New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings: The inside scoop
By Keith Null
Getting “inside information” we exchanged questions with Dan Zinskie, the editor of FanSided’s Detroit Lions site thevikingage.com, to ask him some questions about the upcoming game between the Saints and Vikings.
Zac had a few questions of his own for WDD, check them out at this link.
1) What is the status of your stellar running back Adrian Peterson, any inside information on if he will be a go? What about Christian Ponder, will he play, and if not who is the backup and what are your thoughs on this backup?
It looks like Peterson is going to go. He’s practiced all week and every indication is that he’ll be ready. That of course raises the question of whether it’s smart to play him at all with the season in the crapper. If you know Adrian you know he’s going to want to play no matter what. I’m sure the plan will be to limit his carries and let Toby Gerhart take the brunt of the punishment for these last three games, which is wise. As for Ponder, he also looks like he’ll be ready to go. He should be playing with a little chip on his shoulder after getting taken out of the last game for throwing too many picks. The back-up would be Joe Webb who may be the most entertaining back-up in the history of football. The guy can’t throw for crap but he can sure run and it’s awesome watching defenses get more-and-more frustrated. He’s like Tim Tebow except you don’t want to punch him in his mouth.
2) News broke today that Leslie Frazier will be brought back next season amidst controversy surrounding his return for a second full season as head coach. What are your thoughts on Frazier, the problems with the team, and are Vikings fans screaming for “Chili” when there is a full moon?
Nothing will ever make Viking fans scream for Childress. Mike Tice maybe but not Childress. My feeling on Frazier is basically that he was dealt sort of a bad hand this year, what with all the personnel issues and other stuff that was dumped in his lap by the previous coach, and this being the case he deserves at least one more season. I’m far from convinced that Frazier will turn into a good coach but I also don’t think it’s fair to evaluate him solely based on this season. This team had numerous profound flaws from the start and I doubt most coaches would’ve done much better than he has.
3) The Vikings have been competitive this season in most every game, but always seem to find a way to lose. Talk about it.
The Vikings have just enough good players to stay in games but not enough to get over the hump. It’s as simple as that I think. The times when they’ve played badly, it’s mostly been a secondary issue and an offensive line issue, which isn’t surprising as those are the two weakest areas of the team. When they’ve played well it’s been the defensive line getting after people and their few offensive stars making plays. Early in the season they got leads but couldn’t finish people off largely because they were unable to convert third downs, and kept allowing the other team’s offense chances to come back and gash their tired defense. Lately it’s been turnovers killing them. So it’s always something. You always want to look at QB play in these situations and the QB play for the Vikes has been suspect. McNabb was bad even though he didn’t turn the ball over and Ponder has been inconsistent plus he’s turned the ball over. If they want to achieve offensive consistency they have to shore up the QB position and also get some people who can block a little. On the defense they just need to find someone who can cover somebody. Actually four or five people who can cover somebody. It’s the worst secondary possibly ever assembled on a football field.
4) At the beginning of the season it seemed like Vikings fans were given hope once the team acquired veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb. The plan of course was for him to be the starter while Ponder sat and developed. What happened, how did he fall out of favor so quick, and was it easy for Minnesota to release him into free agency?
I was one of the suckers who bought into the McNabb hype, which was based on this idea that the team still had some solid veterans and could compete if they just found a QB. It quickly became apparent that McNabb was washed-up and the team had too many other holes for them to possibly compete. McNabb’s failure came down to a few things, the main one being his complete unwillingness to work. The guy proved to be flat-out lazy and disinterested. In retrospect it was a mistake to sign him. Whether it was easy for them to release him? I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them to eat the money but it was easy to dump him from the team since he had no value at all and basically asked them to let him go. I think it’s telling that they signed Sage Rosenfels a few days after letting Donovan walk. Sage has a reputation as a stand-up guy who enjoys working with the other QBs on the roster, which makes him a perfect mentor for a young guy like Ponder. McNabb was not a perfect mentor, he was selfish and pouty.
5) How tough has this season been for Vikings fans? What will they need to do in the off season to get back on track? How do you see the Saints/Vikings game unfolding? Any closer to a new stadium?
It’s tough any time you stink. And Viking fans aren’t used to this level of stink. Over the 25 years I’ve been watching the team they’ve never had a season anywhere near this bad. And what makes it worse is the uncertainty about the future. You can live with a 2-14 season if you think things are going to swing upward quickly but there’s really no reason for us to be confident this will happen. It’s looking like a run of two or three tough years before things get turned around and that’s sort of depressing. Personnel-wise they need to address the offensive line and secondary. Unfortunately they need multiple players in each area and one draft/free agency period won’t be enough to fill those holes. They’re going to have to get lucky and find some unheralded guys who work out better than expected (you know, like the Packers do). As for this week’s game, I fully expect Drew Brees to pepper the Vikings’ defense like those cops machine gunning Bonnie and Clyde’s car. On Twin Cities radio the bit is that Brees has a shot to break Norm Van Brocklin’s single-game record of 554 yards. They’re calling it Drive for 555. It’s very cute in a masochistic way. On the stadium, it’s all a matter of the politicians getting their stuff together. The NFL has said they’ll loan the Vikings $200 million if that’s what it takes to get the deal done. I think it will get done. The league doesn’t want the Vikes in L.A.. Owner Zygi Wilf will either accept whatever deal the legislature passes or he’ll sell the team and the new owner will accept it. Either way, the team stays in Minny. The L.A. stuff was never real, it was always just leverage.