Saturday, May 23, 2015
Blog Page 185

The 2013 NFL season has started off on the wrong foot for the Minnesota Vikings, and head coach Leslie Frazier is willingly taking the blame after dropping the first 2 games on the road against division opponents. I am all for Frazier being more hands on and establishing a stronger vocal approach with his players and staff, but I wouldn’t say he is the right person to blame for the losses.

 The Vikings have played hard, overcame some adversities, made plays, and put themselves in a position to win both games, but miscues, inconsistent play and poor execution has shown it’s ugly head much too often for the Vikings to secure a win. The team has had moments where they have played very well and have looked the part of a playoff caliber team, yet other moments of blunder and mayhem have haunted an otherwise solid overall effort.

 Fans can point the blame in a number of directions up and down the Vikings roster, but no player is more scrutinized than 3rd year QB Christian Ponder. After 2 games this year, Ponder’s play continues to resemble something you would see in a Robert Louis Stevenson mystery-horror novel.

 A 67 QB rate with twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes would scare the… pigskin off most football coaches. But not coach Frazier. Despite rumors of a short leash, Frazier stuck with Ponder through the good and the ugly at a rainy Soldier Field.

 With 3:02 left in the first half against the Bears, and the game knotted at 14 each, Ponder threw a pick six on 1st and 10 from the Vikings 31 yard line. Most coaches might have been tempted to pulled the plug at that point on the struggling QB. However, after the interception, Frazier went over and looked into Ponders eyes, said a few encouraging words and saw enough confidence in his QB to stick with him. Ponder went on to complete 12 of his next 18 passes including a 20 touchdown strike to Kyle Rudolph. Three nice second half drives led to Blair Walsh field goals that capped a solid second half performance.

 So which Christian Ponder will we see verses the Cleveland Browns this weekend?

 The Browns are 0-2 and have scored a combined 16 points in 2 games… so, this would be a great time for the “good” Mr. Ponder to make an extended appearance on Sunday. However, if the “ugly” Mr. Ponder shows up, the home crowd boo-birds might come out in full force. Will Leslie Frazier continue to be patient and wait around for the “good” Mr Ponder to come and go? Or could a more hands-on approach by “Dr.” Frazier be the answer to controlling the mysterious erratic play of young Mr. Ponder?

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The Vikings’ Week 3 match against the Browns on Sunday isn’t necessarily a “must win,” but another loss would be devastating.

Especially now, with news that Cleveland will be without starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has been ruled out with a sprained right thumb.

The Browns announced via twitter that head coach Rob Chudzinski has informed third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer that he will start against Minnesota.

Chudzinski’s decision to go with Hoyer over the veteran and supposed second-string quarterback Jason Campbell is quite interesting. Hoyer is a fifth-year player and has one career start. Campbell is a eighth-year player and has 71 career starts.

Update: Later in the day, the Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Colts for a first round pick. The Vikings will be facing a third-string quarterback and a backup running back Sunday.

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When Christian Ballard suddenly left the team the timing felt odd, as did the mystery surrounding the circumstances.  He left the squad on August 18th, so an entire month passed before he finally decided to speak with the media about his decision, and it was Tom Pelissero of USA Today that got the scoop (we miss ya, Tom).

Ballard claims his decision to leave Minnesota, and the Vikings, was simply his attempt at escaping a lifestyle that wasn’t working for him.  I won’t recap all of the quotes, as you can read them in the article, but this just sounds like one of those cases where a young man decided to sacrifice a lot of money and notoriety in exchange for some new scenery.

It is hard to tell whether this decision of his will turn out to wise or foolish, but things haven’t been perfect for him back in Kansas.  On Thursday, he was reportedly arrested for domestic battery, and spent time behind bars despite not being charged with anything.

The Vikings hold Ballard’s rights for another two years and he has not ruled out an eventual return to the NFL.  With that being said, I’m not sure how welcoming the Vikings locker room would be towards a guy that abandoned his post just weeks before the regular season, and I suspect we have seen the last of him in purple.

The Vikings used a fourth round pick on Ballard in 2011.

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Vikings safety Harrison Smith is the hardest hitting safety in the NFL.

At least, according to Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

On Monday, free agent safety Hamza Abdullah (brother of former Vikings safety Husain Abdullah) posed the question, “Who’s the hardest hitting safety in the #NFL?” via twitter. Marshall responded “Minnesota’s 22.”

Smith, of course, wears No. 22 for the Vikings.

Chicago defeated Minnesota 31-30 on Sunday.

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Following the Vikings’ 31-30 loss to the Bears Sunday, head coach Leslie Frazier was quick to take blame for not stepping in to adjust the defensive schemes on the final drive, which resulted in a game-winning touchdown pass for Chicago.

During Monday’s press conference, Frazier clarified on it.

“We’re talking about a sequence that was a very important sequence during the course of the game,” Frazier said. “You can’t take away all the good things our defensive did yesterday. There are just some things from my standpoint that I have to manage better. That’s all.”

The last defensive play is apparently not an isolated incident where a bad call or communication issue was the problem. Andrew Krammer of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities recalls multiples times where it “seemed to be multiple plays where communication broke down and defenders seemed to be playing different calls.”

Frazier was also not too pleased that Cordarrelle Patterson only had six snaps, saying that issue would be “rectified” next week. This comes a week after Frazier told reporters following Week 1 that Patterson getting limited reps was a “coaches decision”—not necessarily his decision—and that Patterson is fully caught up with the whole offensive playbook.

Nothing Frazier have said suggests offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and defensive coordinator Alan Williams are in jeopardy of losing their jobs, but his latest presser suggests he is not happy with some of the decisions made by his staff.

Keep in mind that Frazier is fighting to keep his job, as he is only under contract through the 2014 season. Head coaches very rarely play out the final year of their contract so he is looking for a contract extension by season’s end.

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