The writing is clearly on the wall for a few Minnesota Vikings as a very unprepared team underperforming in the preseason now looks exactly like what most logical minds would expect now in the regular season. I read several comments and a few articles, where individuals boosted, 'it's preseason; they aren't going to show their hand, wait till the regular season begin before anyone starts jumping to conclusions.' And now we are hearing, 'it's just one week.' Now why could so many Vikings' fans be upset with a meaningless preseason and only one loss? Well, I'll tell you why; because more fans are educated on what to expect from not only every position on the field in a win or a loss, but also what to look for from head coaches and offensive and defensive coordinators and that is exactly why me and several other are very upset with what is going on with the Minnesota Vikings. We know a good play when we see one, and we know a good play call when we see one as well; just like we know when we are fortunate in winning some games, as we know when we were cheated in some losses. So, what is the problem? The problem is how this team is being managed. Lets go through a short list of decisions made by management that have been effecting the state of the franchise of the Minnesota Vikings.
1. The offensive line: We have 3 solid players & I don't have to say who; the other two are questionable. Brandon Fusco has potential, Geoff Swartz more than gave him a run for his money last year and many would say out performed Fusco. Now, Swartz was not kept on, which I think was a mistake, as he very well could have beaten Fusco out in camp and at the very least have been one of, if not our best back up lineman, which I feel our depth there is a problem. If anything, I felt Charlie Johnson could have been released, or been the back up & Swartz and Fusco be the starters. Either way, Swartz should have been retained and Johnson and Fusco both should have been challenged for their starting jobs.
2. The line backers: Most will not agree with me on this, but I felt that Jasper Brinkley should have also been retained as a solid back up. In 2009, Brinkley filled in for an injured E. J. Henderson, and in his rookie year; he did fairly well, though still did have some of the same trouble E.J. had been having in pass coverage. Though, I personally did not see much of a difference at all between the two and Brinkley was obviously younger. Unfortunately, Brinkley had a hip injury that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season and when coming back in 2012 it was obvious he was not 100%. I believe if Brinkley were still in Minnesota would be 100%, obviously very familiar with the system and would be better than all of our back up LBs, as well as being a solid contributor on special teams. Now, this is purely speculation, but I also believe we would have seen his best play this year if kept on for another year. Greenway is the only reliable LB in my opinion we have right now. I do like Marvin Mitchell as a solid back up, but felt Bishop should have been given at least the same number of snaps in lasts week's game as Mitchell and should be the starter as Mitchell is really only a guy that could come in for a game or two starting, not an entire season-so put Bishop in their; I'm not the biggest fan of his, but he is our bet option now. Maybe not toward the end of the year, but now he is while we wait to see if Mauti can turn the corner later in this season, and also especially with it being more of a pressure situation to get possibly the best evaluation of him since joining the Vikings. This team obviously needs to address holes at LB with our only competent LB getting closer and closer to the end of his career. I do have hope for Mauti, but it very well could be next year before we see any real impact from him, unless he comes around sooner and gets his chance toward the end of the season. I am not sold on Hodges and still do not like the 4th round pick used on him, but maybe he will develop into a solid back up.
3.DBs: I do think we are headed in the right direction here. Though should have handled the Winfield situation with a lot more class and respect, and yes $7 mill was just too much money. Though, it sure would be nice to have one more year of his mentoring for our other young DBs, as Josh Robinson will be good, but he is just not going to develop as quick as Rhodes. It will likely be toward the end of this season before he starts coming into his own.
4. DL: Things take time and in spite of last week's performance this group will do better, but the whole idea of not going to play Kevin Willims and Sharrif Floyd on the field at the same time is a terrible idea. You put you best players out there as much as you can. Floyd is already the second best DT on the team and will do better than Evan or Guion even playing beside his natural position. When Williams is not in the game, then yes, of course slide him over, but again put your best players out there.
5. RBs, TEs and WRs: I am more than happy with our running backs, as well as our TEs and our wide receiving group is the best I have seen in years, but now how this group is managed is a travesty.
6. QBs: Say what you will about Christian Ponder, but he will be our starter for this season and that is that. Now, what needs to happen is in the upcoming draft an early draft pick must be used on a QB, as next year's draft class is far more superior than this year's and glad we did not use an early pick, but-and I like 75% of Spielman's picks-why in the hell do we use our 4th round draft pick on Gerald Hodges who likely will never be a starter and is more likely he doesn't even finish his rookie contract in Minnesota, with Matt Barkley sitting right there? Now, I'm not saying he would be the starter, but at least let him challenge Ponder, because this appointing without earning your spot is BS, all other players, including Harrison Smith and Xavior Rhodes had work their way up the ladder. Though, we would at least have a young, solid back up-option, one much better than oh say; Matt Cassle. Another poor decision, especially when looking at how much he is being paid. Now after the year I do not want Ponder out, but I want him to earn his spot. He may be the starter at the beginning of next season, but he may also be the # 2. And that is exactly what I think Ponder has proven in spite of his terrible play is that he can still be a viable back up, and may eventually develop into a starter, but not under the current offensive coordinator.
7. Coaches: Too many mistakes and take far too long addressing and correcting problems. Bringing in McNabb, waiting until week 9 to bring Wright in especially considering the wr problems of 2012, the whole handling of Joe Webb's career, also why he was not switched to wr last year(I thought he should have been wr, rb, kr from day one on the team) with how much help we needed at wr and especially since the coaching staff had absolutely no intentions of wanting Webb on the field at QB, lack of in game adjustments,ect, ect., ect. I am not a fan of Bill Musgrave at all; I think he unintentionally sabotages the offense with his stubborn, out dated philosophies that on paper may look good, but actually exploit the team's and QB's weaknesses and ignore for the most part; their strengths. We saw last week him run virtually every run right up the gut of Detroit's strongest part of their defense; their DTs with loaded boxes and constant pressure, a DC's dream in facing AP and having a chance to contain him and Musgrave served that to them on a platter last week. Now I could go on and on, but I don't have to; every sensible football fan knows Musgrave has no business coaching any QB, much less an entire offense in this league. The bad part for Frazier is that he has let this go on for far too long. Frazier himself was ordered by Wilf to have Musgrave keep his playmakers on the field in the redzone, when previously Harvin, Rudolph, Peterson would be pulled out of the game and the drives would end in field goals. And it appears still right now, Frazier will not put Musgrave in check when he is obviously doing a bad job calling games and an even more poorly job preparing the offensive players. Now, Frazier is a defensive minded coach so a lot of people give him a pass on the offensive performance of the team(I do not; he is the head coach), but what we saw last week from the entire team was a travesty. The special teams and defense units were not prepared either. Now I expect them to improve with each week and the special teams improving to their best play quicker than the defense, but Frazier is a more established defensive coach than Alan Williams, so why is he not working closer with him on the things he is best at in getting this defense in top shape and very prepared for each and every opponent? These are the questions that lead me to believe Frazier is coaching his last year in Minnesota as the head coach.
So what changes need to happen?
Musgrave has to be fired and replaced by the bye week this season. An offensive coordinator must be brought in that prepares the players for games properly, games must be called to the strengths of the team and target the weaknesses of the opponents. Now whether the replacement remains for next season will depend on his performance for the rest of this season. We all know that it can't possibly get any worse than Musgrave. And once Musgrave departs from Minnesota; He will never coach in the NFL again and that will also be very telling how poorly this team has been mismanaged.
If, not when Ponder plays bad, bench him,not for the season, just for the game-it will be good for him. He may one day be a quality starting qb, but he is not right now, and whether how much of that has to do with Bill Musgrave or not(which I think has a lot to do with it, but good players rise above bad situations-even horrendous playcalling & terrible coaching) he has to step up in spite of any situation he faces. Now, a qb will be drafted early in the 2014 draft by the Vikings and he and Ponder will battle for the starting job, but the inevitable is going to happen and Ponder will become our back up qb, Cassle will be released and hopefully all of this to come will be what finally causes Ponder to play up to his potential. And it is possible tat a l mid or late round pick also is used on another qb next draft as the amount of talent on this team cannot be sabotaged any longer by the dismal performances by it's offensive coordinator and play from the quarterback position.
Leslie Frazier's only capacity on next year's team will be as the defensive coordinator, much like a similar situation with last year's approach when bringing in Alan Williams, as he will either take the demotion or be flat out asked to leave the organization. Now, I like Frazier, and he was slowly getting better as he was/is learning to become a head coach, but he has let this fiasco with Musgrave go on far too long and that is solely on him now as never have I ever seen so much talent be so badly mismanaged in my entire life. The only way I could possibly see Frazier keeping his job is if he turns this whole thing around and gets these players prepared and playing their asses off like they are supposed to, bench Ponder when he is self destructing, not only fire Musgrave by not later than the bye week, but help in bringing in someone that can do an at least decent job. We are going to have to see Frazier animated in practices and on the sidelines on game days to get this team playing like we all know they have the talent to. Now, I know that's not Frazier's style and is unlikely, but his style is not working and what is likely is that he will be shown the door along with Musgrave if he does not act and at least try to turn this thing around. This staying the course will not work and is unacceptable, if one thing doesn't work and believe me we've all seen what doesn't; try something else, because if something else is not at least tried; we will e looking at an entirely new Minnesota Vikings' coaching staff to go along with their new young prospect they've acquired early in the 2014 draft.