Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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Vikings are halfway to repeat of 2008 QB scenario

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: September 8, 2013 - 7:43 PM

The 2013 Vikings are coming off a 10-6 season in which they were a surprising entry in the NFC playoffs. There are expectations for another winning season and trip to the playoffs. With quarterback Christian Ponder entering his third season, Matt Cassel was brought in as a veteran backup.

The 2008 Vikings were coming off an 8-8 season in which they still had a chance to reach the playoffs entering the final weekend. There were expectations for a winning season and a trip to the playoffs. With quarterback Tarvaris Jackson entering his third season, Gus Frerotte was brought in as a veteran backup.

Les Frazier enters his third full season as Vikings' coach and without a contract beyond 2013. Brad Childress was in his third year of a five-year contract with the Vikings in 2008, but he was taking heat from the fans and the stadium-seeking owners were very aware of public opinion.

Ponder was the quarterback for a four-game winning streak at the end of the 2012 schedule to give the Vikings an unexpected playoff date in Green Bay. When he came up hurt for that game, Joe Webb played miserably and the Vikings couldn't muster a passing game to challenge the Packers.

In the aftermath of that, you heard from the Vikings and their fans that it could have been a competitive game in Lambeau Field that night, with a healthy Ponder.

The optimism over Ponder's finish to the regular season seemed to fade during the offseason. The endless analysis and numbers available put Ponder in the bottom tier of NFL's starters. And when the first-team offense looked largely ineffective in its sporadic appearances during the exhibitions, you weren't hearing much positive on the quarterback -- as the season opener approached.

Five years ago, the attitude toward Jackson might have been a tad more positive. As a rookie in 2006, there were many fans on the "T-Jack'' bandwagon ... until they actually had a chance to see him play on a cold night in Green Bay late in the season.

And then in 2007, he started 12 of the 16 games, and his best was the last in Denver -- a dynamic second half that took the Vikings into overtime. The locals won't admit it today, but there was some faith that Jackson could be workable as the quarterback entering the 2008 season.

The season opened with a 24-19 loss at Green Bay on a Monday night... in which Aaron Rodgers was making his first start for the Packers. Jackson went 16 for 35 for 178 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

The Vikings had better personnel than the rebuilding Packers that night. Jackson's failure to make plays when he had a chance was the difference.

The next game was the home opener vs. Indianapolis. The Vikings had a spectacular defensive effort against Peyton Manning in the first half. Then, Jackson couldn't make a play of note in the second half and the Vikings lost 18-15. T-Jack went 14 for 24 for 130 yards, without a touchdown or interception.

The Vikings were 0-2. The heat was building. And Childress went from being Jackson's No. 1 advocate to announcing on Wednesday that Frerotte was being elevated to the starting quarterback -- not for the next game but for the forseeable future.

"I'm just not seeing right now the aggressiveness from Tarvaris that I saw throughout the offseason, training camp, the two preseason games that he played in,'' Childress said. "Part of it may be experience. I know Gus will give us that.''

Jackson's response was: "This league is a business. That's one thing I've learned. You never know what might happen. My job is to go out there and try to win games. Obviously, we're 0-2, so [Childress] felt like he did what's best for the team. That's it.''

On Sunday, the 2013 season started with a 34-24 loss in Detroit. The defense was horrid against the Lions. If not for Detroit maintaining its tradition of being able to screw up a one-car parade, the winners would've been in the 40s against a Purple defense that was weak on the line and MIA at linebacker.

And yet the reaction from the media and the fans was that this loss belonged to Ponder. Certainly, he was as unsure of himself to start his third season as was Jackson five years earlier in Lambeau Field.

Childress was unwilling to see that season of expectations go down the drain due to poor quarterback play. After two losses, he dropped the young QB who wasn't doing the job in favor of Frerotte,

Let me predict right now that, if the Vikings lose in Chicago next Sunday and Ponder's poor play is a primary reason, Frazier will do the same ... and Cassel will be the starter for the home opener on Sept. 22 vs. Cleveland.

Childress had personnel power and was joined at hip with Jackson, but he wasn't going to ruin a season out of loyalty. Frazier and his boss, GM Rickm Spielman, won't ruin this one ... even if Ponder was drafted at 12th overall in 2011 to be the long-term starter.

 

 

 

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Memphis 7:30 PM
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Ottawa 1 2nd Prd 8:34
New Jersey 0
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Vancouver
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 50 2nd Half 11:39
Ball State 34
SIU Edwardsville 38 2nd Half 14:25
Campbell 46
St Francis-PA 58 2nd Half 7:08
Duquesne 45
North Florida 38 2nd Half 15:52
Florida State 53
Catawba 45 2nd Half 13:24
George Mason 62
Ferrum 33 2nd Half 11:43
High Point 69
Hampton 34 2nd Half 14:02
Illinois 49
Gardner-Webb 52 2nd Half 10:50
Jacksonville 50
Longwood 25 2nd Half 15:46
Miami-Ohio 44
Arkansas State 49 2nd Half 11:41
Miss State 41
Tennessee 39 2nd Half 11:02
NC State 55
NC A&T 38 2nd Half 8:02
Ohio State 80
Manhattan 33 2nd Half 11:21
Pittsburgh 42
Robert Morris 31 2nd Half 14:47
Toledo 55
Char Southern 37 2nd Half 9:06
Wofford 48
Kennesaw St 65 2nd Half 11:52
Youngstown St 55
Barber-Scotia 29 2nd Half 11:33
NC Central 82
Detroit 27 2nd Half
UCF 35
Liberty 23 1st Half 0:10
UNC-Wilmington 31
TX A&M-CC 7 1st Half 11:58
Denver 16
Ark-Pine Bluff 11 1st Half 11:36
Houston 13
UT Martin 13 1st Half 11:15
Illinois State 14
Milligan 21 1st Half 11:25
Louisiana 18
Abilene Christian 15 1st Half 12:52
Loyola-Chicago 11
USC Upstate 15 1st Half 12:03
Memphis 10
Alcorn State 11 1st Half 12:35
Murray State 12
Central Mich 15 1st Half 11:31
Northwestern 8
Georgia State 13 1st Half 11:45
Old Dominion 7
TX-Pan American 6 1st Half 12:24
Saint Louis 17
Ill-Chicago 5 1st Half 11:48
SMU 9
Texas State 14 1st Half 10:39
Stephen F Austin 11
SC State 6 1st Half 13:18
Texas Tech 21
Missouri State 14 1st Half 8:25
Tulsa 16
Chicago State 19 1st Half 10:45
Western Ky 14
Morehead State 5 1st Half 12:31
Green Bay 13
Northern Colorado 18 1st Half 10:46
Nebraska Omaha 20
Winthrop 8:00 PM
Auburn
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
Baylor
San Diego St 8:00 PM
Cincinnati
Eastern Mich 8:00 PM
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Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 63 2nd Half 0:33
Southern U 74
Oklahoma 58 2nd Half 5:15
(13) Duke 80
Savannah State 53 2nd Half 1:43
Auburn 55
Northern Colorado 18 2nd Half 15:25
South Florida 59
Youngstown St 32 2nd Half 10:30
Robert Morris 44
Siena 61 2nd Half 4:09
Sacred Heart 60
Vermont 52 2nd Half 6:19
St Francis-NY 49
(1) South Carolina 54 2nd Half 7:21
Hampton 39
Fla Gulf Coast 78 2nd Half 8:54
Bethune-Cookman 31
Texas Southern 63 2nd Half 13:09
Houston Baptist 52
Northwestern 61 2nd Half 13:34
UNLV 48
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Northern Ky 50
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St Bonaventure 60
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Northwestern St 21
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(3) Texas 21
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Wagner 20
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TX A&M-CC 6
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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 Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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