I’m just going to jump right into my usual assessment.
Cordarrelle Patterson’s 109 yard kick off return for a TD
An Adrian Peterson rushing TD
Toby Gerhardt’s rumbling rushing TD in which he ran over Greg Jennings (that latter part wasn’t good but Greg laughed)
Minneapolis looked GREAT in the aerial shots
Did I mention that Minneapolis looked really pretty from the air?
Cris Collingsworth having a microphone broadcasting his irritating commentary
Packers driving up the score just because they could; but hey – why not? If the Vikings can’t stop them then they deserved to be scored on.
Everything else. Literally.
Ponder was as terrible as he’s always been.
The o-line continues to do basically nothing.
The defense is inept, with no ability to make game-changing plays whatsoever.
Jeff Locke is a bust.
Coaching. The entire coaching staff. All of them.
The Packers scored the most points they ever have in the Dome. Aaron Rodgers has nearly perfect stats against the Vikings. The SNF crew was chock-full of horrible statistics showing just how much the Vikings have sucked under Frazier.
I don’t know what else to say other than the Vikings will take the field next Sunday once again, likely headed for another loss. The good news is that the game isn’t on prime-time. We won’t be embarrassed on the national stage again until Thursday, November 7th.
Let me end this with a poll. What do you think the real problem is with the Vikings?
Preseason Game 4. It’s the game we all dread, but watch or attend anyway. None of the starters are on the field; it’s essentially 3 hours of 2nd string or unproven talent desperately trying to make one last case for a spot on the 53-man roster. It’s rare to see truly stunning play, although thoughts of Audie Cole’s INTs and pick-6 last year run through my mind. I started this game with the hope of seeing something along those lines. I got a terrific 109 kick off return by Marcus Sherels. That’ll work!
Things I Liked:
Cassel to Rodney Smith in the waning moments of the 1st quarter. Yes, we had a pass of 28 yards!
Cassel to John Carlson over the middle for good yardage and YAC.
Matt Asiata producing a TD at the start of the 2nd quarter and showing good running instincts during the game.
Joe Banyard had some solid plays in the 2nd quarter, including the screen from McLeod John Balthazar Bethel-Thompson resulting in a TD.
Marcus Sherels: 109 yard kick-off return TD.
Marcus Sherels with an INT in the 3rd quarter.
A fumble recovery to end the game.
Things That Bothered Me:
A continued emphasis on short passes in the flat for minimal or no yardage. For Odin’s sake, Musgrave – can we just stop? Air it out, man. At some point we have to develop a passing game that worries SOMEONE.
The Titans were able to convert 3rd down after 3rd down after…
Lack of effort on the Titan’s TD in the 2nd quarter; slow play by the safeties and no real effort to break up the play.
Paul Allen calling Marcus Sherels’ smile “pretty”. I remain creeped out.
Free & loose on protecting the ball (goal-line fumble anyone?).
Blair Walsh missing a 42 yard field goal. What happened to our Leg-a-tron? Is Locke going to be his downfall?
Things I Hated:
Seth Olsen’s injury in the 2nd quarter. Neck injuries are terrifying.
Still no improvement in tackling fundamentals
So that’s it. Next up: regular season. Are the Vikings ready? My sense is they’re not quite ready for prime time. But I hope they surprise me.
Based on what you’ve seen during preseason play, predict the Vikings’ 2013 regular season record:
The Vikings took the field without much fanfare and less finesse. If Twitter’s any indication, Ponder’s going to be in for a rough time from the fans as long as he’s starting. It appears that the off-season didn’t do Ponder any favors when it comes mechanics and instinct. Not that I thought it would. I’ve never been much of a Ponder fan (which probably hasn’t gone unnoticed if you’ve been reading my blog for a while).
What I Liked:
1st defensive series with a short field: 3 & out for the Niners
Chad Greenway’s INT in the 2nd quarter
The incredible 1 yard TD between Ponder & Zach Line in the 2nd quarter (yeah… I’m exaggerating – but any time Ponder scores a passing TD I feel we should all look on with surprise. I mean enthusiasm.)
Greg Jennings drawing PI and catching passes in purple & gold (because that has to piss off Packer fans)
Joe Webb’s TD catch. Ran a good route and pulled the ball in. Well done.
Mauti looks like a solid pick.
What Bothered Me:
Adrian Peterson on the field. Why???
Ponder on the field. Why??? (This is somewhat sarcastic – but seriously – just put Cassel in already & let’s move on)
Frazier in a starring role as coach. Still???
Matt Kalil’s antics on the field
Ponder’s lack of time awareness
San Francisco fans running onto the field. Please… why drag out my agony with your antics?
A lack of discipline. Boy – hasn’t THAT been a constant theme on the Frazier-led Vikings squads?
What I Hated:
1st offensive series: 3 & out with a Ponder fumble
2nd offensive series: 3 & out with a punt by a punter who isn’t Chris Kluwe
Tackling fundamentals. Our tackling sucks as much now as it has in the last 2 seasons.
The Vikings 1st string offense struggled against the 2nd and 3rd stringers on the Niners. Pathetic!
Multiple fans running onto the field delayed the end of the game.
Well my Vikings brethren, that concludes the preseason Dress Rehearsal. Something tells me that we’re in for a lot of pain. I hope I’m wrong… but we have so many gaps, I don’t know how this can go well. Agree with me? Disagree? Leave me a comment or send me a tweet!
Welcome back, Vikings fans! As we head into the 2013 NFL season, I know we’re all asking ourselves the age old question… Will the Vikings suck this year?
Things I liked tonight:
Mike Mayock was nowhere to be found
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are not a concern until later in the season
The Packers got shut out by the Cardinals at Lambeau
Ben Leber’s shirt
Mike Maunti’s plays in the goal-line stand
Things that concern me:
Christian Ponder and his 50% INT rate (yes, I know there were only 2 throws but… he looked in mid-2012 season form, not like he had a bunch of months off to practice).
Tackling fundamentals (for 3 years running now)
Coverage gaps – Spielman sounded blasé about the gaps, stating the players were getting “pulled off” by the constant switching of the offense’s direction. Why, yes, Rick. That’s what offenses (*good* ones) DO. Do you really want to be unconcerned by players being duped?
The absolute lack of effort by the Vikings at the end of the game. Yes. It’s preseason. But those guys are theoretically competing for roster spots and they ended flatter than a pancake. Meanwhile, the Texans kept playing aggressive and focused. I’m going to renew my efforts in calling for Frazier’s head if I see that crap in a regular season game. Let’s just frame it up this way: preseason game or not, Bud Grant would have NEVER allowed the team to stop trying.
Things I hate:
The Packers. I know that’s redundant because I’m a Vikings fan, but I wanted to make sure everyone knew where I stood with regard to the green and mustard.
This is seriously going to bother me: someone please explain to me WHY does the Vikings’ new helmet NOT match the new uniform???? Those helmets would have looked delightful with the previous uniform. They should be dark purple. Who approved that???
Next up for the Vikings: The Buffalo Bills. T-Jack won’t be there to greet his former team since Pete Carroll decided to give him another go in June. Pete’s so sweet… but I digress. The game starts at 6 PM CDT so make sure to tune in to see the first moderate action of the starters. Let’s hope that they look solid!
See you after next week’s game, Vikings brethren! Skol!
The expectation of nearly everyone prior to the game today was that the Vikings would have no chance against the 49ers.
In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen… Duh… Winning!
There was tiger blood on the field today as the Vikings started with a very strong first drive. It looked like it might stall in the red zone after 2 consecutive incompletions by Ponder. However, the Vikings managed to get to the 2 yard line on a great catch by Rudolph… and then another stall as Musgrave called 3 running plays up the middle in a row. He’s awesome, isn’t he? Run isn’t working up the middle? Let’s try it again! In a move I did not see coming, the Vikings went for it on 4th and goal and a Ponder to Rudolph connection put 6 points on the board for the Vikings. Wow. I did not anticipate any of our coaching staff actually having the guts to make a bold move. Of course, when you’re playing the team that everyone is talking about (hint: that’s not the Vikings), you either go big or go home.
The first half was a strong showing by the Vikings; however, the defense got progressively worse as the game neared half-time. Poor coverage in the secondary (of course) but also minimal pressure on the quarterback. Allen missed a sack, Randy Moss was wide open – it really looked like the 49ers were going to march right down the field for a touchdown just before the half. Instead, the Vikings D finally held AND Letroy Guion blocked a field goal. I know what you’re thinking – but I’m not even kidding. And then, the Vikings get the ball back, march it downfield and Walsh stuffs a 52 yard field goal. First placekicker in the Vikings’ history to have 3 consecutive games with 50+ yard field goals. So – the Vikings went into the locker room at half-time with a 17-3 lead.
Starting the 2nd half, a Blair Walsh kick off, 9 yards deep in the end zone, resulted in the 49ers returning it 94 yards, nearly for a TD. The Vikings’ D held the Niners to 3, miraculously enough. Unfortunately, the Vikings went 3 and out for their 1st offensive series of the 2nd half. Later in the 3rd, Walsh had another deep kick off that the 49ers again returned, this time for 50 yards. Special teams for the Vikings are decidedly unspecial. Toby Gerhart tried hard to give the game back to the 49ers 3 different times, and the refs gave Harbaugh more challenges and time outs than were legal under game rules. But despite ALL of that, the Vikings managed the biggest upset of the weekend. Kinda makes me wish I had picked them to win, but let’s all be honest: no non-homer Vikings fan thought that they were going to win today, and yet, win they did.
Greenway produced big today!
Chad Greenway. 8 tackles in the first half alone. He was all over the field. He ended the day with 10 solo tackles, 3 assists and 2 sacks. For those who’ve been saying he needs to earn his contract, I assume he salutes you.
Christian Ponder. He made a lot of good decisions today, not the least of which was his 23 yard run for a TD. He came out strong and stayed focused the entire game. He said during the post game presser that he had prepared differently for this game – as had the whole team. Well, whatever they did, it should be the weekly standard. He ended the day 21/35 for 198 yards and 2 TDs, no interceptions (although one could argue he should have had at least 1).
Adrian Peterson’s productivity may be down, but he’s testing his leg and not getting hurt as he gets back into a rhythm. On the post-game Fan Line show on KFAN, they pointed out that he wasn’t making good decisions about which way to run. I agree with that to an extent, but I think it’s partly still being afraid to really let loose on his leg. I think he needs a little time and he’ll be back.
Antoine Winfield. Not only is he a tremendous player for the Vikings but he also addressed the team this week and I credit him with their new-found sense of purpose.
Kyle Rudolph. That guy can catch anything apparently. 2 TDs on the day.
Toby and AD need to have a heart to heart about how to hang onto the ball.
Charlie Johnson. What is that guy still doing on the roster? Watching him play, it’s beginning to make sense that Peyton Manning has a neck issue.
Toby Gerhart making Adrian Peterson look like he really knew how to hang onto the ball in 2009. Frazier and Musgrave made a HUGE error in continuing to give him carries when the on-going fumbles (and the horrid officiating) could have still impacted the game. The coaching staff needs to be willing to bench primary players when their focus isn’t there.
Chris Cook. He’s crappy both on and off the field. He needs to be benched – or, better yet, cut like I wanted him to be last year.
Special teams coverage on kick offs. What a bunch of inept buffoons! 94 yard return, 50 yard return. For Odin’s sake – put Audie Cole in there or someone equally as solid if these starters can’t stop a damn return on balls 9 yards deep in the end zone.
Half-time adjustments. The coaching staff decided to go ahead and demotivate the team back to their usual 50% level of effort entering into the 3rd quarter. Luckily, the team remembered the inspiration provided by Antoine Winfield earlier this week and re-engaged for the win. It’s worth noting that Frazier said in his post-game presser that the coaching staff didn’t prep enough for the Colts and they decided to really focus in on this game. Guess what, Les… you should be doing that EVERY week. You should have been doing it since the day Chilly was shown the door! Frazier, Musgrave and Williams – what we need is for them to be fired and for the little old lady from Poltergeist to come to Winter Park to say “This house is clean.”
I saved most of my ire this week for the replacement officials. I haven’t said much about them to date because I think they are trying very hard in a difficult situation; HOWEVER – to not be able to count the number of time outs a team has. To give a head coach 2 challenges to which he is NOT entitled is unforgivable. Even fans at home have that basic level of ability. Those officials could have really impacted this game and so now, after that kind of absolute ineptitude, I will now officially say: NFL, you need to settle with the real officials. Real officials, you need to get reasonable with your demands and find a way to get back onto the field. Enough is enough.
My aspirations exceeded my performance in the Week 1 pick realm. Disappointing to say the least! At least to me.
Cowboys vs Giants: Giants 27, Cowboys 17.
Wrong. Romo didn’t choke and led the Cowpokies to a win against the Super Bowl champs. It’s been 12 or so years since a Super Bowl victor lost the first game of the season. Just my luck that Romo decided to have a good day.
Colts vs Bears: Bears 24, Colts 14.
Correct. The Bears indeed won this match up. Hopefully the Colts will be a little depressed about that still this weekend so the Vikings can go 2-0.
Eagles vs Browns: Eagles 17, Browns 13.
Correct. Eagles over the Browns in Cleveland by 1 point.
Rams vs Lions: Lions 20, Rams 14.
Correct. The Honolulu clad NFC North up-n-comers secured a win at home.
Dolphins vs Texans: Texans 27, Dolphins 10.
Correct. Got fairly close with the score, too!
Falcons vs Chiefs: Chiefs 19, Falcons 14.
Wrong. Chiefs couldn’t get it together and the Falcons swooped in like the raptor their name honors, going for the kill.
Jaguars vs Vikings: Vikings 14, Jaguars 10.
Correct. Vikings win it in a scary OT performance that continues to terrify.
Redskins vs Saints: Redskins 17, Saints 13.
Correct. And did you hear that the FBI is now investigating the Saints for controlled substance issues that could end up in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines? Listen NFL fans: after all the shenanigans this unethical Saints’ organization has been up to, I don’t want to hear the words “Love Boat” again!
Bills vs Jets: Jets 20, Bills 14.
Correct. I heard one commentator call Sanchez “angry”. Maybe anger is a good emotion for him.
Patriots vs Titans: Patriots 28, Titans 13.
Correct. The NFL commentators called the Patriots “quiet excellence in execution”. That sounds about right.
Seahawks vs Cardinals: Cardinals 14, Seahawks 10.
Correct. Ha! I had a LOT of people give me grief about this selection. Don’t bet against Minnesota (Larry Fitzgerald, I mean.)!
49ers vs Packers: Packers 27, 49ers 21.
Wrong. I have to admit, if I’m going to be wrong about something, THIS is a great thing to be wrong about. You know all is right with the world when the Vikings win and the Packers lose.
Panthers vs Buccaneers: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.
Wrong. Didn’t see Josh Freeman coming out on top of this one. Maybe Cam Newton was a one-year wonder?
Steelers vs Broncos: Steelers 21, Broncos 13.
Wrong. Broncos pull out a win at home with a healthy assist from their defense. Manning didn’t look GREAT to me but maybe the wobbliness of his throws will dissipate over time.
Bengals vs Ravens: Ravens 24, Bengals 14.
Correct. The Ravens really gave the Bengals a schooling.
Chargers vs Raiders: Raiders 19, Chargers 14.
Incorrect. I had not anticipated that the Raiders would implode. Wow. MNF Hilarity.
I was hoping to break .500, and I went 10 of 16. Pffft.
You may recall that I was feeling hopeful after pre-season game 2 but terrified after pre-season game 3. During Sunday’s Vikings game, we saw both of the teams we saw during pre-season. The first half was full of the lacklustre play we saw 2 weeks ago and then, during the 2nd half, the Vikings improved (dare we say that they actually made half-time adjustments?) right up until Cook got burned (not for the first time) on a deep ball from Gabbert to Shorts for the go-ahead TD in the last minutes of the game. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The star of the first half, unfortunately, was Chris Kluwe. It’s never a good thing when your punter is making an appearance on the field series after series. It’s a good thing we have a solid punter with as much time as he was spending on the field. Missing this week was his Gangnam Style Celebration. Bring it back, Chris!
Let’s look at some of the stats that concern me. Third down efficiency in this game for the Vikings: 20%. That’s totally unacceptable. You’re not going to win too many games if you can’t convert 3rd downs. Worse, the Jaguars converted 50% of their 4th downs. It’s critical to stop teams when they go for it on 4th down – you cannot let teams convert 50% of their attempts and win a lot of games. The Vikings offense and defense need to clean these stats up. Another concerning stat: Time of Possession. The Jags had the ball 10 minutes and 44 seconds longer than the Vikings. To put that in perspective: the Vikings had possession of the ball for 10:44 during the entire 1st half! That’s ridiculous, but it’s directly related to the team’s inability to convert 3rd downs to prolong drives.
Adrian Peterson’s Return: Triumphant!
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the impressive return of Adrian Peterson. He said he would play in the first game of the season, and play he did. It was no token start. He rushed for 84 yards and scored both of the touchdowns the Vikings put on the board during the game. As icing on the cake, All-Day is now the all-time rushing leader in the history of the Vikings. With his first TD of the day, Peterson broke Robert Smith’s record. AD now holds both the all-time rushing and all-time rushing TD records for the Vikings. Without a doubt, he will go down as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL. I didn’t agree with Frazier’s decision to start Peterson initially, and I still have angst about it during what will, undoubtably, not be even a play-off bound season; however, for Adrian’s confidence and for the good of the team, it’s a good thing. Not to be all Martha Stewart about it.
Chad Greenway celebrates breaking up a pass in the 4th quarter.
Percy Harvin. Percy was 7th in the league last year in receptions. Still, he wasn’t happy with the way Musgrave was using him in the offense (and neither was I, as you might remember). Percy made his point in the off-season and Musgrave relented – so we saw Percy in the slot, down the sideline, lined up as a tailback and returning kick offs on Sunday. As I tweeted yesterday: Percy Harvin is the answer to our woes. Keep him on the field and target him often. Chad Greenway had some significant tackles during the game. In many cases it felt like he was our last line of defense after the front 4 failed to stop the run. He had 9 solo tackles and 4 assists on the day. One has to wonder if having Audie Cole on the 53 man roster is a little extra motivation for Greenway to hop in front of passes like he did in Sunday’s game. We hadn’t seen that from him since the 2009 season.
In other “good news”, we have a tremendous new place kicker, without whom we’d be at the bottom of the NFC North (with the Packers!). We also have a spectacular punter (both on and off the field, if I do say so myself). Blair Walsh may be the leading scorer on the team if we keep getting field goals instead of touch downs. Hopefully next week we can celebrate a passing touchdown (not that I begrudge Adrian his 2 rushing TDs).
Rotating Jared Allen in and out of the defensive front 4. Stop it, Williams! Jared doesn’t like it (per a post-game interview) and neither do we. Jared is fired up to break the single season sack record he almost shattered last season. He needs to be on the field to do that. Leave him on the field, man! Letroy Guion and his slip-n-slide maneuver when Gabbert was already on the ground, costing the Vikings the sack and 15 yards. Totally idiotic.
Intensity. Urgency. The team lacked both of these early in the game. Ponder rightly took responsibility for this in his post game presser, at least as it pertains to the offense. He needs to be ready to go from the first play of the game.
The Vikings are the proud owners of the longest streak in the NFL (33 consecutive games) with an allowed sack. C’mon o-line! You guys need to step up and protect the QB! Charlie Johnson and our first round draft pick at left tackle better step up on the blind side and Phil Loadholt should put as much effort into being a superior right tackle as he did skipping down the sideline after Sunday’s win.
Coaching. You’ve heard me say it before and I’m going to say it again. The team rallied yesterday to win despite the coaching staff, starting with Frazier. Given their lack of intensity hitting the field during the home opener, the fact that Frazier cannot motivate this team continues to be apparent. It’s by luck and some OT-inspired passion that the Vikings came out with a win. We need a new head coach. If the team continues to find a way to win, Frazier’s tenure will be artificially buoyed. For those of us lucky enough to be around when Bud Grant was the head coach, we know that Bud Grant would never have tolerated the weak offensive display of the 1st half. The Wilfs should be looking around for Frazier’s eventual replacement.
Based on Sunday’s performance, how are you feeling about next week’s game?
If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you know I spent much of Friday evening in full aneurysm mode. If you’re not following me on Twitter, you’re either a homer who used to follow me but couldn’t take my honesty, or you just weren’t aware I’m on Twitter. Frankly, the thought of you denying yourself access to my real-time commentary makes me sad. As a hint: you can click “Follow Me on Twitter” and you’ll be all set!
Chris Kluwe is awesome. And, unfortunately, was the only player on his game Friday night.
Like all Vikings fans, I guess I’m a bit masochistic. And what I mean by that is I had to rewatch the first two quarters of the game in order to do this commentary. It was like having hot pokers driven into my eyes the first time. Watching it again was like committing emotional suicide. If I can help you here, take this advice: if the 3rd pre-season game is waiting for you in your DVR but you haven’t watched it yet, don’t. Unless you’re a Chris Kluwe fan. He did a lot of tremendous punting (averaging over 50 yards per punt!) and what he was calling his “Gangnam Style” celebration, which essentially was some enthusiastic air roping. In any case, it was awesome. If anyone has a .gif of Kluwe doing that celebration, let me know, because my friend at Purple Jesus Diaries is looking for one.
If we think back to the first game of the 2011 season, you might recall that our favorite team played the Chargers. And the Vikings dominated them… for 2 whole quarters. And then they uncovered the fact that the shadow of the Purple People Eaters could only play 30 minutes of football. In this pre-season game, the Chargers had many of their starters sitting on the bench (or pacing the sidelines looking petulant… yes, Philip Rivers, I’m talking about you!) so, in theory, we should have been up 28 points at the half. As we all know, however, the Theory of Evolution proves itself out every day while the Theory of Vikings Competence hasn’t proven itself since the Vikings vs Cowboys divisional play-off game in January 2010.
On NFL.com, it looks like Ponder and Whitehurst are having some kind of crazy hair battle. Ponder’s smiling like he’s winning but he doesn’t realize Whitehurst is planning to ambush him with a quasi-mullet.
The problems started immediately. Matt Kalil is not living up to the hype of the draft. Veteran Chad Greenway took atrocious angles. Ponder couldn’t hit a receiver to save his life. Until he was intercepted. That was a perfect pass to the wrong color jersey. Even our beloved Percy Harvin was out-of-sync. The interesting thing about the game stats is that the Vikings were better than the Chargers in nearly every category… but a) lost and b) were apparently deceptively better than they looked. Honestly – if you watched that game, you would never have anticipated that the Vikings had more passing yards than the Chargers.
Vikings’ QBs were sacked 5 times. I was shocked to see that the Vikings sacked the Chargers’ QBs 6 times. If you’d asked me before I looked at the stats, I would have said we got to the QB 3, potentially 4, times. The Vikings fumbled and lost the ball 3 different times. The offending parties are: Asiata, Coleman & Hilliard. The great news is that Adrian Peterson hasn’t fumbled once on zero carries! Yes, I know he’s improved, but I still blame his fumble in Chicago in December 2009 for our loss of home field advantage for the NFCCG, and ultimately our first Super Bowl appearance in decades. But I digress.
Christian Ponder’s QB rating for the evening was 76.2. It’s like T-Jack is still on the field with no jump balls to mock. He and the receiver corp were out of sync all night long. It was painful to watch. It reminded me of the 2010 season when Favre came back (but didn’t really want to) and Berrian and Greg Lewis went off to California to “relax” during our early bye week instead of sticking around to try to fix things. This good news is that, since neither Berrian nor Lewis is still on this team or playing anywhere in the league, I consider things to be “fixed” to a certain degree.
Joe Webb looked better than Ponder while he was on the field. Which destroyed that little seed of hope I had after last week’s game. The saddest thing about last night’s game was that I was looking forward to Rosenfels to take the field. He did and he was solid, scoring the only Vikings TD of the evening. And, let’s be clear, it was only the 2nd offensive TD of the pre-season. My Vikings brethren – I believe we are in for a long season that will do nothing to alleviate the pain of the last 2 seasons. The only bright spot here is that we’re not Packer fans. We do not have to wear moldy cheese wedges on our heads to games and we don’t have to worry about cheddar dust covering our persons.
Leslie Frazier inadvertently reveals he actually possesses emotions.
Let’s get to the real reason I was angry throughout the game. Two words: Leslie Frazier. As I stated back in January of 2011, Leslie Frazier is not head coach material. He cannot motivate a team sufficiently so that they show up and try. This is apparent on multiple levels. Trouble with the law for the players. 30 minutes of football vs 60 minutes of football for most of the 2010 season. Complete lack of passion or engagement during the dress rehearsal game for the regular season. Leslie Frazier is weak and he lacks vision. His coaching bench lacks creativity. No one on that coaching staff is inspiring the players to earn their overblown paychecks. The starters, with the exception of a few of them, feel entitled to their positions because Frazier refuses to create competition and hold people accountable. Frazier will lead us to a lot of mediocrity but he will never lead us to a Super Bowl. It is time for the Wilfs to start interviewing his replacement. If they want to throw away the 2012 season while they identify his successor, I’m ok with that – as long as I know they’re going to act.
Who am I kidding? The Wilfs have money, not football savvy. They confuse feelings of warmth generated out of familiarity and friendship with conviction that Frazier will get the job done. Good leaders know you hire talent – focusing on attitude and aptitude – you don’t hire people you like. If you come to like your talent – great. If not, you have to figure out how to motivate your talent. Likeability is not a reason to hire someone. The fact that Frazier rarely shows emotion, to me, indicates that he cannot feel the depth of passion needed to inspire his staff and his team. Like many things in life, coaching a football team requires aggressiveness and vision and the ability to articulate that and plan around it. Frazier has none of these skills because he’s not a visionary. He’s a great Defensive Coordinator who was always tremendous at reacting, but rarely designed a proactive attack. The last one I remember was the postponed Philadelphia game in 2010 that the Vikings won with Webb at QB and Winfield blitzing Vick like a maniac.
A head coach must have a comprehensive game plan that is proactive and takes advantage of gaps in the other team’s defenses and offenses. Leslie Frazier has shown that his game planning is weak and, as we saw in every single game during the 2011 season, he is completely unable to adjust at half-time. It’s time for him to go. You may not agree with me right now – but you will after another 2 mediocre seasons back to back. Honestly, I hope it doesn’t take the fan base that long to wise up. I’d love to see red Fire Frazier t-shirts well before mid-season.
One thing I’m sure we all agree on is that last night’s most important pre-season game was pathetic. What are your thoughts now about the 2012 season?
I’m getting back into the swing of looking forward to my weekly Vikings game. I don’t know about you, but I have missed football more than I can say. If you’re anything like me, you watch Vikings Game Plan before the game. I’m looking forward to the fall if only just to get Spielman to wear pants during his interviews.
During tonight’s game, the starters played a couple of additional series. Naturally, I know we’re all looking forward to the 3rd pre-season game so we can get a really good look at our team, but we saw some decent first-string action on the field tonight.
I look forward to seeing this in the regular season!
The Vikings offense was first up for the night. Per the usual, the first play was a run. A 2-yard run by Gerhart. C’mon Musgrave – try to be slightly less predicatable. The 2nd play was a quick slant to PERCY, who had a great run after the catch and added another 15 yards to that after getting hit late. 3rd play was a sack that lost 3 yards. The 4th play was a quick pass in the flat to Jerome Simpson who leaped over a defender to get extra yards. As a side note – while I love Visanthe Shiancoe… our new 81 does a lot better with the YAC stat. I don’t know if you guys remember this as well as I do, but Shank used to fall down after the catch a lot.
Ponder took another sack before Gerhart busted out a decent run. A couple of plays later, it was a Ponder-Felton connection that gave us our 1st TD of the pre-season. It would also be our ONLY offensive TD of the evening. We’ll get to the implications of that in a bit.
The Vikings first-string defense took the field after the 80 yard scoring drive and they put together a very strong series, featuring Mistral Raymond, who seemed extra motivated. The Bills were forced to punt, giving the Vikings offense another crack at scoring. During this 2nd series, Ponder displayed a lot of composure and was able to go through a progression of reads that led to a nice toss over to Gerhart for several yards after the catch. This was just after Paul Allen was rhapsodizing about Peterson/Gerhart being the best 1-2 RB punch in the league. Paul is such a homer. The Vikings couldn’t seal the deal on a TD after a couple of “interesting” fade attempts by Ponder. Blair Walsh to the rescue with a field goal.
Harrison Smith celebrates after batting down a pass.
During the 2nd defensive series, Harrison Smith demonstrated why the Vikings drafted him by batting down a pass attempt by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Batting a ball down is good. Grabbing it out of the air for a delicious interception is better. Hopefully we’ll see that refined a bit in the regular season.
During the 3rd offensive series, Kyle Rudolph got a little dinged up. Later in the broadcast, a dashing Ben Leber, sporting a purple dress shirt with matching tie, would inform us that Kyle had a “little bit of an owie” behind his ear and it was treated with a band-aid. Also during the 3rd offensive series, Ponder went deep to Jenkins and connected along the sideline. Ponder showed a lot of versatility during the game (with the exception of his fades). Post-game commentary revolved around Ponder targeting 8 different receivers and spreading the wealth around. Last time we heard the pundits talking about a Vikings QB “spreading the ball around”, they were talking about Favre during the 2009 season. Now, I’m not comparing Ponder to Favre, but it’s literally been that long since someone said that about one of our QBs.
Chris Carr hasn’t been doing himself any favors during the preseason. He seems to have been a very dedicated player prior to his injuries. Maybe he can turn things around… but he’s clearly running out of time.
Joe Webb isn’t an NFL QB. He’s made that clear now. I thought we should have run with him at QB instead of bringing in McNugget last year to give him a chance to settle in, but we didn’t and he’s languishing in the 2nd (or 3rd?) QB spot. It’s frankly a waste of incredible athleticism. Let’s get him on the field as a WR or even the 3rd RB. The kid can move – don’t sit him on a bench.
Special teams are looking pretty good. They’re getting downfield and stopping the kick and punt returners. Mistral Raymond and Josh Robinson started laying down some plays that will catch the eyes of the coaches.
Audie celebrates with his team-mates after his 2nd pick-6 in 13 seconds.
The big winner in the “Everyone Else” category has to be Audie Cole. Last week, he got the only sack of the night for the Vikings. Tonight he had 2 INTs. That would be impressive enough, but if you pair that with two TDs and the fact he did it in 13 seconds… WOW! Yes, I’m aware that Tyler Thigpen (who was drafted by the Vikings back in 2007, in the event anyone remembers that) is not a starting QB; however, what I really appreciated about Audie’s performance was that he was looking for the QB to telegraph where he was going with the ball, Audie read it and then jumped the route. I’m positive that a QB like Thigpen is much more obvious about broadcasting his intent than a first string QB in the NFL. The important thing is that Audie Cole is watching and waiting. I think we can all agree that we haven’t seen a lot of that from the Vikings defense in the last few years.
Many times during this game I felt something that felt suspiciously like hope for our season. Because I am, and have only ever been, a Vikings fan, I did everything possible to squash that hope as quickly as possible. I know you all know what I mean. Nevertheless, I saw the one thing I was hoping for tonight: passion. Our favorite team looked engaged and determined and it’s been 2 years since we’ve seen anything like that from them.
Based on Pre-Season Game 2, what do you think the Vikings will do this season? Vote now!