Frazier implores McNabb to 'let it go'

  • Article by: MARK CRAIGMCRAIG@STARTRIBUNE.COM
  • Updated: October 13, 2011 - 7:35 AM

Coach wants his quarterback to take a few more chances in the passing game.

It sounds so strange coming on the heels of Brett Favre's two years in Minnesota, but the Vikings now have a quarterback who's sometimes too careful with the football.

While praising Donovan McNabb for the team's low turnover total, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he also has talked to McNabb about the need to be more aggressive in the passing game.

"He's done a great job of not turning the ball over, which is a big deal because of the way we play," Frazier said Wednesday. "It's one of the reasons we've been in these games the way we have.

"But you can't play this game cautious. He knows that. He's had a ton of success in this league. Sometimes, you just got to let it go. And he will, and he has."

Frazier talked about one play in particular. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe stumbled after being jammed at the line of scrimmage. Rather than let the ball go, trusting that Shiancoe would get to his spot, McNabb tried to pull it back but ended up short-hopping the pass on a play that could have resulted in a big gain.

"[McNabb] wasn't quite sure [Shiancoe] was going to get his head around fast enough," Frazier said. "It wasn't the kind of throw [McNabb] wanted to make."

The Vikings are tied for the league lead in fewest turnovers (four). McNabb has thrown only two interceptions to go with four touchdowns. But the Vikings also rank 31st in passing and actually average more yards rushing (160) than passing (155.8).

Although his turnovers are low, McNabb also is completing just 56.8 percent of his passes. For his 13-year career, McNabb has a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (234-117), but is only a 58.9 percent passer. And that's having played most of his career in a West Coast system that typically views 65 percent as the target for completion percentage.

Again, it seemed so strange that Favre's successor was having to defend his cautious style of play.

"You stay aggressive, but you got to be smart with the ball," McNabb said. "At this position, you have to manage the game. When you have a running back like Adrian [Peterson] and tight ends like we have, you have to manage the game.

"If you have an opportunity for a touchdown, you take it. If it's one that could go either way, maybe sometimes it's smart to check the ball down or get it to your second or third reads and let those guys run with it."

McNabb and mechanics

Frazier started this ball rolling two weeks ago when he mentioned how coaches had studied film of McNabb and were going to work on some things in practice to improve his "mechanics." McNabb bristled back then about the notion that he might have to change his mechanics. Now, he's just getting plain tired of the topic, which was brought up again Wednesday in light of McNabb's 10-for-21 passing effort in Sunday's 34-10 win over the Cardinals.

"This whole mechanics thing is getting our of hand," McNabb said. "Everybody works on mechanics, no matter what position you play. You watch film and you try to work on your profession. So this whole mechanics thing really isn't something I have changed or anything. When a play has to be made, you have to make it."

Asked point-blank why he's been so inaccurate this season, McNabb said, "I guess, according to y'all [the media], my whole career I've been inaccurate. It's just making the play when the play needs to be made."

Winfield misses practice

Cornerback Antoine Winfield, who missed Sunday's game because of a neck strain, did not practice. Receiver Percy Harvin (ribs), linebackers E.J. Henderson (knee) and Kenny Onatolu (hamstring) were limited. Free safety Husain Abdullah (pelvis) and defensive end Jared Allen (eye) had full participation.

For the Bears, defensive end Julius Peppers has what coach Lovie Smith called a "minor" left knee sprain. Peppers did not practice Wednesday, but Smith said he's hopeful Peppers can practice on Friday. Receiver Earl Bennett (chest), offensive tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) and defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (knee) also did not practice. Cornerback Charles Tillman (hip) was limited.

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