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.





Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
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Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
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Robert Morris 60
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Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
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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 NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




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