No doubt about it, Minnesota's grisly quarterback situation directly contributed to Monday's firing of former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier.
The combination of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman led to just five wins this season, but it was the expensive signing of Freeman that stood out as the team's largest blunder. He didn't look ready for prime time in his lone start against the New York Giants in October, and never saw the field again.
"You could tell Josh did not know the offense," one anonymous Vikings player told USA Today of the week leading up to that New York tilt. "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?'"
Four people with knowledge of the situation told the newspaper that Freeman was habitually late for meetings, while one player said the quarterback often was among the last players in the building.
Players also told USA Today that starting Freeman against the Giants came across as an act of desperation by Frazier and a team hoping to justify the $3 million contract they handed the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter.
"Debacle," another player said of the team's quarterback situation. "When they started Josh in that Giants game, we were as confused as anybody."
Problems under center marked the entirety of Frazier's run with the team. The post-Brett Favre signing of Donovan McNabb was a disaster and loyalty to Ponder, underwhelming from the start, held back an offense that has relied almost entirely on running back Adrian Peterson.
Armed with the eighth pick in the draft, Minnesota's next coach is a likely candidate to start over at the position, hoping to find a young passer who can make the most of wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and bring more balance to this offense.