The Vikings Defense Is a Worse Mess Than We Thought

Tom Pelissero has blown the lid off the Vikings’ disaster of a defense. The big bombshell in Pelissero’s piece is the revelation that early in the year players routinely ignored Fred Pagac’s calls, instead shouting out their own plays. The major issue according to Pelissero was “the timing and frequency of blitzes and man-coverage” calls. Does that mean the players thought they were blitzing too much or not enough? Whatever the case, it’s obvious the players had no faith in Pagac from the beginning. This could help explain why the Vikings kept blowing leads in the second half. It certainly explains why, in the Oakland and Atlanta games, Leslie Frazier took over playcalling duties himself.

Two things are certain in the wake of these revelations about Pagac: 1) Pagac has to go (we already knew this), and; 2) The Vikings need to hire a general manager. Obviously the Vikings require someone above the head coach to exert some authority in situations like this, and straighten out players who are being blatantly insubordinate. Frazier may be too buddy-buddy with his players to be that voice of authority, and Rick Spielman is just a personnel guy. The 2011 mess has proven the need for a single Grand Poobah overseeing the entire operation and occasionally bringing the hammer down. I hope Zygi Wilf has gotten this message by now. And if not? Maybe we’d be better off if he sold the team.

Pelissero’s other big revelation concerns talk within the organization about scrapping the Cover-2 scheme and switching to a 3-4 defense. Obviously this would create tons of issues. For one, the Vikings would have to hire a 3-4 guru to oversee the change, and those guys don’t grow on trees. Second, the Vikings would have to seriously overhaul their personnel. Third, there would naturally be push-back from certain defensive players who have always been 4-3 guys and might severely object to being forced to learn a whole new scheme at a relatively advanced age. And the need to clear out these malcontents would only create more personnel holes.

Pelissero raises the possibility of 3-4 devotee Mike Singletary being promoted to defensive coordinator, but points out the drawbacks to this plan, including the widely-held belief that Singletary has no clue about play calling. If Singletary is really as clueless as the quotes in Pelissero’s article suggest, then the Vikes would be better off looking elsewhere for their 3-4 guy.

I personally think the Vikes should stick with the 4-3 and hire a solid coordinator to replace Pagac, leaving Singletary in charge of the linebackers. If the Vikes do decide to make the switch, their first move should be to trade Jared Allen for as many draft picks as they can get. Jared might be willing and able to become a 3-4 OLB, but he will always be more valuable as a traditional speed rushing 4-3 defensive end and some team would surely be willing to cough up multiple picks to nab him. I don’t know what you do with a guy like Kevin Williams. And can Chad Greenway really slide into the Clay Matthews role? Have you seen him blitz lately?

Cool as the 3-4 notion may seem on the surface, I think it’s a little too fraught with peril. This team is already in the middle of trying to develop a quarterback. Now you’re going to remake the entire defense on the fly too? With Leslie Frazier already on shaky ground? If you’re going to take that radical a step, you might as well can Frazier and start over completely. Obviously, the key move is to finally put together a legitimate organization with a GM. What the Vikings need more than anything is someone at the top who knows what the hell they’re doing.

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Tags: Fred Pagac Jared Allen Leslie Frazier Mike Singletary Minnesota Vikings

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