Okay, let me start this post by stating the obvious. Last night's game was downright ugly and hard to watch for all Vikings fans. Secondly, as a Webb fan he flat out sucked last night and by almost any analysis, statistical or otherwise, he had the worst performance of his brief career. Tough circumstance to be thrown into but as a backup QB it's his job to be ready and he wasn't. Anyway this post isn't about Webb at all, it's about the circumstances that led to him starting last night, the lack of a game-plan, and how the coaches/trainers got the team as a whole ready for a playoff game.
Most of this post stems from information in the Tom Pellisero/Judd Zulgad post-game video on ESPN 1500 from last night. http://www.1500espn.com/videos/blame_to_spread_around_for_way_vikings_surprising_season_ended Some strange things happened that haven't been discussed much on the DN so far and were brought up in the aforementioned video. Christian Ponder was injured after being hit by a helmet in last weeks game and did a fine job of finishing the game through some pain. The handling of this injury this week was just weird though. First it was reported and described by the Vikings as a minor elbow injury that wouldn't keep him from playing. As the week went on, Ponder couldn't take many reps but the injury was still downplayed as minor. Then the information comes out that he's got the bursitis problem he dealt with many times at FSU where fluid builds up and has to be drained to provide relief. At this point it begins to look like Ponder's injury is more serious than initially thought and Webb might have to play if Ponder couldn't make it through the whole game. Okay nothing odd so far.
Now, after the game Ponder discusses his injury and says the elbow is not an issue at all, despite all the official information coming from the Vikings noting it as the injury, and the bursitis thing is apparently not a big deal. The real injury is a deep bruise to the triceps of his throwing arm. Okay, why did the Vikings release false information about the injury? I have no idea, but Zulgad mentions that Ponder didn't have his elbow drained and for some strange reason he's trying to loosen up his injured arm by throwing passes on game day in a Holiday Inn Express pool! Yes, I wish that last part was a joke but the Vikings inexplicably couldn't manage to book their normal hotel for an NFL playoff game and instead stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and unfortunately they didn't wake up suddenly knowing how to do much of anything at an intelligent level : )
This is becoming a little long-winded but I swear I'm about to make my point about the coaching staff real soon with a few questions I'd like answered. First off I'll start with Sugarman, as the guy has worked miracles with major injuries but for some reason a deep bruise is beyond his powers. Alright, no big deal, injuries don't heal according to plan all the time, but for such a great training staff how is it possible to not know that your QB can barely lift his arm to his chest and not be able to soft toss more than 10 yards until 2 hours before a playoff game?
The second question is for Musgrave. It's been widely discussed that the only real offensive success the Vikings had last night was confined to the first drive where the read-option was run on three plays for good success. Then it and AD were abandoned for the rest of the first half and the read-option was run a grand total of three more times over the rest of the game. Now, it's pretty obvious Webb couldn't run our normal game-plan very effectively in the game but why not run the read-option more as it's what suited him better and gave our offense what little success it had? Some posters have stated that it's not feasible to prepare two game-plans for two very different QBs for one game. As Tom Pellisero noted though, when Webb played in relief last year they ran a small package of option plays and basically let Joe run a simple offense that played to his strengths. He also noted that RG3 basically destroyed us by running essentially three plays out of this system. So, to paraphrase Mr. Gates and Kyle, Why must Musgrave continuously try to ram a square peg into a round hole? (that question is a play on Batiatus favorite question for any fans of Spartacus)
The last question is for Frazier. I thought Frazier did a great job for most of this year but his handling of the Ponder injury is lacking in my opinion. All week long he told everybody, including his players that Ponder would most likely play. Joe Webb did get most of the first string reps in practice and Chris Cook told Zulgad that he guessed that Webb would start after Thursday's practice but nobody knew for sure until a few hours before game-time. Now, I'm all for coaches keeping things from the media, the fans, and the opposition for the obvious strategic and focus issues. What I can't understand is not informing the players that there's a damn good chance your starting QB won't be able to go and by all appearances not adequately preparing them or Musgrave for plan B. I can't see how telling Webb and the rest of the team that Ponder can't go two hours before game is a smart thing to do. Hey guys, Surprise we're starting Webb tonight! Have Fun!
So if you've made it through this post can any of you answer W.T.F. happened with these M.F.S. this week?