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Eight Things I Hate About You

The Vikings were once again embarrassed at home by a team that, on paper, should have been very beatable.  The 35-10 beatdown delivered by the Panthers was frustrating to watch and served as a loss of all hope for many Vikings fans this season.  The mess that is the 2013 Minnesota Vikings has so many problems that are so widespread, it is difficult to sift through it all and diagnose any problems, but here are eight things that have stuck out to me through the first five games of the season.  Sorry for focusing solely on the negative, but even hack bloggers need to vent.

1.  Musgrave Is Tripping Over Himself

Bill Musgrave made a Monday Night Countdown appearance on the “C’mon Man” segment thanks to his incredibly undersized play card.  I think ESPN deserves the award, however, as there are about 99 other things that Musgrave should be called out on before the size of his playbook.  For starters, how is it that Adrian Peterson only gets 10 carries against Carolina?  Think about what the acronym “MVP” stands for and then tell me that it is truly, honestly, absolutely possible for an opposing team to neutralize him that quickly and that early in a game.  He’s a true game changer and the Vikings should never stop feeding him the ball.  The team abandoning the run game was magnified by the ineptness of Musgrave’s passing game.

Perhaps even worse is the fact that Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton only saw six snaps all game long.  That’s right, the same Vikings team that had no answer for incoming power blitzes intentionally kept a Pro Bowl caliber blocker on the sideline.  I can’t imagine the reasoning here and it is just the latest example of Musgrave, who had already shown an inability to deal with these types of blitz schemes in the preseason against Buffalo, shooting himself in the foot for no apparent reason.

2.  Yes, Quarterback Is Still Important

I am amazed at the number of Vikings fans giving Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel passes for their poor performances.  It is like these fans forgot how important the position is, how critical it is, and how hard it is for a team to find a guy that can lead them to the promised land.  Yes, this team has plenty of needs, but Rick Spielman got a steal when he signed Josh Freeman last week and he should be a beacon of hope for Vikings fans looking beyond this lost season.

Leslie Frazier said he didn’t know if Freeman would be ready to start by Monday (which prompted me to wonder if any of the other 52 were ready to start this week), but expects to have made a decision by Wednesday.  Translation:  Rick Spielman will get around to ordering Frazier to start Freeman by Wednesday.

And that, Vikings fans, could be a franchise defining moment that should not be overlooked no matter how abysmal the rest of this roster is looking.

3.  Bad Angles

Why are Vikings defenders still taking inside angles on ball carriers?  You would think Alan Williams would have coached his players up on this by now, if any film study on the previous four games was watched, because it is a consistent problem.  The first guy to the ball carrier needs to, at the very least, force the runner back inside.  It is basic.  It is fundamental.  The problems on this defense are very complicated and run deep, but if the fundamentals aren’t there in week six then what hope could we possibly have?

4.  The Never Ending Secondary Story

Despite getting healthy during the bye, the Vikings secondary was still looking confused and overmatched, which looks all too familiar to us in Minnesota.  Josh Robinson is still developing, but him gaining experience at the expense of the team is frustrating to watch, especially since Marcus Sherels appears to have developed pretty well and hardly sees the field.  Robinson and Rhodes made some mistakes, as is expected of young players, but Robinson is just getting ruined on a weekly basis.  It might be time to give someone else a chance while Robinson continues to learn.

I like Jamarca Sanford.  That dude can’t catch.  Dropped picks are just a given with him at this point and I’m not sure there is much to do about that, other than begin the search for his replacement.

5.  What’s Up With The Bye Week?

The most damning stats Leslie Frazier has to answer for this week are ones directly connected to him, as a head coach, since taking over in Minnesota.  Following bye weeks, Frazier’s Vikings are 0-4 and have been outscored 137 to 47.  I like Frazier.  I think he can be a good coach at times, shows poise and promise, and has done a nice job keeping Vikings players out of jail.  Still, how can a team be that consistently unprepared with an extra week of preparation?

The seat is heating up for Frazier.  Reports that he didn’t think the Vikings should sign Josh Freeman, and the fact that he was overruled, speak volumes about how losing football games is casting a shadow upon his future in Minnesota.

6.  Fire Sale Speculation

I’ve seen and heard Vikings fans suggest we should trade… well, just about everyone.  The idea is that this season is lost, so cutting bait with certain players and stockpiling 2014 picks would basically be a way of jumpstarting the offseason.  It makes sense… except when it doesn’t.

The Vikings aren’t going to get anything for Jared Allen.  He’s expensive, aging, limited to a 4-3 scheme, relatively unproductive, and in a contract year.  Plus, the market was flooded with veteran pass rushers this last offseason and they remained free agents for quite a long time.  There just isn’t a market there to trade Allen, and he might be more valuable as a potential compensatory pick in 2015 than he is in a mid-season trade right now.

Toby Gerhart?  Christian Ponder?  Chris Cook?  Now, those options might make a little more sense.  Doubt anything happens, but trading those guys is at least in the realm of possibility.

7.  Unleash The Rookies

For whatever reason, Frazier’s Vikings are hellbent on “saving” or “shielding” their rookies before letting them truly play meaningful football.  Rick Spielman did a nice job of gifting Frazier three first round talents this offseason, but limiting them the way Frazier is seems like an awful waste.  Sharrif Floyd is coming along nicely and should keep seeing his snaps increase.  Xavier Rhodes hurt himself, but should be ok soon reportedly, and he deserves to be starting in the base package.  Keeping Cordarrelle Patterson on the sideline for so many offensive snaps, while other teams make use of less talented rookie wide outs, is mind boggling.

Perhaps the injury to Desmond Bishop (torn ACL, out for the year) will force Frazier and Williams to play their Penn State boys soon.  Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges could benefit from some live action, and it is tough to imagine them being that much worse than the current group.

It is time for us to throw these guys into the fire and see what they have.

8.  The O-Line Still Needs Work

This offensive line is a puzzle.  I don’t think they are as responsible for the pressure allowed on Sunday as Musgrave and Cassel.  The inability to have enough guys blocking on the overload blitzes is ridiculous, and until they are allowed to magically block two guys at once, I pin those failures on the team’s overall inability to adjust.

Rick Spielman has invested heavily in keeping the offensive line together, but that could end up being a major mistake, as the results just aren’t there.  Matt Kalil is in a sophomore slump, but I firmly believe he’ll come around.  Signing Phil Loadholt to such big money could end up being good in the long run, but it isn’t paying off right now, especially considering the loss of Antoine Winfield was a direct result.  John Sullivan is limited by his physical ability, but remains somewhat solid at center.  Fusco has had good moments at right guard, but still struggles with consistency, while Charlie Johnson will soon be forgotten after being replaced.

The offensive line needs to be a priority this offseason, which is disappointing given recent efforts made by the front office in that area.


Here’s another thing:  I am starting to sense that Leslie Frazier is losing his players.  His post-game comments were uncharacteristically defensive and he is starting to sound like a man worried about his job.  He is starting to sound like Brad Childress right before the hammer dropped.  I hate to see it happen, but when your team shows such little heart in a home game, and the players are disinterested… well, you just can’t help but wonder how big the coming changes are going to be.

And, make no mistake, changes are coming.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. Yo Adam I’m pretty sure Speilman didn’t sign Freeman last season. I know it’s a typo but needs fixed. I think you have the pulse of the rest of us and are spot on.

  2. You made many good points, Adam. I’m with you on getting the Penn St LB’s on the field. Watching Erring Henderbad turn the wrong direction on a basic coverage is making my eyeballs bleed. Also, this clearly is not a team bound for the playoffs. Now is the time to develop the younger talent by giving them game time experience. Trouble is, Frazier and SpeilMullen won’t do this as it will jeopardize their future employment. A short sighted approach but this is what we should expect when there is a “Win Now” mentality in the franchise and most of the NFL.

    1. There seems to be a weird double standard on when to play a young player and when not to. Robinson clearly could use some “development” time on the sideline, while our rookie LB duo seems like they might be ready for action. Tough to say where the line is drawn and why these decisions are made.

  3. don’t believe coach will agree, but well put, Adam, the only question left is will frazier and his staff be fired at season’s end or mid season…..the players aren’t buying what les is selling and their effort shows it…one of my purple concerns is whaty kind of future coach will come to the Vikes…..billion dollar stadium coming, yes,but a couple of tough years playing at the gophers’ stadium first is no picnic…..time for a young coach who thinks tomorrow, not yesterday…..that’s where I lose faith in spielman…to find that person…..I’ve said it many times over the last couple years, the wilfs should start all over from the top down….a new GM with a history of success, not mediocrity….then the wilfs should just get out of the way and let “football” minds run this franchise…

      1. Fran,
        Not for nothing,
        I think he would be good for this team, If he has something to say he will say it.
        There’s a lot of talent on this team for him to work with.

    1. I am truly bummed about all this, and personally hope Frazier’s demise isn’t as inevitable as it seems, as I’m a fan of his and think he is a good coach. His downfall is putting too much faith in those around him, because those coordinators are looking awfully under qualified these days.

  4. I think your last paragraph says it all. This team has not fire, no heart and little motivation. Musgrave is a moron and Frazier lets him be one. The defense is offensive. This team has talent but just no leadership.

  5. Mmmph. I was looking for something to disagree with to try and spice things up, and not look like a kiss ass, but I found myself agreeing with pretty much the whole damn thing.

    That’s irritating.

      1. If I saw someone on here defending Musgrave, I’d have to assume it was Musgrave himself, posting anonymously.

        1. Are you suggesting I wouldn’t be capable of defending Musgrave? I’m offended. It’s Williams we ought go be questioning.

  6. An enjoyable article by the growing ever more irritated man from Ohio. Yet, Freds must disagree with your comment below. Yes, AP is a game changer and the MVP, however there are games and situations where we move away from the run game.

    Keep in mind AD ran the ball every single play, picked up 20,000 yards for the offense last year, and the best we got was 10-6 and bumped in the first round of the playoffs. The run game is necessary yes, but the offensive line (as you stated) needs to sack up so we can have the most important guy on the field execute, the QB.

    “He’s a true game changer and the Vikings should never stop feeding him the ball.”

    You have a great deal of hope in Josh Freedman….Freds hopes you’re right. It will be strange having a jewish QB won’t it?

    1. Correction: I’m ever irrated in Ohio… Not FROM Ohio 🙂

      It wasn’t until late in that game, into the fourth, that we should have given up on running. 10 carries is unacceptable in any game and any situation , other than the Vikings having the 30 point lead. You put the ball in that guys hands to win games, that’s why he is MVP and why he gets paid almost as much as Peyton.

      With that being said , there is no excuse for poor execution elsewhere… Passing game and defense are not of the game winning quality right now.

      1. First you have to have a defense and passing game. I would like to go on record right now and predict the Vikes will lose to the Giants on Monday.