The Vikings Aren't Turning Anyone's Heads Yet
Life can be complicated and confusing. Sometimes it’s not clear what’s happened or why, and you scramble to understand.
But sometimes you just get your butt whipped. That’s what happened Sunday night to the Vikings in San Francisco. Maybe coach Leslie Frazier isn’t concerned, but a lot of folks wearing purple are worried.
Sure, Adrian Peterson was in for only two plays and didn’t run or block. (I’m not sure he was even touched.) Yes, it’s true that Christian Ponder showed some improvement over the 28.3 (yuck) quarterback rating he had in the first two games. He was 16-for-23 for 116 yards and two touchdowns and one pick. In fact, he was generally accurate, with one or two bad passes. The interception was not his fault — Stephen Burton, who’s fighting for a spot as a receiver, stopped in his route. (One of his rivals, Joe Webb, caught a pass for a TD. Sure, Burton caught three passes, but ...)
The special teams, which had excelled, broke down, at least on one play. Lavelle Hawkins ran a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown. No one even came close to tackling him.
The 49ers offense ran and passed at will. Colin Kaepernick played well even though he didn’t use the read-option. Colt McCoy looked good after tossing an interception. And even their third-stringer, B.J. Daniels, took the team for a long drive. The Vikings, on the other hand, didn’t even play their third-stringer, McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Matt Cassel was ineffective as backup QB.
How will all this translate into the regular season?
Who knows. No team could possibly miss a single player more than the Vikings miss Adrian Peterson. No team could possibly have more of a possible swing between upside and downside. Let’s face it, the team could either be in the Super Bowl or in the toilet.
So it’s quite clear that coach Frazier doesn’t care about the results of preseason games. Check. Completely logical.
He’s much more intent on using the games to determine who makes the squad than in showing off talent. I’m OK with that.
It’s fine that he’s the master at saying nothing to the media. Got it, you learned from Mike Ditka, your coach for the Bears. I’m fine with that too.
Here’s the deal. The team better be good if you’re going to do all that. The Vikings are 0-3 and have been outplayed in each game. Ponder showed something Sunday, but let’s remember that his two touchdowns were on a 28-yard drive after Chad Greenway’s interception and a longer drive against the 49ers second-string defense. And the latter drive was helped by penalties.
The NFL, we know, stands for Not For Long. Frazier was 3-3 in a short year, 3-13 and then 10-6. Coaches and quarterbacks find themselves pounding the pavement about three seconds after they lose it. Sometimes long before.
This is the year for Ponder and Frazier. CEOs can screw up, keep their jobs and get a golden parachute. One reason the NFL is so popular is the accountability. You mess up, you’re history. Let's face it, that's the way it should be in every workplace and usually isn't.
But there’s no need to remind either guy. They know.