Here we are; the day after Minnesota found themselves at 0-2 to start the 2013 season and many have lost all hope for this season an many of the staff and players. And there obviously does need to be changes made within this organization, analyzing every position from top to bottom. Though, where the Vikings are at right now and for the remainder of the season isn't likely to change much, if at all until the season is over, and it is looking more and more like that could be after week 17, with return to the post season-but there's still a lot of football to be played; and what team better to face to help turn things around at home the Vikings' home opener than the Cleveland Browns.
Yesterday brought forth not just another loss, but late in the second quarter the Vikings' defense started to step up a little and as I suspected and still do expect ever since training camp; the defense will gradually get better with each game and imho be playing very close to their potential by about mid season. Now, by then; I think they will be regarded and respected much more than right now, and in the second half of the season; I believe they will still continue to improve especially guys like Josh Robinson and Shariff Floyd. Now, the LBs are the biggest weakness and there should be some changes made just to find something that improves the overall product on the field. Now, Bishop imho should be given a lot more plays next week, if not start. I believe a lot of people are expecting more out of Henderson than we will likely ever see. I think he plays better on the weak side and still to be honest he is ony an average LB. Now, I do hope he improves, but also other things need to be tried, and when I say other things; I mean other players. Unfortunately, Henderson is not the answer at MLB and should be moved back to his more natural position on the outside and really I don't look for him to be on the team in 2 or 3 years unless as a back up, or we will be in deep sh*t by then. I used to not like the idea my had of putting Greenway in the middle, but maybe it should be tried out for a couple formations a game or two to see if there is anything there. I think there is no reason with as bad play that is coming from that group; we cannot see Bishop and Mauti getting more, if not significantly more playing time in the middle and on the outside. With that said, the line is starting to slowly get their act together and overall; the secondary is also getting better. I am very excited about Xavior Rhodes, of course Harrison Smith is playing very well and I think Cook will settle down and play better the rest of the season, and lastly Josh Robinson should improve with every game and be noticeably better in the second half of the season.
Special teams as far as Patterson, Walsh and Loche will all be fine, and be considered 3 of the best at their positions in the entire league. With that said, our coverage units are garbage and I honestly thought yesterday; it wouldn't be a bad idea to just kick the ball out of bounds here at least the ball would placed at the 40 instead of Hester running it back into our territory. Walsh will cover up a lot of our deficiencies there though as most of the remaining games will be more favorable conditions and we will all look forward to him booting out of the end zone.
Now to offense; Ponder started out the game very poorly again and for the first quarter and a half or so looked like he had no business on an NFL field. Then all the sudden with the second quarter winding down he throws a very bad pass to Simpson whom he had stared down the entire time and some will say, 'it was on Simpson too,' yea maybe 1% and after the pick he was so frustrated with not only the bad pass, but terrible decision to throw it; Simpson just stood there looking appalled in disgust to the point he refused to even chase the defender down, which he would have been unable to anyway, but anything can happen; so yeah he should have, but understand his frustration. Though something happened after that pick 6, and we've seen it before where Ponder will play better when the heat is on, but at least to me this time seemed different. He came right back on the following series, and lead the offense down the field for their sole TD. Going into the half the Bears had the ball almost twice as long as the Vikings, but by games end; it was basically 50/50. What I saw from Ponder though, was him actually stepping up in the pocket and sometimes actually looking for receivers and actually planting his foot and driving the ball with his throws instead of the lobs we were all so disgusted with, and I actually witnessed him audible out of a play Musgrave had sent in and it resulted in a big gain from a pass that he threw for somewhere around 30 yards. The offense finally started to click with each other and the team as a whole finally found the on button as far as the majority of the players anyway. Now I won't get too excited especially because some really long good drives ended with FGs instead of TDs, as the play calling stalled out not surprisingly. But this was definitely something the offense can build on, and there were also several defensive players stepping up more that caused a spark and still with a lot of work especially the LBs; they also have something to build on.
Now the coaching of this team in yesterday's loss was not impressive at all in all three phases of the game. In the first half running Peterson right up the gut on virtually every single first down was not a very good strategy at all, as I felt he should have been used more as a decoy on plays like those the Bear's defense was stacking the box, knowing Peterson wasn't just running the ball, but right up the gut as well. Now, to Musgrave's credit; for 2 1/2 drives he called some decent plays, but failed his players and team with his playing in the red zone especially on the last drive.
Now, yes I do want Musgrave replaced and feel it should be done during the time off in the bye week, not only to help this season, but also if the replacement does well enough to be the OC next year as well; there will already be some solid chemistry built up, and honestly whether whomever that is & if they are good enough or not o be the OC next season; there is nothing I am seeing that would lead me to believe the offense is going to do any worse at all. The DC also has to do much better, as I thought Williams did a decent job last year, but much like Paget took a demotion last year; if Frazier would agree to it; I would like to see him take a demotion as well at the end of the season and a new head coach be brought in. Because we know Frazier can at least do a damn good job of running the defense and if we were able to bring in someone like Gruden as the HC and another OC like a Norv Turner that change up could be the very best thing this team needs, as the talent on this team awaits their leaders to rise up or eventually arrive. Now as far as Ponder; we are stuck with him whether good or bad for the rest of the season and I for one am not sold at all on Matt Cassle and never liked the move acquiring him. I do think Spielman should remain as our GM and has made a lot more good moves than bad ones. I do believe Spielman will draft a qb early in next year's draft and that draft class of qbs is much better than this year's. I have not given up on Ponder being a part of this team and know he will be the start for the remainder of the season, but he s likely just going to be the long term answer as the back up qb at minimum. I do think Ponder will play much better the rest of the season, but do not think that should at all stop the Vikings from drafting a qb early; competition is a good thing and anyway; Ponder is a little injury prone, and this team must protect itself and protecting itself does not constitute signing Matt Cassle either.
So is this season lost? I don't think so, and as a matter of fact I think the Vikings will play much better football for the rest of the year and still finish the season with a winning record. But in 2014 I strongly believe drafting another QB, LB, DT and OG are top priorities as well as acquiring a new OC, a new HC and hopefully Frazier accepts a job as being the DC again.
So for now can this season be salvaged? I think it can, and with Ponder being the QB, but think some big changes are coming at the end of the season and think if in the next two games, if the play calling is not convincingly improving; one change should come early and that of course is with the offensive coordinator. And as bad as things look as we are 0-2; I believe the Vikings win their home opener and then travel across the Atlantic to even up their record at 2-2 and get on a roll beating Carolina after the bye to give us a winning record, but this team must be properly managed to do so and there are some tough decisions to be made along the way. If Minnesota does pull off that 3 game winning streak, it may will have bought itself enough time for this team to come together, building the chemistry it needs to succeed and the experience a lot of these younger players need in order to play much better. So what changes, if any do you think should be made judging by what we've see two weeks into the season for this team to succeed short term and long term, how long do we wait?