Chip Scoggins: Adrift offense is in need of an identity

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 17, 2011 - 6:23 AM

Donovan McNabb doesn't deserve all the blame for the Vikings' latest failure to move the ball.

CHICAGO — How much longer can this go on?

That was the prevailing thought watching the Vikings stumble around aimlessly on offense Sunday night against the Chicago Bears. And you can't even pin it all on Donovan McNabb this time.

Oh, McNabb still had a few moments that made you shake your head, but everybody on that side of the ball had a hand in one of the ugliest displays of offense you'll ever see.

Facing one of the NFL's worst-ranked defenses that had two new starting safeties and wasn't exactly brimming with confidence, the Vikings managed three points, 22 rushing yards and seven first downs in the first half.

They trailed 26-3 at halftime and made enough mistakes to last a lifetime.

The second half wasn't much better as the Vikings limped out of Soldier Field with a 39-10 loss.

It's amazing that an offense featuring Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe can look so alarmingly inept and predictable. But it did for a variety of reasons.

So here's the question: What exactly is this team's identity on offense, other than hope and pray Peterson can save the day? They don't have a Plan B when a team stuffs the run the way the Bears did Sunday night.

"We had some things we wanted to answer with in the passing game," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We just couldn't get in sync. If you get in a position where you have to throw, then we've got to be able to make some of those throws and be able to protect the quarterback. We weren't able to do that."

Fans are clamoring to see rookie Christian Ponder, but honestly, it won't matter who plays quarterback if the line doesn't perform significantly better. The Bears controlled the line of scrimmage and generated five sacks and a ton of pressure.

Ponder saw his first NFL action in garbage time, but we have no idea if he's ready to take the reins for good. Let's be honest, though. This season is going nowhere, and at some point the Vikings need to see what they have in Ponder. The time is right for a change.

Frazier did not guarantee McNabb will remain the starter going forward.

"We have to sit down Monday and talk about a lot of things and decide what direction we want to go," he said.

Frazier has shown unwavering loyalty to McNabb so far. Frazier even told a Sports Illustrated reporter last week that the media are being unfairly harsh toward his quarterback.

"It's not justified what happens to him in the media," Frazier told SI. "Some of the shots that are taken at him are just unfair. They're just not right. But he's a strong guy. He handles it very, very well."

McNabb got testy last week when reporters continued to ask about possible flaws in his mechanics, saying that topic is "getting out of hand." He actually completed 15 of 19 passes for 138 yards in the first half, but his misses were so off the mark that it felt worse.

He threw his first pass to Shiancoe high and a little behind him. Incomplete.

McNabb tried a quick screen to Harvin on his second attempt, but cornerback D.J. Moore read it perfectly and nearly intercepted the pass for what would have been an easy walk-in touchdown. He also fired a few of his patented low throws and one-hoppers.

McNabb has become an easy target for criticism, but he also got little support around him Sunday.

"Always open" Bernard Berrian dropped a pass on third-and-5.

With the Vikings backed up at their 7-yard line, center John Sullivan whiffed on nose tackle Stephen Paea and then Peterson missed him, too, enabling Paea to sack McNabb in the end zone for a safety.

Wide receiver Michael Jenkins had a false start as the Vikings lined up to go for it on fourth-and-3 at the Chicago 15. The penalty forced the Vikings to attempt a field goal, but the usually reliable Ryan Longwell hooked a 38-yarder.

Peterson rushed for only 39 yards on 12 carries. And the line was so shaky that the Vikings had little chance to succeed running or throwing.

Let's not forget, too, that the Bears were ranked 29th in the NFL in total defense. Didn't matter. Not against this offense.

"There is no other way to put it than it was ugly," Jenkins said.

That pretty much summed it up.

Chip Scoggins •

  • related content

  • Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb waited on the sideline before Christian Ponder took the field at Soldier Field.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 FINAL
Utah 98
LA Clippers 126 FINAL
Portland 122
New Orleans 113 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Anaheim 5
Colorado 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
Loyola-Chicago 63 FINAL
ULM 62
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question