Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

After the Minnesota Vikings' 34-10 victory against the Arizona Cardinals, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. I honestly don't get what people expected from quarterback Donovan McNabb this season. He is generally a well-respected NFL citizen. So when the Vikings acquired him this summer from the Washington Redskins, no football person was going to come out and say how far his career had plummeted. But the evidence was all there for the taking. The Washington Redskins were willing to give him away for a sixth-round draft pick and take their chances with Rex Grossman and John Beck. The Vikings were able to leverage McNabb into a contract worth $5.05 million, one that befits a top backup. And that's the way he has played so far this season: Like a veteran seat-warmer. McNabb has been inaccurate on short and deep passes and has mustered one victory in five games. None of this should be a big surprise, nor should coach Leslie Frazier's decision to retain him as his starter. Frazier wanted a veteran to start ahead of a rookie he didn't think would be ready to play. The NFL doesn't have enough good quarterbacks for a team to find a high-functioning one who can fit that description. Frazier got a seat-warmer who is playing like one.

  2. Let's give defensive end Brian Robison some credit. A few of us wondered if the Vikings had made the right decision by allowing starter Ray Edwards to depart via free agency and inserting Robison into the starting lineup. Robison had been a backup for four seasons, and usually you are what you are by that point. But Robison's two-sack day Sunday brought his season total to 4.5, tying his career high. (It's also three more sacks than Edwards has for the Atlanta Falcons, but that's an apples-to-oranges comparison.) The Cardinals couldn't single-block Robison on Sunday, and his forced fumble on quarterback Kevin Kolb in the first quarter was one of the key plays in springing the Vikings to a 28-0 lead.

  3. I didn't think it was possible, but tailback Adrian Peterson ran with more purpose than I've seen him with the possible exception of the 2009 NFC Championship Game. That's not to say there are games that he doesn't run hard in. But you could just see in Peterson's eyes and movement that he wasn't going to be denied. The most impressive of his three touchdown runs was the last one. I doubt that rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson will forget coming in high and taking a 5-yard ride into the end zone. It's difficult for a non-quarterback to accomplish, but all superstars at times need to will their team to scores. Peterson did that Sunday.

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

This is truly a question I don't know the answer to: How does the Vikings' mostly veteran roster truly feel about McNabb? Most veterans want an experienced quarterback to avoid the roller coaster performances of a rookie. They want someone who knows where to throw it, gets them the ball on time and mostly on target. McNabb has done those things only sporadically this season. Are players OK with what they've seen? Or are their eyes starting to wander toward rookie Christian Ponder? Of course, players would know better than us if Ponder has a chance to be any better at this point.