Jared Allen is screaming mad after the Vikings’ third straight second half collapse. As a matter of fact Allen was screaming mad during the Vikings’ third straight second half collapse, as television viewers around the nation witnessed.
It wasn’t immediately obvious who Allen was venting at on the sidelines Sunday, but after the game indications were that Vikings coaches were the primary targets of his verbal barrage. Jared turned down the volume for his post-game comments but seemed to be aiming his words in the same direction: straight at the men in charge.
Jared’s veiled shot at the coaching staff came while discussing the Vikings’ decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 despite being in range for a field goal that would’ve extended their three-point lead to six. It turns out Jared agreed with the decision in principle, but as he told reporters, “You get that first down and now you are going for the jugular and I like that kind of football. Hell, I’m willing to bet: I would put my paychecks saying that these guys could get one yard. You know what I am saying. We have Adrian Peterson.”
As everyone knows, the Vikings didn’t actually hand the ball to Adrian Peterson on that 1-yard plunge, but instead opted to give it to Toby Gerhart who was stopped short of the first by Kyle Vanden Bosch. In light of this fact, Allen’s remark looks less like an endorsement of the Vikings’ decision and more like a sarcastic shot at the coaches for not handing the ball to the Vikings’ best player.
If Jared was indeed taking a dig at the coaches, I have to say I agree with him. It may have been true that, as Leslie Frazier said in his post game presser, the Vikings thought they had a play that would work there, but it’s obvious that they were wrong. The failure may be partly on the offensive line for not getting enough push, but it’s also on offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave for opting to go away from Peterson at a point when Peterson seemed about as amped-up as I’ve ever seen him.
Self-preservation alone should’ve inspired Musgrave to hand it to Peterson. Give the ball to Gerhart and you open yourself up to criticism. Give it to Peterson and even if the play fails you can say, at least we gave it to our best guy.
The decision to hand it to Gerhart on the fullback plunge instead of letting Peterson take the ball seems like a classic instance of over-thinking. If Musgrave had it to do over again, would he give his playmaker a chance to make a play, or would he still opt for trickery? Overall this season Musgrave has shown a tendency to place himself and his supposed grand design above his players in this way.
Instead of feeding the ball to his playmakers, Musgrave has attempted to demonstrate his own alleged brilliance by throwing out different packages and formations, and possibly getting away from things that were successful earlier in the game. Last week the controversy was over Percy Harvin’s total snaps, this week it’s about Gerhart over Peterson. In both cases, critics can point to Musgrave’s own arrogance as a stumbling-block to success.
As Jared Allen’s veiled shot seemingly demonstrates, it isn’t only the outside critics who think Musgrave is doing a bad job. Ultimately it doesn’t matter a lick what I think or you think, but it does matter what Jared and the other players think. This week’s sarcastic rip becomes next week’s full-on player mutiny. We saw last season what can happen when such friction takes over a locker room.
The players seemed to be united behind their coaches going into yesterday’s game, a fact that filled Leslie Frazier with pride, but will they continue backing Frazier and his staff as the questionable moves – and resulting losses – continue to pile up?