Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why The Vikings Should Be Contacting Brett Favre

In the midst of an 0-3 start that could well be 0-4 by this weekend, the Minnesota Vikings have numerous problems.  The defense is shaky, even when healthy, with linebackers nearly invisible in coverage, cornerbacks awful, and tackles softer than the underbelly of the Minnesota Twins' management team.  Special teams, too, have been suspect of late with long returns by the opposing team increasingly the norm.  And, of course, there is the offense.  Although the offense has produced 22 points per game (adjusted for defensive and return points), that output ranks the Vikings in the middle to the bottom third of the league in scoring, well off the standard set by the Broncos and ten points per game less than division rivals Green Bay and Chicago.

Middling offensive production might be acceptable, were the Vikings in the top third of the league defensively.  Alas, they are not.  And that makes watching Adrian Peterson languish in what should be the prime of his career all the more frustrating and disheartening.  With every passing short dump off on first down, followed by a predictable AP handoff on second down (seven such sequences last week), followed by futile dump off or sack on third down, Peterson's NFL career inches ever closer to its end.

With Vikings' head coach Leslie Frazier now at least refusing to heap generous platitudes on Ponder's performance, the Vikings are left with a decision that they could have made sooner, but for institutional inertia and outright stubborness.  The decision that ought now be made is to transition from Ponder to the team's next starting quarterback.

Unfortunately for the Vikings--and despite claims to the contrary--Vikings' GM Rick Spielman solidified Ponder's status as "best option on the roster" by bringing in a quarterback that nobody else wanted.  How bad was Matt Cassel's performance in K.C.?  Suffice it to say that they thought of Cassel in K.C. the way Minnesotans think of Ponder.  Replacing Ponder with Cassel would require an admission that Ponder is not even Ponder-like--an unlikely concession.

This week, Bus Cook, Brett Favre's manager, put the NFL on notice that Favre is "as fit as ever."  The last time Cook was moved to make such a comment, Favre proved to be as fit as advertised and led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game.

There are only two imaginable landing places for Brett Favre at this stage of his NFL life--Minnesota or Green Bay.  One suspects Green Bay is not interested.  Given commitments to sunken costs, the Vikings might not be interested either, but they should be.

Even playing at half of his 2009 level, Favre would immediately and significantly improve the Vikings' offense, giving the Vikings' someone to pass to Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, and Kyle Rudolph and a quarterback who would force opponents to reconsider the nine-men-in-the-box strategy.  That would increase the Vikings' time of possession and alleviate pressure on the defense.  It would also give the Vikings the latitude to move Ponder to backup or third-string, use McLeod Bethel-Thompson in mop up situations to better assess his ability, and make plans for drafting a true quarterback of the future.

How likely is it that the Vikings, faced with an overture from Favre to rejoin the ranks, would bite?  Not very.  Frazier would have told the people of Pompeii to "not overreact" and Spielman would have to admit the error of his ways.  To date, neither have seemed a willing participant, even if Frazier is showing signs of wanting to break away.  But one can at least wonder.

Up Next:  Changes.

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