Souhan: Vikings' anonymity overseas for one week might be fine

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2013 - 4:48 PM

LONDON – If the Vikings were playing well enough to be taken seriously, flying to London for a purported home game would have been seen as a risk to their playoff hopes.

At 0-3, the trip is ideal. The Vikings ingeniously discovered an English-speaking country where nobody cares enough about Christian Ponder to boo.

Pick up a newspaper in London, and there is no angst over the Vikings’ embarrassing performances.
The Times features a hefty sports section beginning on the back page. Monday, the Times chronicled soccer, rugby, cricket, Formula One racing and cycling. There was no mention of Leslie Frazier’s challenge flag or Ponder’s critical pass toward a cheerleader, two throws equal in accuracy. There was no mention of the NFL, as they say here, “a-tall.”

The league schedules games in London as part of its plan for worldwide domination, but to date most of London views American football the way most Americans view cricket — as an odd-looking sport with indiscernible rules.

One of the Vikings’ many problems is that the game suddenly seems indiscernible to their coaches.
It has been a terrible three weeks for Frazier. The Vikings didn’t sign him to a contract extension after he took the team to the playoffs in 2012, making this a must-win or at least must-impress season, and he has started 0-3 in the most unsightly of ways. If he is fired during the season or dismissed afterward, he might regret his choice of coordinators.

When Frazier replaced Brad Childress during the 2010 season, he promoted linebackers coach Fred Pagac to defensive coordinator, Frazier’s former position. Pagac was a disaster.

In January of 2012, Frazier demoted Pagac to linebackers coach and hired Alan Williams, with whom he worked in Indianapolis, as his new defensive coordinator. By not hiring a recognized name for the position, the presumption was that Frazier would spend at least a little of his time overseeing the defense.

Because of the murkiness of that arrangement, it’s difficult to apportion blame for the Vikings’ inept play on defense this season. What is clear is that the arrangement has not worked.

In January of 2011, Frazier hired Bill Musgrave, the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback coach and assistant head coach, as his offensive coordinator. The move was remindful of Denny Green hiring Jack Burns in 1992. Neither Musgrave nor Burns were considered elite coaches or innovators, but both could bring ideas from a high-functioning offense.

Green dumped Burns after the 1993 season.

Musgrave in 2012 appeared to be a mixed bag. He frequently made befuddling moves, like leaving Adrian Peterson or Percy Harvin on the sideline in decisive moments. He also appeared to help Peterson, Harvin and Ponder perform to the best of their abilities.

Only three games into the 2013 season, it appears the Vikings have been outcoached three times.
They had all summer to prepare for the Lions’ Reggie Bush, but couldn’t keep him from shredding their defense in whatever manner he chose, costing the Vikings Game 1.

They left the defense in vulnerable formations on at least two key plays of the Bears’ game-winning drive in Game 2, calling into question the soundness of an arrangement in which Frazier and Williams have to think on their feet together under pressure.

In Game 3, Frazier threw a challenge flag when he shouldn’t have, and Musgrave for a third consecutive game failed to make spectacular rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson a constant presence in the offense.

In 2012, the coaching staff seemed to drain every last yard out of Peterson and every last completion out of Ponder.

In 2013, the coaching staff has failed. Ponder has regressed. The defense has regressed. Peterson’s production has regressed.

Monday night, the Vikings were scheduled to fly to London. They’ll play in Wembley Stadium and visit the Tower of London. They’ll be granted refuge from a fan base disgusted with their decisionmaking, and prepare for a game that could effectively spell the end for Frazier, his staff and an accomplished group of veteran players.

It might be a good week to read up on the Premier League. It might be a good week to go where nobody knows your name.

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. •

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New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
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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 Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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