Craig: Vikings bounce from one QB to the next

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 20, 2013 - 11:15 AM

No matter which Vikings QB gets the ball, he doesn’t play well enough to keep it.

Imagine reaching the end of a terrible workday. You’ve just stepped out of the shower, you’re half-naked and getting dressed when a group of people sidle up to you. With tape recorders and cameras rolling, these folks want you to relay to the world how you really feel about your co-workers and bosses.

You probably wouldn’t be entirely forthcoming, eh?

Now you know how the Vikings feel during this year’s 2-8 free-fall. Particularly the quarterbacks, all three of whom essentially were asked some form of “What the heck’s going on at quarterback?” following Sunday’s 41-20 loss at Seattle.

“I don’t know,” last week’s starter, Christian Ponder, said.

“That’s a question you’ll have to ask [coach] Leslie [Frazier],” backup Matt Cassel said.

And …

“It’s not really my job to make sense of the situation,” said Josh Freeman, the favorite to start against the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Frazier has sidestepped the question about who will start twice this week. He might do the same Wednesday when the Vikings return to Winter Park to begin preparing for the Packers in earnest.

It’s hard to blame Frazier as he tries to navigate one of the more difficult NFL quarterback quandaries you’ll ever see unfold over the course of 2½ months. By now, Frazier has to feel like the game-show contestant who wants the Corvette but wins the donkey no matter which door he chooses.

Combined, the Vikings’ quarterbacks have turned the ball over 17 times in 10 games. They own a minus-8 turnover differential compared to the opposing quarterbacks. And the differential for the points scored off those turnovers is minus-41.

Now compare that to Russell Wilson, who has directed the Seahawks to an NFL-best 10-1. His turnover differential compared to opposing quarterbacks is plus-8 with a plus-54 point differential.

Amazingly, this week marks the seventh time in 11 games that Frazier has faced having to make a decision on his starting quarterback. Three of them have been injury-related.

Let’s analyze those decisions here. Just follow the bouncing ball, literally, as we use turnovers to try and figure out why Frazier made the decisions he made. Just keep in mind that it’s not Frazier’s job to lose games so his successor can draft Johnny Football.

Decision time I: Week 4 vs. Steelers.

The skinny: Ponder to Cassel. Ponder broke a rib during the Week 3 loss to Cleveland. The only mistake was waiting until three days before the game to announce that Ponder had broken a rib.

Turnover situation: This was an opportune injury. Not only was Ponder 0-3, but he had seven turnovers.

Decision time II: Week 6 vs. Panthers.

The skinny: Cassel stays put. Ponder’s rib had healed after the bye, but sticking with Cassel after a victory over the Steelers was a no-brainer.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta 0 Top 3rd Inning
Philadelphia 0
Chicago Cubs 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
NY Yankees 0
Cleveland 3 Bottom 2nd Inning
Detroit 1
Washington 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Miami 0
Seattle - F. Hernandez 7:05 PM
Texas - Y. Darvish
Boston - C. Buchholz 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - J. Danks
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - T. Milone 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Los Angeles - P. Maholm 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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