Sunday slant: McNabb's window closing

Donovan McNabb has to rebound quickly with his effectiveness and accuracy or there will be little reason to start him over making a move toward the future. Will Leslie Frazier make that move if the passing game falters again in Kansas City?

This could be it. Despite Leslie Frazier's stance that the Vikings have more issues than the quarterback position – an opinion that is obviously true in looking at protections on offense and an inability to stop the short passing on defense – this might be the Last Chance Donovan Dance.

It likely won't be, but if the Vikings lose to the Kansas City Chiefs and the passing offense doesn't make significant strides, it should be.

The view here was that getting a veteran quarterback like Donovan McNabb was the right move after a locked-out offseason and scrapped practices. The Christian Ponder era seems destined to start at some point, but forcing a rookie into that situation isn't ideal under any circumstances, much less one in which all the other players are getting acclimated to a new offense as well.

Now, although it may come at a time before Ponder is truly ready, the pressure may be overwhelming if McNabb stumbles again in Kansas City. The fans are uber-frustrated, the next home against Arizona on Oct. 9 still had 6,500 tickets to move five days ago, and player tension is rising. Like Adrian Peterson and the rest of the offense trying to influence Frazier's decision to go for fourth-and-1 last week instead of kicking a field goal, the fans could dictate a move to Ponder soon.

Frazier showed at the end of last year that he isn't quick to make a move on the starting quarterback. With the 2010 season clearly in the tank after the firing of Brad Childress and no hope of the playoffs, Frazier stuck with Brett Favre until beaten-down quarterback couldn't play anymore. And Frazier did that despite knowing that Favre had no future left in Minnesota once the book on the miserable 2010 was closed. Whether or not that veteran loyalty/respect translates with McNabb when the 2010 becomes a wash remains to be seen, but the boo-birds and empty blue seats at Mall of America Field can have an interesting influence on coaching decisions.

McNabb was absolutely right in saying last week the protection breakdowns affect a quarterback's accuracy. They have to if he can't see the receiver, can't follow through or has to hold the ball while scrambling. But the sad truth is that there aren't too many options for immediate change on the offensive line that will give it an upgrade, and a change at quarterback may not turn out to be an immediate upgrade, either, as much as it is a nod to the future.

That said, McNabb shares plenty of blame in the offensive iniquities as well. Many of his missed throws last week can't be pinned on muddied pockets or shielded passing lanes. He missed Jim Kleinsasser at the start of Minnesota's second series and was bailed out by Kyle Rudolph later in the game on a pass well behind him. There were throws in the carpet and that "long foul ball" (a favorite Childress term) to Bernard Berrian that didn't accomplish anything other than to solidify the majority opinion against both Berrian and McNabb.

But maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised by McNabb's performances to date. He was, after all, traded within his own division by Andy Reid, an accomplished offensive and quarterback mind, and was let go for a Shanahan song just one year later.

And then there is the track record. McNabb is completing only 58 percent of his passes through three games, which, go figure (a Favre favorite saying), is right on track with his career. He is what his stats say he is, and his stats say he has completed 58.9 percent of his passes for his career. Aaron Rodgers leads the way this year, completing 71.8 percent of his passes, and more than 10 quarterbacks have a completion percentage better than 65.

If McNabb is going to remain the Vikings' starting quarterback into November, the urgency and accuracy will both have to increase or it could be time for Ponder to join the fray of rookie quarterbacks to start in 2011.

QUICK SLANTS

  • Ah, the irony of the proposed Vikings stadium in Ramsey County within two stories aired about 10 minutes apart on FOX 9 news Wednesday night. The first covered a proposal that could let residents of Ramsey County vote on whether or not to pass a half-percent sales tax to fund the county's portion of the proposed stadium. To that we say: Aren't we electing representative to make decisions in the best interest of the publlc? Do we get to vote on everything as citizens and, if so, why are we paying for politicians – to drag down progress?

    However, the second story on FOX 9 showed that when the government wants something, it not only doesn't have to get approval of the citizens, it can change its own rules even if it upsets its citizens. The City of St. Paul is accused of changing its own rules to put a low-income housing apartment complex on a site that previously was too small to house a complex of that size. In that case, the city council simply changed its rules and is looking to ramrod the project through, saying it's all about development. That is a proposed $11 million project. The Vikings stadium would bring development nearly 100 times that cost and more than 100 times that size – and on an abandoned government site. While the Ramsey County Charter Commission that is dealing with the stadium issue and the City of St. Paul are two separate government entities, St. Paul is in Ramsey County and in fact had some city government official objecting to the stadium proposal.

  • The Vikings defense is surrendering third downs 47.6 percent of the time, second-worst in the league, but the consistent theme from defensive coordinator Fred Pagac is that nothing schematically needs to change. "We've got to make some plays when we've got opportunities," he said again last week, sticking to his them of execution, not play-calling or scheme, being the issue. It's hard to think that there isn't something else that can be schematically to help counter the soft spots in short zones.

  • As if the Vikings' 0-3 record wasn't frustrating enough for fans, here are four football doctrines the team has followed and still lost: Win the turnover battle, run the ball effectively, defend the run and avoid costly injuries to the stars of the team. The Vikings are plus-1 in turnovers,third in rushing offense, fourth in run defense and have only two players on injured reserve (OL Scott Kooistra and LB Jasper Brinkley) – both of whom likely would have been backups. "We've been very fortunate. You look around the league and there have been some teams that have lost some good players along the way," Frazier acknowledged. "Hopefully we can continue to stay healthy."

  • Even Las Vegas is nearly through with the Vikings, who started the season with 40/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, fell to 75/1 before last Sunday's game and enter this Sunday's game at 200/1. To add insult to in injured egos is the fact that New England and Green Bay have the shortest odds to win the Super Bowl, according to Bodog, at 9/2.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"This could be it. Despite Leslie Frazier's stance that the Vikings have more issues than the quarterback position – an opinion that is obviously true in looking at protections on offense and an inability to stop the short passing on defense – this might be the Last Chance Donovan Dance. It likely won't be, but if the Vikings lose to the Kansas City Chiefs and the passing offense doesn't make significant strides, it should be. The view here was that getting a veteran quarterback like Donovan McNabb was the right move after a locked-out offseason and scrapped practices. The Christian Ponder era seems destined to start at some point, but forcing a rookie into that situation isn't ideal under any circumstances, much less one in which all the other players are getting acclimated to a new offense as well. Now, although it may come at a time before Ponder is truly ready, the pressure may be overwhelming if McNabb stumbles again in Kansas City. The fans are uber-frustrated, the next home against Arizona on Oct. 9 still had 6,500 tickets to move five days ago, and player tension is rising. Like Adrian Peterson and the rest of the offense trying to influence Frazier's decision to go for fourth-and-1 last week instead of kicking a field goal, the fans could dictate a move to Ponder soon. Frazier showed at the end of last year that he isn't quick to make a move on the starting quarterback. With the 2010 season clearly in the tank after the firing of Brad Childress and no hope of the playoffs, Frazier stuck with Brett Favre until beaten-down quarterback couldn't play anymore. And Frazier did that despite knowing that Favre had no future left in Minnesota once the book on the miserable 2010 was closed. Whether or not that veteran loyalty/respect translates with McNabb when the 2010 becomes a wash remains to be seen, but the boo-birds and empty blue seats at Mall of America Field can have an interesting influence on coaching decisions. McNabb was absolutely right in saying last week the protection breakdowns affect a quarterback's accuracy. They have to if he can't see the receiver, can't follow through or has to hold the ball while scrambling. But the sad truth is that there aren't too many options for immediate change on the offensive line that will give it an upgrade, and a change at quarterback may not turn out to be an immediate upgrade, either, as much as it is a nod to the future. That said, McNabb shares plenty of blame in the offensive iniquities as well. Many of his missed throws last week can't be pinned on muddied pockets or shielded passing lanes. He missed Jim Kleinsasser at the start of Minnesota's second series and was bailed out by Kyle Rudolph later in the game on a pass well behind him. There were throws in the carpet and that \"long foul ball\" (a favorite Childress term) to Bernard Berrian that didn't accomplish anything other than to solidify the majority opinion against both Berrian and McNabb. But maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised by McNabb's performances to date. He was, after all, traded within his own division by Andy Reid, an accomplished offensive and quarterback mind, and was let go for a Shanahan song just one year later. And then there is the track record. McNabb is completing only 58 percent of his passes through three games, which, go figure (a Favre favorite saying), is right on track with his career. He is what his stats say he is, and his stats say he has completed 58.9 percent of his passes for his career. Aaron Rodgers leads the way this year, completing 71.8 percent of his passes, and more than 10 quarterbacks have a completion percentage better than 65. If McNabb is going to remain the Vikings' starting quarterback into November, the urgency and accuracy will both have to increase or it could be time for Ponder to join the fray of rookie quarterbacks to start in 2011.
  • Ah, the irony of the proposed Vikings stadium in Ramsey County within two stories aired about 10 minutes apart on FOX 9 news Wednesday night. The first covered a proposal that could let residents of Ramsey County vote on whether or not to pass a half-percent sales tax to fund the county's portion of the proposed stadium. To that we say: Aren't we electing representative to make decisions in the best interest of the publlc? Do we get to vote on everything as citizens and, if so, why are we paying for politicians – to drag down progress? However, the second story on FOX 9 showed that when the government wants something, it not only doesn't have to get approval of the citizens, it can change its own rules even if it upsets its citizens. The City of St. Paul is accused of changing its own rules to put a low-income housing apartment complex on a site that previously was too small to house a complex of that size. In that case, the city council simply changed its rules and is looking to ramrod the project through, saying it's all about development. That is a proposed $11 million project. The Vikings stadium would bring development nearly 100 times that cost and more than 100 times that size – and on an abandoned government site. While the Ramsey County Charter Commission that is dealing with the stadium issue and the City of St. Paul are two separate government entities, St. Paul is in Ramsey County and in fact had some city government official objecting to the stadium proposal.
  • The Vikings defense is surrendering third downs 47.6 percent of the time, second-worst in the league, but the consistent theme from defensive coordinator Fred Pagac is that nothing schematically needs to change. \"We've got to make some plays when we've got opportunities,\" he said again last week, sticking to his them of execution, not play-calling or scheme, being the issue. It's hard to think that there isn't something else that can be schematically to help counter the soft spots in short zones.
  • As if the Vikings' 0-3 record wasn't frustrating enough for fans, here are four football doctrines the team has followed and still lost: Win the turnover battle, run the ball effectively, defend the run and avoid costly injuries to the stars of the team. The Vikings are plus-1 in turnovers,third in rushing offense, fourth in run defense and have only two players on injured reserve (OL Scott Kooistra and LB Jasper Brinkley) – both of whom likely would have been backups. \"We've been very fortunate. You look around the league and there have been some teams that have lost some good players along the way,\" Frazier acknowledged. \"Hopefully we can continue to stay healthy.\"
  • Even Las Vegas is nearly through with the Vikings, who started the season with 40/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, fell to 75/1 before last Sunday's game and enter this Sunday's game at 200/1. To add insult to in injured egos is the fact that New England and Green Bay have the shortest odds to win the Super Bowl, according to Bodog, at 9/2.
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