The quarterback malaise for the Vikings could get a little bit simpler.
The Vikings have two Mankato-drilled in-house quarterback candidates that think they should be the starter. Neither of them are. Disgruntled? No question about that. Looking for an alternate ending? Yeah.
On a Sunday when the Vikings weren’t playing, 26 other teams did. Of those, three suffered significant quarterback injuries.
The most significant was in St. Louis, where massively overpaid QB Sam Bradford is gone for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The only other quarterback on the Rams roster is better-off backup Kellen Clemens.
The Bears lost Jay Cutler with a groin injury that, if appearances mean anything, looks pretty grim. Josh McCown is no Jay Cutler. The question now is whether McCown is the next Caleb Hanie?
In Philadelphia, Nick Foles took a facial that will last a while. He was replaced by Matt Barkley, who completed three passes to players with different colored jerseys than he was wearing. Given the mediocrity of the division and the general gimpy nature of Michael Vick, the Eagles have postseason aspirations despite a losing record. After all, it’s the NFC Least.
The Vikings are bloated with potential starting quarterbacks. Matt Cassel, given his hired-gun nature with the team, is the most likely candidate. Chicago is a long shot, because helping a division rival is never a good thing. The Vikings play the Eagles in December, but that’s a long way off and, by that time, Vick may be on crutches. The best bet might be the Rams. The Vikings don’t play them and they’re in the most need.
They’ve waited long enough for Bradford to come through as take the next step. Perhaps to a coach like Jeff Fisher, Christian Ponder might have more roll-of-the-dice value to that franchise.
The calls are being made around the league. The best way for the Vikings to alleviate the pressure on the volatile QB situation would logically be to get rid of one of them. Opportunities to cash in on the hard luck of others is what helps build franchises.
The Vikings have a short window to make someone pay in draft currency for an unexpected surplus of game-tested backup quarterbacks. Not to get into the razor-wire backlash of trade proposals, especially ones so irrational they barely merit comparison, the Vikings could, in the next 48 hours, get a premium Day 3 pick for Cassel. To the right buyer, a third- or fourth-round pick (a fourth- with a seventh-round toss-in) could be had for Ponder.
Yes, we’re taking guesses here, but let’s be clear: The Vikings keep Adrian Peterson. He’s going nowhere. At a time of need, a surplus is always a good thing. By hook, crook or book, the Vikings have three QBs ready, willing and able to start next week. That’s a luxury other teams don’t have. Rip the Band-Aid and get it done. If the future is what the Vikings are looking at; the present is the time to start accomplishing long-term aspirations.
VIKINGS-GIANTS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 19th-ranked offense (13th rushing, 21st passing) and the 31st-ranked defense (17th rushing, 29th passing).
The Giants have the 17th-ranked offense (30th rushing, 8th passing) and the 24th-ranked defense (26th rushing, 20th passing).
Minnesota is averaging 338 yards a game (222 passing, 116 rushing). The Giants are averaging 340 yards a game (272 passing, 68 rushing).
The Vikings are allowing 418 yards a game (308 passing, 110 rushing. New York is allowing 391 yards a game (268 passing, 123 rushing).
The Vikings are tied for 16th in giveaway/takeaway ratio at even (12 giveaways/12 takeaways). The Giants are last at a dismal minus-16 (seven takeaways/23 giveaways).
No other team in the NFL had more than 15 giveaways heading into Week 7, which makes the Giants’ 23 turnovers even more glaring.
New York is ninth in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on eight of 13 red zone possessions (63.5 percent). Minnesota is tied for 15th at 50 percent (14 possessions, seven touchdowns).
Both teams are near the bottom of the league in red zone defense. The Vikings are ranked 28th, having allowed 15 touchdowns on 23 opponent possessions (65.2 percent). The Giants are 27th at 65 percent (13 TDs on 20 possessions).
Only Denver (25) and Jacksonville (28) have allowed more opponents into the red zone entering this week than the Vikings – and both of them have played one more game.
The league average for third-down conversions is at its standard 38 percent. The Vikings are 10th in the league at 39.7 percent, converting 27 of 68 chances. New York is 29th at 31 percent (23 of 72).
Defensively, the Vikings and Giants are at the bottom of the third-down rankings. The Giants are 30th, allowing conversions on 44 of 90 opportunities (48.9 percent). The Vikings are 31st at 49.3 percent (33 of 67).
The Vikings special teams have been good, bad and ugly. The Vikings are third in the league in average starting position at the 23.6-yard line – well above the league average of 21.1. But, the Vikings are dead last in the league defensively for average starting position, letting opponents average an opening spot of the 24.8-yard line.
The Vikings are 27th in percentage of passes thrown that have been intercepted. New York is last in that category.
The Vikings are 31st in punt return yardage, averaging just two yards per return. Of the 13 punts he’s taken, Marcus Sherels has called nine fair catches and returned the other four for a total of eight yards.
The Vikings defense is 29th in the league in sacks per pass play. The Giants are dead last with just five sacks in six games.
The Giants defense is 30th in first downs allowed per game (24.5). The Vikings are 31st (25.2).
Eli Manning has three 100-yard passing games. The Vikings have yet to have one.
The Vikings have allowed three 300-yard passing games. The Giants have allowed just one – to Eli’s brother Peyton.
A frightening stat for the Vikings is that New York has six 100-yard receiving games – three from Victor Cruz, two from Hakeem Nicks and one from Rueben Randle. The Vikings have two 100-yard receiver games, both from Jerome Simpson.
The Vikings have allowed five 100-yard receivers in five games. The Giants have allowed just one in six games.
Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing games. Brandon Jacobs got New York’s only 100-yard game last week.
The Vikings haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher. New York has allowed one.
Eli Manning is having one of the worst seasons of any quarterback in the league. He is eighth in attempts (229), 16th in completions (123), 33rd in completion percentage (53.7), fifth in yards (1,721), tied for 10th in TD passes (8), 35th in interceptions (of 35 players with enough passes to qualify with 15) and 33rd in passer rating (64.0).
The only players Manning has a better passer rating than are Josh Freeman (59.3) and Blaine Gabbert (36.0).
Peterson entered this week as the fourth-ranked rusher with 483 yards. All three players in front of him have one more game. Jacobs leads the Giants with 154 yards – tied for 48th in the league.
Cruz is tied for 13th in receptions with 35 catches. Nicks is tied for 37th with 25. Simpson leads the Vikings with 23 receptions – which ties him for 51st among receivers.
In terms of yardage, Cruz entered Week 7 fifth in receiving yardage with 541. Nicks was 18th with 442. Simpson leads the Vikings with 372 yards, good enough for 33rd in the rankings.
Peterson entered play this week tied for fifth in scoring among non-kickers with 36 points (six TDs).
Blair Walsh is tied for 14th in scoring among kickers with 41 points. Josh Brown of the Giants has scored just 25 points in six games.
Peterson is 13th in yards from scrimmage with 556 (483 rushing, 73 receiving). Cruz is 14th with 541 yards – all receiving.
Thirteen players in the NFL through six weeks had three or more interceptions. Three Vikings – Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson and Harrison Smith – are tied for 14th with two.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.