It's an interesting conundrum because the Vikings are a veteran-laden team that hasn't succeeded by any measure this season. They already made the biggest move in their youth movement by handing the offense over to rookie Christian Ponder. But, as the Vikings fall closer to mathematical elimination from playoff contention, is it time to bring on more young players to get their shot?
If it was in the Brad Childress Administration, the answer to that question would likely be "no, stick with the vets." Childress always seemed to be under the gun when it came to job security. He was never adored by players or fans and many believed it was only a matter of time until he got the hook, much like Dennis Green. Both of them had success and brought a team within a win of the Super Bowl the year before they were fired. With Leslie Frazier, it's a different situation.
Frazier is in the first year of his contract and, given the priority currently being given to the Vikings stadium effort, it is unlikely owner Zygi Wilf will fire Frazier unless the Vikings finish 2-14 and have something tantamount to a locker room revolt – neither of which is likely to happen.
It seems clear that the Vikings are in rebuilding mode. It may be time for the team to see what players like Kyle Rudolph, Christian Ballard, Everson Griffen and Mistral Raymond, among others, can bring to the game. Fans and, to some extent, coaches tend to look short-term when it comes to their teams. Owners and general managers see things in a bigger, long-term perspective. They want to have a better handle on exactly how prepared their young talent is before they start preparing for free agency and the draft. There are plenty of ways to evaluate young talent, but there is no replacement for seeing them in live action and "putting it on tape."
It may not be good news for the 2011 Vikings, but, for the long-term health of the franchise, it might be time for the youngsters on the Vikings roster to join Ponder on the field on game days as the Vikings begin what they hope will be a fast-track process of getting back into contention in what has become the toughest division in the NFL.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.