As the saying goes, when a team has two quarterbacks it has none. When it has three, it has a full-blown clusterfudge that will get people fired.
For the Vikings, who signed Josh Freeman in order to have the rest of the year to assess whether he can be the long-term answer at the position but who tried too quickly to make him the short-term answer, the right call is now obvious: Go with the guy deemed best suited to win games.
That’s why Freeman, who didn’t play last week due to a concussion, hasn’t been reinstalled as the starter even though he has exited the injury report. He’s not good enough to propel the team instantly to wins, which means that the team could end up being bad enough to get everyone fired.
Maybe not everyone. Maybe G.M. Rick Spielman would be given the chance to hire another coach. But with coach Leslie Frazier not getting an extension after last year’s unlikely playoff season, bookends of 3-13 in 2011 and possibly worse in 2013 will put jobs in jeopardy.
Regardless of whether Frazier and Spielman are fused at the hip, they need to be on the same page now more than ever. They need to go with the quarterback who’ll help the Vikings avoid sliding to 1-7, who’ll spark an unexpected winning streak, and who’ll make radical change less likely in 2014.
Relying on the guy they tried to fire a few weeks ago to save their jobs injects more than a little irony into the equation, and even if Christian Ponder does well enough to turn a disastrous season respectable, why should he think he’ll be back next year?
He won’t. In a league with teams that either have a franchise quarterback or are looking for one, the Vikings are in this mess because they still don’t have a franchise quarterback. If Ponder were the answer, they wouldn’t have signed Freeman. If Freeman were the answer, there would be some sign of it by now.
And so the challenge will be to make chicken salad out of what they currently have, in the hopes of finding in the offseason a fourth quarterback who’ll possibly become the franchise quarterback that every team in today’s NFL desperately needs.
Of course, the best strategy to do that could be to keep losing. Which means that a new head coach and possibly a new G.M. would be using the ensuing high draft pick on a potential franchise quarterback.