Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vikings Sit Starters Thursday

Did you watch the Vikings game against San Diego on Friday night?

It wasn't good.

The Chargers were sitting 18 starters, including a number of their elite defensive players. Most notably, cornerback Quentin Jammer was sidelined. By no means do I think the Chargers are a one- or two-man operation on defense, but one would think so many guys out would give Minnesota an advantage.

Or not.

Christian Ponder was shaky, the running game wasn't sharp without Adrian, and the Vikings lost 12-10. Ponder was hit way too much, and while the Vikings tried to put some of this on him, there's a chunk that has to fall on the linemen, especially Matt Kalil, the rookie who had his share of rough moments in the game.

How does Leslie Frazier respond?

He gives most of his starters the night off for Thursday's game at Houston.

The Star Tribune's Jim Souhan thinks this is a flawed idea.

I just listened to Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave downplay his team's struggles during the Friday night loss to San Diego. He shouldn't be taking this approach. He should be demanding that they play on Thursday until they put together an impressive drive, however long that may take. This is no time to go soft on a young, unproven team coming off an embarrassing performance.

I'm not sure I agree with Souhan, but I do think there's something to be said for reps when you're dealing with so many young players, and so many guys who haven't played together before.

Ponder didn't look good at all Friday. Maybe he would struggle again Thursday, but it's more likely he would play better over one series, and perhaps it would be a necessary jolt of confidence for the second-year signal caller.

Kalil was not good in his first extended action against a 3-4 defense as a pro. There's a chance Kalil would have problems again on Thursday, but he needs reps at this point. He isn't going to become more intimately familiar with the offense while he's standing on the sideline cracking jokes with his teammates.

Yeah, it probably doesn't matter. Minnesota isn't going to be anyone's pick to make the playoffs, even though we all know the average is a six-team turnover from year to year. If anyone is going to make the playoffs in the NFC North after missing last year, it's the Bears.

But it would be nice to see more aggression out of the Vikings' coaches. It's one thing to be cautious with Adrian Peterson, who's coming off major reconstructive surgery. It's another to give the kid-gloves treatment to guys who haven't done anything on the field to merit it, and who aren't hurt.

For the sake of Vikings fans, let's hope this is a good sign, but it doesn't appear to be one.

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