Frazier Made Right Call On 4th-Quarter Punt

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 24, 2011 – 12:20 pm

Some have questioned the Vikings decision to punt the ball away when they were faced with a 4th and 10 situation on their own 36-yardline with 2:37 to play in the game and the Packers leading by 6 points. Those who do question that decision are wrong. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier made the right call in punting, even though the outcome of the game went the wrong way.

The right decision in that instance is to punt the ball because that decision extends the game. Had the Vikings gone for it and missed, Green Bay is set up already in FG range. At that point, even if the Vikings defense holds Green Bay to zero yards on 3 consecutive plays, K Mason Crosby – who hit a 58-yarder earlier in the game – would come on to try a FG that would put the visitors up by 10 9 with around 2 minutes to go. Game over. And even if the Vikings convert that 4th and 10, they have a fresh set of downs, but still another 50+ yards to go for the go-ahead score.

Armed with 3 timeouts and the 2-minute warning, the right move is to punt because A) it put Green Bay deep in their own territory, B) it puts Green Bay in an all-run mode for playcalling so they can force the Vikings to use their timeouts and C) it could eventually create even better field position for the Vikings on their next drive if they force the Packers to punt after 3 plays.

As it turned out, the Vikings defense was unable to stop the Packers running game after punting. But prior to Green Bay running out the clock, the Vikings defense had held Green Bay’s offense to just 19 yards and 1 first down on the previous 7 plays, and the Vikings defense had also allowed just 59 rushing yards all game.

Frazier discussed the decision to punt while meeting with reporters on Monday afternoon.

“Not really,” Frazier said when asked if he was apprehensive about his decision to punt. “Not when I knew what the situation was with the clock and the belief I had in our run defense and the timeouts that we had and the two-minute (warning). I just thought it was a perfect storm for us. We had a chance to even get the ball back with plenty of time with better field position than what we started with the drive before. So no, I fully believe that it was the right thing to do at the time.”

And Frazier is right. Punting was the right decision because it ensured that the Vikings would remain alive. Going for it and not making it would’ve ended the game on the spot.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 115 Comments »

Jared Allen Continues Assault On QBs, Record Books

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 24, 2011 – 10:04 am

When we first started discussing Jared Allen’s chances of recording his 100th career sack during the 2011 season, I was thinking it’d be exciting to see it happen in Week 17 against Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. But with the tear Allen is on now (since Week 9 of 2010, actually), he’s on pace to get his 100th sack by Thanksgiving weekend when the Vikings travel to Atlanta for a contest against Matt Ryan and the Falcons.

Of course it would be a run of historic proportions if Allen gets there by Week 12, but the point remains Allen’s incredible run of QB sacks this season has him on pace to reach the century mark at some point over the next 9 games.

On Sunday Allen sacked Packers QB Aaron Rodgers twice, giving him 12 sacks against Green Bay for his career – the most he’s had against any team – and also giving him a new Vikings franchise record for consecutive games with at least a .5 sack. Allen’s streak is now at 9 games, and he’s passed the previous record set by Jim Marshall in 1969 and matched by Carl Eller in 1975-76. Perhaps more impressive, dating back to last season Allen now has at least a .5 sack in 15 of his last 16 games.

Allen now has 11.5 sacks for the season, which is tops in the NFL, and he has 94.5 career sacks, which is also tops in the NFL since he entered the League in 2004. Allen now ranks 3rd all-time for sacks in the first eight seasons, with only a pair of Hall of Famers in Reggie White (124.0) and Derrick Thomas (98.0) having recorded more in their first eight seasons.

With just 5.5 sacks to go until 100.0, the countdown is getting closer and closer. The Vikings play at Carolina this Sunday, then they go into their bye week. Coming out of the bye, the Vikings play at Green Bay, vs. Oakland, at Atlanta, vs. Denver, at Detroit, vs. New Orleans, at Washington and vs. Chicago. No matter how you slice it, if Allen gets to 100.0 sacks this season it will likely come against a fairly high-profile passer.

The QB he gets to for #100 isn’t as important as actually getting there, whether it happens in 2011 or at a later time. The bottom line is Allen has been a tremendously important part of this defense, and great part of the Vikings identity since 2008. In fact, since 2008 (when the Vikings acquired Allen via trade) only DeMarcus Ware (52.5) has more sacks than Allen’s 51.5.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 48 Comments »

Ponder Shows Poise, Promise

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 24, 2011 – 7:10 am

This week’s Monday morning aftermath doesn’t contain discussion about a Vikings victory. But it does contain the next best thing – discussion that the Vikings may have found a QB of the future.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and defensive end Jared Allen refused to describe Sunday’s 6-point loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers as a “moral victory,” but there’s no question the overall morale of the fan base is much higher now than it has been in nearly 20 months. And it’s all because of how rookie QB Christian Ponder performed in his first career NFL start on Sunday.

Ponder’s stat line will not wow you – he was 13 of 32 for 219 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs – but anyone who watched the Vikings performance also watched a young QB who seems to have a bright future. Ponder did many of the hard things the QB position at the NFL level requires one to do, such as stand in the pocket and deliver a throw knowing you’re going to be hit hard, tuck the ball and scramble ahead when the plays breaks down, and convert key 3rd-down throws late in the game. And he did those things in his first career start.

Ponder got the party going early, hitting WR Michael Jenkins on the game’s very first play for a 73-yard TD that was eventually overturned to a 72-yard gain. Two plays later, Ponder found TE Visanthe Shiancoe for the TD. Ponder led another TD drive in the 2nd quarter, and at halftime he had the Vikings staked to a 7-point lead.

A rough 3rd quarter that included 2 INTs and 20 unanswered points by the Packers didn’t discourage the rookie. Ponder bounced back in the 4th quarter to lead a TD drive that put the Vikings in position to mount a comeback. After the Vikings defense held on the Packers ensuing drive, Ponder looked poised to lead a game-winning drive.

The game-winning drive wasn’t in the cards for this week. But at least now it looks like the Vikings have a franchise QB in their deck.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 193 Comments »