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Pondering Change in Vikingland

Posted By Steven Keys On Sep 24 2011 @ 1:06 am In Minnesota Vikings | No Comments

He’s been called many things during his 13-year NFL career, mostly good, some not so good. But there’s one word you can’t pin on Donovan McNabb and that’s quitter.

Pushed aside for a running-man after a decade wearing Eagles green, then benched by the Redskins in only Week 6 of last season, the man from Syracuse is giving it one more try in Minnesota, a destination fast becoming the ‘Last Chance Gulch’ of the NFL.

Refusing to whine when Vick was being groomed for his job gave Donovan some heat. To the mind of a child it looked like he was giving-up. To the adult fan it was crystal clear: McNabb appreciates the team concept and knew his days in Philly were numbered.

But there’s another word that’s beginning to fit McNabb like a well-tailored suit: kaput.

You could see the skill-set start to erode early-on in Washington. Even when he managed to engineer that rare victory it was only on a wing and a prayer.

It was in DC that DM began to look like Dan Marino his final year. The fast fade. The heart was still there but the game had clearly passed him by. The downfield drives Dan had matriculated so easily for years suddenly became high-wage labor. What’s amazing is how QBs have any fire left at all after 10 years of getting the pulp beat out of ’em on the field and in the press.

And it’s only gotten worse for McNabb in purple. His new gig is off to an especially poor start in both the win-loss tally and personal statistics. The outrageous numbers being put up by young Mr. Newton in Carolina only magnify his own struggles.

The Vikings’ franchise man Adrian Peterson sees their predicament as a team problem: “We’ve just gotta’ do a better job of finishing (NFL Network / 9-18).”  The numbers back-up Peterson: 2nd half points, 44 (O) to 3 (V) (1st and 10 / 9-23).

Christian Ponder is waiting in the wings. Like another 1st-RD pick in Denver, he knows better than to spout-off about replacing the starter. Both’ll get their chance soon enough.

The time it takes to master the myriad of defensive looks and the beating his confidence must bear in the process makes coaches loathe to start rookie QBs. That won’t change.  But the skill-set (Mannings / Stafford / Bradford) and circumstance (Jags / Lions / Rams / Panthers) will dictate.

The lockout altered orientation of not only rookies but new vets as well, though DM had a leg up in knowing Vikes head coach Leslie Frazier (Eagles) and their offensive set.  He’s got one, maybe two more starts to get in sync.  That much time before Frazier starts to feel the heat and the chorus for change reverberates throughout Minnesota.

There’s nothing in the coach’s handbook preventing him from alternating QBs.  It’s been done before.  It could be useful to the training process.  But something had better give soon or it’ll be “Calling all cars!” in Vikingland.

Street Fare

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