Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Leslie Frazier Proves Himself Either Entirely Irrelevant or Utterly Incompetent--or Both

Another embarrassing loss, another game without an offensive pulse, another quarterback.  It has become a broken record in Minnesota--a record that could net new lows after this season is done.

In the aftermath of an utterly abysmal performance in the Meadowlands, the Minnesota Vikings were bested by the previously 0-6 Giants.  How bad was Minnesota?  New quarterback Josh Freeman attempted 53 passes and completed just 20 for 190 yards.  The team called only fifteen running plays out of 68 total plays.  Facing a defense that had yielded 35 points per game through its first six games, Minnesota scored seven points.

Sometimes statistics lie.  Sometimes they tell nothing but the truth.  On Monday night, they did the latter.  They confirmed that Minnesota's problems run deep.  They run to talent evaluation, organization, preparation, and execution.

No quarterback has looked good in offensive (yes) coordinator Bill Musgrave's "system"--not the wild-running Joe Webb, not the outside threat turned pocket passer Christian Ponder, not the pocket passer turned pinata Matt Cassel, and not the pocket passer turned indescribable Josh Freeman.  To do so would be a small feat, as Musgrave's system begs failure--dump off, hand off, dump off, punt.  But when you pair sub-par with sub-par, more often than not, you get sub-par.

And Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier seems to be all in on the disaster--at least Musgrave's end.  Asked frequently how he would characterize the Vikings' system, Frazier proudly calls the team a run-first team.  Forget that nobody wins in the modern NFL with a run-first system, the Vikings are not even a good run-first team.  Twenty-eight yards for the best back in the game against one of the worst defenses in the modern era?  Please.

Even if Leslie is merely following orders to play players that clearly are in over their heads, there is no excuse for being lousy virtually everywhere else on the field.  This team has the feel of one of the worst teams in NFL history--not in terms of personnel, but in terms of game plan, preparation for the opposition, and anything taking place on the field.

As for personnel, the Vikings have sufficient talent to line up with most of the teams in the NFL, the utter mediocrity that most teams currently are.  But for the Vikings to prevail even against the mediocre teams, to rise above even the Jaguars and Bucs, they need to have some elemental foundation that simply does not exist under Frazier.  And that rests not just with Frazier, but with his Geppetto, Rick Spielman.

Even if the Vikings are angling for a shot at the player of their choice in next year's draft--long odds given the team's victory and the Jacksonsville Jaguar's only slightly superior contempt for professional football--there is little chance that the Vikings' ownership group wants Spielman making the decision on that player or Frazier, et. al., honing that player's skills.

Were there any meaningful alternative to simply sitting out the rest of the season, the coaching staff would be gone tonight, with Spielman merely permitted time to pad his resume.  Instead, those moves almost certainly will be coming in the off-season.

Up Next:  Some Impossible Numbers Made Possible.

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