Expect “The Brandons” to be Next Part of Youth Movement
By Jon Merckle
During head coach Leslie Frazier’s press conference today he confirmed what everyone already knew. Christian Ponder has been named the starting quarterback and will remain there for the remainder of the season.
But one interesting comment Frazier made during the presser stuck out. He stated that the decision to start Ponder over Donovan McNabb was made by him, not front office or owner Zygi Wilf. With all due respect to Frazier for displaying such professionalism this afternoon — that’s a bunch of malarkey.
As everyone knows the Vikings do not have a GM, but this quasi Triangle of Authority in Frazier, vice president of layer personnel Rick Spielman and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski. Brzezinski tends to mainly negotiate player contracts and keep the team under the salary cap with Spielman and Frazier making the key personnel decisions.
Going into the season it was widely believed that Frazier and Spielman were not on the same page. Frazier wanted McNabb (even after drafting Ponder) and nearly everyone back from the 2010 team to see if they could be competitive for another year. Spielman on the other hand wanted to blow the team up with the exception of a few key veterans, sign Tyler Thigpen as their stopgap quarterback until Ponder was ready and have a much younger roster in a rebuilding year. Now that the season is essentially lost with the team at 1-5, expect Spielman to have more of a say with two other rookies worked into the mix. Enter “The Brandons”.
The Vikings have to figure out what they have in rookie Brandon Fusco playing the center position with John Sullivan being average at best on a below average offensive line. Fusco was an excellent position blocker at Slippery Rock, won the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award and was a standout at the Senior Bowl. He also looked decent in the preseason going against 2nd and 3rd string defense. It’s very possible he’s active as early as this weekend with Sullivan suffering a concussion versus Chicago.
Brandon Burton is another rookie who could see time with Cedric Griffin representing a shell of his former self. Griffin appeared to be favoring his left leg versus Chicago and was burned by Devin Hester for a 23-yard gain. Burton had excellent ball skills and quick feet covering receivers at Utah. One knock on him was he struggled reading receivers routes. With more snaps in the NFL he’s likely to only get better.
It’s said that you judge your drafts 3 years down the road. Looking back to 2008 the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions were a combined 6-26. Expect Spielman to have his way more with the Vikings going young, rebuilding and working their way back into the mix. After all, a young team with promise is a far more enjoyable fan experience than watching a veteran team who underachieves.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig