When the Vikings played the Redskins last year on Christmas Eve, the game featured Adrian Peterson writhing on the turf with a knee injury, a 100-yard rushing game from Toby Gerhart, and an victory engineered by backup quarterback Joe Webb that effectively locked the team out of the RGIII Sweepstakes. Leslie Frazier was quoted after the game saying that the win would put him in a great holiday mood to spend Christmas with his family. Obviously this guy is so clueless that someone could give him a present of gift-wrapped manure, and he would spend the day happily looking for a pony.
For those of you who have drunk from the purple Kool Aid and leaped on the Vikings’ bandwagon…you might want to hold off on purchasing airline tickets to the Super Bowl. Sunday’s 38-26 loss to an eminently beatable Redskins team was more than just a great individual performance by Robert Griffin III. It was an illustration of the fatal flaws in Leslie Frazier’s coaching philosophy.
Leslie Frazier is so conservative that he makes Rush Limbaugh look like Rachel Maddow. His favorite flavor is vanilla, and it’s the only item on the menu for the Vikings’ Tampa Two defense. His other preferred ingredient is nuts, which is the only way to describe the team’s red zone offense.
Nutty is making trips to the red zone on the first three drives of the game and not having Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin on the field. The result? Three Blair Walsh field goals. Crazy is still running an obviously injured Peterson into the line late in the game, even though urgency and time management were critical to the team’s comeback chances.
I could use this space to complain about Minnesota blowing their chance to get RG III, but I have no confidence that the coaching staff has the creativity and brainpower to properly use him. They certainly did a horrible job making adjustments to his freakish skills and college style option offense on Sunday.
Frazier’s “one size fits all” defense was totally ill equipped to counter RG III’s crafty ball handling, pinpoint passing, and otherworldly rushing, especially on third down. After halftime, the Vikings bit hard on every ball fake, and when they did finally blitz, the roof caved in and Griffin skated for a backbreaking 76-yard touchdown dash. Game over.
Have you noticed that whenever Christian Ponder tries a play action pass, the defense is never buying what he’s selling? Defenders are still crowding the line with eight in the box, and the fake handoff to Peterson should be a great play, except that Ponder isn’t exactly the David Copperfield of prestidigitation. He’s not even the amazing Kreskin.
Great ball handlers like Kurt Warner and RGIII are so smooth that they often fake out the cameraman. Ponder just gives the play a wink and a nod, often yards away from the back. Why bother? Perhaps we should bring in a guest magician to tutor him on the fine art of fakery. Maybe then our offense won’t do a disappearing act in the red zone.
Next week the Vikings host Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals at the Mall of America Metrodome. Thankfully neither John Skelton or Kevin Kolb is the second coming of RGIII, but Christian Ponder is going to have to vastly improve his accuracy and ball security for the Vikes to return to their winning ways. It also wouldn’t hurt to have Jerome Simpson on the field to stretch out the Cardinals’ pass coverage. Otherwise Vikings fans might have to endure another vanilla Sunday.