Josh Freeman debacle is on Leslie Frazier, report says
The Josh Freeman experiment was clearly an embarrassment for the entire Vikings organization, but the question remains: Was it mostly the fault of the guy who signed Freeman, GM Rick Spielman, or the guy who decided to play him less than two weeks after he was signed, Coach Leslie Frazier?
RELATED: Leslie Frazier's rationale for starting Ponder makes absolutely no sense
The answer, according to a report from USA Today's Tom Pelissero, is that the fault lies mostly with Frazier, who was fired on Monday. (Spielman, on the other hand, kept his job.)
Pelissero, a former Vikings beat writer for 1500 ESPN, says he interviewed several Vikings players for his story. (None of them went on record with their names) They don't mince words.
"You could tell Josh did not know the offense," one of the players said. "Practices did not really go that well that week. But Coach Frazier was in the team meetings like, 'Oh, I think this is the best week of practice we've had all year.' And everyone's like, what? What are you talking about?"
The result, of course, was one of the worst individual performances in Vikings history in front of a national television audience during Monday Night Football.
Another player simply characterized the Freeman experience as a "debacle."
"When they started Josh in that Giants game, we were as confused as anybody," he continued.
Freeman was available after a rare in-season release from Tampa Bay, an organization that just months before viewed him as a franchise quarterback. But questions about his work ethic and character were raised amid a public feud with the head coach, and Bucs brass decided to cut their losses in early October.
According to Pelissero, Freeman didn't do anything to reassure people about himself during his time in Minnesota.
"Four people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports that Freeman was late for numerous meetings in his roughly three months with the Vikings," Pelissero writes. "A third player said Freeman often was among the last players to the facility." (Pelissero adds that "one of Freeman's agents" denies the report.)
Rushing that sort of guy into the lineup didn't sit well with the Vikings players, Pelissero reports, and Frazier compounded the mistake by continuing to take a carousel approach to the quarterback position. Over the course of the season, Frazier went from Ponder to Cassel to Freeman to Ponder to Cassel again while the team disappointed by losing twice as many games as they won while finishing last in a terrible NFC North.
It goes to show that nice guys aren't necessarily good football coaches, though it looks like Frazier won't be unemployed for long. Reports are circulating this morning that he's in talks to become the defensive coordinator for Lovie Smith -- the new head coach in Tampa Bay, of all places.
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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