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Is Josh Freeman an Upgrade for the Vikings?

Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings
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Josh Freeman has found a new home, but was it an upgrade for the Minnesota Vikings?

Freeman signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night and agreed to a one-year, three million deal. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the deal.

In Minnesota, Freeman joins Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, and it appears the Vikings have a bit of a quarterback controversy.

Cassel started in Week 4 in place of Ponder, and guided the Vikings to their first win. Cassel was 16-of-25 for 248 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Vikings win. Ponder, meanwhile, sat out Week 4 with a rib injury. He has completed 59.0% of his passes for 691 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions.

The new guy in town is Freeman, and since his second season, he’s been up-and-down. In his rookie year, he completed 54.5% of his passes for 1,855 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. In year two, Freeman’s numbers increased. He completed 61.4% of his passes for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns, and six interceptions. The same year, he also had the NFL’s sixth best passer rating (95.9), and  led the NFL with five fourth quarter comebacks. The following year, his completion percentage (62.8) increased, he threw for more yards (3,592), but threw less touchdowns (16), and more interceptions (22). Then, last year in Freeman’s fourth season, his completion percentage (54.8) decreased again, but threw for the most yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27) in his career. Entering this year in his fifth season, he played three games for the Buccaneers, completed 45.7% of his passes, threw for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Freeman’s numbers suggest he has the possibility to put up big numbers in Minnesota, but could struggle as well. As he comes to Minnesota, the Vikings should be most careful about his recent decrease in completion percentage. Over the last ten starts, he is a 50.8% passer in the pocket.

Comparing Ponder to Freeman may sound silly, but their completion percentage’s are similar. In Ponder’s rookie campaign, he completed 54.3% of his passes. In 2012, he completed 62.1% of his passes. Freeman has only had one season with a higher completion percentage (2011).

Ponder and Freeman may be similar, but remember that Freeman’s numbers happened with two different coaches, Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano. With Morris, he had two of his highest completion percentages and with Schiano, the numbers fell. Whether it is a coaches system that has helped or hurt Freeman’s numbers, there’s no telling how he will do in another coaches system.

Going forward into Week 6, head coach Leslie Frazier said Monday morning that either Ponder or Cassel will start. For the Vikings, this means Ponder or Cassel have one more shot, or if Frazier should hand the keys to Freeman. This decision is an important decision for the Vikings, as they are only 1.5 games out of first in the NFC North.


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