Giants cut QB Josh Freeman – Will He make a 2014 NFL Roster?

josh-freeman-new-york-giantsNine months ago, Josh Freeman was going into the NFL regular season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fifth-year starter. However, things fell apart after he slept through a team photo, lost his captaincy, was replaced by rookie Mike Glennon as a starter, and had his involvement in the NFL’s drug program leaked by then-head coach Greg Schiano’s staff.

He did get a second chance last season, though, with the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Leslie Frazier made the curious decision to start Freeman early, resulting in a disastrous 20-for-53 throwing performance. That was the last Freeman would see the field in Minnesota, despite being paid a healthy $3 million for a half-season’s work.

A Second…Third Chance

josh-freeman-new-york-giants-2For some quarterbacks, this might have been a death knell to their career. But then again, Freeman still has plenty of talent as he’s blessed with size (6’6″, 240 pounds), an excellent arm, good mobility and a high Wonderlic test score. Plus, he has a wealth of stats behind his five-year career, including 13,724 passing yards, 80 TD passes and 67 interceptions. So it was little surprise when the New York Giants gave Freeman a second chance by signing him.

Starting quarterback Eli Manning and his backup, Curtis Painter, both underwent offseason surgery, so Freeman was signed on April 21st as insurance. However, Manning returned to practice this week and Painter is likely to return before training camp begins. This, coupled with second-year QB Ryan Nassib’s emergence, was making the signal-caller position tight in New York.

So the Giants chose to release Freeman today, putting his NFL future in jeopardy. And who did they replace him with? Roger Gaines, an undrafted, free agent offensive lineman who spent all of last season on the Chicago Bears practice squad. Not exactly the type of “talent” that you’d expect to replace a former first-round pick like Freeman.

Same Ole’ Problems

josh-freeman-new-york-giants-1When Freeman went to Minnesota last year, there was plenty of grumbling surrounding him. For starters, he was said to be one of the last guys into the team facilities and late to team meetings every day. This being the case, it’s little wonder why an unnamed Vikings player said, “You could tell Josh did not know the offense.”

Fast-forward to this spring and it appears that Freeman was having the same type of troubles in New York. One particular play was telling as Freeman lined up the offense incorrectly and was quickly pulled off the field in favor of Painter. We haven’t heard any rumors that the former Kansas State star was late to meetings and practices. However, it’s clear that he is still having a rough time picking up the offense.

New York was the only team willing to take a chance on Freeman this offseason. Given that he couldn’t even beat out Painter, Nassib or a practice-squad lineman who’s never played an NFL snap, the future of Freeman’s football career is quite murky. He could get another shot in the middle of the 2014 NFL season, when injuries start piling up and teams get desperate to fill holes.

But for now, it’s hard to see another team wasting time and roster space on Freeman since, judging from his Minnesota and New York stints, he obviously needs a lot of time to learn new offenses.

Is there a Future for Eli Manning in New York?

eli-manning-futureIf you placed any bets or did some live wagering on the New York Giants this past Sunday, you were the victim of a MAJOR letdown. Most if not all of the Giants’ problems in a 23-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks stemmed from Eli Manning’s five interceptions. To add insult to injury, Manning tallied just 158 passing yards and, as the score indicates, 0 touchdowns. And we thought Geno Smith was bad!

Actually, Smith is a good guy to bring up here because it was looking like he might overtake Eli for the league lead in interceptions. After all, Manning had been playing decent as of late and had leveled his interception total at 20 through 13 games. Not exactly MVP caliber, but at least any discussion of him breaking the all-time record for INT’s in a season came to a halt. Then Sunday happened…

The five interceptions that Eli tossed against the Seahawks brought his total to 25 this year. With just two games remaining, it’d be almost impossible for him to break the all-time record, which George Blanda set in 1962 when he threw 42 picks in just 14 games. But Manning still has time to throw at least 30 interceptions, which would put him into a tie for seventh place all-time.

eli-manning-future-1Given his propensity for throwing the ball to the other team, we have to wonder if how the Giants organization is viewing Eli’s future. Sure he’s won two Super Bowls, with the most recent coming two years ago. But on the other hand, Manning has been in the league for 10 years. As a 32-year-old, it definitely seems like he should have some juice in the tank. However, his 2013 performance has to make you wonder.

Even coach Tom Coughlin said that “obviously there’s concern” about if Manning’s performance this year could indicate a steep decline. But he’s also not ready to bail on his championship QB, arguing that this season’s struggles aren’t all Eli’s fault.

He’d be right in this assertion too, when you consider how Manning’s been asked to carry the offense many times, amid a weak rushing attack (28th in league). The defense hasn’t been at the same level as years’ past either. So it’s doubtful that New York would even consider making a big move on another quarterback this offseason. However, you certainly have to think that one more year of this type of performance will have New York eyeing a new signal caller.

The NFL is a very fickle league…even if you’ve won two Super Bowls in the past seven years.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 11 (Nov. 13th, 2013)

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans SaintsThis past week was a big dividing line in the playoff hopes of many teams. The Chargers, Dolphins, Titans and Redskins all had realistic postseason chances going into last week’s games; but they all missed huge opportunities to legitimize their hopes of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, Eagles, Lions, Panthers and Ravens all took big steps forward in trying to win a postseason bid. There’s still a lot of time left in the season, but keep an eye on these five teams as we move forward. Now let’s look at the Week 11 NFL power rankings.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0); bye week, retains same ranking – Despite their undefeated ranking, many still question the Chiefs billing as the NFL’s top team. They have a huge opportunity to put these questions to rest as they travel to Mile High to face Denver.

2. Denver Broncos (8-1); beat San Diego 28-20, retains same ranking – The Broncos weren’t caught looking ahead as they were able to beat a tough San Diego team on the road. Peyton looks to be handling his ankle issues well after throwing for 330 yards and four TD’s. Now he faces KC in what will be a true test of offense vs. defense.

3. Seattle Seahawks (9-1); beat Atlanta 33-10, retains same ranking – After narrowly grabbing a win two weeks ago against Tampa Bay, the Seahawks looked themselves again in Atlanta. The offense really seems to be clicking, with Russell Wilson throwing for 287 yards and 2 TD’s, and Marshawn Lynch adding 145 yards and a score on the ground.

4. New Orleans Saints (7-2); beat Dallas 49-17, moves up two spots – New Orleans showed why nobody wants to play them in the Superdome after manhandling the Cowboys. Drew Brees (392PYDS, 4TD) looked like he was passing on a JV team, while Mark Ingram had his best game as a pro with 145 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.

5. New England Patriots (7-2); bye week, moves up two spots – With a healthy team, improved passing game, and the two teams above them losing, New England moves up two spots. Now they travel to take on a red-hot Panthers team in Charlotte.

6. San Francisco 49ers (6-3); lost to Carolina 10-9, drops one spot – Given how good Carolina is playing, it’s not a shame to lose to them. However, what is shameful is the way that the Niners offense played. Colin Kaepernick has got to get more going if this team is to make a deep postseason run.

 andrew-luck-rams7. Indianapolis Colts (6-3); lost to St. Louis 38-8, drops three spots – It’s still tough sorting out what happened with this game. A team with wins over Denver, San Francisco and Seattle loses to the Rams by 30 at home!? Andrew Luck had what may be his worst game ever after throwing for 353 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT’s. And the running game was absolutely nonexistent for the Colts.

8. Detroit Lions (6-3); beat Chicago 21-19, moves up one spot – Detroit took advantage of a hobbled Jay Cutler and grabbed a good road victory. Now in sole possession of first in the NFC North, the Lions are in great shape to win the division, given their closest competitors’ injury struggles.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4); lost to Baltimore 20-17 (OT), drops one spot – The Bengals looked pretty bad in this game, namely because of a ton of penalties. Even still, they got a second chance when Andy Dalton’s Hail Mary pass was tipped into the hands of AJ Green. Still, they couldn’t capitalize after failing to score in overtime and allowing Baltimore to drive down for a game-winning field goal.

10. Carolina Panthers (6-3); beat San Francisco 10-9, moves up four spots – Is it time to believe in the Panthers? Maybe so after Carolina’s defense pitched a second-half shutout and stopped San Francisco’s five-game winning streak. This team gets no time to celebrate, though, since they face New England at home.

11. Arizona Cardinals (5-4); beat Houston 27-24, moves up two spots – Few would’ve predicted that, with the season over halfway done, the Cardinals would be a game behind Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West. Arizona has another very friendly matchup as they travel to Jacksonville this week.

12. Dallas Cowboys (5-5); lost to New Orleans 49-17, drops two spots – The Cowboys lived up to the “boys” part of their name after being dominated by the Saints. The big story following this game was how Jerry Jones publicly regretted getting rid of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who’s completely transformed New Orleans’ D.

jay-cutler-injury13. Chicago Bears (5-4); lost to Detroit 21-19, drops two spots – Marc Trestman rolled the dice on starting an iffy Jay Cutler and lost big-time. It was plain to see that Josh McCown would’ve been the better option after he came in for the limping Cutler and led a late-game scoring drive. However, a missed two-point conversion sealed this loss.

14. Green Bay Packers (5-4); lost to Philadelphia 27-13, drops two spots – The backup QB couldn’t even stay healthy as Seneca Wallace left early on with a groin injury. This meant Scott Tolzien was left trying to win this very important game. He performed fairly well with 280 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s, but it wasn’t enough as Green Bay falls into a tie with Chicago for second in the division.

15. New York Jets (5-4); bye week, moves up one spot – The Jets actually have a solid shot to win a Wild Card berth if they take care of business the rest of the way. But this playoff push starts with a tricky road game against division rival Buffalo.

16. San Diego Chargers (4-5); lost to Denver 28-20, drops one spot – San Diego played well against a superior Denver team, but not good enough. We said it before: their loss last week to Washington probably killed their playoff chances. After all, a road game at Mile High and two contests against the Chiefs still await.

17. Cleveland Browns (4-5); bye week, moves up two spots – The Browns’ season has been a true odyssey, with Brandon Weeden starting at QB, then Brian Hoyer, then back to Weeden, and now Jason Campbell. The latter has definitely provided the best results for Cleveland recently.

18. Baltimore Ravens (4-5); beat Cincinnati 20-17, moves up two spots – Baltimore isn’t totally dead yet this year. Sure the running game is still busted, with Ray Rice gaining just 30 yards on 18 carries. However, the Ravens still have a strong defense, and decent passing game behind Joe Flacco. The next few games are all winnable too, assuming Baltimore plays up to their potential.

nick-foles-eagles19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5); beat Green Bay 27-13, moves up three spots – Give this team credit for winning two straight games behind Nick Foles and climbing into a first-place tie with Dallas in the NFC East. Many think that Foles has played well enough to keep the starting job, even when Michael Vick does get healthy.

20. Tennessee Titans (4-5); lost to Jacksonville 29-27, drops three spots – Not only did Tennessee lose to the worst football team in the NFL, but they also lost Jake Locker for the rest of the season. A fairly capable Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the rest of the way.

21. Miami Dolphins (4-5); lost to Tampa Bay 22-19, drops three spots – It wasn’t a good day for 4-4 teams since Miami also lost to a winless team. You have to wonder if the bullying scandal has dismantled a once-promising season.

22. New York Giants (3-6); beat Oakland 24-20, moves up two spots – Eli Manning (140PYDS, 1TD, 1INT) still looked bad with a soft matchup staring him in the face. But Andre Brown gave the Giants a big boost in his first game of the season after rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown.

23. Washington Redskins (3-6); lost to Minnesota 34-27, drops two spots – With Washington, it’s just a case of a team that can’t get over the hump. Every time they look ready to jump into the NFC East race, they drop a winnable game.

24. Oakland Raiders (3-6); lost to New York Giants 24-20, drops one spot – The excitement that Terrelle Pryor brought earlier has now been deflated. He had his most anemic game of the season after throwing for just 122 yards and an interception.

25. St. Louis Rams (4-6); beat Indianapolis 38-8, moves up four spots – ‘Wow’ is the only word that describes this one. Tavon Austin emerged as a star in this game after returning a punt for 98 yards, then adding two long touchdown catches for a combined total of 138 yards.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6); beat Buffalo 23-10, moves up two spots – All the talk about CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson taking advantage of the Steelers weak run defense meant nothing. Pittsburgh looked like their old selves with a dominant defensive performance.

27. Atlanta Falcons (2-7); lost to Seattle 33-10, drops two spots – It’s pretty clear that this has been a busted, injury-plagued year for Atlanta. Maybe they can get a spark going and win a few games to build momentum for next season.

28. Houston Texans (2-7); lost to Arizona 27-24, drops two spots – Give Houston credit for playing hard a week after their coach was hospitalized. Much like Atlanta, Houston has just suffered too many injuries to play at the level they were at last year.

29. Buffalo Bills (3-7); lost to Pittsburgh 23-10, drops two spots – EJ Manuel’s return meant very little as Buffalo managed just 227 total yards. The Bills’ biggest mistake this season has been letting CJ Spiller play game after game with a high ankle sprain.

30. Minnesota Vikings (2-7); beat Washington 34-27, retains same ranking – It was a good day for the bottom of the league. Minnesota grabbed their second win on the strength of John Carlson’s breakout performance (98YDS, 1TD).

31. Tampa Bay (1-8); beat Miami 22-19, retains same ranking – While Tampa Bay lost another running back for the season in Mike James, they did pick up their first win. However, it’s still surprising that it took this long to win for a team that spent so much offseason money.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8); beat Tennessee 29-27, retains same ranking – The Jaguars took advantage of four Tennessee turnovers, and turned these into 17 points. They thankfully avoided the embarrassing 0-16 mark that many thought they were headed for.