No doubt Matt Cassel deserved all the praise he got last week after he had a great day against the Philadelphia Eagles, winding up with a 116.6 rating in a 48-30 victory.
Well, not to be critical of Cassel, but all the Vikings quarterbacks seem to be having trouble with consistency this year. The same Cassel who was a big star in the Philadelphia victory completed only 13 of 27 for 113 yards and was intercepted three times for a 32.6 rating, the lowest of any Vikings quarterback this year, Sunday’s 42-14 loss at Cincinnati.
Now coach Leslie Frazier might have second thoughts about putting Cassel in there again next week against the Lions. He might take a look at Christian Ponder to improve the perception of Ponder before next season.
What a difference a season makes. Last year this time the Vikings were 9-6 and looking forward to a game against the Packers that would put them in the playoffs. They ended the season with a four-game win streak and that playoff spot, and it was a Merry Christmas for Vikings fans.
This year, the fans got a lump of coal.
The Vikings lost that playoff game at Green Bay to end last season, but there was certainly something to look forward to. That is not the case this year.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was on the Vikings coaching staff from 1985-1989, and during that stretch became quite close with Bud Grant. Carroll would rarely make a move without consulting with Grant. They still confer on a regular basis.
One of the things that Carroll consulted with Grant on was the drafting of current Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, asking Grant whether Wilson, who is listed at 5-foot-10, could be an NFL quarterback.
Well if there was any doubt about the height problem, Grant reminded Carroll that a quarterback named Fran Tarkenton was 5-10 and he did pretty well.
Apparently that word from Grant relieved Carroll of any doubt about taking Wilson in the third round.
And what a pick that has been. Wilson continued his perfect record against Minnesota football teams with the Seahawks 41-20 win over the Vikings on Sunday. Wilson has now beaten the Vikings twice and the Gophers once, a 42-13 trouncing when he was at Wisconsin in 2011.
It is amazing how people have blown hot and cold on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.
Tom Brady will tell you that he is as good as his offensive line, and the Vikings offensive line has finally come around to a point where they are giving Ponder a chance to succeed.
Brandon Fusco, a second year right guard who was drafted after being a center at Slippery Rock, did a great job on Houston’s J.J. Watt, who is probably the most valuable defensive player in the league, on Sunday. Fusco did get a lot of help, but he has really developed this season.
In my opinion, John Sullivan is the best center in the NFC this year, and he should make the Pro Bowl.
Where would the Vikings be without rookie kicker Blair Walsh? He is another guy who should make the Pro Bowl. He might be the most valuable player on the team. He has an NFL-record nine field goals from 50 or more yards, and he tied a team record with his 56-yarder against the Texans.
The Vikings can make the playoffs with a victory against the Packers on Sunday, quite an achievement for a team that wasn’t supposed to win many games this year.
In the Vikings offices at Winter Park, they often have videoconferences with the principal owners of the team, Zygi and Mark Wilf, who are based in New Jersey.
There was such a meeting on Tuesday that was unusual, because the non-football executives took part.
You want a good guess what one of the topics was, in addition to updates on the stadium?
Well, look for an announcement any day that coach Leslie Frazier is going to get a contract extension. As reported in my column on Dec. 10, Frazier is going to be the team’s coach in the future, and I believe he will get a two- or three-year extension to his current deal, which expires after next season.
The Wilfs have an outstanding relationship with Frazier, one that has improved steadily since he took over as the team’s coach near the end of the 2010 season.
New thinking at U
All the talk about adding athletic facilities at the University of Minnesota has usually focused on putting those facilities around the TCF Bank Stadium-Williams Arena-Mariucci Arena area.
But Norwood Teague, the Gophers athletic director, and his new staff have different ideas. They would like to see everything built around the Bierman Building, including the basketball offices and any new basketball practice facility. The Gibson-Nagurski football building will be enlarged and remodeled, a new track will be built, among other things, if everything eventually gets approved. This is a change in thinking, but likely the way they will go.
One of the things that is upsetting Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, who said this week that he is unhappy and won't report to training camp unless "issues" are settled, is his contract.
Harvin saw center John Sullivan get a five-year, $25 million contract after last season. Sullivan is entering his fifth season with the team.
Harvin is entering the fourth season of his five-year, $12 million deal. His base salary over the next two years is a combined $2.5 million, and certainly he feels he as valuable to the team as a center is.
Furthermore, Harvin checked on salaries of several players at a similar stage in their careers, and many were making a lot more money.
Don't worry about Harvin being traded. That'll never happen.
Look for the Wilfs, owners of the team, to work out a multi-year contract for the great wide receiver, who is also a fine kick returner and can run the ball.
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