Dec 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave against the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Is Musgrave More To Blame Than Ponder?

In week 1 of the NFL season, the Detroit Lions dismantled the offense of the Minnesota Vikings.  Most fans blame quarterback Christian Ponder.  Some fans blame dismal play from the offensive line.  You don’t hear much blame being put on the offensive coordinator.

Jul 26, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (right) talks with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave (left) during training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has a history of failure as a coach.  Over the course of his 16 year coaching career, we have seen Musgrave be passed around  like a Christmas fruitcake that nobody wants.  He has seen time in Oakland, Philadelphia, Carolina, the University of Virginia, Jacksonville, Washington, Atlanta and finally Minnesota.

With the play calling in Minnesota being both predictable and vanilla, it may not be Christian Ponder’s fault that he is unable to succeed.  Last year, Musgrave looked smart by calling a lot of screen passes, passes to the flat and of course, runs with Adrian Peterson.  But a team has to be more unpredictable than that.  The Vikings offense offers few surprises for defenses who know to stack the box and take away any short to intermediate passes.

Until Minnesota is able to open the playbook and make teams pay for stacking the box against the Vikings, this team will continue to struggle.  Bill Musgrave should be on a short leash this year until he can prove that he can come up with successful game plans on a regular basis and be able to utilize his talent to the fullest.


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Tags: Bill Musgrave Christian Ponder Leslie Frazier Minnesota Vikings Rick Spielman

  • coolhand

    Sorry Adam, if you think there hasn’t been any outrage over Musgrave – you really haven’t been looking too hard. Go to any chat room, he’s taking as much blame as anyone else. Next blog, I’m hoping you’ll post something more substantive that proves you’re worthy of the link – how about at least one play the O-Coordinator should run. Be part of the solution, not the white noise in the background.

    • Adam B. Carlson

      I wish I could come up with a great game plan for the Vikings, but I don’t have that kind of experience. In the ocean of anti-Ponder articles that I’ve read, I wanted at least one that pointed a finger somewhere else. I’ve found that a vast majority of the outrage has been about Ponder, but I have found rumblings about Musgrave.
      Basically, I wanted to profile him for those who didn’t know the history that Musgrave has for failure in the past and why the current scheme is failing. If someone was already familiar with Musgrave’s past, then this article could be pretty boring, I admit that. But there is most likely a reason why none of the previous jobs stuck.

      • Mitchel Duke

        Things need to change with both Ponder & Musgrave

  • Rob

    No. Musgrave did just fine in Atlanta with a competent Matt Ryan — in his rookie year, no less. Ponder is the problem. Trent Dilfer took a lot of heat from Vikings fans for his post-draft analysis on Ponder, but he has proven to be 100% correct. Google it and see what he had to say and judge his words against your own analysis of Ponder’s overall play through last year and the start of this year. See if you don’t agree with him.

    • Adam B. Carlson

      I actually remember what Dilfer said about Ponder on draft day. Sadly, his words are ringing pretty darn true.

  • lyle sellers

    We need to finally go and get Kirk Cousins! this is not a dumb comment, it is pure actual fact. Very good at his reads and checks, gets rid of the ball at an Elway type speed and hits his spots. better decision making as well..

  • Dan

    Actually I totally agree with you. I never liked the hiring of Musgrave as our OC. I said last year at this time they should fire him and bring in someone else to see if they can fix Ponder. I think he is forcing Ponder to be something he is not, which is a pure pocket passer. He was better his 1st year starting late in the season.. Now he looks lost. Musgrave has messed him up.
    Maybe I’m wrong but it’s better to try a new OC 1st before giving up on him.

  • Rick Hodad

    This is a case of having a bunch the pieces, but the pieces are from different puzzles. Musgrave can put together a great game plan if he has great talent all over the field, but he is not accomplished at adapting his plan to the talent he has on the team. He certainly isn’t getting the most out of the players with which he must work. When Ponder has time, he is a solid pocket passer. He has not shown himself to be great, but solid. When Ponder decides to run from the pocket, he is effective and sturdy. What Ponder does not do well is throw while on the run. He still makes too many poor decisions, and hopefully will learn that sometimes he has to take a sack rather than make a weak throw. To my eyes the offensive line looked bad last year, and I was surprised it wasn’t addressed in the least over the off season. With his size, Loadholt should be a stud at RT, but he is often beat and makes too many penalties. Fusco is a sieve. Sullivan is serviceable, but can’t control the middle with the help he has beside him. Johnson is a journeyman who is aided by playing near Kalil. Kalil is solid, and will be a great one as he develops. As a unit they don’t pass block well at all, and certainly not well enough to hold a pocket for Ponder. I keep reading how the O-lines stats are impressive, but that is only because of the run heavy format, and they’re not really great at run blocking if it weren’t for Peterson opening his own holes. This is evident from Peterson having so many 1-2 yard gains and losses, before he jump-cuts a crease and breaks out on his own. The current offense scares no one, and they will face continued 8-9 man boxes and blitz packages until they can do something down the field, or at least beyond the box on a consistent basis. Nothing good will come unless and until the O-line provides a pocket for Ponder. The Vikings may need to hold in a blocking tight end and a pass blocking fullback. With the new talent at receiver, its possible there will be some nice gainers under the secondary, over the top, or to Peterson releasing late from the backfield.