The word out of Winter Park is that, not surprisingly, the Minnesota Vikings' ownership group is substantially disgruntled with the Vikings' 0-3 start and, more specifically, how the Vikings' first three games have played out. In order of displeasure, Zygi Wilf and company are dismayed by the poor play of quarterback Donovan McNabb, the offensive playcalling, and the overall handling of the club.
The Wilfs' displeasure with the Vikings' poor start to the 2011 season appears already to have set change in motion with the Vikings contemplating a move at starting quarterback to either Joe Webb or Christian Ponder. At 0-3, a move to Webb would signal that the team still believes it can be competitive this year. A move to Ponder would more likely suggest that the team already has surrendered.
Replacing the starting quarterback will not alleviate the need for much more astute playcalling, better management of the team, or, more problematic, a lack of personnel at key positions. It will, however, address the question of whether the quarterback, poor play notwithstanding, is the primary source of an anemic offense that has produced nary a touchdown in six second-half quarters this season.
Replacing McNabb with Ponder will help mask the coaching staff's deficiencies, allowing coaches to blame poor performance on growing pains. It will also put under a microscope the Vikings' decision to select Ponder, rather than a cornerback, lineman, or receiver, in the first round of this year's draft. Both realities, in addition to experience and present ability, argue for Webb replacing McNabb--or at least for such a move to have the imprimatur of the Vikings' ownership group.
What is clear is that the Vikings already are setting the table for McNabb's departure, with head coach Leslie Frazier absurdly stating after last week's debacle that the team was going to "work on McNabb's footwork and throwing mechanics." That statement says as much about why there already are some questions about this coaching staff as it does about McNabb's present ability. But it also permits the Vikings to fall back on Mike Shanahan's excuse--that Donovan did not want to work on the little things--for parting with a quarterback that has been with the team for less than two months.
Also clear is that whatever the decision at quarterback, once that decision has been made, the magnifying glass will be shifting to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. That will shield Leslie Frazier from scrutiny, but only for the moment. For an ownership group looking to build equity to secure a publicly funded stadium, there is little patience. And waiting on Frazier to remember that he has Adrian Peterson on his team or to acknowledge the end of the Brad Childress era is not something that this ownership group signed onto when removing Childress from his throne.
Up Next: If KC is Willing, Vikings Should Deal.