Frazier Continues To Patronize Vikings Fans
Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is turning out to be the Troll King of Vikings fans. On Wednesday, Frazier inexplicably named Christian Ponder as his starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Green Bay.
Frazier's money quote was this: "I think Christian, he has had some success at Lamb....he has played at Lambeau before."
Ponder has been an unqualified disaster in games played at Lambeau Field in his career. In his 2011 rookie season he was 16-34 for just 190 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. The Vikings lost the game 45-7.
In 2012 Ponder let a winnable game at Lambeau slip away with a 12-25/119 yard/2 INT performance in a 23-14 loss. In all at Lambeau Field, Ponder is 28-59 for just 309 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Surely, this is not considered 'success' by the Vikings organization and coaching staff.
Ponder's credentials this season include a 1-6 record and 13 turnovers (nine interceptions and four fumbles). If you take away his lone win, against Washington in week ten, he has thrown for just four touchdowns with 12 turnovers.
The third-year quarterback's QB rating is 74.9 this season, good for 27th in the NFL among qualifiers and 50th overall.
Frazier continues to tell Vikings fans (the few that are left this season) that Christian Ponder "gives the team the best chance to win."
Following a home loss to the then-lowly Cleveland Browns, Ponder mysteriously was shelved with a "rib injury" that would not heal in time for the Purple's game in London against the Steelers.
Veteran backup Matt Cassel played in the game at Wembley Stadium and led the Vikings to their first win of the season with a competent, if not spectacular, 16/25/248/2 TD outing.
Meanwhile, the Vikings spent nearly $3 million on quarterback Josh Freeman after the 25-year old was released from the Bucs.
Cassel got the nod the next week with Freeman backing him up and was not nearly as sharp against Carolina's tough pass defense at the Metrodome in an ugly 35-10 loss.
Frazier, pressured by fans and perhaps GM Rick Spielman inserted Freeman as the starting quarterback for a Monday Night game with the New York Giants at the Meadowlands.
Frazier inexplicably (there's that word again) instituted a game plan that set up Freeman for a ridiculous 53 pass attempts as the 25-year old was still learning the playbook and the intricacies of his new wide receivers.Star running back Adrian Peterson had only 13 carries for 28 yards in the 23-7 loss.
It was a disaster, with Freeman completing only 20 of those passes for a paltry 190 yards. He has not seen the field since.
My working theory goes like this:
Leslie Frazier believes that Ponder can be a viable starting quarterback in the NFL despite his relative struggles this season. Maybe he thinks that the offensive line is to blame for not giving Ponder enough time to scan the field, maybe he blames the play calling...who knows.
At some point Rick Spielman lost his faith in Ponder, first indicated by the Cassel signing and insertion into the starting lineup, then by signing Freeman in the middle of the season.
After pressure from Spielman (again, just a theory here) Frazier put Freeman into the game knowing he was not ready yet, and also installed a game plan that made it nearly impossible for Freeman to look good as a sort of middle finger to Spielman.
Now Frazier sits at 2-8 on the season and knows he is a 'dead man walking,' so to speak. Spielman likely would like to see some sort of return on his investment in Freeman, but Frazier is stubbornly playing the "I am the head coach card" and is making the call to start Ponder to save some of his own ego.
This much is certain: The Vikings in 2014 will look drastically different than they did in 2013. They will have a new coach, new coordinators and be playing in an outdoor stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
The question remains: "Who will play quarterback."
Frazier has been an abject failure in his tenure as head coach of the Vikings, and his way with words has driven Vikings fans to the brink of madness.The coach consistently answers softball questions from local reporters with "I'll have to look at the tape before I answer that question," and "I think we will evaluate that further as the week goes on."
He comes off as both disingenuous and dishonest in his press conferences. Whether he is truly stumped by simple questions such as "How do you think Christian Ponder performed in yesterday's game," or just afraid to hurt feelings by being honest, Frazier has proven he does not belong in the NFL as a head coach.