The Vikings dropped their fourth game of the season, and are one of three winless teams in the NFL (heading into Monday night's game between the 0-3 Colts and the Buccaneers). Head coach Leslie Frazier has a strange situation on his hands because he has a veteran quarterback in place and some elite players but clearly nothing close to a complete team. Now comes the debate: Try to salvage this season or start preparing for next year?
The PFW Spin
Frazier ended one bit of suspense on Monday: He will not bench Donovan McNabb in Week Five. The dilemma with McNabb is that the team traded for McNabb (when no other team was actively bidding for his services), paid a price in money ($5 million) and draft bounty (a pair of sixth-rounders) and now has no real need for the veteran QB other than to keep the seat warm until rookie Christian Ponder is ready.
Coming back from an 0-4 start is nearly impossible to begin with, and it's not happening with this team, not with the bad pass protection, poor tackling, busted coverages and questionable passing game. Adrian Peterson only can do so much as Sunday's performance (80 rushing yards against a defense completely geared to stop him) proves. Percy Harvin, until further notice, is an explosive part-time player.
So what is Frazier's next move? McNabb will play at least another week, and really, it hasn't all been his fault. But there only are so many OL changes and defensive shakeups you can make to change the mojo of your team. If Ponder was ready, the team probably would admit its mistake and swap him in for McNabb, as 2011 has gone by the books. That move will happen eventually.
The mild-mannered coach has to establish his territory a bit. The doubt is likely setting in. No need to do anything drastic, but do the Vikings really need to endure Bernard Berrian anymore? He caught one pass (his second reception of the season) on Sunday for 20 yards, one of six passes thrown his direction in the game.
Berrian then took to Twitter to express his frustrations, explaining to the world that he has been open consistently in this season's games but also for the past four seasons. It might be time to make a move — either bench or cut the underachieving Berrian.
Is it going to make this a playoff team? No. But it could send a message: Everyone is accountable. If he was that open, he would have caught more than two passes to date. Right now, it appears that Frazier is playing "his guy" in McNabb and making excuses for him. If that is going to be the case, he has to show that he's not playing favorites — something Brad Childress was accused of doing — by sitting or axing Berrian.
The team cut his salary by $2 million to bring him back, and he has played poorly. Why not see what Devin Aromashodu (he hauled in a nice 34-yard TD pass on Sunday) can do with more time?
The effect might not be dramatic, but it would let the rest of the roster know that their play has to improve or they will face similar treatment. Frazier is a very nice man, and his players like him personally. But now he must show them he has a fierce, all-business side, too. This industry can be cold, but it's a results-based operation, and right now the Vikings are not getting it done. Something must happen.
It couldn't hurt. Berrian is not a part of this team's future, and the present doesn't look so promising.