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Changing of the Guard?

by Chris Tubbs

I have to admit when I heard that Josh Freeman was released by Tampa Bay last Thursday I was intrigued by the possibility of his joining the Minnesota Vikings, but never thought it would be an option. Rick Spielman has been a staunch supporter and defendor of his quarterback Christian Ponder, and on several occiasions has said that you can’t evaluate a quarterback until the end of his third year (which would be 2013.)

But then something changed, but what? Word came late Sunday night the Vikiings had agreed to terms with the former Kansas State standout on a one year deal. So what did it mean? Was this the end of the Ponder era in Minnesota and an admission of a mistake? Or a chance to get a player you wanted in the 2009 draft before Tampa nabbed him? It’s a little bit of both.

The signing all but ends the Ponder experiment and while Matt Cassel is good in short stretches; he is a backup at this point in his career and nothing more. We love to criticize people (GM’s, coaches) when they make a mistake but why not give them credit when they admit a mistake. That is what Spielman and company are doing with the signing. They realize now that they whiffed on the guy they thought would be the first franchise quarterback they covet. But in the process they get a player the same age they wanted before, and has a TON more upside.

Yeah, stats aren’t great, but they’re good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. And that’s what the Vikings are hoping for. Plus he’s torched them twice (including a 262 yard three touchdown game last year in a 36-17 Tampa Bay win.) But looking at Josh Freeman he looks like an NFL quarterback. If you go beyond the numbers, he passes the eyeball test, and the 25 touchdown and six interception 2010 season tells me that it’s there (which BTW is pre Schiano). How much of his regression is directly tied to the drama in Florida? I’m guessing more than we know.

Is Josh Freeman the answer for the Vikings? That is an uncertain. But he’ll have a three month audition to prove it. He’ll have a week to get acclimated against Carolina and if the coaches feel he’s ready he’ll start against the New York Giants in week seven. If it doesn’t work out you can draft a quarterback in the 2014 draft. If he does, you have the first franchise quarterback with serious potential since Daunte Culpepper.

No matter what happens it makes the rest of the season infinitely more interesting.

Chris Tubbs is the Co-Host of "Sports Talk With Craig and Chris" weekdays from 3pm-6pm CT and "Fantasy Football Thursday" Thurs. from 5:15pm-6:00pm on AM1230, FM98.1, KWSN in Sioux Falls, SD. He can be reached via twitter at @cmtubbs or chris.tubbs@mwcradio.com.