Vikings must shift to rebuilding mode now

Posted Oct. 17, 2011 @ 2:26 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Vikings broke down on almost all fronts Sunday night in Chicago, suffering in all three phases and raising questions about the structure of the team and how it should be run going forward. The issue of who the team's quarterback will be this week and going forward suddenly has become an issue for the present, but it's not the only concern. The team is woefully short in several departments and must evaluate which players — and coaches — will be a part of the process moving forward into next season.

The PFW Spin

Right now, the Vikings must do some serious self-evaluation. They had played teams close and were coming off their first victory in Week Five, but the blowout loss to the Bears showed that this team is sorely lacking in a number of ways.

First, let's deal with Donovan McNabb. What purpose does he serve anymore? McNabb didn't do anything Sunday night that he hadn't done before, or rather, he hadn't done anything to prove that he needs to be the starting quarterback.

Although there were some good throws on the field goal drive in the second quarter, McNabb has lost touch and drive on his passes, and worse off, he has lost his nerve. The second-quarter sack for a safety, in which he ducked underneath the rush, showed that his instincts and quick trigger are long gone.

Keeping him under center appears fruitless now, especially after Christian Ponder handled himself fairly well in his regular-season debut. Is starting Ponder against the 6-0 Packers ideal? Probably not, but it couldn't hurt from a spark standpoint.

But this team needs far more than a spark — a transplant would be more apt. And the coaches cannot go without mention. The horrible clock and game management prior to the two-minute warning in the first half was without excuse. There's no need for a timeout there, and Michael Jenkins jumping offside immediately afterward was beyond explanation. The Vikings deserved to miss the 38-yard field goal that followed.

Leslie Frazier and his staff also deserve fault for kicking to Devin Hester — not once but twice. The first time he burned them for a TD, and the second was one missed tackle away from doing the same.

Other coaching miscues included some odd offensive play-calling in crucial situations, but there's really no excusing the mental mistakes by the players. Bernard Berrian dropped his first pass attempt in a game in which he was given a second chance to show something. Right now, he's just taking up a roster spot. Husain Abdullah badly misread the deep post to Hester on a pass it appeared Abdullah might have been able to make a play on.

The offensive line is a mess. ORT Phil Loadholt (bruised knee) and C John Sullivan (concussion) went down mid-game, and it could leave a bad position even more bare now going forward. Throwing a rookie QB behind a shell of a blocking unit is a big worry, so you can understand if Frazier has second thoughts about making a QB change now.

But the whole operation has to be addressed. Would being able to trade McNabb to the Raiders before Tuesday be nice? Sure, but it's not happening. Change must come from within. And it has to be aimed at improving this team with an eye on next season. This year's Vikings are not going anywhere.