It's Friday. There's a game this weekend. So of course it's time for Five Questions.
He'll have my answers to his questions going up sometime today(Kev's Note: HERE THEY ARE), but for now, let's see how Ted feels about the coaching staff, the McNabb acquisition, the Vikings' close losses, their upcoming slate of games, and a bonus--what's up with the stadium thing?
1. How are things going across the front office, now that we're firmly into Frazier's era as HC. Does ownership feel like they've made a right choice, or d you think Frazier's not going to be allowed the growing pains most first time Head Coaches get?
No, I think they made the right choice, and Frazier will have at least two or three years to see what he has, unless he goes all Detroit Lions in the Matt Millen era. All things considered he did a good job as interim head coach under very trying conditions (Childress/Favre fiasco, Moss fiasco, Metrodome roof collapse fiasco and all the crap that ensued from that), he has the respect of the players, and if Brad Childress got a few years to turn it around, Frazier will as well.
2. McNabb is, well, being the McNabb of recent vintage. Is it time for the Christian Ponder era to begin?
Yes, but the Arizona win probably bought McNabb two more wins, minimum. Unless he looks like the love child of Tarvaris Jackson and Spergeon Wynn, even a loss against the Bears means he gets one more start with the Packers following up the Bears game. There's two arguments with rookie QB's--start right away or let him learn under a vet for a year. The Vikes went with the latter, obviously, and I was of the opinion that as long as McNabb could get it done, fine. Well, he isn't, and he won't be back next year, so the vast majority of us Vikes fans want to unwrap the new toy and see what we have. With the Packers and Lions getting off to such strong starts, the chances of making the playoffs are almost nil. So let Ponder play and learn, and my feeling is that it will be good in the long run for the franchise.
3. The Vikings four losses so far have been decided by a touchdown or less. Would you attribute it to lack of talent, coaching struggles, or rotten luck?
Lack of talent, no. Coaching struggles, yes. Rotten luck, no. There is talent on both sides of the ball, and for at least one half they look like the best team in football. Then everything falls apart faster than the Cubs bullpen (Go Cardinals, woo!--uh, sorry. I'm a big Cards fan). On offense, OC Bill Musgrave does a fantastic job of mixing the run and the pass in the first half, and the players do a very good job of executing the gameplan. But for whatever reason, everything changes in the second. The holes that were there for Adrian Peterson disappear, Donovan McNabb can't complete a pass, and the offense can't convert a third down. That puts the defense back on the field quicker than they should, and now they can't get off the field because they're gassed, and it just builds on itself. They're also a very undisciplined team, near the top in penalties, and that, to me, is directly attributable to coaching. Long term, I think Leslie Frazier is the right guy for the job, but we're witnessing growing pains in learning a new offense and a coaching staff still gelling with their players.
4. The next four games for the Vikings look rough: Bears, Packers, Panthers, Packers---what's your prediction for that stretch?
It depends on which Vikings team shows up. They finally played a complete game against the Cardinals, and when you take that performance and look at the first half of the Detroit, San Diego, and Tampa games a 2-2 split with wins over the Bears and Panthers, or even a 3-1 run with a home win against Green Bay isn't out of the realm of possibility. But then the realist in me comes creeping back, and that complete game was against a bad Cardinals team, and we can't ignore those terrible second halves, or that Kansas City game, and 2-2 seems like a longshot. I'd like to think they can beat you guys and Carolina, but losses against you and Green Bay probably means that Ponder starts against the Panthers, so 0-4 could be a distinct possibility.
5. Who'll have more passing yards--McNabb or Cutler?
Really, you think McNabb could have more passing yards than Cutler? C'mon, that's a trick question, right? It's not? Well, let me think about this for sec. If the Vikes get a serious pass rush, and McNabb learns how to get the football in the zip code of his receiver, then sure, anything is possible. Oh, wait. This game is in Chicago, and you play outdoors, on grass, conditions that the Vikings are particularly terrible in. Cutler.
Bonus question--seriously, what the hell is going on with the stadium thing?
I could do a whole guest post just on this. In a nutshell, the Vikings have a plan in Ramsey County, which is in St. Paul. Minneapolis, where the Metrodome is currently located, never came up with a viable plan...until the Vikings embraced the Ramsey County plan. Now, believe it or not, the Minneapolis interests are doing everything they can to sabotage the St. Paul plan and somehow force the Vikings back to Minneapolis...although there is no plan, location, or financing--everything that the Ramsey County plan has. The Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires on February 1st, so legally, there is nothing keeping the Vikings in Minnesota once the lease expires. I personally believe that if the governor and the legislature would get behind the Ramsey County plan, they could get it passed, but the governor and the legislature are playing politics with the whole thing. I think they want the new stadium in Minneapolis and are holding off on bringing the Ramsey County plan to a vote to give the Minneapolis interests every possible opportunity to come up with a plan. And I also think the Minneapolis cabal won't come up with a workable plan that the Vikings will agree to, and would rather see the Vikings leave the state than see them land in someplace other than Minneapolis
Big thanks to Ted, and good luck in all but two of the rest of your games this season!