I have some cheap advice for the Wilf family. When hiring a head coach for the Vikings, don’t ever pick one with the first name Les again. Think about it, Les Steckel and Leslie Frazier were both promising assistant coaches who were supposed to be hot commodities on the NFL radar.
Both were advertised as having bright minds, spotless resumes, prodigious
organizational skills, and innovative plans for positive future results. Both took over intriguing, but underachieving, teams and turned them into train wrecks with 3-13 records.
Let’s be honest. Seattle’s CenturyLink Stadium has been a place were NFL offenses have gone to die this season. The combination of a deafening home crowd, the time zone adjustment, and a dominating defense has sent big-time quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady home to lick their wounds. Christian Ponder shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as Brady and Rodgers. In the galaxy of NFL quarterbacks, Ponder is a black hole. Nobody expected him to lead the team to victory, but there was hope that after his dismal performance last week the coaching staff would make adjustments to keep him upright and help him compete. They did such a great job that Ponder finished the game completing 11 passes for 63 yards (44 net yards), and was sacked four times.
For most of Sunday’s game, Ponder’s eyes had that look that you usually only see at a Humane Society, or a MASH unit. The man has been hit so often that he starts to flinch and run before contact is ever initiated.
Unfortunately, his favorite escape route is to scramble right, which puts him behind the weakest part of our line. Guard Brandon Fusco is a promising work in progress at guard, but there’s no way that he can compensate for the astonishing incompetence of tackle Phil Loadholt. The play that most told the tale of Loadholt’s career came in the second half. The Seahawks blitzed from the outside, he turned inside, and left Adrian Peterson to block two defenders. You can guess how this one turned out. Ponder finished the play writhing in pain on the turf.
In Sunday’s 30-20 loss, Frazier was outcoached by Pete Carroll, who isn’t exactly the second coming of Vince Lombardi. From a purely physical perspective, the difference in the two coaches’ sideline demeanor was dramatic. Carroll worked the sidelines like a guy organizing a hula hoop
contest for a company picnic. Frazier has the personality of a turnip.
His unchanging facial expression looked like that of a spoiled kid who just had ice cream dumped down his pants at a birthday party. On Sunday, the company picnic guy won. Carroll’s team was poised, prepared, and passionate. The Vikings’ uninspired game plan and stubborn coaching decisions condemned the team to defeat, despite another otherworldly effort by Adrian Peterson.
The Seahawks had the 5th best defense against the rush going into the game, but they had no answer for Adrian Peterson. Peterson started the game with a 74-yard explosion that was the second-longest rush of his career. He finished the game with 182 yards and two touchdowns. It turned out that the only thing that could stop Peterson was the Vikings’ coaching staff. They put him in their own version of a “sideline pattern,” and he only rushed for 38 yards on five carries after halftime. Despite Peterson’s well deserved reputation as being an “all day” runner, more often than not he was on the sidelines during key moments of the game. There’s a well-worn axiom that fits for most sports. If something is working…keep doing it until the other team learns to stop it. Peterson averaged 9.9 yards a carry against a talented defense that was stacking the box. Would the Seahawks have been able to come up with a plan to stop him? Thanks to Leslie Frazier and our coaching staff, we’ll never know.