Monday, September 26, 2011

Pondering a Quarterback Change

I've watched a lot of football in my years on this planet. I have never seen anything like what the Vikings have done over the last three weeks.

In blowing 17-7, 17-0, and 20-0 halftime leads to go 0-3, the Vikings have created a fanbase so incredibly angry and frustrated that nothing they do now will make it better.

Minnesota is in a hell of a spot, with two NFC North teams at 3-0. They've blown two extremely winnable home games, and now there is a decision this organization has to make. Now.

There is a common thread in each loss, and it's the inadequacies of the quarterback. Donovan McNabb is just too inaccurate and too conservative to run this offense. The Vikings don't have the weapons or the defense to put up with a quarterback who isn't good enough.

It's time for a change.

McNabb has done what he can. He isn't as good as he used to be, and he was never really a game-breaking quarterback who could take over games by himself. What McNabb could do well is lead an offense that is keyed by the running game, chipping in the occasional deep throw and rollout pass play. The Vikings asked him to do that this year, and he's failing miserably, because his not-really-all-that-great accuracy has dwindled in recent years. It's at a point now where he can no longer be considered the best option for this team going forward.

A huge part of this team's second-half problems is the play of McNabb, who missed on a number of key throws Sunday. The biggest was an overthrow of Bernard Berrian on a play right before the Vikings tied the score to force overtime. Berrian beat one-on-one coverage, and a good throw wins the game for the Vikings. Instead, McNabb gave his receiver zero chance to make a play, and in came Ryan Longwell for the three points.

Blame the defense for not getting off the field, or for letting Calvin Johnson make a couple huge plays. Blame Toby Gerhart for not getting a first down on fourth and short. Or blame Bill Musgrave for not calling a play for Adrian Peterson in that situation. But looking at these three games, McNabb and his scattershot play has to be considered the common thread.

Now, the Vikings need to turn to Christian Ponder. It seems early, but this season is virtually dead already, so there is little point in sticking with McNabb and not figuring out what Ponder can do at this level.

The Vikings haven't developed a star NFL quarterback in a lot of years. We don't know if Ponder can be that kind of guy, but we know McNabb is no longer capable. I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that Joe Webb won't be that kind of player, either. He's more of a bit guy who can step in occasionally, but isn't a 16-game kind of player.

The organization drafted Ponder to take over and be a franchise quarterback. With the team off to an 0-3 start, it might as well see what he can do. He can't be worse than McNabb.

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