Pro Football Weekly asked five burning questions to PFW Vikings correspondent Tom Pelissero, who is the senior editor for 1500espn.com.
PFW: With Leslie Frazier saying Donovan McNabb has some technical mistakes he needs to work on and McNabb saying he doesn't, who is right?
TP: McNabb is the same guy he has been for 13 years. Accuracy in the pocket never has been a strength. I've talked to NFL personnel people who never thought McNabb was a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback, even in his prime, for exactly that reason — he has to be on the perimeter to be effective. Now, at age 34, McNabb is supposed to start tweaking his release point, drops and footwork? It might help, sure, but changes like that generally don't take overnight, and McNabb has all of 13 games left here. At most.
PFW: Herm Edwards told your station that third downs have killed the Vikings, but what about first downs, especially in the second half?
TP: That's something that often gets overlooked. The Vikings seem to perpetually be in 3rd-and-medium. Much was made of Adrian Peterson only carrying five times in the second half against Detroit, but he gained all of five yards on those carries. The offensive line wasn't getting movement — Ndamukong Suh dominated ORG Anthony Herrera — and McNabb couldn't do anything downfield to keep the Lions from dropping a safety into the box 35 times in 67 snaps (52.2 percent). The Vikings don't do much well offensively right now. If they can't run effectively with Peterson on early downs, they're toast.
PFW: The next three teams the Vikings face currently have a combined 2-7 record. What would three consecutive losses mean for this team?
TP: I don't think they'll lose all three. They're not an awful team — just terribly mediocre. That said, if they're 0-6, you can bet that Christian Ponder will suddenly be at quarterback and that won't be the only change. You also have to wonder if there would be any chance Leslie Frazier and his staff would be in trouble, but I doubt it. This never was a playoff team, so Frazier's primary offense would be foolishly raising expectations.
PFW: Is it time to put Bernard Berrian to pasture, or at least diminish his playing time severely?
TP: Berrian has played 132 of 178 offensive snaps (74.2 percent) and has one catch. Need I say more? The only thing he ever could do was run by people. Now that dominant trait has diminished and he's not going to start competing physically for the football at age 30. The Vikings really don't have anyone else, although it sure wouldn't hurt to see if Devin Aromashodu can do anything. Berrian, like McNabb, restructured his deal and can be a free agent after the season. He's not in the team's long-term plans.
PFW: CB Chris Cook gave up the TD on the jump ball to Calvin Johnson, but, on the positive side, is he not playing a better brand of football these days?
TP: That probably was Cook's best game in his young, injury-plagued career. He broke up a couple of passes and showed he can tackle when he's willing, too. The issues with him are health and consistency. He's not sudden, but he runs better than you think at 6-foot-2 and seems to have pretty good zone instincts, whether they're in Tampa-2 or cover-3.