In 1984, the Minnesota Vikings finished 3-13. That was the year that Les Steckel and his no-nonsense boot camp received a tryout in the NFL. That tryout lasted but that one year, never again to return to the league.
2011 is shaping up to be every bit as uninspiring and demoralizing as was that 1984 debacle, only this version of 1984 comes courtesy of a soft-spoken, eminently likable individual in Leslie Frazier who appears utterly incompetent as a head coach. Where Childress stood by the likes of Bryant McKinnie and Bernard Berrian, Frazier stands by the likes of Donovan McNabb and Bernard Berrian--the former shows Frazier can be every bit as stubborn as his predecessor, the latter shows he has an even flatter learning curve.
But while Steckel at least left the Vikings with a roster including some young talent such as Steve Jordan, Wade Wilson, Joey Browner, Carl Lee, Tim Irwin, and Darrin Nelson, Frazier presides over a team with the bulk of the talent residing in the "veteran" category. Only the rarely used Kyle Rudolph, Percy Harvin, and possibly Joe Webb and/or Christian Ponder can be said to represent the up and coming youth of this Vikings' team. With veterans Kevin Williams, Chad Greenway, Jared Allen, Antoine Winfield, Adrian Peterson, Steve Hutchinson, and Jim Kleinsasser, Frazier and the Vikings have proven that veteran talent cannot compensate for a lack of a plan. And this Vikings' team, unlike that 1984 disaster, bent on being more conditioned than the opposition, has no plan of which to speak.
Among the numerous confounding coaching decisions in last night's game were the decision to pull McNabb for Webb after McNabb had connected on one of his few completions. The first play called for Webb was bizarre, still not completely computing. The second appeared to be one for which the Vikings' coaching staff told Webb that he must refuse to run no matter the circumstances and that he must make the worst pass of the game to take some heat off of McNabb. Webb followed the plan to a "t" and McNabb re-entered on third down, only to throw a pass behind his intended receiver (the announcers, so accustomed to McNabb's utter inability to throw the ball, gushed over the pass, blaming the receiver for the incompletion).
That fiasco paled, however, in contrast with the debacle that was the two-minute warning timeout turned missed field goal attempt turned loss of timeout when the team could have used it. Returning from the television timeout for the two-minute warning--a lengthy timeout befitting Sunday night football--Frazier sent his kicking team onto the field to attempt a field goal on 4th and 3 then immediately called a timeout.
There can be no good explanation for Frazier's timeout immediately following a timeout--though that did not stop the ever implausible Greg Coleman from making the effort. "Cat and mouse," Coleman lauded. "Leslie's just playing his chess pieces."
Not even the heretofore ultimate homer, Paul Allen, was buying Coleman's pollyanna puke on this night, however, as PA turned to his broadcast partner, Pete Bercich, stating "I don't get it." Neither did the Vikings, as the timeout was followed by a false start and a failed field goal attempt--all a microcosm of everything that the Vikings have represented under Frazier.
In a season in which the Vikings are paying a running back $14-16 million to play behind a putrid offensive line, with an awful quarterback, non-existent wide-receiving corps that includes, as its best receiver, a player ranked 86th in the NFL in yards receiving, for an offensive coordinator with no sense of a game plan and a head coach apparently willing to just soak it all in, there is no doubt that this Vikings' team is far worse than the '84 disaster. What's not clear is whether anyone in this organization has the sense to make the proper adjustments.
Up Next: Berrian Still Being Frozen Out.