Donovan McNabb (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
The Vikings are looking for an answer to some of the accuracy issues with Donovan McNabb’s passes, but they aren’t ready to make a move at the quarterback position just yet.
Donovan McNabb is the 26th-rated passer in the league (78.1) and 24th when it comes to his completion percentage (58), and the Vikings are now looking at the reasons for the inaccuracy, according to head coach Leslie Frazier.
"It's one of the things we're going to go through this week in practice, what we're doing with his mechanics, whether it be his drop or whether it be his footwork, whatever we need to do to help him improve some of those balls that aren't quite on target,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “That's not the only reason we're falling short. That's one of the reasons. There are some other things we have to work on as a team. But specifically to Donovan, the consistent play at the position is what you're always looking for."
McNabb completed 67 percent of his passes in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions and 56 percent in the second half. In the second series of the second half, he took his fourth sack of the game and fumbled a ball that Phil Loadholt recovered. On the next play, McNabb came away shaking his throwing hand after badly overthrowing Michael Jenkins on a short pass.
Frazier said that wrist injury, the same wrist that landed him on the injury report to start the regular season, may have affected his accuracy.
“We talked a little about it when he came to the sideline. He felt like he was OK to continue and he continued and he was still pretty good following that wrist injury,” Frazier said. “I don’t think it did anything to inhibit what he had to do going forward.”
However, when the Vikings needed to answer Detroit’s second-half barrage the most – late in the fourth quarter with the game tied 20-20 – they tried to complete a third-and-14 pass deep to Bernard Berrian down the right sideline. Once again, it was inaccurate and Berrian didn’t have a chance at the pass.
Instead, the Vikings punted from deep in their own territory, and Detroit needed only five plays and 25 yards to get in position for the go-ahead, 40-yard field goal. The Vikings responded with their own field goal drive to tie the game, and McNabb completed the first six passes of that series, including a second-down pass in which tight end Kyle Rudolph made a fantastic adjustment to a ball thrown behind him. But when McNabb threw low to Devin Aromashodu and again missed Berrian deep down the right sideline – this time near the goal line – the Vikings were forced to settle for the game-tying field goal instead of getting a go-ahead touchdown with 1:16 left in the game.
“I don’t know if it was as much as high as it was just a little bit outside,” Frazier said. “We’re getting closer to making those plays, and you have to make them, especially in the fourth quarter of a close game like that. We have to find a way to make a throw like that, make a catch. If we do, the games over, especially at home.”
After looking at the tape on Monday morning, Frazier indicated that McNabb had an uneven performance.
“Yesterday on occasion [he] made some plays for us. Made some plays with his feet, got a first down for us in the second-half. Made some good throws and there were some throws that were errant,” Frazier said. “Some throws that he knows he has to make in order for us to continue drives. We’ve got to keep working on that and become consistent in making those throws that have to be made. He will. We’ve got to do a good job of creating separation at the receiver position as well.”
Despite all the questions surrounding the play of McNabb, Frazier said after the game that he wasn’t planning any changes at the quarterback position. While he admitted that they will take a look at the mechanics of the 13-year veteran, Frazier continued to classify rookie Christian Ponder as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.
“He's our No. 2 quarterback, so he has to be ready to play. We talk to him about that all the time,” Frazier said. “If something happens to our starter, you have to be ready to go in. So he's practicing being prepared in that way for our coaches."
Frazier confirmed that receiver Percy Harvin was vomiting on the sideline for the last few serie in the fourth quarter, but said “he’s fine” and “looking forward to practice on Wednesday.” Harvin was at team meetings on Monday.
With the Monday night game left for Week 3, the Vikings were ranked 29th in pass defense and 29th in passing offense. They were ranked third in rushing offense and fourth in rush defense.
Through three games, Michael Jenkins in the team’s leading receiver with 15 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Harvin is next with 12 catches for 130 yards. Bernard Berrian has one catch for 17 yards on 10 targets.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.