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Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings*

After the Minnesota Vikings’ 22-17 loss Sunday at the Kansas City Chiefs, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. This tweet from @NFL caught my eye: “Did Bernard Berrian really tell a legless war vet to sit down and shut up?” The backstory: Sunday night, Berrian (@B_Twice) re-tweeted a fan’s message that he had been open “at least 5 times” during Sunday’s game and that the Vikings should throw more often to him. Berrian also responded: “Been like that the last 4 yrs.” That drew the ire, or at least the humor, of Minnesota state Rep. John Kriesel, who encouraged his followers to check out Berrian’s “hilarious” Twitter feed. Berrian didn’t take kindly to Kriesel’s suggestion, inviting him to watch film with him or else “sit down n shut up,” and seemed unmoved when informed Kriesel is a state representative who lost his legs in combat in Iraq. So yes, Berrian did tell a legless war vet to sit down and shut up. But Kriesel didn’t appear insulted, and the real issue is that the Vikings have actually targeted Berrian on 15 passes this season. He’s caught two. I’m sure there is blame to go around, but Berrian would be wise not to play the “I’m open and they’re not getting me the ball” card. He hasn't converted many of his chances. *Update: Coach Leslie Frazier said Berrian "called to apologize" for his Twitter comments, presumably referring to Kriesel.

  2. I don’t have much more to say about Frazier’s plan to keep quarterback Donovan McNabb as his starter while rookie Christian Ponder remains on the bench. My guess is Frazier doesn’t want to make a move that would signal he is giving up on the season. McNabb isn’t playing poorly enough to justify a benching. So there would be only one way to view Ponder’s ascension: As the beginning of preparations for the 2012 season. That’s the level of angst the Vikings added when they traded for McNabb. Frazier will have to navigate an additional layer before he can accomplish what has been the ultimate goal all along: Getting Ponder onto the field.

  3. Defensive end Jared Allen picked up another two sacks to leapfrog Dallas Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware in the NFL rankings. But Allen’s 6.5 sacks this season still ranks second in the league after Jason Babin of the Philadelphia Eagles notched three on Sunday, bringing his season total to 7.0. I’m sure Allen was fired up about playing his former team, but one thing the Vikings can be relatively confident of is that Allen will continue to play hard and with aggression no matter what their record is.

And here is one issue I still don’t get:

I’ve seen some bad Vikings teams over the years. Their teams in 2001, 2002 and 2006 were especially inept. The 2011 team doesn’t feel like an undermanned or incompetent team. And yet they’re one of four teams in Vikings history to start 0-4. If they don’t beat the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Vikings will be 0-5 for the first time since 1962. (Hat tip to my friend Judd Zulgad for that bit of research.) This doesn’t look or feel like anything close to one of the worst teams in franchise history. I think that’s why we’re getting largely incoherent explanations from coaches and players. All four of their losses have come by one score or less. They’re waiting for those close games to even out. I guess.