With a fourth straight loss in the books to start the 2011 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings are expected to bench starting quarterback Donovan McNabb in favor of either Joe Webb or Christian Ponder next week. The decision comes more from the Vikings' ownership than from a coaching staff that, offensively, appears oblivious to the on-the-field product.
McNabb again was awful when it most mattered on Sunday, thrice making horrendous passes to nobody in particular during the team's final drive with the Vikings trailing by five. McNabb's erratic performance once again made Adrian Peterson virtually irrelevant and an ownership group that has invested heavily in Peterson, irate.
With McNabb moving to the sidelines--and quite possibly to the waiver wire--the Vikings are left to decide whether to go into full blown rebuilding mode or to try to be respectable this year. Taking a cue from the Carolina Panthers, however, the Vikings almost certainly will opt for a heavy dose of roll-out quarterback packages, something woefully lacking in this year's offense.
Entering the season, the Vikings sold their fan base on a short-passing game predicated on getting the ball to their two dynamic tight ends, Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph, and Percy Harvin and running Adrian Peterson. After four games, the Vikings have used Randolph and Shiancoe only on a limited basis and highly sporadically and, despite obtaining positive results every time Harvin touches the ball, have shied away from Harvin, as well. The only commitment that the Vikings have kept is to get Peterson the ball, but that commitment generally has waned in the second half of games, making Peterson the "highest paid decoy in the game."
As McNabb heads to the bench, scrutiny will only increase of a coaching staff that has not obtained results this season. Of particular concern is the play-calling and personnel management of first-year offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, whose decision not to have Shiancoe on the field on 4th and 10 on the Vikings' final drive against KC--a decision saved only by KC's decision to call a time-out--brings to mind the play-calling that led to Musgrave's dismissal as Carolina's offensive coordinator only two games into his tenure.
Up Next: Change in Quarterbacks Will Buy Frazier Some Time.