Leslie Frazier was not a happy man in the locker room after Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. Much of the coach’s uncharacteristically visible anger was aimed at his secondary who played like dog crap in allowing gimmick QB Tim Tebow to throw for a season-high 202 yards.
“It’s inexcusable, some of the breakdowns that we had in our secondary,” Frazier ranted to KFAN’s Greg Coleman. “Just not being able to do basic things that you have to be able to do when you have a lead like we had.” Frazier got even more pointed when he added, “You’ve got to take you hat off to our guys that are fighting. It’s just a small few that are not doing their job and it’s costing us. We’ve got to find the right guys and get them out there.”
The Broncos’ offense looked less-than-dynamic for most of the first half, but in the second half the mistakes started piling up for the Vikings, especially in the pass coverage, allowing the Broncos to light up the scoreboard. On multiple occasions cornerbacks left their coverage thinking safety help was behind them, only to have the safety not be in position. The result was open receivers all over the field. Tim Tebow may not be the greatest thrower in the universe but even he can hit a receiver when there’s no DB within ten yards of him.
So yes, Frazier’s criticism is warranted. That said, I’m not sure what “right guys” Frazier thinks he can insert into the line-up in place of the wrong guys who are currently out there. Antoine Winfield is on IR and Chris Cook is away from the team for the duration while he deals with assault charges. The guys who played yesterday were only out there to begin with because the Vikings had no one else. Frazier may be unhappy with the way those guys performed, but he must also realize that most of them have no business being on an NFL field anyway.
The one guy you have to say there’s no excuse for is Jamarca Sanford. He’s been on this team long enough to have the scheme down and as far as I know he’s not suffering any physical ailments. Cedric Griffin should also know the scheme but he has the excuse of his knees being shot (in hindsight he probably should’ve been sent packing in the off-season along with Madieu Williams). Mistral Raymond and Brandon Burton look lost because they’re rookies (and they weren’t exactly high-round picks to begin with). And Benny Sapp…well, he’s Benny Sapp. There’s a reason the Dolphins cut him after one week.
The situation with the secondary is pretty dire any way you slice it, but not all of it is their own fault. Lack of experience and lack of physical soundness are to blame for a lot of what’s gone on. And on top of that you had Chris Cook’s stupidity. The Vikings had to know they were in some trouble with their DBs going into the season and what we’re seeing now is only that whole mess reaching its apex. The few moves they’ve made in recent weeks, like signing veteran Jarrad Page at safety, are only more band-aids. Things won’t get better until the off-season when the Vikes are able to clean house.
So as refreshing as Frazier’s anger may be to some people, to me it seems mostly pointless. He knows he’s under-manned in the secondary, and he knows his defensive line isn’t good enough to compensate for that inadequacy. Public bluster – or what passes for public bluster with the mild-mannered Frazier – isn’t going to heal the injured players or pump more brains into the clueless ones. I don’t blame Frazier for getting frustrated, but if he thinks this new No More Mr. Nice Guy strategy is going to help anything, he’s even more out of it than his critics claim.