keeping Christian Ponder active as his backup.

"I don't know what would change that as the week goes on, but that's the thought process as we speak," Frazier said.

That offers some finality to what has seemed evident for quite some time: that Josh Freeman won't start another game this season for the Vikings at quarterback. As the weeks have turned to months since Freeman's one start for Minnesota -- a "Monday Night Football" debacle in which he became the second quarterback since 1960 to attempt 50 passes and not reach 200 yards in a game -- it's become more and more curious why the Vikings haven't gone back to him after rushing him onto the field so quickly.

[+] EnlargeJosh Freeman
AP Photo/Julio CortezIn his only start for the Vikings, Josh Freeman became the second QB since 1960 to attempt 50 passes and not reach 200 yards in a game.
Their standard of quarterbacking hasn't exactly been high, and yet Freeman has sat behind Cassel and Ponder every week since Oct. 21. Frazier has talked about the Vikings' work with Freeman on his mechanics, and it's possible that they wanted to take the rest of the season simply to rework the quarterback's game before trying to bring him back next season. But it seems more likely that Freeman hasn't done enough to pull the Vikings in his direction.

Asked if Freeman has struggled to pick up the Vikings' offense, Frazier said, "No, he did a good job picking up things. It’s one of the reasons we played him in that New York game. He picked up things well and worked hard in practice. He’s still doing those things, picking up the offense, working hard, spending time with coaches doing all the things he needs to do. But with one game left and having a chance to watch Matt play again, we made the decision and that’s probably the way we’ll go."

That doesn't exactly suggest that Freeman has wowed the Vikings with his execution on the practice field after overthrowing receivers during the Giants game. As much as the Vikings pushed to get Freeman ready to play, it's a little tough for them now to say the process was completely about getting a chance to work with Freeman in practice and make a decision about him for the future. If he'd been good enough to play, the Vikings would have used him. They've needed wins, and consistent quarterbacking, badly enough that they probably would have given Freeman another try if he'd shown enough to pique their interest.

It would seem unlikely that Freeman will be back next season; not playing with the Vikings likely depressed his value on the free agent market, but he doesn't seem to be in their plans, unless they've taken a rather unconventional approach to evaluating him. Whatever happens from here, the Freeman move will stand out as one of the more bizarre subplots of the Vikings' 2013 season.

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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