The Vikings got their first win of the season Sunday and did so in impressive fashion. But you couldn't tell it if you were listening to the fans. While the Vikings believe they have the best chance to win with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, it is obvious that the fans have seen enough.
Unlike the arrival of Brett Favre, which was greeted by mostly fan giddiness – there were people on both sides of the aisle, but jersey sales said a lot – the reaction to McNabb has been markedly different. While Favre struggled in his first couple of games, the team won and, by the time he made the miracle pass to Greg Lewis to beat Mike Singletary and the 49ers in the final seconds on only a play Favre would try (and succeed with), the bandwagon was full and the fans were loving No. 4. There has been no such love for No. 5.
From the time he had his first pass as a Viking intercepted in Week 1, there have been questions about McNabb's physical condition. He has a long history of accuracy problems, which is largely the result of mechanics problems that come from footwork and a high release point when throwing passes. He has always had it. If there was a stat for one-hop passes that hit in front of receivers, McNabb would lead the league – not just this year, but every year for the last decade. It's what he does. Philly fans got used to it because McNabb could follow it up with a huge game in which he was in a groove and moving the football.
That has yet to happen with the Vikings. Not only has McNabb not had a hot streak or a game in which he made the plays that turned a potential loss into a win, he has seemed to make bad situations worse. It would seem fans have had enough.
They booed McNabb from the time he threw his first pass of the game Sunday and every time he threw an ugly pass after that, which was often. He not only missed passes, but missed them badly. He and Visanthe Shiancoe had an animated sideline discussion after a particularly brutal pass and it may have been because it hasn't been an isolated incident.
McNabb has been the least accurate quarterback in the league when it comes to throwing the deep ball. The Vikings haven't been able to consistently push the ball down the field because McNabb's accuracy has been an issue. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has supported McNabb, but the problems he has had since Week 1 haven't been corrected or changed. They continue and the fans, it would appear, have spoken. For better or worse, they want to see a change.
There is the belief that benching McNabb would be viewed as the white flag of surrender for the Vikings. It doesn't have to be that way. If Christian Ponder isn't deemed as being ready for the starting job, what about Joe Webb? At a time when unprecedented passing numbers are being posted throughout the league, the Vikings are the only team in the league that has more yards rushing than passing. Part of that is because of the dynamic running game that has Adrian Peterson as its foundation and Percy Harvin as a game-breaking threat. But a bigger part of it is that McNabb simply hasn't gotten the job done and, from all appearances, doesn't look to have anything left in the tank.
Both McNabb and Frazier claimed they didn't hear the consistent booing, which started with the first incompletion and ended when McNabb was taking a knee to salt away a 24-point win. Frazier obviously did and was simply trying to avoid the topic. When the paying customers love the team – with one big exception – it sends a message not only to the players and coaches, but to the front office. We have seen what has happened in Denver, where a fan revolt led to Tim Tebow being inserted into Denver's lineup. The Vikings have a similar situation – not a clamoring to get Ponder into the lineup, but a groundswell simply to get McNabb out of it.
The fans, it would seem, have clearly spoken. As the Vikings prepare for a prime time game at Chicago, they're doing so with the knowledge that any momentum gained from Sunday's win would be erased with a loss to the Bears. That isn't what the fans want. They are installing a game plan to attack the Bears today and it includes McNabb as the starting QB.
Perhaps the fans don't have the inside knowledge that coaches and players have, but they do have eyes. There is something wrong with McNabb and his accuracy – down the field and even in the short passing game. He overthrows receivers. He underthrows receivers. Deep sideline passes tend to land so far out of bounds even Randy Moss in his prime couldn't pull them in. He has looked like what many would expect to see if Ponder was on the field, not a 34-year old veteran who has seen just about everything there is to see.
The fans have spoken … loudly. Will the Vikings listen?
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
On McNabb, Vikings fans have spoken
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