Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
5:00
PM ET
After the Minnesota Vikings' 36-22 victory over the St. Louis Rams, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Free Head Exam
    ESPN.com
    The push for tailback Adrian Peterson to win the MVP award hit new heights after his 212-yard effort Sunday pushed his season total to 1,812 yards. While I can see the emotional and sentimental argument, I would point you back to the documentation we presented Saturday. For the most part this season, Peterson's performances have been similar in wins and losses. The fulcrum point has been the performance of quarterback Christian Ponder. When he is efficient, as he was again Sunday, the Vikings have won. When he is not, they have lost. You could argue that Peterson has helped the Vikings win games when their quarterback was merely efficient, but on the flip side he has not been able to prevent them from losing games when the quarterback has played poorly. That's not to diminish Peterson's performance this season. It's just an illustration of why it's so hard these days to consider a running back more valuable to a team's record than a quarterback. I don't now how the vote will go, and I don't have a vote myself. But there is a reason quarterbacks have increasingly dominated this award.
  2. The Vikings are hoping to get cornerback Chris Cook back for Sunday's game at the Houston Texans, which would be his first appearance since breaking his wrist in Week 8. The Vikings have managed to hold things together with Antoine Winfield, A.J. Jefferson and Josh Robinson in Cook's absence. But entering the season, the Vikings hoped Cook would be their lead cornerback and the type of player they routinely assigned to an opponent's top receiver. It will be important for Cook to get back on the field and put some additional work on tape for offseason evaluation and projection.
  3. If defensive end Brian Robison's shoulder injury keeps him out of Sunday's game, we'll see what third-year player Everson Griffen can do with a full game's worth of snaps. Griffen displayed his athleticism by intercepting a pass while in coverage during a zone blitz and returning it 29 yards for a touchdown. Typically, Griffen plays less than half of the Vikings' snaps per game. While Robison is a better and more polished all-around player, it'll be fun to see what Griffen's big-play potential could bring to a playoff-type game.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
Has coach Leslie Frazier done enough to earn a contract extension? This spring, we wondered if Frazier had been put in an impossible situation -- a rebuilding season in the second year of a three-year contract. Now, the Vikings' success this season suggests Frazier doesn't deserve to enter 2013 in a lame-duck situation. Owner Zygi Wilf has never been shy about dishing out contract extensions, but this time he'll act at the recommendation of general manager Rick Spielman. The Vikings' initial goal this season was to be playing meaningful games in December, and there should be playoff drama through the final week. I would imagine that's enough for Spielman. If not, I would be curious to hear the explanation.

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