A season that began with a lot of promise ends today with nothing but misery and resignation. Okay let’s be real here. The season didn’t actually begin with a lot of promise. For some of us it began with optimism but this proved unwarranted. Sure, the Vikings had a chance to win some games early, but they proved pretty quickly that they didn’t have the stuff to close out wins and get on a roll. They just never looked like a winning team. Winning teams don’t blow multiple halftime leads. They don’t become so offensively inert that even producing a first down seems a hopeless task. They don’t break down defensively to the point where even mediocre offenses are able to go up and down the field on them at will. You can hang your hat on the “at least they didn’t get blown out much” argument but to me that doesn’t fly. Take everything that happened this year and add it up and you get exactly what the Vikings are, a bottom-feeding team.
The question now is, are the Vikings the kind of organization that can turn a thing like this around quickly or are they destined for a Lions-like run of futility? Sadly I think a run of futility may be exactly what this team is in for. At this point I have no faith in the front office or coaching staff. I would have more faith if Zygi Wilf would hire a solid football man as GM and let him clean house but as far as we know Zygi isn’t even considering this. But Zygi needs to take a hard look at where this team has gone since 2009 and realize that it’s all about lack of leadership at the top. He let Brad Childress run amok in 2010, then fired him in a huff and put in the players’ choice Leslie Frazier who stumbled around in his first year as head man. I still think Frazier can be a good coach but he needs people above him and around him who can make the decisions he isn’t willing or able to make. A solid GM would’ve never gone for the Donovan McNabb crap, would’ve never let guys like Bernard Berrian stick around, would’ve never put up with bullcrap like players ignoring the defensive coordinator’s calls.
Looking back across the season, all I see is a string of odd decisions followed by bizarre justifications. These are signs of a coach who is in over his head. Zygi, I implore you, hire a GM. Create a structure around Leslie Frazier that can allow him to succeed. Until you do that, the Vikings will continue to be a floundering franchise. Don’t let the run of success you had under Brad Childress blind you to reality. A lot of the 2009 success was due to a few lucky personnel breaks. Can you count on players like Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Brett Favre falling into your lap again? No. If you want long-term success – if you want to become a model franchise like the Steelers, Packers, Saints or Patriots – you have to have a solid top-to-bottom operation. Right now, the Vikings are non-existent at the top and dubious at the bottom.
I’ve said nothing about today’s game against the Bears. Nobody cares except that it’s Jim Kleinsasser’s last game and maybe the last game at the Metrodome. It could be a fun and entertaining game. We should probably try to enjoy it since it’s the last we’ll see of our team for many months. Root for them because you think you should, or against them because you want them to get the #3 pick. Or be indifferent if that’s your choice. Maybe Jared Allen will go nuts and break the sack record. That would be cool. Maybe Christian Ponder will put it together and have a good game. That would be encouraging. Or maybe they’ll get crushed by 35 and so many boos will rain down that Zygi Wilf decides to can Leslie Frazier before the day is out. A lot of people would be happy if that happened. I wouldn’t. Such a dismal end to a sad season would only be more proof that nobody is really in charge and everybody is just flailing mindlessly away. If Zygi knows what’s good for him and the franchise he’s invested so much money in, he’ll keep Frazier on board and spend Monday calling every GM candidate he can think of.