Another season on the brink - KMSP-TV


Another season on the brink

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It is difficult if not impossible to compare teams from a historic perspective. Different eras and time erasing those memories we want to rid ourselves of. The reality is that this Vikings team is bad.

How bad?

The worst in franchise history, and on statistically on pace for one of the worst in the history of the league.

Maybe it is the expectations of making the playoffs a year earlier, or maybe it is having the reigning MVP that has led fans to believe that the 10-6 of a year ago are the real Minnesota Vikings and that the 3-13 team of 2011 was a simple blip in the radar.

Defense rests:

This is a franchise that built itself on the defensive side of the ball. The once proud purple people eaters who struck fear into opposing offenses, gave them nothing and forced them to like it have turned into a unit that gives defenses anything they want, is unable to force a turnover or get off the field on third down.

The numbers don't lie and you need to go all the way back to 1965 (when the franchise was just four years old and had zero expectations) to find a season where they allowed more points (160) in the first five games of the season. Granted, not all of the 155 points allowed are the fault of the defense. They weren't in 1965 either.

From a defensive secondary perspective, the Vikings are tied for fifth worst all-time with 13 passing touchdowns allowed through five games. The record belongs to the 1954 Washington Redskins who allowed 18. When it comes to total defense, the current team has allowed 2,090 yards through five games which is currently the 23rd worst defense in the history of the league according to Pro Football Reference when compared against the same five games.

If the current pace holds, the Vikings would allow 4,928 passing yards and 42 passing touchdowns both would be the most allowed in history. The current records are held by the 2011 Green Bay Packers (4,796 yards); and the 1981 Baltimore Colts (37 touchdowns). The current record for most yards allowed in a season came last year when the New Orleans Saints gave up 7,042 yards. Based on their current pace, the Vikings would give up 6,688 yards which would place them as the third worst defense in the history of the NFL.

Coaching staff:

Pro sports is a results based business, and a big one at that. When the team exceeded expectations last year and finished 10-6 with a playoff berth, nothing less in year three would be permitted. Not only has this staff failed to keep the status quo, they have fallen back further than 2011, Frazier's first full season as head coach when his team finished 3-13.

Frazier led teams are 0-3 following the bye week and have been outscored 108-27 in those three games. One of the things former Vikings head coach Denny Green prided his teams on was winning into and out of the bye weeks.

The 35-10 loss at home to the Panthers was the worse since 2010 when the Green Bay defeated Brett Favre and ultimately cost Brad Childress his job. Actually, the drubbing is so much worse because even though no one in the state seemed to like Childress, at least he seemed to have a game plan. Through five weeks, Frazier has no answers and doesn't seem to have any idea as to how to get the runaway train back on track. Every question asked is met with "I'm not sure" or "we need to watch the film".

Green was dismissed following a 24-13 loss to Green Bay in 2001, Mike Tice was fired following a 9-7 season and a 34-10 win over Chicago, and Childress was dismissed following the blowout loss to the Packers. The point is, the loss to the Panthers off of the bye week is a loss that owners Zygi and Mark Wilf could turn to if Frazier is not brought back.

Quarterback conundrum:

After watching Christian Ponder toil through much of last year, he like the coaching staff extended their stays in purple by putting together an undefeated December and giving the team their first trip to the postseason in two seasons. After injuring his arm in the final game of the regular season, Ponder didn't play in the playoff game against Green Bay and in the process cemented his own fate. In came Matt Cassel in the off-season to add some stability to the position and three games in, Ponder found the bench due to "injury" and when he was cleared to play, it was still Cassel's job. The plot thickened however when the team brought in Josh Freeman fresh off his release from Tampa Bay. With Cassel named the starter at least short term, it will be Freeman's job once he picks up Bill Musgrave's offense.

Freeman's deal is for one year and he'll have a short window with which to perform. With another top 10 draft pick in the offing, another quarterback will surely be the selection come April and even if he does play well enough to earn the job, will Freeman want to stay in a place where his days are numbered?

Those questions and many others will play themselves out over the next 11 weeks.

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