The Minnesota Vikings might be one of the best first half teams in the NFL this year. They have outscored opponents 54-7 before halftime in three games this season. You might think that the Vikings would be 2-1 or at least 1-2 with that record. You would be wrong. As good as Minnesota is in the first half, they are that bad in the second half. Outscored 67-6 in the second half this year, the Vikings possess a 0-3 record and occupy the cellar of the NFC North. The second half problems are team-wide, which means the failures start at the top with head coach Leslie Frazier.
I will admit that I am no fan of the Vikings. As a general football fan, however, I find this case to be quite interesting. I finally sat down and watched an entire Vikings game Sunday. The problems that occur in the second half have a lot more to do with coaching than the players.
Donovan McNabb is not a good quarterback anymore. He hasn’t been for the last couple of years. People have been quick to blame him for not making plays down the stretch. However, why is it McNabb’s fault? This team has had the lead in the second half all three games. Maybe they should give the ball to the best running back in the league. I’m pretty sure Adrian Peterson could be useful to help run the clock out or extend a lead. Why isn’t Peterson getting the ball more? McNabb isn’t changing every play so he can’t be blamed for AP not getting the ball. This falls on Frazier and his coaching staff.
The defense has also gotten their fair share of blame for the collapses. I will admit, a defense should be able to hold a 20 point lead in the second half. However, the Vikings get too conservative and their pass rush completely vanishes. Fatigue might be an issue, but wasn’t Frazier a defensive coordinator before taking this job? Shouldn’t defense be his specialty? On Sunday, there is no way Calvin Johnson should ever be single covered, much less when you are trying to protect a lead. Sounds like that is a problem with the defensive scheme. Once again, this would fall on Frazier.
Finally, coaching has to take a lot of the blame. The big play happened late in the fourth quarter on Sunday. The Vikings were up 20-17 and facing a 4th and 1 from about the Lions 30. Time was running down in the game and I am a firm believer that you should always take the points. However, the Vikings decided to go for it. That is fine if you give the ball to Adrian Peterson. The best running back in the league can easily get one year. Too bad the ball went to Toby Gerhart and he was stopped short. Turnover on downs was the result and the Lions drove down the field to tie the game.
Um, why did Gerhart get the ball? There was four options on that play. Kick the field goal, give it to Gerhart, give it to AP or throw the ball with McNabb. Two are good choices and two are bad choices. Frazier picked a bad one. If I was Peterson, I would stage a revolt. He’s being completely misused by the Vikings this year.
The Vikings team has a lot of flaws. Sure they aren’t going to be one of the best teams in the league, but they shouldn’t be 0-3. In my opinion, it all falls on the head coach. Players might be getting flak in the media, but the real target of the blame should be on Leslie Frazier and his boneheaded decisions.
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