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Doug Wolter: Vikings have a big mess to clean up

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A little bit about a bunch of things regarding the dear old NFL:

Da Vikings

I don’t know who the Minnesota Vikings will choose to be their new head coach, but it’s interesting to consider how closely coaches’ futures are tied to the players under them. Recently fired head coach Leslie Frazier was lauded by the entire league in 2012 when Adrian Peterson’s legs took the team to the playoffs. A year later, as the team still failed to address its woeful quarterback situation, Frazier is out.

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In a telling recent interview, Frazier appeared to throw General Manager Rick Spielman under the bus for his inability to get him the players he needs to be successful. Fair enough. But as things apply to quarterbacks, there is plenty of blame to go around.

If Spielman were prescient, he would have addressed the team’s woeful quarterback situation last year. He chose to stay with Christian Ponder for too long — even though it was obvious to everyone else that Ponder was never going to be a difference-maker in the NFL. That said, Frazier’s mishandling of the quarterbacks this season was beyond ridiculous. For most of the year, he made excuses for Ponder’s performances and ignored his backup, Matt Cassel. The hiring of Tampa Bay cast-off Josh Freeman is reported to have been Frazier’s brilliant decision, proof that he never had confidence in Ponder in the first place.

When Cassel was signed, I had said that the Vikings had their starting quarterback — not an outstanding quarterback, for sure, but certainly someone better than Ponder. But Cassel was treated shabbily even after Ponder continued to fail to live up to expectations.

Of course, we’re not even discussing the Vikings’ defense here. They have lots of holes to fill there, too.

As for the quarterback situation, the smart move would be for them to jettison Ponder. He’s no longer going to be the starting quarterback. His time is up in Minnesota. Freeman? Please. It might be a good idea for them to keep Cassel; he’s obviously not the long-term answer, but he can be a place-holder or a credible backup. But if I were Cassel, I wouldn’t necessarily want to stay.

So the Vikings could be without all three of their QBs, not that any of them were quality to begin with. It goes without saying that the 2014 draft will be an important one for this team. Let’s hope they don’t “reach” for another quarterback like they did when Ponder came aboard.

Touchy subject

Speaking of the Vikings, here I go skittishly (and probably foolishly) wading into the Chris Kluwe controversy. First of all, the most important point to make regarding this brouhaha is it is a serious breach of decency to fire someone for having strong convictions. Kluwe was obviously entitled to speak out on gay rights issues while performing in the NFL.

I’m a little bit perturbed, however, that he should wait until more than a year after alleged incidents took place in 2012 to charge special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as a “bigot” for comments he allegedly made regarding homosexuals. For his part, Priefer vigorously denies Kluwe’s allegations.

One has to wonder why, if Kluwe is telling the truth, the incidents he describes weren’t handled in real time, when he was still a member of the Vikings. And if he isn’t telling the truth —if Priefer is innocent (several Vikings players have risen to defend his reputation) —Kluwe is guilty of not just sour grapes, but of something far worse.

Loose ends

- The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in a playoff game Saturday, 45-44, after trailing 38-10 in the second half. The comeback was remarkable by any standard, but in any other league it would have been more remarkable than it was. Comebacks are common in the NFL, or should I say leads are never safe in this league. If any franchise could discover how to protect a lead — even big leads — it will have learned something that, as yet, no other team in the league has figured out.

Be honest. Did anybody really, really believe the Colts were too far gone when they fell behind by 28 points? Me neither.

- Apparently, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones prefers to let in more playoff teams. This, of course, would increase the chances that his perennially choke-prone team might stumble into the tournament. But it would also mean that more 8-8 teams, and even some 7-9 teams, might qualify. Is that what we want? No. No way.

- I was rooting for the cold weather teams to win last weekend. Three of them — Green Bay, Cincinnati and Philadelphia — got the weather purportedly to their advantage and still tasted defeat. It may be time to put to rest the assumption that teams from cold weather climates that play in outdoor stadiums always have the advantage when weather turns frigid. Perhaps a better gauge is the general quality of the combatants.

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Doug Wolter
Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and six grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He self-publishes short stories in his spare time.
(507) 376-7328
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