Vikings' Frazier must take secondary action first

Posted Dec. 05, 2011 @ 1:14 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

There was no question that the usually mild-mannered, composed Leslie Frazier was livid following his team's 35-32 loss to the Broncos, more so than he ever has appeared in his short time as the head coach of the Vikings. And his ire was focused on the defensive backfield, which allowed Broncos QB Tim Tebow — not a noted thrower — to pick apart the Vikings in the second half with a litany of blown coverages and missed assignments.

The PFW Spin

Now is the time to start whacking players who don't fit the Vikings' system for next season. They are wasting time keeping players who are mere stop-gap solutions. The Vikings are 2-10, and there is no reason to use journeyman veterans in key spots when younger, cheaper options must be identified. The players the Vikings were using couldn't execute basic coverages when the Vikings were going for the victory.

"We've got to identify somebody who can come back there and make a play for us when the ball's in the air," Frazier said.

Cover-2 is the Vikings' most common scheme and it's one of the most frequently used defenses in the NFL. And yet the Vikings apparently forgot how to execute it.

"We were just playing a basic coverage with a lead," Frazier said. "To not be able to execute that is a bad thing, because it means you can't play any coverage. …

"The fact that we've got new guys and we're rotating guys because we've had some injuries — that happens. But when you're out there as a professional athlete, you have to find a way to do your job, and we did not find a way to do our job."

Frazier hinted that people might be cut for their sins. We fully endorse this tactic. There's no question how tricky it is to find alternatives for Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook, Husain Abdullah, Asher Allen and Tyrell Johnson, all of whom are hurt and out of the lineup.

But this is the point where tough decisions have to be made. Anyone who watched Cedric Griffin Sunday (or the rest of the season, for that matter) has to know that he no longer can move with two surgically repaired knees. Benny Sapp is a Frazier favorite, but there is a reason the Chiefs had no use for him and the Dolphins cut him despite their early-season secondary issues. Jamarca Sanford has been given crack after crack to make it as a starting defensive back, but he can't seem to find a place. He and Brandon Burton, who has nickel potential at best, are destined for special-teams work in the future.

Make some tough cuts now. Let promising players such as Mistral Raymond get as much time as possible and learn to lead a group the tough way: through adversity. Frazier is a defensive coach with a heavy background in the secondary. He knows this is his bread and butter, as does the team, so he has to take control of this unit and make some tough decisions before the season ends.