I've had to stop the weekly fanposts, but would like to give at least a quarterly update going forward. This certainly isn't where I thought we would be 8 games into the season. I, like Leslie Frazier (watch his sunday press conference) am sick and tired of losing. As a fan, there's not much comfort knowing that the next two months will most likely suck as the last two did. Yet as a fan I must endure. It's hard to review the first 8 games without looking towards 2014, but the fact of the matter is that there is time and room to improve THIS year. Let's look at five Vikings who must step up their game.
Bill Musgrave - Since Frazier loves to "stay the course" Billy remains the offensive coordinator of this football team. In reality, he may be the worst assistant football coach in the NFL. He's great at drawing up plays on the chalkboard, but ignores game situation, team strengths, and personnel when creating an offensive gameplan. His latest botches included a failed 4th and 1, A four-minute drill that began with a pass, and a decision expose a turnover-prone QB and backup RT in their own end-zone. Musgrave is consistently bailed out by the on-field talent. Last Sunday, the Vikings scored TDs on one broken down play and two super-human efforts. Musgrave also reflects the inability of the entire coaching staff to develop talent.
Jared Allen - I don't think that Allen's failures have been documented well-enough by this site. Jared is on pace for arguably his worst season ever, with a patry 4.5 sacks and 22 tackles. I know that those stats do not tell the whole story, but Allen has been mostly a non-factor and it is killing our defense. Coming into the year we had big questions in the secondary and LB corps. DL was supposed to be a known position of strength. Lack of pressure has exposed our back end and forced us to blitz more. Allen has been counted on to be a stud, but he has not even been great. He's not the only one. Matt Kalil and Chad Greenway have struggled. Harrison Smith will be joined with Loadholt and Rudolph on the injury list. Our "known commodities" have busted.
Christian Ponder - I don't really want to write about Ponder anymore. The common rhetoric is that you need 1,000 passing attempts before you can accurately judge a QB. Ponder is nearing that mark and we know what he is. He is an accurate short passer with a weak arm. He can beat you with his legs but doesn't have good pocket presence. He misses open targets and is turnover-prone. He is not enough. I would like to think that we could run a system that Ponder can succeed in. I see what the Chiefs are doing and am positive it could work here. We certainly have the offensive talent around the QB. As for Freeman, he will get his chance when he is ready. A short week is a terrible time for a QB change. In hindsight, Ponder should never have been benched in the first place.
Chris Cook - I mean come on seriously? I have never been a fan of Chris Cook, but between him, Josh Robinson, Jamarca Sanford, and Erin Henderson, I thought he would certainly be the one to step up on defense. Cook can't stay on the field and isn't that good when he can. Our DBs, with Cook and Rhodes healthy, and Rhodes moving into slot corner when we are in Nickel, have a chance to be average. Instead we have a quagmire.
Erin Henderson - Pick a LB, any LB and you can insert them in this space. LBs have been soft in run support, constantly getting caught in bad run fits and getting beating around the edge. Worse is pass coverage, where they simply run around confused and are physically outmatched. LB may be the most puzzling area of this team. Henderson in particular is just not an every-down LB. The fact that he leads this team in tackles demonstrates a clear point: The defense needs to improve on every level.
Midway through the season, do we have any player who is exceeding expectations? Nope! That means 1-7. I have plenty of opinions on where the Vikings go from here, but I will reserve them until I see more football. I will never cheer for tanking. Let's improve, win games, and be the 2014 Chiefs. I'm hoping that Ponder/Freeman play well enough to be the starter in 2014. That would enable us to bypass QB and focus on improving the defense in the offseason.