Who knows what to expect from Josh Freeman in his Vikings debut? Not this guy. Not because he’s been sitting for three weeks or because he’s being tossed into a new offense; but because Josh Freeman, to rather simplify matters, is an enigma. Freeman is a mentally fragile quarterback (and person) at the moment, much diminished in quality from the version last seen by the Giants on September 16, 2012.
On that day, Freeman completed 15 passes for 243 yards, including 29-yard and 41-yard touchdown passes to Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams respectively. He wasn’t hesitant to put his cannon-arm to use, burning the Giants with deep shots down the field. For all intents and purposes, the 2013 version of Freeman doesn’t seem equipped with the same gun slinger mentality. During his three starts for Tampa, Freeman’s 6.1 yards per pass attempt ranked him near the bottom of the league – yet he still managed to complete only 46% of his passes. Startlingly, his completion percentage dips to 42% when under NO PRESSURE (Pro Football Focus). He is gun shy, late with throws and overall struggling to read coverage. If the statistics above weren’t evidence enough, behold a pair of moving pictures:
Of course having Adrian Peterson in the backfield ups his stock substantially, but the level of talent in Minnesota’s wide receiver corps is a major step back from the size/speed he’s become accustomed to. Greg Jennings primarily works the inside of defenses at this stage of his career; Jerome Simpson, despite a trio of long receptions, is far from dependable on the outside; tight end Kyle Rudolph came to life last week, but he was a relative non-factor outside of the red zone for five weeks. The wild-card among their receivers is rookie Cordarrelle Patterson who is slowly working his way into enhanced snap count. He’s been more dynamic as a kick returner (105-yard TD return) than he has a receiver, but the bottom line is that Patterson is incredibly dangerous in space.
It will be interesting to see how Freeman handles the multiple required adjustments in his new setting. Nobody has ever doubted his talent as a thrower. Unfortunately, football is 90% mental and the other half is physical. And in this league, off-field struggles make you reprove yourself on it.