By Steve Silverman
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The New York Giants are playing football Monday night with a chance to regain a shred of dignity.
After six consecutive losses to start the season, they are still looking for their first win of the season. The Minnesota Vikings have a formidable running back in Adrian Peterson, who can tear any defense apart if he gets going.
However, the rest of the Vikings offense is so poor that they pulled Josh Freeman off the scrap heap and have decided to give him a chance to win a game.
Freeman, you will recall, was sent packing by the winless Tampa Bay Bucs earlier this month. Head coach Greg Schiano is under fire for his stewardship of the Bucs, but he remains their leader. As head coach, he decided he had no chance to win with Freeman.
A coach has every right to make that decision, although Schiano’s part in the ugly divorce was not honorable. Freeman was stripped of his captaincy and it was revealed that he was in the NFL’s drug-treatment program.
Freeman’s inclusion in that program is confidential and the NFL Players Association is investigating how it leaked out.
A conversation with Schiano is likely to be a big part of that investigation.
Freeman actually has a decent track record. He completed nearly 60 percent of his passes from 2010 through 2012 and had a 68-45 TD-interception ratio over that span. That’s something for any coaching staff to work with, no matter what Schiano said about him.
However, Freeman has not been with the Vikings long enough to show off his talents yet. He is there to hand the ball off to Peterson and throw the ball deep if he sees the Giants are going to blitz. He may throw a couple of shorter routes as well when Peterson needs a break.
But that’s all that is in the Vikings’ playbook at this time for Freeman. Some teams will have similar language and terminology in their game plan, and it might be easy for a player to go from the Dallas Cowboys to the Chicago Bears and step in quickly.
However, the difference between the Vikings and the Bucs is dramatic, according to an NFC scout who is familiar with both teams.
So the Giants should not have much to worry about from Freeman, because he is so limited.
The longer Freeman waits to call the play, the worse off he will be. The Giants know that he does not command much of the Vikings’ playbook, and they would like to confuse him. They can do this by disguising their coverages and their blitzes.
Freeman’s inability to read defenses is one of the key reasons Schiano decided he couldn’t live with the quarterback. He makes too many mistakes when he has to interpret what opponents are going to do.
Freeman has been with the Vikings less than two weeks. It will take him at least two more weeks to understand a majority of the plays and formations.
It seems the Vikings are rushing their new signee and that failure is the likely result.
If the Giants can limit their own turnovers this week — something they have not been able to do — they should finally be able to pick up their first win of the year.
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