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Monday, November 28, 2011
Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

By Kevin Seifert

After Minnesota Vikings' 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, here are three issues that merit further examination:
    Head Exam
    Following their loss against the Falcons, the Vikings take a seat in the examination room.
  1. Coach Leslie Frazier admitted he erred in deciding to seek a touchdown rather than a short field goal on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter. Frazier said his emotions got the best of him and said the "bad mistake" was "purely on me." Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, meanwhile, said he regretted his play call, a handoff to tailback Toby Gehart. Musgrave told reporters he wished he had used a bootleg play to capitalize on quarterback Christian Ponder's mobility. Both men are to be commended for owning up and avoiding tortured justifications. But the admissions won't sit well with those who are concerned about Frazier's game management and/or Musgrave's lack of innovation. One of the primary attributes Frazier seemed to have as a head coaching candidate was his calm demeanor under pressure. But it hasn't always served him as well in his first season as an NFL head coach.
  2. Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com offered an interesting sidenote in his game column: Frazier has quietly taken some play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Fred Pagac and was calling at least "a chunk" of the defense himself in Atlanta. That doesn't bode well for the future of Pagac, who doesn't have a position to coach. You would think there is going to be some fallout from a season that, to this point, is one of the worst in franchise history. Frazier is coaching this season with a mix of new assistants and others inherited from the staff of former coach Brad Childress. A clean slate might be necessary. If Pagac is fired, you wonder if Frazier would be tempted to promote linebackers coach Mike Singletary, his long-time friend and confidant.
  3. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Percy Harvin's 104-yard kickoff return was the longest play in NFL history that didn't end in a touchdown. I threw that note out Sunday night via on Twitter and was surprised at the level of sardonic humor Vikings fans have descended into. My favorite response came from @reverik: "No one almost scores like us." In all seriousness, we should note that Harvin has now accumulated 200-plus yards in seven of his 40 career games. Remember, Harvin is still only 23. He has played the entire season without any reported migraine episodes and is one of the brightest spots of the Vikings' future.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
I've suggested that the offensive line should be the Vikings' top priority this offseason, but I'm now wondering if their secondary is in need of more attention. It's injury-ravaged at this point, but even if you assume the full recovery of everyone involved, it's hard to identify a reliable starting combination in 2012. Would you count on any of their safeties to be long-term starters? I'm not sure I would. And the futures of the top two cornerbacks in the program, Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook, are uncertain at best.