Well, well, well. Where to begin. We can go with the easy out and say that the QB is the biggest problem the Minnesota Vikings. Which it is not. Christian Ponder is part of the problem, but he’s not THE entire issue. This thing is at least four levels deep. Going into the weekend this was the game you can't lose, right? Apparently not. The talk leading into yesterday was about the Browns giving up, tanking the season, however you want to say it which put pressure squarely on the Vikings and they folded. You can look at every area of the game and they came up short.
Reality is going to set in soon if it hasn't already. There is no quick fix. Changing the quarterback or firing the head coach isn't going to magically make this team tons better. Could a quarterback change spark them? I suppose short term. But long term that doesn't solve it.
1) The offensive line has been, well, offensive. The Vikings are the only team in the NFC North that returned all five starters. There is little to no time for Christian Ponder to throw the ball, which doesn't help his case. But when you have less than two seconds before the pocket collapses that doesn't give your quarterback any chance to succeed, especially one that makes questionable decisions regardless. But it’s not just pass protection. The Vikings flat out can’t run the ball, even with the best back in the league. Outside of his 78 yard TD run the first time he touched the ball this season, Adrian Peterson is averaging 2.99 yard per carry. The offensive line has been awful in both facets. If you can’t run and can’t pass, what can you do?
2) The defense overall is suspect. You just got lit up by a third string quarterback who threw for 321 yards and three scores and a team that traded their star running back. There was absolutely no pass rush generated in the first half. You shouldn't have to send linebackers and safeties/cornerbacks if you’re playing a team that only scored 16 points and have up 11 sacks in the first two games. There were way too many third down conversions and blown coverage. I understand injuries are part of the game and they were thin, but they played soft. No excuses.
3) Coaching. I know some people want Leslie Frazier to get more animated on the sideline, and while I understand that, it has to make sense. Bud Grant was extremely stoic on the sideline. I think he did ok, didn't he. Okay, yeah, no Super Bowl wins, but he’s a Hall Of Famer. Brad Childress could be a lunatic on the sideline. Emotion doesn't equal a good coach. I have more of an issue with them getting caught napping on fake punt AND fake field goal. You can’t see it? Call a time out! It’s not against the rules (as far as I know). You got caught with your pants down. And Bill Musgrave? Here’s an idea. Design your game plan to fit your personnel, and highlight their strengths. I'm not sure he can do that. And he keeps rolling Ponder to same side. All Cleveland has to do is dial up the same blitz all day. Maybe it works in Madden. Not in real life. Get creative.
4) Every week makes it tougher to believe Christian Ponder can get it done. Poor field vision and getting locked in on one receiver is a bad combo. Add in the inability to be consistently accurate and you have limited upside. I wanted to believe he could be the guy. Problem is reality is setting in. He has a flash here and there, but not sure it's enough. At this point most Vikings fans have washed their hands of him. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is, as long as he doesn't have “PONDER” on the back of the jersey.
Chris Tubbs is the co-host of “Sports Talk with Craig and Chris” Mon.-Fri. 3:00pm-6:00pm- CT and “Fantasy Football Thursday” Thurs. 5:15pm-6:00pm on AM1230, FM98.1, KWSN in Sioux Falls, SD. He can be found on twitter @cmtubbs or firstname.lastname@example.org.