One was benched for disciplinary reasons while fans are calling for the other one to be benched for performance issues.
But Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is sticking with Donovan McNabb as his starting quarterback and looking to get receiver Bernard Berrian back involved with the offense after making him inactive as a healthy scratch for the first time since signing with the Vikings in 2008.
Frazier didn’t confirm or deny a report that Berrian missed two meetings at the team hotel on Saturday night, but he also wouldn’t go into the reasons that Berrian was benched besides calling it a disciplinary decision.
“One thing that all of our players know, we’re going to try to do the right things when it comes to what we’re asking of him,” Frazier said, “and we expect a reciprocation from them to do the things that we’re asking them to do. Then there are consequences. But Bernard knows what we want to get done, just like the other 52 guys on our roster.”
Berrian was unavailable for comment after Sunday’s game, but Frazier said the receiver will be back at practice on Wednesday and the Vikings will continue to rely on him. Through four games of being active, Berrian has two receptions for 37 yards, despite being one of the most-often used skill-position players on the team.
“I don’t foresee any future problems. I really expect him to play at a high level for us and play well,” Frazier said.
“… We fully expect Bernard to help our football team be successful in 2011 and we’re looking forward to him making a major contribution over the rest of this season. We’re counting on him. He knows that. We need him to play well for us in order for our offense to continue to improve.”
With Berrian inactive on Sunday, Devin Aromashodu received more playing time and came through with two catches for 81 yards, including a 60-yard pass play in which he found an opening in the middle of the field on a crossing route. If Berrian is going to be active again on Sunday, Frazier will have to balance the playing time between him and Aromashodu.
“We’ll talk about that a little bit more, but we don’t want to shortchange Devin. He’s doing some good things, but we’re counting on Bernard to step up and play well for us,” Frazier said. “We’ll see how we end up developing a rotation for this next game.”
Berrian said last week that he has been open for the last four years in Minnesota. There have been times when he has a step on a receiver and McNabb hasn’t been able to deliver an accurate pass. That, too, is becoming more of a problem, but Frazier wouldn’t get into specifics about the cause of McNabb’s inaccuracy. Frazier continues to say that the coaching staff will work on McNabb’s technique with him.
"You'd like for the quarterback to make every throw. You'd like for them to come out of the game with very few, if any, incompletes,” Frazier said. “There are some things we have to continue to work on, and we will. We have to be successful at the quarterback position, but we have to be successful at the defensive back position, the wide receiver position, in order for our team to reach its goals. And we'll keep working with Donovan on things where he's not perfect at and try to continue to improve."
McNabb entered the season with a career completion percentage of 58.9. That number has dropped even more this year, as he’s completed 56.8 percent of his passes and has only four touchdowns through five games.
As a 13-year veteran of the NFL who has never had a high completion percentage, the question is whether that extra work on mechanics will make a difference at this point. Frazier, however pointed to leadership and wins as a key component. While McNabb had a 97-57-1 record as a starter before this year, he is 1-4 right now with the Vikings.
“The No. 1 thing for that position is to help us to win, to really lead us to victory, and that's what we're asking him to do,” Frazier said. “At the end of the day, we need to come away with a W. And we need to do some things around the QB position to assure that that happens. [Sunday] was a good indication of what can happen when all three phases are working together.”
But after completing only 10 of 21 passes for 169 yards and no touchdowns Sunday, not too many people are crediting McNabb with the win. The defense created four turnovers and Adrian Peterson had three first-quarter rushing touchdowns – McNabb added to that with a rushing touchdown of his own.
Despite all the issues and the booing of McNabb from his first inaccurate pass, Frazier said ownership and the players have confidence in the starting quarterback.
“Our players, our ownership, have confidence in our QB and the rest of our ball club as well,” Frazier said. “We're not at a point where we're second-guessing whether Donovan can help us win against Chicago.”
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.