Monday, November 22, 2010

Vikings Stink Up the Joint in Lopsided Loss

The Minnesota Vikings effectively put a cap on a forgettable season, bowing to the Green Bay Packers, at home, 31-3. The Vikings could have scored more, the Packers could have scored less (or many more), but, from the end of the first half forward, there was little doubt which team was better prepared to play.

The Vikings' loss epitomized their entire season, if in most dramatic form. The offensive line was beyond putrid--whatever that would be; the secondary was horrific; the defensive line made two plays the entire day; and the linebackers chipped in one or two more. Add that to another underwhelming game plan that featured too much Naufahu Tahi and Toby Gerhart, too little Adrian Peterson, and consistently overthrown passes to short-armed receivers and the Vikings got their due on Sunday.

The obvious question in the wake of this time-wasting performance is whether it hastens head coach Brad Childress' departure. Previous arguments in favor of making an in-season change of what appears to be a fait accompli, if not now then at the end of this disastrous season, have centered on the belief that Childress' replacement would be assistant coach and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. If that means more of this woeful defense, translated into similar ineptitude on offense, that might not seem so magical.

What Frazier would provide the Vikings at this point is a seemingly more affable, but firm, head coach who speaks well in public. What is not known about Frazier is whether he has been a magician working with mirrors beyond the linebackers all season or not all that gifted at putting together a defense--and, hence, a team. Despite several Pro Bowl caliber players on the defensive line and at linebacker, and with a great corner in Antoine Winfield, Frazier has led a Vikings' defense that appears willing to sit back in a cover two that covers zero. On Sunday, the Packers exposed this ploy, throwing in front of, between, and behind every member of the secondary not named Winfield. It truly was a pathetic performance of epic proportions. And yet, despite this burn propensity, Frazier continued to hold to his don't press and don't blitz philosophy. Is this simply Childress in a different guise? Or, is Frazier stuck with a bad bowl of fruit? Whichever the case, it offers a less-than-certain future for this team, to say the least.

If and when the Vikings move on the head coach, they need also to spend some of their money on ensuring that the team has a legitimate offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. The latter goes without saying, but the former has had far too much of a free pass. There should be no possible way for Green Bay, which has no running game to speak of, to outperform a Vikings' offense that has Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Visanthe Shiancoe, even with Favre throwing high. It's simply not possible, unless the team is being guided in a fashion that makes it possible.

Up Next: Who the Vikings Should Hire. Plus, Vikings likely to split time between Jackson and Webb once they are officially eliminated.

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