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Frazier is characteristically calm after uncharacteristic miscues stymied game plan in Buffalo

It wasn’t the best of times for Head Coach Leslie Frazier as he addressed the media after a lackluster performance in the Vikings’ preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. Frazier was obviously not pleased with the outcome of the game, but as usual, he took the time to politely answer questions without throwing his team under the bus.

 I for one appreciate his eternal optimism and his unshakeable demeanor, and I can certainly see why players love to play for Coach Frazier. During the post game press conference, the even tempered coach even managed to crack a smile as he spoke about the game. 

 When Frazier was asked about how Christian Ponder looked, he said, “I thought he did some good things early. He was under duress right away but he battled and ended up making some plays. He had some drops that set him back a little but he didn’t lose his poise. He put together a nice drive that we had a chance in the red zone to get some points but came up short and had to settle for a field goal. But I thought for some extended time he did some good things.”

 As I watched the replay of the game after hearing Frazier’s post game thoughts, I can somewhat agree that Ponder did some good things early. Unfortunately, the first three series were marred by some uncharacteristically bad plays by usually reliable performers. The first offensive play for the Vikings went 7 yards in the wrong direction as Matt Kalil whiffed on his attempt to block Jerry Hughes as he snuck inside and sacked Ponder. The second series was cut short when Kyle Rudolph dropped a 3rd down pass that would have kept the drive alive. Ponder would have started 3 for 3 on his early pass attempts if Rudolph would’ve made that catch. The third series started at the Bills 31 yard line after the Vikings intercepted a Kevin Klob pass. On that first down play, center John Sullivan miss timed a shot gun snap that sailed passed Ponder. To add insult to injury Blair Walsh missed on a 49 yard field goal attempt to end that drive. On the next series Ponder connected on a couple passes to Rudolph, just missed on a deep ball to Jarius Wright, got a good run from Toby Gerhart, and with the help of a couple defensive penalties, the Vikings got on the board with a 36 yard field goal.

Good defensive play gave the Vikings a 3-0 lead after the first quarter. Give Ponder credit for playing smart and not forcing the issue under heavy pressure in a hustle environment. That is what a good game manager does, right? 

 The turning point in the game (and for Ponder) happened with 11:23 left in the 2nd quarter. The Vikings were faced with a 2nd and 2 at their own 25 yard line. Operating from a no huddle shot gun formation Ponder miss-fired on a short screen to Greg Jennings that would’ve resulted in an easy first down. At that moment, I felt that the Vikings lost what little air that they had left in the tank. On 3rd down Ponder couldn’t connect with Cordarrelle Patterson on a short side line route, which ultimately marked the end of the night for the starting QB. A disappointing 5-12 passing for 53 yards wasn’t the progress plan Ponder had hoped to display.

Woulda coulda shoulda is my take away from Ponder’s night in Buffalo. If Rudolph makes his catch… or J Wright catches the long ball… or if Ponder would’ve hit Jennings in stride on that short screen, Ponder’s first half of play would’ve been acceptable.

 Coach Frazier and Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave both think the Vikings have a lot of work to do on the fundaments and also in the passing game to get ready for the regular season. The problem is, it will not get any easier this week as the Vikings travel to San Francisco to take on a very solid 49er’s defense.

I don’t look for much to change this week. Preseason is preseason, and vanilla is the flavor of the month. I will say that it will be nice to see Adrian Peterson in the backfield for a few plays, and I also hope to see improvement in the fundaments and better accuracy and timing in the passing game from our starters.



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Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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  1. The 2nd & 2…those two plays were all on Ponder. I’d give the kid a C, maybe a C-. He’s gotta do better. But so does the O-line, as well as the receivers. It’s pre-season….PRACTICE.

    Frazier is an even keeled dude, I like Les. But I even remained calm through out the game, it’s easy to be when the games don’t count. I was never a fan of these games, too many only need two…maybe 3 tops.

  2. on sunday, wanna see ponder throw for 120 and a TD, no ints

    two division away games to start the season, don’t want to be 0-2, or it’s…


  3. Cal-
    The Vikings have more money invested in Matt Cassel… he will get his shot before MBT.

    This is a big preseason game for Ponder… but I think the Vikings are not going to show all their cards right now. Detroit will be the true test for Ponder.

    I am not worried about the QB stituation. Cassel looks good and so does MBT. Ponder has been making good decisions… just hasn’t hit the mark on some of his throws. If He gets his timing down with Jennings and Patterson he will be just fine. With that said, I really like Cassel as the better West Coast game manager QB because of his quick release and his accuracy in a rythum offense. But is that what the Vikings need???

    Ponder on the other hand can be dangerous on 3rd downs and in the red zone because he can extend plays.

    Frazier is a play good defense, run the ball and grind out a win type of coach. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the QB situation in the next 3 weeks.

    1. I’d rather see MTB than Cassel. Not a fan of Cassel at all. If he has to move even a little bit before he has to throw, his pass is going to be incomplete. MTB has a nice arm. Seems to read the defenses well. I would love to see MTB play with the ones and see how he does.

      1. Agree with WTF and Cal. Ponder is the guy…sink or swim. But MBT looks much better than Cassel. MBT will not get much time Sunday. But that last pre-season game he should, I hope he lights it up.

    2. yeah, carl, i agree. i know cassel is in line before mbt. i think cassel has shown his best and i don’t want just a game manager, that is settling. mbt might have more upside. dark horse qbs get put in and usually fail, but sometimes they hit, too, and mbt has a strong arm, and that can’t be taught. this sunday we’re gonna see kap, who took the job from a game manager

  4. I have supported the idea of only keeping 2 QBs this year, but MBT is making me rethink that idea.
    It is too bad that he might not get many reps this week against the 49ers… I have enjoyed watching him play so far.