You may or may not remember, but yours truly totally broke the news on Daily Norseman about Donovan McNabb becoming the Minnesota Vikings stop-gap back in the tumultuous times post-lockout. Granted, at the time it was still "rumors regarding rumors say that a cousin of a friend of my dad’s told this guy I met at a bar that maybe…", but still, I call it a win.
For me personally. And not a win I want or am proud of, because it ended up clearly being a loss for the Minnesota Vikings, and as a fervent fan of the Vikes… that ended up making my win a loss nonetheless, much like the four losses we’ve had with McNabb under center.
Yeah. That article was titled "Not Sure How I Feel About This". Well, hence the title of this article… now I know how I feel about this.
It’s high time we end the McNabb era in Minnesota. Join me after the Leap of Faith, which is similar to what every Viking receiver must do with a McNabb pass.
We recently had a back-and-forth between Chris and Ted regarding whether McNabb should remain the starter, or whether it’s time we throw Christian Ponder, our first-round draft pick and anointed QBOTF, out onto the field of battle. At the time I remained quiet because I myself wasn’t sure. But with news breaking today that HC Leslie Frazier is apparently content with McNabb remaining the starter, I’m quite sure.
2010 with Brett Favre was bad. Very bad. 6-10 bad. But you know what? It wasn’t 0-4 bad. If you recall, we all bit our nails in terror and fear come the third game of the season against the equally hapless Dallas Cowboys, who like us were at 0-2. Well, somehow, we won that game. Unfortunately, in an even worse position, against what I might deem an even worse team, this season we did not escape with the win. Nope, we lost to the 0-3 Chiefs. And even worse, worse, worse? We didn’t even make at least a good showing in the first half like we had done all season. Whether you feel its worse to lose via blowing a big lead or worse to just get your butt kicked from the start, the truth is we failed to show, really, at any point against the worst competition we’ve faced all year. Against two decent teams, and one team that is really setting itself up as one of the best out there, we at least had thirty minutes of fight, we at least showed talent, and promise, and potential.
None of that happened against the Chiefs. At all. Yes, fine, we did have our occasional moments, and the McNabb TD pass to Devon Aromashodu was awful purty. (Another highlight? At one point I was watching the huddle, and saw Bernard Berrian get pulled out for Aromashodu. Even though Aromashodu didn’t participate in the following play, I still say that’s a highlight.)
Here’s another thing to compare our old QB this year against our old QB last year. Uhm… our team is better this year. We’ve essentially upgraded at WR- Michael Jenkins isn’t exactly Megatron or anything, but he’s not sitting out with a hip injury or playing only three games before insulting some local caterers and costing us a third round draft pick. Toby Gerhart has improved quite nicely and has shown some real talent and skill, something he was still looking for his freshman campaign. Visanthe Shianco is no longer hampered (well, at least not visibly) by a hurt hamstring, and we’ve increased our TE presence with emerging star Kyle Rudolph. And while our O-line still need some major improvements, I would dare say it’s still a step above last season. (AP remains AP, and Percy Harvin remains Percy Harvin. ‘Nuff said on that.) And on the defensive side of the ball, Jared Allen is not suffering any slow starts, and I’m eating my words regarding Ray Edwards and the impact replacing him with Brian Robison would have- it’s clearly an upgrade. Our LB corps, while lacking a bit in the pass defense department, still remains solid- Erin Henderson is, IMO, holding things down in Ben Leber’s absence. And while Remi Ayodele isn’t exactly going to the Pro Bowl anytime soon, let’s face it- neither was Pat Williams, beloved though he shall always be, last year. And the secondary?? Our true Achilles’ heel last season has been holding its own against receivers like Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, and even Calvin Johnson. (Complain all you want about his two TDs against us… he did that in single coverage against us, and then did the same thing with double and triple coverage last night against Dallas. Apparently, Megatron is simply going to get two TDs each game, regardless of what you do.) Chris Cook is having a solid sophomore campaign, and the fact that he and Cedric Griffin are healthy has really shored things up. (Antoine Winfield remains Antoine Winfield.)
OK, so with that entire breakdown shown, it has hopefully really illustrated the following question- why the hell is McNabb ‘leading’ us to 0-4? ’10 Favre was terrible, and yet he was still leading the team to better results with a worse team. Again, our first three opponents were at least of fair quality. The Chiefs? Not so much.
Let me continue my little diatribe here. Right now, we are one of four winless teams, and one of three 0-4 teams (although the Colts will in all likelihood join that after tonight). Those other teams are the Colts, Dolphins, and Rams. The Colts will probably eke out two or three wins- by freakin' G-d they will likely show us up by beating the Chiefs, they will likely split the series with the Jaguars, and they may even have a shot against the Panthers (although that one is the biggest question mark). The Rams are in a division with the Cardinals, Seahawks, and 49ers- they could win any of those games, particularly the home ones, and they also have the Bengals on their schedule- like the Panthers for the Colts, that one's a question mark. The only team I see challenging us for the pure suckiness category is the Miami Dolphins- HOWEVER, they have a quarterback who is actually turning out to be halfway decent this season. (He had a helluva game against the Patriots, and was simply overshadowed by Tom Brady's mastery of the air.) Their schedule has two very winable games for them- the Broncos and... sadly again... the Chiefs. (The way the Eagles have been showing up, they also have an outside shot at that game as well. And yes, I totally called that.)
The Vikings? Not only are we one of three 0-4 teams, but we happen to be in the same division as the only two 4-0 teams left in the NFL. Ladies and gentlemen… it is time to say it, and I will say these things openly here only because we are all Vikings fans here… we are not going to the playoffs, and we may even be in line to end up with the worst record in the NFL come the conclusion of Week 16. Oh, how I would love to nod and say, "yes, we will beat the Cardinals, Panthers, and Broncos for sure". But can any of us say that with a straight face after what just happened against the Chiefs? Are the Chiefs significantly better than those three aforementioned teams?
I do not believe in throwing a season away to increase draft pick status. The Lions essentially did that and consistently sucked regardless. It was only when they stopped following that unofficial policy that they began to grow into the team they are today. That said, reality’s reality. We may absolutely at this point be in the campaign for Andrew Luck.
OK, now that that second point has hopefully been fully illustrated and sources cited and all, the decision should now be to look to the future. Chris’ point regarding the fact that there’s no sense in throwing Ponder into a terrible situation is well taken. I often have promoted the concept that rookie QBs should generally not start their first season. But there’s a new angle to all this now. What do we do if we end up with the number one overall pick come next draft? We just drafted our QBOTF. Do we ignore that and go with the ‘sure thing’ (as sure as any draft pick can be, mind you) and draft Luck regardless? And if we do, what do we do with Christian Ponder? Do we have two first round selections at QB, with Ponder being the perennial second stringer, until his contract’s up and he departs for a location he feels he has a shot at starting at? Or do we go with Ponder, believing that the man with the maiden name of Superbowlwinner can indeed live up to his namesake- therefore, trading that number one pick for a crapload of goodies?
The truth is right now, we have no clue. Ponder may or may not be the chosen one, the second coming of Sir Francis, with the exception that he’ll be adorned with certain rings come career’s glorious end. Perhaps he will be solid- but just not worthy to overlook the Andrew Luck potential, in which case, rather than let him ride the bench until his contract’s up, we might consider trading him away for some goodies. (Yes, MarkSP, you’re right- that’s exactly what we should have done with Ray Edwards all along.)
But how do we know? Even if we swing the trade for Ponder, how do we know what to accurately assess his value as? Now granted, it’s a gamble- maybe he ends up totally busting and his value plummets. But I still believe in him, and I don’t think that’ll be happening. And seeing as how we drafted him in the first round, the FO better not believe that’s what will happen, either.
So, ladies and gentlemen, to sum this all up- I know how I feel now about Donovoan McNabb, and it’s not exactly the warm feelings evoked by puppies and lollipops. We’ve got a QB who has thus far led us to a craptastic record, and has, IMO, done worse than Favre did last year. And with us currently on the road to the number one overall pick- it’s going to be, sooner or later, time to know exactly what we’ve got in Christian Ponder. Because we’re facing the potential of having a really big choice in front of us in the future. And anyone who goes into such a big decision without having full knowledge of what’s at stake is, without argument, a fool.
Let McNabb start another game or two, Mr. Frazier- but after that, we’d better start seeing Ponder on the field.