Monday, October 14, 2013

Vikings' Seat License Deal All But Ensures Coaching and Personnel Changes Sooner Rather Than Later

Under the otherwise gift-that-keeps-on-giving stadium legislation, the Minnesota Vikings secured the right to charge a seat license on most seats in the new Vikings'/Peoples' Stadium.  Until yesterday, that seat license was one-sided, decidedly benefiting the Vikings' ownership.  That all changed with the Vikings' attempt to replicate the team's 2001 41-0 loss to the N.Y. Giants--a game in which, like yesterday, the Vikings were favored.

Following yesterday's 35-10 loss to the previously moribund Carolina Panthers, the Vikings' ownership now sees the slight blade on the other side of the sword that is the team's plan to rely on seat licensing, among other fees, to fund the team's minority debt on the new stadium.  To sell seat licenses, the Vikings must sell tickets.  As tough as it is to sell tickets for a mediocre team, it is infinitely more challenging to sell tickets for a bad team.  And it is exponentially more difficult to sell tickets for a bad product and to charge a user fee for the right to buy the already expensive tickets.

Unless the Vikings want to see an empty lower bowl at the new stadium--the one thing that the ownership group cannot afford to see happen at the new stadium--changes must be made and they must be made immediately.  The only question is where one begins.

The Vikings' most glaring weaknesses are really everywhere.  The offense is plodding and predictable, the offensive line is awful, the defensive line is not getting to the quarterback or stopping the run, the linebackers are invisible, the secondary is unfathomably worse, and special teams is giving up large chunks of yards on returns without doing much of anything on their own return attempts.

Some of the changes will need to wait until the end of the season.  But some can and should occur immediately, if only to give the Vikings the opportunity to see which players should be retained and which simply should not be on an NFL roster.

The most logical and readily available changes are on the offensive side of the ball.  Bill Musgrave has had some good games, but he has far more bad games.  From the ultra-conservative, short game that got him dismissed as offensive coordinator in Carolina after just four games, the invisibility of Kyle Rudolph, the "incorporation" of Cordarrelle Patterson, the predictability of calls, or the general sense that the two-minute drill is little more than a warm down with no meaningful goal, Musgrave is, at best, a caretaker offensive coordinator.  There are too many good offensive minds in the NFL and college ranks to stay with this bit.

In the short term, Brian Billick offers precisely what the Vikings need in an offensive coordinator.  He is well respected, expects results, is a sound situational coach, and will command the attention of veterans and rookies, alike, the moment that he steps on the field.

The Vikings also need to make a change along the offensive line.  It is impossible to believe that a line that has John Sullivan, Matt Kalil, and Phil Loadholt, whatever their warts, should be performing as poorly as this offensive line has for virtually the entire season.  Bringing in Mike Tice, a coach who always seems to perform miracles with far less capable offensive line talent and who works particularly well with the straight up blocking systems, would almost certainly produce immediate dividends for the Vikings.  Like Billick, Tice offers a veteran coaching voice in a sea of mediocre coaches who are at their highest career coaching levels with the Vikings.  Like Billick, Tice would allow the Vikings to shore up two glaring offensive issues that have substantially stunted the Vikings' fortunes and made personnel assessment difficult, at best.

These two changes could and should be made yesterday.  With the Vikings needing to make changes sooner rather than later to ensure revenue streams later, expect changes soon.

Up Next:  Making Ted Cottrell and Richard Solomon Look Appealing.  Plus, Whither Frazier?  And Mike Priefer--#Karma?


HBandM said...

VG, good to have your comments as always.

While I understand your sentiment of needing to get something done, it seems that when teams are failing the general consensus leans to the off-with-their-heads approach. While I agree with the need for change, at position coaching in particular, just realistically speaking it doesn't make much sense to me to blow up the entire offensive system. Why waste an entire offseason of players learning very specific plays and terminology? If you're Spielman or Frazier, why not just have Musgrave on a shorter leash regarding playcalling, key player playing time, etc.? Force feed successful direction from above.

Billick and Tice are short-term fixes at best. Why not finish the season with the staff in place and bide the rest of the season from a management side evaluating coaching talent? Rarely do you see a coaching change in the middle of a season produce a Superbowl team.

Tom Coughlin's 0-6 Giants have 2 Superbowl championships under his coaching last I checked...

vikes geek said...


The Vikings clearly are in a very bad position. Barring a miraculous turn-around, Frazier is out. The only things saving Frazier from a mid-season dismissal are that there is no good option already on staff and, as you suggest, making wholesale changes mid-season will only make matters worse. Billick and Tice are shorter term answers than they are long-term solutions and changing OCs mid-stream, particularly when the team is trying to see what it has in Josh Freeman, probably is not the best solution. Bringing in Tice to simply organize and command a listless and rudderless offensive line--even under Musgrave's scheme--is imperative, however. A monkey could get more out of this offensive line and the continuing poor play of the offensive line is going to get someone hurt and make the offense impossible to assess. I would agree with putting Musgrave on a shorter leash, but how much less can he realistically do? The playlist already consists of only five or six plays with second down committed to a run up the gut and first down either the same or a short dump off. Only on third down does Musgrave "open up the playbook" to meet/fall short of the needed yardage. Putting Frazier in charge of the offense would be cruel to all, including Frazier, who cannot even oversee his purported area of expertise.