With the Vikings' 0-4 start, Donovan McNabb has taken a lot of the heat and blame from fans. And to be fair, he hasn't been great. While he improved drastically from his 37-yard performance in Week 1, he still only has 680 yards (170 yards per game) with just a 58.6 percent completion rate and four TDs.
He does, however, only have two INTs and has made numerous plays with his feet. All that being said, he isn't the reason the Vikings are 0-4, and he shouldn't be benched now or any time soon.
The Vikings have been a mess all year, and McNabb isn't the reason for this.
Here are some players/problems to blame instead...
Bernard Berrian has never been a favorite of mine, but that's another story. I was hoping, with a new regime at the helm this year, Berrian would be cut and we could rid ourselves of him. Instead, Frazier gave him the biggest vote of confidence you could and told reporters he would have a "breakout season" this year.
So how does Berrian respond this year? With two catches for 37 yards. Not in a game, and not even in a half—it was all within four games.
Among the Vikings, he ranks last in people who have caught passes in terms of catches and yards. The Vikings should rid themselves of Berrian and try out the much more capable Devin Aromashodu, who had a great catch for a touchdown against the Chiefs and is only improving.
That may seem harsh to anyone not familiar with the Vikings, but in my (relatively) short time watching football, I've seen very few offensive lines worse than this one. Things didn't start well from the get-go this year when the team's starting left tackle was cut in training camp when he showed up to camp at 400 pounds.
But things have gotten worse.
When it comes to run blocking, they aren't awful, but too many times Adrian Peterson is having to break tackles in the backfield or find a different gap to run through because the line isn't getting their job done.
And when it comes to pass blocking, they are all sorts of awful. McNabb has been sacked 10 times this year, and considering this is a man known for being mobile, that's too high. When he's had time to throw, McNabb has looked great—but those moments come far too rarely for the Vikings to be effective.
Straight, simple and to the point. The Vikings are the third most penalized team in the league at an average of eight penalties a game for 66.8 yards a game. On numerous occasions, penalties have killed drives or momentum, or even ended the game, for the Vikings.
Most notably, the Vikings had two straight offsides penalties in Week 1 against the Chargers to give them a first down and end the game. On more than one occasion, the Vikings have jumped offsides on QB sacks—some that have led to turnovers, too.
This simply comes down to being disciplined. The Vikings are too full of veterans for this to keep happening. A big step towards get the Vikings their first win will be cutting down on penalties.
Vikings fans knew the secondary would be subpar this year, but nobody expected them to be this bad. The Vikings rank 30th in completions given up a game, at 26.2. Subsequently, they are 28th in yards at 286.2 yards a game.
But it's the big plays that have killed them as they've given up.
Take the Lions game for example when, early in the overtime period, the Lions completed a 40-yard to Calvin Johnson to set up a chip shot to win the game. Against the Chiefs, they gave up a 52-yard touchdown to Dwayne Bowe mid-way through the fourth quarter where the Vikings looked like a Pop Warner team trying to tackle an NFL player.
The secondary has great talent in Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield, but they have to step up to the plate or the Vikings won't be winning games any time soon.
Lest we forget that none of the rookies had OTAs this offseason. Veterans may blow them off as a hassle, but for rookies, it's essential. Ponder is no exception to the rest and I can't believe he's ready to take over this team.
This is a team just a year and a half removed from a NFC title game and a talented group. When his time comes, I think he'll be successful. But throwing him into this lion's den right now isn't the answer. The pressure the Vikings are facing could be overwhelming to him. Not to mention the fact I pointed out earlier that the offensive line is all kinds of bad.
The knock on the kid coming into the league was that he was too oft-injured. What makes sense about putting him behind this line? If you put him in now, you're giving up on the season four games in and risking your future.
The Vikings are worse than even the most pessimistic Vikings fan or optimistic Packers fan could have guessed. That being said, they could just as easily be 4-0 as they could be 0-4 at this point in the season.
The fact that they aren't may be better for them as it forces them to focus on some serious issues they have. However, none of those issues involve Donovan McNabb (for now) and he should be kept as your starter. You don't bring in a QB of McNabb's level for four games and then give up on him. I realize he isn't the future, but he's the present, and Ponder, or Joe Webb for that matter, isn't ready for the spotlight at this point.
Keep McNabb in the games if for nothing more than to take the beating so that Ponder doesn't have to, but don't bench him a quarter of the way through the season.