Vikings undecided on starting QB for Sunday's game at Dallas
EDEN PRAIRIE — It was the day after another loss Monday, so, naturally, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier didn’t know who would be his starting quarterback in six days.
When Christian Ponder got his second chance to be the starter — making his fourth start of the season — on Sunday in Minnesota’s 44-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers, it marked the third different quarterback the team started in three weeks.
Ponder was the starter when the Vikings began the season 0-3. He broke a rib and was replaced by Matt Cassel. When Cassel beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ponder was benched in a performance-driven decision. When Cassel lost the following game to the Carolina Panthers, Josh Freeman became the starter 14 days after he signed with Minnesota as a free agent.
Freeman suffered a concussion during his atrocious performance in a 23-7 loss to the New York Giants. That led to Ponder being given a second chance to latch onto the starting job Sunday.
He blew that opportunity with another skittish performance in which he didn’t see the field well enough or stay calm enough to make plays under pressure. The defeat dropped the Vikings’ record to 1-6.
The starter for Sunday’s road game against the Dallas Cowboys will be Ponder or Freeman, who was cleared to return from his concussion.
“Just trying to look at the whole picture, who will give us the best chance to win the Dallas game,” Frazier said. “That’s what it will be based on.”
Although Cassel has the team’s only win, he is not part of the equation at this point, Frazier said. Although Frazier won’t come out and say it, Cassel is 31 and is not expected to return next year. The other two are 25 and still trying to grab the job long-term.
“I don’t want to discount Matt,” Frazier said Monday, “but Christian did some good things in that ballgame yesterday. There are some things he can obviously do better, but it has something to do with it. He has led us to some wins in the past. Josh, we brought him here to evaluate him and determine if he could be a guy that could be a potential player for us in the future, so that’s what goes into trying to evaluate the both of them.”
Minnesota signed Freeman and gave him $3 million this season to see if he has what it takes to be the quarterback of the future. Obviously, in making that move, the team no longer views Ponder in that light.
Still, Freeman is awaiting official word that he will start against the Cowboys.
“With this league, you really don’t know what to expect,” Freeman said. “I know that Christian and Matt are fierce competitors as well. I’m just going to continue to try to get ready myself and being in the best playing shape I can be.”
Freeman admitted that adrenaline played a role in his accuracy issues in the Giants game. Freeman completed just 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in that game.
“I wouldn’t say my feelings have changed because of that game,” Freeman said. “I feel like I can go out and compete and give our team a chance to win. That’s this week, any week, I just want to prepare as well as I can and go out and play well.”