Three weeks, three second half disasters and already fans and the the local papers’ designated negator sports writers are calling for Christian Ponder and whispering for Coach Frazier’s job. What a mess! Wait a minute though, did we expect this team to be much better when the season began? It’s time for a reality check and a reminder of what was thought of this Vikings team entering the season.
In my most optimistic dreams, this team had the potential to win 9 games, maybe 10 with a rejuvenated McNabb that resembled his old Philadelphia self (yeah, crazy thought). It’s now obvious that the Vikings didn’t get that McNabb, or half that McNabb and while the team has dominated 6 quarters of football versus what look to be good teams, it hasn’t been enough. The consensus view on this Vikings team entering the season was that they would struggle to finish with a .500 record and likely end the year in the cellar of the NFC North. Age, questions in the secondary, along both lines, and of course the quarterback position would be too much to overcome. After three weeks that sounds about right doesn’t it?
I know the first 30 minutes of each of the last three games has made the results excruciating. The potential for a balanced enough offense plus a defense that can pressure the opposing quarterback and bend but not break in the secondary seems to be there. That all of this except pressuring the quarterback disappears after halftime is my current 7th wonder of the world. Is it confidence, conditioning, pathetic play calling, all of the above and more? I don’t get it and I’d like to meet the person who has the answer. That’s what makes the start of this Vikings season so painful. It just plain doesn’t make sense. Either they were supposed to be ok or bad, not good and bad all in the span of 60 minutes!
That it’s time to look at the sum rather than the parts, is something I do know. At the end of the day, the Vikings are finding ways to lose and that’s not what good football teams do. So we have that part settled, this team isn’t good and unless something changes drastically, it isn’t going to be. Brace yourself for a long season complete with moral victories, two spankings by the Packers and the Christian Ponder watch.
Speaking of Ponder, I see absolutely zero reason for Frazier to put him on the field before the midway point in the season. Poor pass protection and a bad receiving corps will do nothing but set the guy on a course to the land of Alex Smith, David Carr and every other promising quarterback who was set up to fail and never recovered. That isn’t to say this is where Ponder will end up, but there’s no reason to rush his inevitable promotion. With McNabb failing to provide the veteran presence he was supposed to and being painfully inaccurate, Ponder is going to play at some point this season. Why not make it a smaller sample size, no more than 8 games, and hope against hope in the meantime that pass protection improves (LT Max Starks reportedly worked out for the team today) and Bill Musgraves figures a way to get something out of this receiving corps? The Vikings can find out plenty about Ponders progress during the last few games of the season, there’s no need to force things. After all, that’s why they traded for McNabb in the first place isn’t it?
Reality checks are painful, but necessary. Time to get yours Vikings fans.
Anyone questioning Frazier’s job security is out of their mind. He’s too professional for a Childress like meltdown and the players respect him too much to quit on him. He’s not getting fired. Approval ratings and hot seat rankings are fun, but no owner is firing a coach during their first season…well, Al Davis probably would.
Judson Coleman may be followed on Twitter @jacalope37