Christian Ponder will have opportunity to start for Vikings in 2011

Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier leads his team against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on November 28, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has made it clear to the media in Minnesota that first round pick Christian Ponder will have every opportunity to win the starting quarterback job this year.

“That would be the ideal situation – we’ve got our Matt Ryan, we’ve got our [Joe] Flacco,” Frazier told ESPN 1500 Twin Cities. “But because of the uncertainty of the offseason, it’s just hard to determine exactly how you want to approach it.”

Translation: If we don’t wind up trading for Donovan McNabb, then the rook will probably start for us next season. (Because hey, who else would start? Patrick Ramsey? Hahahaha…ahhhhhh.)

After taking Ponder in the first round last Thursday, it seems unlikely that the Vikings would trade for McNabb, but you never know. What they could wind up doing is waiting to see if Washington releases McNabb and then pursuing him on a one-year deal. That way Ponder could sit and learn Bill Musgrave’s offense for a year before taking over in 2012. The only problem with that line of thinking is that you assume McNabb would be fine only taking a one-year deal so that he could groom his eventual replacement.

While I was just as surprised as anyone when the Vikings selected Ponder in the first round last week, I do think he’s a perfect fit for Minnesota’s offense. Musgrave has been heralded for his work with young quarterbacks and he’ll have the opportunity to show what he can do with Ponder, who was arguably the best West Coast Offense prospect in last weekend’s draft. Musgrave obviously did a great job grooming Ryan in Atlanta and it’s not like Ponder wouldn’t have talent around him if he wound up starting as a rookie. As Frazier pointed out, we’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of the offseason plays out to see if Ponder will have the opportunity to start in ’11.

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Vikings want to draft a rookie to start in 2011?

When the Vikings hired Bill Musgrave as their offensive coordinator in January, they knew one of his best attributes was working with quarterbacks. And in his most recent stop, he worked with a young signal caller that went on to win the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year.

That “stop” was Atlanta and that “young signal caller” was Matt Ryan. Musgrave oversaw Ryan’s development with the Falcons as his quarterback coach and if beat writers Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero are right, he might have a similar opportunity to work with another rookie QB in Minnesota.

In his latest column for the Star Tribune, Zulgad writes that Vikings coach Leslie Frazier talked “extensively” about the quarterback position at the NFL coaches breakfast at the league meetings on Tuesday. Per Zulgad, Frazier “made it clear that his desire would be to draft someone and plug him in as the starter.”

In that same article, Zulgad also quoted Frazier saying that the Vikings would talk internally about different quarterback “scenarios,” which includes trading for Kevin Kolb. But if the team does want to draft a young signal caller, then there will be a couple of options at No. 12 overall.

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If it’s not about keeping Favre’s streak alive, why play him?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 05: Brett Favre  of the Minnesota Vikings is assisted by medical staff against the Buffalo Bills defense at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Leslie Frazier said something on Friday that has me scratching my head. (It’s not lice – I’m clean.)

He said that he wouldn’t play Brett Favre for just one snap or one series to keep his consecutive games streak alive. He said, “I wouldn’t do that. We wouldn’t do that. And I can tell you Brett wouldn’t want it that way. I can tell you this: If we decide to play Brett, it’s with the mindset that he’ll play the game, and play well.”

Frazier went on to say that he doubts whether Favre would play through the “tremendous pain” he suffers when he starts his throwing motion. Yet we’ve seen this all before. Brett can barely stand up on Friday, but he starts on Sunday. Brett is in too much pain to even tie his shoelaces on Saturday, but he’s in uniform and under center on Sunday.

My question is, why play him if he’s not even close to 100%? I realize he’s never healthy and he’s played through injuries countless times before, but is the 2010 version of Brett Favre at 60% better than a fully healthy Tarvaris Jackson? Even the staunchest Favre supporters and harshest Jackson critics can’t say yes to that, can they?

I believe Frazier when he says that he wouldn’t play Favre to keep his consecutive starts streak alive. But I have a hard time understanding why Frazier still believes that Favre gives the Vikings their best chance of winning. He’s compiled a 69.6 QB rating this season and has thrown 18 interceptions to just 10 touchdowns. While he’s still completing over 60 percent of his passes (60.4%), the Vikings are converting just 35.76 percent of their third down opportunities and have a turnover margin of –0.9.

Granted, I understand those last two stats aren’t all Favre’s fault. But he’s the quarterback. He’s what makes the offense go and if he can’t keep drives alive and is failing to protect the ball, then get him out of there. Furthermore, if his health is factoring into his shoddy decision-making, then playing him makes little sense.

I realize Jackson isn’t the answer and his receivers bailed him out on a couple of bad throws in last week’s win over the Bills. But at least he’s healthy, mobile and hungry. Two of those descriptions don’t fit Favre and I’m starting to wonder if the third one does either.

Vikings finally fire Brad Childress

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09: Head coach Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings reacts late in the second half the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

On the heels of a humiliating loss to their bitter rivals, the Minnesota Vikings have fired Brad Childress and named defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier interim head coach, per Adam Schefter.

I’m sure Anthony will have something more to say on the matter, but as a longtime Packer fan, I’m a little sad to see Chilly go. It has been fun to watch the Vikings’ downward spiral starting with their disappointing last-minute loss in the NFC championship game to the cluster#%&* that is this season. Childress lost the locker room a while ago, and since he’s not winning, there’s no point in keeping him around.

It’s possible that owner Zygi Wilf saw how the Cowboys suddenly became respectable once they made a head coaching change and decided to follow suit after the Packers took his team behind the woodshed on Sunday. Or maybe he just wanted to see what Frazier could do with this team for the rest of the season before potentially committing to him long term. (Though with the way the defense played — and bickered — against the Packers, the defense definitely has its issues as well.)

So let the speculation begin. Even before this news, there were already rumors that Wilf might tag Bill Parcells to come in and change the team’s culture. There are a number of other good candidates out there as well, including Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher.

And — gasp! — what if a new coach meant that Brett Favre might want to come back for another go-around!?!

Buckle your seat belts, people!

Jason Garrett leading candidate for Rams job

Jason Garrett flew into St. Louis Friday evening to meet for the second time with Rams’ VP of Personnel Billy Devaney, who said the current Cowboys’ offensive coordinator is “the leading guy” for the team’s head coaching vacancy.

Jason Garrett landed in St. Louis early Friday evening with his wife Brill, and told the Post-Dispatch that he was just here for a second interview and that no job had been offered.

Minutes earlier, en route to the airport, Devaney was singing the same tune.

“It’s part of the interview process,” Devaney insisted. “He wanted to look at the facility. We’re not close to moving on Jason Garrett. I’m not even going to say he’s the leading guy.”

Take that for what it’s worth, but Garrett is the only finalist to visit St. Louis. And he did have his wife with him. Devaney also said that he’d already made his recommendation to owner Chip Rosenbloom on who he wanted to hire as the next Rams head coach.

Devaney said he hoped to reach a decision by Monday on the next Rams head coach.

Garrett and Devaney have a lot in common. They’re both from New Jersey. They’re both big Bruce Springsteen fans, and they’re both represented by the same agent _ David Dunn.

Garrett would be a solid choice for the Rams. I’ve recently taken on the mindset that dome teams are at a disadvantage defensively (you can find my explanation for it here), so it’s wise for them to load up on offense and take advantage of playing on a fast surface eight-plus times a year.

Garrett is one of the bright young offensive minds in the NFL, although his credibility certainly took a hit with how bad the Cowboys struggled down the stretch. Still, the guy has some innovative offenses and if the Rams can rebuild their offensive line, Garrett’s schemes might flourish.

What’ll be interesting to see is if the Rams take a flier on Jon Gruden, who was just fired in Tampa. Gruden is another solid offensive coach and obviously has more experience than Garrett and the other head-coaching candidates linked to the St. Louis job (i.e. Leslie Frazier, Steve Spagnuolo and Rex Ryan).

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