To read Pacifist Viking's polite request of the National Football League in light of another predictable Vikings beatdown at Soldier Field, click here.
Last week I asked ESPN 1500's Tom Pelissero during an online chat what Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier would have to do to keep his job beyond the 2012 season. Pelissero's response was as follows:
"I think it
has less to do with how many wins they get to than how they get there.
Does the coaching staff adjust to what teams are trying to do? Do young
players keep ascending? Does the locker room stay together?"
Well, consider Leslie Frazier and the rest of his coaching staff minus 1 in those categories as the Vikings played (and lost badly) the first of a critical three-game stretch that will likely determine if they make the postseason or not.
We all know it's the players that make the plays on the field and against the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon, the Vikings players rarely made any. But the coaching staff is responsible for preparing those players to make those plays. They are the ones who have to drill the players on fundamentals – things like catching balls that hit them in the chest and ball security. They are responsible for coming up with defensive and offensive schemes to exploit an opponent's weaknesses. And they are responsible for coming up with ways to counter what an opponent is doing if something isn't working during a game.
We saw none of that in the 28-10 loss to the Bears. This was really evident on the defensive side of the ball, as the Vikings were content to rush four guys at Jay Cutler most of the game, even as the Bears used six or seven guys to protect him. As bad of an offensive line as Chicago has, that's not the kind of odds many defensive lines can overcome. The Vikings defensive line was no exception, and Leslie Frazier and defensive coordinator Alan Williams had no answer for it as Cutler completed 74 per cent of his passes.
We also saw tactical blunders. Why did Frazier go for it on fourth-and-two at the Bears 18 yard line early in the fourth quarter when the Vikings were down 18 points and need a field goal at some point to cut into that lead and tie the game anyway? Some will say it was an aggressive call. I'll say it was a stupid call. I like Blair Walsh's chances of making a 28-yard field goal a lot more than I like Christian Ponder's chances of converting a fourth-down play with a pass on a day when the Vikings receivers could barely catch a cold.
And how do you leave for a big game on the road without ensuring Adrian Peterson is on the team bus? It is Peterson's fault that he was late, and that doesn't reflect well on him, but making sure all players are ready to get on the bus for a road game is one of those details a coaching staff should be on top of.
What's particularly bothersome is that the Vikings performance on the road under Frazier wasn't an anomaly. For the third straight road game (losses to Seattle and Washington are the others), the Vikings looked unprepared for the moment – outcoached and outschemed. The defense, which is Frazier's specialty, has been sieve-like in all three losses and the offense has been largely unproductive for long stretches of those games.
The Vikings have developed into a bad road team under Frazier. They are 1-4 this season and have grown increasingly uncompetitive in each road loss. This is a young team, for sure, and it's been showing that youth as of late. But with the right head coach, you could feel good about where the Vikings are right now and you'd have some faith that coach and his staff could turn this thing around.
But against the Bears at Soldier Field in a game that meant everything for Minnesota, the team and its head coach looked overmatched. What are the odds things get turned around next Sunday against Green Bay at Lambeau Field? Or the week after that at home against the Bears?
The clock is ticking on the Leslie Frazier era in Minnesota.