Ponder's first TD Ball (McKenna Ewen - Star Tribune)
The last few Mondays I’ve been waking up feeling verklempt and vaguely pissed off. This morning, I woke before my alarm and feel rather… chipper. Because I like to analyze things, immediately I wondered why the difference. After reviewing the box scores from yesterday’s game, I now understand this feeling.
Look at Ponder’s 3rd down efficiency. You might recall that a few posts back, I talked about our inability to convert on 3rd down – averaging under 35% efficiency. At the time, I pointed to the Saints – the team with the highest average 3rd down efficiency at 59%.
Christian Ponder was at 56% yesterday against the Packers. McNabb, meanwhile, was at 28% against the Lions. I picked that game specifically because the Lions were undefeated, too, at the time, and we were fairly close to winning that game as well. I thought the situations were about as equal as I could get them without the QBs facing off against the same team.
Ponder (Vikings vs Packers)
McNabb (Vikings vs Lions)
Total First Downs
… by rushing
… by passing
Third Down Efficiency
9/16 – 56%
4/14 – 28%
Total Offensive Plays
Ave Gain per Offensive Play
Net Yards Rushing
… by Peterson
Ave Gain per Rushing Play
Net Yards Passing
Red Zone Efficiency
2/2 – 100%
2/5 – 40%
I think the other startling statistic here is Adrian Peterson’s production. Nearly 100 more yards when the passing game was a real threat.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m looking forward to this week’s game for the first time all season. I’m interested to see what Ponder can do as he settles into the offense.
Anyone who’s been a Vikings fan for more than, say, 5 minutes, knows we’ve had a bit of an issue at quarterback since, oh… Tommy Kramer was replaced. The Vikings have a long history of short-term drivers at the helm. The closest we’ve been to a franchise QB in recent memory was Daunte Culpepper. Yes, he spent 7 seasons with us, but he only started all 16 games during 3 of those seasons. And they weren’t even consecutive seasons. And still somehow he made the 50 Greatest Vikings of All-Time. That’s how you know there were a lot of younger people voting who weren’t alive during the 70′s and 80′s. But, that’s a topic for a different time.
The Vikings are at a crossroads right now as it pertains to the quarterback position. I think we all know that the Vikings need to find a long-term capable QB to man the helm – but are we willing to go through a Panthers-, Browns- or Lions-like season as we wait for our newbie QB to percolate? I guess it could be argued that we just had one of those kinds of seasons – but with a veteran QB… but I digress. The prevailing wisdom says that the Vikings are going to find a veteran QB to lead the team for 2 years or so while Joe Webb or some QB we draft this year or next “grows” under said-veteran’s tutelage.
There has been a lot of speculation as to what the Vikings might do vis à vis the temporary stop-gap at QB. Before Chilly was rightly fired, there was talk of Donovan McNabb joining the team. After Chilly was fired, there was talk that Brett Favre might come back for a third season with the Vikings since Chilly was gone. When the Vikings were interviewing Josh McDaniels for OC, there was Kyle Orton-to-the-Vikings talk. Now with the hiring of Craig Johnson as the quarterbacks coach, talk of Vince Young are heating up. I’ve even heard Alex Smith brandied about due to the Mike Singletary acquisition, which is odd given that Singletary sat Alex Smith in favor of Troy Smith. And unrelated to all of these – but maybe more salient now given Chilly’s recent dinner with Marvin Lewis – mentions of Carson Palmer to the Vikings.
Now. Let me tell you from whom the Vikings should stay FAR, FAR AWAY during this search.
Vince Young wonders why he couldn't keep his cool.
1. Vince Young. The Vikings do not need another high-maintenance head-case on the team. No, I’m not talking about Brett Favre. I am talking about Randy Moss stopping by for 3ish weeks during the 2010 season and other assorted Vikings players who have embarrassed the franchise over the last 6 or so years (yeah, Bryant McKinnie & Daunte Culpepper – I’m talking to you!). I don’t care what Vince Young’s record is. I believe him to be a locker-room cancer. That is something we don’t need. I’d rather watch Joe Webb run around like a chicken with its head cut off than introduce someone as volatile as Young to the mix.
Donovan McNabb: We shouldn't McNabb him.
2. Donovan McNabb. McNabb’s tank is about 62% full. Which is to say he can make it through about 41.5 minutes of a 60 minute game. The Vikings need a quarterback who can play all 60 minutes. There’s a reason McNabb was benched and it’s not because he’s supremely awesome or even the Donovan McNabb of 5 years ago. Let us cut our Philly ties and let McNabb walk on by. For truly it would be better to watch Aaron Rodgers throw to imaginary receivers all day long than it would be to see McNabb in the sacred Purple.
Carson Palmer has had better days.
3. Carson Palmer. Palmer spent his rookie season (2003) learning from Jon Kitna, who earned the NFL Comeback Player of the Year that season. In 2004, Palmer took over the helm and in 2005, gave the Bengals their first winning season since 1990. That all sounds great, but Palmer hasn’t posted a passer rating above 87 since 2006. In 2008 his elbow was surgically repaired. Not to mention he just doesn’t look commanding on the field. So, if I hear one more KFAN pundit or see one more Tweet saying we should go after Carson Palmer, I will scream. Carson Palmer is not the answer.
So. You may be wondering what I think we should do. Or, maybe you’re not. But you’re here reading, so I’m going to tell you. I think we should draft a QB in the 1st round of 2011 (assuming there is still a decent one to be had) and bring in <drum roll> Shaun Hill to compete with Joe Webb and the other drafted QB. That’s right. I said Shaun Hill. In 2009, he did a solid job for the 49ers and in 2010, he filled in capably for an injured Matthew Stafford, until he was injured himself, with a fracture to his left non-throwing arm. It’s worth noting that Shaun’s NFL career started with the Minnesota Vikings. He joined the team as an undrafted free-agent in 2002 and saw his first snaps at the end of the 2005 season… ok, so he took a knee twice to end a game, but still!
Shaun Hill hasn't always enjoyed his time with the Vikings.
I think Shaun Hill is seasoned enough to mentor the younger QBs and would be thankful to join a team with a receiving corps that included players like Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe and (probably) Sidney Rice. Paired with a runningback like Adrian Peterson, I think Shaun Hill could be very competitive. It also helps that he signed a 1 year contract with the Lions, which would mean that the Vikings wouldn’t have to trade draft picks they don’t have due to Chilly’s insanity.
Kyle Orton looking like a Packer fan.
The other option might be Kyle Orton. The Broncos have made coaching changes and have added John Elway to the front office and there appear to be some Tebow fans in the group, so Orton may be at risk for demotion. He is under contract with the Broncos through the 2011 season, so obtaining him might cost the Vikings a draft pick or two.
What other options do we have Vikings Nation? Leave a comment and get the discussion started. And don’t forget to vote below.
Leslie Frazier addressed the media today from Winter Park at 10:30 AM CT. His opening statement was dedicated to announcing the new coaching staff that has been added this week.
Jeff Davidson: Offensive Line Coach
Bill Musgrave is the new Offensive Coordinator. To find out more on Bill, you can click here for my analysis. Frazier indicated that the OC position was critical given his background on defense; he needs someone who understands the offense inside and out. Frazier also pointed to Musgrave’s time at the University of Virginia, developing Matt Schaub and his time in Atlanta working with Matt Ryan as being pivotal, given the Vikings’ situation at Quarterback.
Jeff Davidson is joining the Vikings as the Offensive Line Coach. Davidson has spent time as a coach with the Saints, Patriots and Browns but was most recently the Offensive Coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Frazier pointed to the fact that Davidson was instrumental in coaching an offensive line that produced two 1,000+ yard runningbacks in one season for the Panthers as being key for him since the Vikings have Adrian Peterson and would like to feature Toby Gerhart more.
Craig Johnson: Quarterbacks Coach
Craig Johnson has been named the Quarterbacks coach for the Vikings. He was most recently with the Tennessee Titans. Earlier today, ProFootballTalk posted this story about how hiring Johnson may open the door for Vince Young to join the Vikings as the first team Quarterback. Um… let’s hope that’s just speculation. I, for one, do not think Vince Young would be a good add to the Vikings’ offense.
As I mentioned yesterday, Mike Priefer is indeed the new Special Teams Coordinator.
Head Coach Leslie Frazier has one more coaching spot to fill: Runningbacks Coach. It’s been reported that he’s speaking to at least 2 different candidates. It will be interesting to see where he goes with this coaching spot, given that he’s stated that he wants to be a run-first team. Whomever Frazier selects will need to be an integral part of developing the game plan, making adjustments and ensuring that both Peterson and Gerhart function at the top of their abilities.
I’ll continue to follow the runningbacks coach situation in the days to come and will update you as soon as there is some information to impart.
Leslie Frazier, Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings
Leslie Frazier will be addressing the media live today at 10:30 AM CST. He will be covering the recent coaching changes impacting the Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, Special Teams Coordinator and Linebackers Coach positions. He may also address the Runningbacks Coach position since he’s been interviewing for that position this week as well.
You can catch the press conference in a live streaming format on Vikings.com or check out KFAN 1130 AM – they frequently carry the press conferences as well. Vikings.com will post the press conference in its entirety within a couple of a hours after it takes place as an archival video as well.
I have to first tell you that the title of this post came from a comment left by Titus on the Vikings.com blog. When I was reading the comments, I came across his and I laughed loudly. Because let’s face it, aside from Mike Singletary, the Vikings haven’t added anyone too spectacular to the coaching staff today.
Let’s break it down together.
Bill Musgrave - OC Genius or Uh Oh?
Long-time Minnesota Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell was replaced today by Bill Musgrave. Don’t worry about Bevell… he’s on his way to work with Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks. Who the heck is Bill Musgrave?
He released this statement after accepting the offer: “The organization is first class all the way and Leslie Frazier is first class all the way. The players on the offensive side of the ball are very attractive to be associated with. I’m looking forward to utilizing their strengths to get fantastic results. The offensive weapons on this squad are impressive. We as a staff will look forward to utilizing each and every one of them to attack defenses. I first met Leslie about 10 years ago when he was in Philadelphia and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. I look forward to working with him here and moving forward.”
Gee… that’s an awesome statement! But before you get all excited about a new powerhouse offense, let’s consider some history. Musgrave’s first stint as OC was after being promoted from Quarterbacks Coach to OC by the Carolina Panthers in 2000. He lasted exactly 4 games before resigning. Musgrave spent the next 2 years at the University of Virginia, where he was very involved in developing Matt Schaub.
In 2003, Musgrave returned to the NFL as the OC for the Jacksonville Jaguars. After 2 seasons, he was “released”, which is apparently a kind way to say “fired”. His next NFL job was as the Quarterbacks Coach for the Washington Redskins, where he lasted for one season before heading to the Atlanta Falcons in the same role. In 2009, Musgrave was promoted to Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks Coach.
And now he’s the Offensive Coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, having not been an OC since 2005. Oh yes, folks, we are on the edge of a dynasty! Honestly, I am going to give the guy a chance. Maybe he’s learned a thing or two in the last few years and will surprise us all. Maybe he will make Darrell Bevell look like a play-calling genius. We’ll find out in August.
Fred Pagac: Mastermind of the Blitzing Vikings vs the Eagles or a One Hit Wonder?
The Vikings also named Fred Pagac to the Defensive Coordinator role today. He had this to say about his new position within the Vikings’ organization: “I’m very excited for the opportunity and I think we can get on the right track quickly. I’m excited about our players and staff and think that keeping continuity is very important. It helps everyone involved, the players and coaches both. The players know us, what our expectations are and we have a staff that works well together.”
Pagac has been a defensive coach with the Vikings since 2006. When Leslie Frazier was elevated to Interim Head Coach after the Wilfs divested themselves of Chilly, Pagac was named interim Defensive Coordinator. The defense seemed to come alive after Chilly left the building. I don’t know if that’s attributable to Chilly’s actual departure or if they were responding to Pagac’s coaching. I do know the defense was impressive against the Eagles and whomever put that plan together should be running the defense every week. Let’s hope that’s Fred.
Other coaches announced today were Mike Singletary as the Linebackers Coach/Special Assistant to the Head Coach. Singletary released this statement: “The organization is first class all the way and Leslie Frazier is first class all the way. The players on the offensive side of the ball are very attractive to be associated with. I’m looking forward to utilizing their strengths to get fantastic results. The offensive weapons on this squad are impressive. We as a staff will look forward to utilizing each and every one of them to attack defenses. I first met Leslie about 10 years ago when he was in Philadelphia and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. I look forward to working with him here and moving forward.”
Mike Priefer: Special Teams Coordinator
The Vikings also filled the Special Teams Coordinator position with Mike Priefer, who said this about joining the Vikings: “I’m honored to come to the Minnesota Vikings organization and to work with Coach Frazier. I’m excited to work with the rest of the coaching staff, players and the entire organization. It is a great opportunity for me and I know my family is excited about getting up there and I’m ready to help us win a championship.”
So, Vikings Nation, those are our newest coaches. Will they bring us a championship or will they complete the desiccation of our beloved Purple People Eaters that was started by Childress? I guess we’ll wait and see.
With the departure of Eric Bieniemy to Colorado, the Vikings had a gap at Runningbacks Coach. It’s been an open question as to how the Vikings would fill that role.
Tom Pelissero, from ESPN Twin Cities is reporting that Gene Huey, the former Runningbacks Coach for the Indianapolis Colts, has been offered the same role with the Vikings. Huey was fired by the Colts on Tuesday this week.
No official word from the Vikings on this offer has been released at the time of this posting. And there’s been no confirmation that Huey has accepted the offer. More to come, it appears.
Leslie Frazier, Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings
It’s been reported that Leslie Frazier informed Darrell Bevell, the Vikings’ current Offensive Coordinator and Brian Murphy, the former Special Teams Coordinator, that they were free to pursue other options. What he meant was “Here’s some forewarning that I’m going to be firing you so please save me the pain of having to do so and find yourself a job elsewhere.”
Brian Murphy complied and has joined the Carolina Panthers. Darrell Bevell is still a Minnesota Viking, although he was in Seattle today interviewing for a Quarterbacks coach position.
The Vikings pursued Josh McDaniels, the former head coach of the Denver Broncos, but he signed with the St. Louis Rams today. Apparently people interested in Offensive Coordinator positions want, for example, a QB on the roster. Uh hem.
But our lack of a QB isn’t preventing Bill Musgrave, current Quarterbacks Coach/Assistant Head Coach for the Atlanta Falcons from coming to town. He’s headed to Cleveland as well to interview. One could argue that Cleveland isn’t doing much better at QB… and perhaps we hold the trump card with Adrian Peterson on the roster.
Regardless, Bevell is still under contract and it’s been hinted he’s still in the mix for consideration. Tom Pelissero, from ESPN Twin Cities reported that if Frazier does hire a new Offensive Coordinator and Bevell is not able to secure another coaching position with a new team, it’s likely that he would be offered a reduced role to stay.
Lots going down with the coaching staff, Vikings Nation! Stay tuned for further updates, which I’ll post as I get them.
Speculation that Mike Singletary would be joining Leslie Frazier’s coaching staff has been rampant since he was fired from the 49ers in Week 16 of the 2010 season. Today, it was confirmed by his agent, Bob LaMonte, and Singletary himself confirmed it yesterday on ESPN Chicago.
Oddly, Vikings.com has no such confirmation up on the website. One would think they would at least have a confirmation of some kind posted since it’s all over the media.
While Head Coach Leslie Frazier appeared to be accessible and forthcoming during his 6 week audition for the role, since the season ended, he’s been fairly tight-lipped about his plans for his coaching staff.
I wonder how that will play out as we head into OTAs and mini-camp. I’d hate to see another coach employing subterfuge and misdirection like someone who shall remain nameless but whose name rhymes with “hilly”.
Leslie Frazier has left the door wide open for Joe Webb to prove himself for the 2011 season.
In an interview with Vikings Weekly, Frazier said that Webb would be given the opportunity and benefits of full participation in OTAs and training camp so that the coaching staff could better assess his progress as a QB in the NFL.
For me, the jury is still out on Webb. I would like to see him compete for the job against a veteran (who’s under 30) and perhaps a 1st round QB we might be able to secure in the 2011 draft.