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Right now, Minnesota’s media outlets (and hack bloggers) are poised to have a field day with Leslie Frazier’s contribution to the Vikings loss column this season. Of course, journalists and beat writers have the luxury of hindsight, and many are currently contradicting items they themselves had written less than two months ago, but with losing comes criticism and Frazier knows it.
To his credit, he is not hiding from it.
“We get that fourth-and-1 late and I decided I was going to go for it, thinking that (if) we get this score, the next time we get the ball back we might be going to win the game. Instead, it really went the other way and that’s purely on me. Just a bad mistake on my part putting us in that position,” Frazier said of his mishandling of Sunday’s game against the Falcons. “The guys, they battled. They battled to the very end. Just got to be smarter on my part in that situation and not put us in that situation, not let my emotions get in the way when we have to get in the game the way they fought to get in the game.”
“Just the fact that we were at the 1 (-yard line) and just believing that we could get that one yard. I really thought that we could and then when we get the ball back we’d be going to win the game rather than trying to tie the game,” Frazier continued to explain. “Just didn’t work out that way. Something you’ve got to learn from personally.”
“Just trying to be aggressive, just trying to win the game, have a win-the-game attitude. That was my attitude,” he said. “I wanted to win the game and get a touchdown there and come back and win the game. But it didn’t work out.”
Of course, the criticism doesn’t end there. On the previous play, a third and goal, it appeared that Percy Harvin actually did get a touchdown and that a coach’s challenge may have resulted in a Vikings score. Frazier, however, kept that red flag in his pocket.
“From my vantage point, I couldn’t see it well enough to say he was in or out, and nothing was coming from upstairs to say he was close enough to challenge it. There was no dialogue on that,” Frazier said. “If there were, if he were close, we would have challenged it if we thought he had gotten in. But we didn’t have any dialogue, so I’m not sure if they didn’t show the picture or what may have happened but there was no dialogue regarding that.”
With writers, myself included, beginning to wade into the waters of “hot seat” articles it should be noted that Frazier has had plenty of obstacles thrown in his way during his first year as head coach. He inherited an aging team without a quarterback, he inherited a team with hardly any cap space to help him improve the roster, and he inherited a team in major transition but could do little to prepare due to the NFL lockout.
I think articles floating about right now blaming Frazier for his choice to bring in veterans like Donovan McNabb and Benny Sapp are unfair considering the circumstances.
What is fair, however, are those articles focusing on Frazier’s inefficient game management decisions over the course of this season. It is a bad sign when so many of your games come down to a fourth down decision, but it is an even worse sign when each of those decisions works out poorly.
And, as evidenced by the above quotes, Frazier knows it.
[Editor’s Note: Taking things in a slightly unrelated direction… if Toby Gerhart can’t hack it as a short yardage back, what the hell is this guy good for? Seriously, how many times have we just needed this “bruiser” to pick up just one lousy yard?]
Last year, the Vikings mourned their lost season during the closing weeks by pillaging the practice squads of other teams and adding players to their roster.
This year the end came even sooner and the funeral procession again is marked by a flurry of low level roster moves.
On Tuesday, the Vikings added safety Jarrad Page, safety Andrew Sendejo, wide receiver Stephen Burton, and long snapper Matt Katula to their 53 man roster. Room was created on the roster by placing receiver Michael Jenkins, safety Tyrell Johnson, safety Husain Abdullah, and long snapper Cullen Loeffler on the injured reserve.
Katula’s signing, barring another injury, should ensure that Jared Allen is not again called upon to pull double duty as a long snapper this season. Burton was cut by the Vikings last week but is being brought back to his limited role in this Vikings offense.
Perhaps the most intriguing of these moves is the signing of Page. He has been a solid contributor in the past for both the Chiefs and Patriots. Last year, he missed six weeks with injury and hasn’t been the same sense as evidenced by the Eagles recently cutting him.
Page was curiously cut by the Eagles after he was named as one of many NFL players at a night club where a man was shot and killed. To date, there is nothing to suggest Page was in any way involved in the incident.
With the Vikings desperately needing some help in their secondary, both in the short and long term, it probably isn’t a bad idea to bring this guy in and see how he fits.
Now that Brett is so kindly handling the tech side of this operation I am hoping to put out content at my normal pace (i.e. more than there has been) including a whole bevy of new weekly features.
If you haven’t noticed, I tend to occasionally look outside the box, so I decided to make a true habit of it by contradicting popular belief in my brand new “Monday Myths” segment.
First up, the quarterback position.
I hinted at it last week when I stumped for the Vikings to claim quarterback Kyle Orton off of waivers, but I think the position is much less settled than most believe it is. Hence, I think it is a myth to believe that quarterback won’t be a need this offseason.
Let’s start from the bottom up.
The current third stringer, Joe Webb, remains an intriguing mystery that seems no closer to being solved than it was a year ago. Webb has played quarterback, wide receiver, and kick returner for the Vikings in his two seasons. This year, his quarterback play has been limited to his role in the seldom-used and seldom-successful “Blazer Package” which is essentially the Vikings version of the Wild Cat.
Webb’s inability to be real successful as a specialty passer or as a pass catcher could spell the end of his tenure with the Vikings. It is obvious that they do not consider him the long term answer at either position so Webb’s spot on this team will be challenged next year during training camp.
In the second string is Donovan McNabb and his box of doughnuts. It is clear that he will be gone and a replacement will be needed. Ideally, the Vikings would probably prefer to find a veteran backup that is not only capable of tutoring Christian Ponder, but also stepping in at a moment’s notice with the capabilities of winning a football game.
The free agent choices at quarterback are expected to consist of guys like Derek Anderson, Chris Redman, Marc Bulger, Matt Flynn, Alex Smith, Kyle Orton, Shaun Hill, David Gerrard, Vince Young, Chad Henne and others. Drew Brees is set to have his contract expire but there is no way he makes it to the open market.
Lastly, it should not be assumed that Christian Ponder is 100% guaranteed the starting role in 2012.
That’s right, I said it, and here is my reasoning. Leslie Frazier once again showed he has to improve as a head coach very quickly or else he could be a goner when he removed the Vikings possibility of victory in a series of very questionable calls against the Falcons on Sunday.
It is possible, even if the chances are slim, that the Vikings decide to clear the slate and bring in an all new regime to run the show.
Those familiar with the NFL know that the first thing new regimes like to do is to find their quarterback around which their team will be built. If Frazier is sent packing, it would not be surprising if very serious competition is brought in for Ponder to deal with, and since that competition would have been handpicked by the theoretical new regime, he would be at a disadvantage.
So, while the Vikings secondary and offensive line are likely to be the center of any offseason talk this year, don’t forgot that this team is not out of the woods yet when it comes to football’s most important position.
As the Vikings remaining games painfully play out in front of us, there are a few things to keep an eye on that will keep the diehards among us tuned in to every game.
One of those things is the progression of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. Coming off of his worst game last week, and with Adrian Peterson out with injury, the Vikings offense will have to rely on Ponder’s arm to keep them in competition against the formidable defense of the Atlanta Falcons.
Courtesy of Kevin Seifert, here is a “Sports Science” special featuring Minnesota’s latest hope at quarterback:
Here is who will be inactive for today’s game against Atlanta:
Vikings: TE Kyle Rudolph, HB Adrian Peterson, CB Chris Cook, S Husain Abdullah, G Anthony Herrera, OT DeMarcus Love, and DE D’Aundre Reed. For those of you keeping track at home, four of those guys were starters for this team at the beginning of the season.
Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) and Percy Harvin (ribs) are both active for Sunday’s matchup.