The Vikings are reeling. After the beat down they took against Green Bay, who wouldn’t be? Minnesota is 3-7 and in 3rd place in the NFC North with only the Detroit Lions behind them. This week I had a conversation with Dan Zinski, the lead writer for The Viking Age - a blog covering the Minnesota Vikings. We discussed issues ranging from coaching changes to quarterback play and more. Here’s what we covered on Tuesday.
Kevin: The Vikings have not looked good this year, does getting rid of Brad Childress eliminate the problem? or is it deeper than the head coach?
Dan: Brad Childress had a lot of problems as a coach, primarily his poor game management and incredibly poor people skills. Everyone already thinks Leslie Frazier is much better with the players – especially Brett Favre, who Frazier went to bat for earlier this year when Childress wanted to bench him – so we assume there will be a lot less tension in the locker room. What we don’t know is whether Frazier is actually any better at in-game coaching than Childress was. If Frazier pulls a Chilly-like gaffe – a bad challenge for example or an ill-advised attempt at going for it on 4th down – Viking fans may experience a sickening sense of deja vu. The hope is that Frazier is calmer under pressure than Chilly, who seemed in over his head at times (like the NFC title game, when everyone but Favre seemed to panic). Also, fans are hoping that with Chilly’s conservative influence gone, both the offense and defense will feel more comfortable opening things up. Unfortunately, even without Childress and his grating presence, the Vikings have a lot of issues: Favre is pretty much washed-up, they’re battered along the offensive line, the Williams Wall is no longer dominating and the secondary is just brutal.
Kevin: Frazier’s first action after he was named interim head coach was to make it clear that Brett Favre will continue to start. Does Brett still give you guys the best chance to win?
Dan: Unfortunately Favre is all we have. Tarvaris Jackson is terrible and Joe Webb won’t be ready to go for two years at the earliest. Of course we had Sage Rosenfels but Childress traded him away after some negative quotes about Chilly were attributed to him (perhaps erroneously). I personally would love to be able to bench Favre, who I think is a shadow of his 2009 self, but I’ve seen T-Jack and would rather have old, broken-down Favre. I guess people are hoping that with Chilly gone Favre will be re-invigorated but I don’t see it. I think he still tries but his body lets him down and he gets frustrated.
Kevin: The Redskins have been up and down all season, what do you think is the Redskins best asset as a team? Worst liability? Same question but for the Vikings. What do you guys do well? What do you need to work on?
Dan: Speaking as a Viking fan who is sick of watching our secondary get torched, I’d like to have a few of those Redskins defensive backs, especially Landry (and Hall but only against Jay Cutler). Playmakers in the secondary are always fun to watch. As for the worst liability, I guess you’d have to say the offensive line. Seems like every time I flip over to the Skins, Donovan McNabb is lying on his back. On the Vikings side of things, I think our biggest asset is our skill position talent on offense. No one in the league has a trio as exciting as Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin when all are healthy, and when you can add Visanthe Shiancoe to that, it has the potential to be great. Unfortunately the pass protection has not been good enough for us to fully utilize all those weapons. The offensive line has suffered injuries, and without Chester Taylor, we’ve struggled to find someone who can pick up a blitz on third down. Favre is fading fast enough as it is, and it doesn’t help to have him getting hit constantly on top of it. Now we’re even worse off because Anthony Herrera is out for the season.
Kevin: How do you think Minnesota will do at Washington? Will the change at head coach make a difference?
Dan: I have a sneaking suspicion that firing Childress won’t change much for the Vikings in the short-term. They’ve been terrible on the road all season and I expect that to continue. If the Bears game was any indication, Donovan McNabb should have plenty of time to throw (even with a slapped-together offensive line), and if the Packer game was any indication, he should have wide-open receivers. I doubt there’s much Leslie Frazier can tweak in only a few days to really turn around what has been going wrong offensively and defensively.
Kevin: So, who wins and what’s the score?
Dan: Redskins win 21-10. The ‘Fire Frazier’ chants begin.
This deep into the 2010 season, pointing out the flaws of the Redskins would be a waste of time. We all know that this squad goes as the protection for McNabb does. Dan seems to think that our makeshift offensive line may be able to hold against Minnesota and I actually agree. I think that if we can contain Adrian Peterson similar to how we did Chris Johnson, we can win this game. Brett Favre has looked awful but we all know that no matter how bad a team supposedly is, Washington finds a way to let them hang around – or in the case of St. Louis and Detroit, let them win. I think the Redskins hold Peterson to less than 100 yards on the ground and maybe a score. I think Brett gets a TD pass but throws at least two interceptions to go along with it. The Redskins finally win a game they should, 24-14.