The Minnesota Vikings lost in ordinary fashion last Sunday to the San Diego Chargers despite the fact their questionable defense played well enough to win. The fact that the game was finally decided after three penalties on the defensive line is irrelevant; the offense put them in that position.
Much like his predecessors, head coach Leslie Frazier put his faith into a former Pro-bowler, a decision that finally cost Brad Childress his job. But Frazier won't, and shouldn't, be judged so quickly. There just weren't that many options to choose from.
Despite the miserable performance of quarterback Donovan McNabb, the Vikings made the best decision with what was available.
Former starter Tarvaris Jackson threw for almost 200 yards and two touchdowns, but Seattle was still doubled-up in their loss to the 49ers. His time in purple was marked by inconsistent play, which carried over to the Seahawks as he turned the ball over twice.
Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton was available for a third-round pick, but no team took the bait. He may have thrown for 300 yards, but he dropped back 46 times, threw an interception and finished with a rating of 71.3. Worse was his fumble in the fourth quarter. With an open receiver in the end zone he clumsily let the ball (and game) slip out of his hands.
The Denver crowd booed Orton throughout the fourth quarter and chanted for Tim Tebow even as Orton led his team towards the end zone in a failed effort to rally.
The Vikings declined to make an offer for former Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck because the price was too high. Understanding that the team needed to solidify its most important position for the first time in 10 years, the Vikings weren't looking for a long-term commitment from an older quarterback.
Hasselbeck turned down a one-year offer from Seattle for a three-year, $21-million deal in Tennessee. The Titans were held scoreless for nearly three quarters against Jacksonville and needed a late touchdown to make it close, ultimately the game ended after a Hasselbeck interception.
Kevin Kolb was the only real option for a "franchise" quarterback but the price was astronomical. Arizona not only traded Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick for Kolb, but they also gave him a $63 million contract with $20 million guaranteed on his five-year deal. That, for a 27 year-old with only seven career starts.
Of the available quarterbacks Kolb was the only one to lead his team to a win, but he was outplayed by a rookie quarterback on a team with only two wins last year.
It was Childress who made the decisions that doomed the franchise this year. Ultimately he was always judged by his faith in Jackson.
Frazier will be held to the same standard as Minnesota chose not to trade up in the draft because Christian Ponder was the quarterback they targeted. The biggest difference though, is the mentality of this coaching staff.
Chilly preached his system and forced his quarterbacks to conform to it. Frazier, along with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, will take the opposite approach.
"I'm looking forward to utilizing their strengths," Musgrave said about the offense. "The offensive weapons on this squad are impressive."
It was not completely evident on Sunday, but McNabb can't really play any worse. If he does it will be time to start judging Frazier as Ponder takes the field.
T.J.?Melcher can be heard on The Football Show Mondays from 6-7 p.m. on KBUN AM1450