Thursday, October 06, 2011

Storm Brewing in Minnesota

Following the Minnesota Vikings' loss to previously winless Kansas City, a team without two of its three top safeties and without its dynamic running back, Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf let it be known that he was tremendously displeased with the team's results and that he expected far better going forward. Wilf strongly suggested that, given McNabb's performance at critical junctures against KC (if not also throughout the entire season), he expected Vikings' head coach Leslie Frazier to make the proper adjustments.

There is no denying that Wilf's implication was that it was time to make a move at quarterback--a decision that could have meant imposing either Christian Ponder or Joe Webb at quarterback.

Rather than acquiesce, Frazier dug in his heals and insisted that McNabb was not the problem. If the stubborn approach in the face of sound logic to the contrary sounds familiar, it should. It was, after all, the very same approach embraced by Dennis Green, Mike Tice, and Brad Childress. And it likely could lead Frazier to the same fate realized by his three predecessors--and justifiably so.

Through four games, McNabb ranks thirtieth in the league in passing. He ranks far lower--a quite difficult feat--in passing statistics in the second half and, more significantly for a team that has played four close games, in the fourth quarter. There is no denying that McNabb's primary problems are that he cannot put the ball where he needs to put it and that he shrinks in the face of a challenge when the game is on the line. These traits are not unique to McNabb, but they are unique among quarterbacks playing for teams with purported playoff aspirations.

Aside from Frazier's apparent inability or unwillingness to acknowledge that McNabb is not his best option at quarterback--that title now belonging to Webb, followed by Ponder--Frazier is utterly delusional about the Vikings' prospects this year. The only hope that the Vikings' have of making the playoffs this year is to start Webb, a quarterback who can escape the pocket, make plays with his legs, and throw at least as accurately as McNabb has this season.

At 0-4, the Vikings likely would need to finish the season 10-2 to make the playoffs. Frazier still views the 0-4 start as a 4-0 start, however, failing to recognize that most NFL games are decided by what teams are able to do in the fourth quarter. Given that McNabb has done nothing in the fourth quarter, other than look absolutely horrible, the decision to stick with McNabb can only be explained as one of myopia induced by Frazier's initial guarantee to ownership that he could do with McNabb what Philadelphia and Washington could not.

Barring an immediate and overwhelming turn-around, the likes of which is against all odds with the Vikings having not yet faced the Packers or Bears and with two teams in their own division already four games ahead of them, Frazier is committing to a quarterback who not only offers the team little hope for recovery this season, but also little understanding of where the team is headed in 2012. Playing McNabb will ensure that the Vikings know nothing about Ponder after this season and cement the fate of a promising quarterback in Webb--all for nothing.

Frazier's decision to stick with McNabb, already at odds with the his owner's inclination and collective wisdom, not only will jeopardize the Vikings' season but also will jeopardize Frazier's tenure in Minnesota.

Up Next: Kingdom for a Receiver.


comet52 said...

Where do you get this supposed insider info about what Wilf thinks?

Frazier is proving to be as much of a knucklehead as Childress. But that's not surprising. Wilf has himself to blame. He bit on the first interview both times, without really considering whether either Childress or Frazier was genuinely qualified to coach an NFL team. He's reaped what he's sewn - two guys with fixed ideas who dug in their heels to fight reality at the expense of his team, fanbase, and revenue stream. Good luck going forward, Zygmunt.

Childress of A Lesser God said...

There's precedent here: Frazier was fired as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati for failing to mold his "philosophy" to that of the head coach, Marvin Lewis. Sounds like he is doing the same thing again.

After having a front row seat with during the Childress meltdown last season, one would think that Frazier (a seemingly reasonable and intelligent man) would do the right thing.

Further, say what you want about Wilf, but his request in this instance (axe McNabb) is extremely reasonable.

Forgetting everything else, which would be more exciting or at least interesting to watch on Sunday, McNabb or Webb under center? I'll go with the latter.