Brian Hall’s Oct. 31 Vikings mailbag

There’s a new target for the fans of the Minnesota Vikings.

Now that the team has tried three different quarterbacks, without much success, fans are targeting the person who put the roster, and tried three quarterbacks this season, in their sights: general manager Rick Spielman.

Here’s this week’s Vikings’ mailbag:

Question: The Vikings owners should make changes right now. Don’t wait until the seasons over. The changes should start at the front office. Rick Spielman should be the first to go. The one to bear the burden of blame for the Vikings lost season.— Casey, Minneapolis

Q: I have been a fan since the Vikings came into the league (yes I really am that old). I have never seen a more inept version of the Vikings. When will Wilf finally make a change at the top— Cliff Watt, Warrenton, Oregon

Q: Rick Spielman’s poor decisions, and poor first round draft picks. His decision to sign Josh Freeman,and the release of Antoine Winfield. Have caused the Viking debacle season and teams regression. If any position changes are made, start with a new general manager.— Mike, Minneapolis

Q: I think the owner needs to con to grips with the fact that it takes organization to win, and that starts at the top. When a team tanks like this one, it’s time for a complete re-organization. This would include replacing Spielman. Viking fans (Ticket holders) deserve better than this.  What is your take?— Paul, Denver

Q: How long before Spielman is fired?  He has no clue regarding players and their abilities.— Brian, Sturgis, SD
Answer: Here are a few of the responses we received this week with Spielman as the target. Spielman was given the title of general manager to be the “final say” in personnel decisions for Minnesota. Now that personnel, along with coaching, looks to be an issue this year, Spielman takes the spotlight as the team’s chief decision-maker. As general manager, Spielman gets the credit for success, like last season when his drafts were recognized for helping turn the team around. Now that there’s some failure, Spielman has to step forward and answer for the issues with the team.

It’s still highly unlikely any major changes, particularly among the coaches or management will happen during the season. It’s rare to see coaching changes in-season. Barring a total collapse with players, coaches and management speaking openly and causing distractions, there won’t be any changes. Perhaps it’s the biggest credit to Leslie Frazier that the team likely won’t unravel, at least mentally, in the final games. When the season is over, and “Black Monday” comes after the season’s final Sunday, changes will be coming.

Q: When are the Vikings going to show some respect for AP and trade him to a contending team so as to let him pursue his dream? The Twins should do the same with Mauer!!!— Robert Brill, Las Vegas Nv.

A: Hey now, this isn’t a Twins mailbag. Peterson’s situation is starting to look more and more like what Barry Sanders went through in Detroit. Sanders is one of the top backs in NFL history and never reached a Super Bowl with the Lions. Times have changed — you might have heard — and NFL offenses are more pass-first, but Peterson is still unable to get to the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl because of the Vikings’ quarterback situation.

When Peterson had a true top-flight quarterback, in 2009 with Brett Favre, Minnesota made it to the NFC Championship Game. You hope Peterson gets another chance to get back to the game’s biggest stage and the Vikings finding a franchise quarterback to complement Peterson will go a long way to finally seeing it come true. Minnesota won’t be trading its franchise back though. Peterson was MVP, ina  league dominated by quarterbacks, for a reason. He’s maybe the most valuable non-quarterback in the entire league.

Q: one good constant for green bay was jordy nelson in the slot and we didnt all. front four cant get pressure on qb and we dont adjust. ever. adrian to an over loaded right again and again and again and we dont adjust.creativity in our schemes, with under performing qb’s, silliness. play it simple. try a run to the left or heaven forbid the middle. slant, screen, pistol, hand the ball to felton,  tight end pass? ponders got three seconds from snap then has to get rid of the ball period. waive jamarca and chris and find someone who can break up a pass. joe webb or jarius right could play corner and safety better. use joe webb. use our  tight ends— mike coen, Wayzata

A: I’ll give Mike credit for originality. I’m not sure the answer to the problems in the secondary would be solved by cutting two defensive backs and starting two wide receivers on defense. Webb didn’t work out at quarterback, and his future is uncertain at wide receiver. Would it be worth another experiment for Webb? 

Q: I’m a long suffering vikings fan here.  I grew up in Minnesota and still watch the Vikes when I can though the Military has seen fit to send me around the world.  My question is why don’t the Vikes use more no-huddle?  I watched Sunday’s debacle and yes, the Defense has issues, but the offense was completely stagnant…until they ran the no huddle.  Ponder looked lost running the normal offense, but when he doesn’t have time to think about things as much, such as when running the 2-minute offense, he is much more effective.  Do you think running the no-huddle, like Buffalo ran the Red-Gun, could be an effective stop-gap measure to make Ponder more effective until the Vikes pony up in the draft pick Johnn  Football?— Matt Osterholt, Hill AFB Utah

A: Ponder has had some level of success in his career working from the shotgun, and has taken advantage when in no-huddle situations. Ponder, throughout his career, has struggled to get through his secondary reads. Maybe being in the shotgun, or being in no-huddle situations, benefits Ponder and the need for quick decisions. He’s seemed to have some of his best moments when he just reacts and fires the ball to his first read. 

At this point though, I don’t see Minnesota changing their offense for Ponder, or in the short-term to have modest success for Ponder. I get the sense that Johnny Manziel, AKA Johnny Football, would certainly excite the fan base.

Q: I know they will not do any coaching changes this year, Who in the offseason will be avaiable for head coaching and a new regime?!— aj, sioux falls

A: Getting right to the point with AJ. The first name that invariably pops up, especially following the Monday night game two weeks ago is Jon Gruden. Reportedly he’s mentioned that he’d like to take one more shot at coaching and he does have the resume, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title. In 11 years as head coach of Tampa Bay and Oakland, Gruden won five division championships and had a .540 winning percentage. It’s Halloween time, do fans want to see a little bit of “Chucky” in Minnesota?

Some of the usual names will surely pop up. Former Vikings’ coach Brian Billick has been mentioned as thoughts of Leslie Frazier being fired pop up. Other names include former coaches Bill Cowher, Lovie Smith and Jack Del Rio; assistants like Jay Gruden, Greg Roman, Mike Zimmer, Ray Horton Mel Tucker and maybe even Darrell Bevell; or college coaches such as Stanford’s David Shaw, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Louisville’s Charlie Strong. One belief I have is Minnesota will look for an offensive-minded head coach.

Q: Why are the Viking Holding on to Ponder?— Scott, Minot, ND

A: Frankly, one big reason is because Christian Ponder is signed to a contract through next season. Cutting Ponder now would count as dead money against Minnesota’s cap and the Vikings need the options at quarterback. Look at the past two weeks, Minnesota chose to go to Josh Freeman, but there is Ponder back in the mix again.

Signed through next year, Ponder might not even be completely out of the mix next year. Maybe he comes in as the Vikings’ clear-cut backup. Maybe he becomes the bridge to the next quarterback if Minnesota drafts a quarterback-in-waiting. Maybe he comes in with the possibility of competing for the starting spot. I thought two weeks ago his time with the Vikings had come to an end, but he’s clearly still an option for Minnesota.

Q: Is the current ownership group really committed to putting a quality product on the field?  I am having a hard time believing we can’t field a group of players and coaching staff that can produce a better product than this.  Looks like the Wilfs have hoodwinked our great fans into believing they are committed to winning!— IM Brewer, Denver Colorado

A: I don’t think the questions with the franchise have anything to do with ownership. The Wilfs simply put their trust in the football operations to Spielman and his staff. The Wilfs have spent nearly up to the cap this season and have approved aggressive moves like going after Jared Allen in 2008 and agreeing to sign Greg Jennings to a five-year, $45 million contract this offseason. 

The personnel decisions fall on Spielman, who I believe has the ear of ownership. It will be interesting to see how much heat Spielman takes when this season ends. Will the Wilfs give Spielman another chance to work on the roster and hire a new coach, or will they turn over the staff completely. I believe, right now, Spielman will be safe and the Wilfs will give him the chance to make changes.

Q: Personally I think it’s pure folly to worry about the rest of this season or next for the purple. Hopefully by the time you read this; Frazier, Musgrave, Williams will have been fired with Singletary named interim head coach. #69, #32, #93 and #7 will have been traded for draft picks. And Patterson, Floyd and Rhodes named full-time starters.  My question is; If you do not agree, can you please tell me where I am wrong?  Thank you for your consideration. I truly enjoy the weekly mailbag.— Adam A., White Bear Lake

A: Flattery will get you everywhere, or at least your question answered. As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t see anyone losing their job before the season is out. All bets are off once the season is over. Obviously this question was sent in before Tuesday’s trade deadline and Minnesota stood pat at the deadline.

Now it comes down to the changes the rest of this season. Sharrif Floyd won’t start while Kevin Williams is still with Minnesota and healthy. I’ve said it before, but the Vikings need to play Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson more. In my opinion, based on their potential, Rhodes should be starting in the base defense over Robinson. Patterson should at least be getting more regular repetitions, even with Jerome Simpson playing well.

Q: When are the Vikings goingto take the defensive play calling away for a coach who doesn’t know anything about defense. If lelsie Frasier wants to save his job he better take control— Michael Luna, Torrance California

A: A question I was just pondering this week. While Musgrave is left to lead the offense, Frazier does have a defensive background and maybe he could start taking play-calling responsibilities on defense.

Frazier, at this point, is fighting for his job. He’s patient with players, and his coordinators in this instance. But to save his job, maybe he needs to be less patient and even more hands-on with the game planning.  I’m not sure how much Frazier is involved in each phase during the week. He said he is involved. Yet, he’s coordinated some strong defenses in Minnesota, maybe now is the time to be even more involved.

Q: There are so many holes that need to be fixed on this team and besides the QB spot I think the biggest need is at corner.  I think Rhodes is still rookie and playing in a bad system that we can’t fully grade him yet.  But with everyone calling for Ponders head; when is Cooks head going to be called for.  He has no career INTs and always looks lost out there.  Can we expect Leslie to pull Chris at any point and see what Josh can do on the outside rather than the nickel (where he has looked like garbage) or see what Marcus can do?— Adam, Bloomington

A: The play in the secondary does lead to criticism for the coaching and the personnel. The one belief all along was Chris Cook was a decent cornerback, he only needed to stay healthy. Now in his fourth season and with 28 games under his belt, he’s still looking for his first interception. He’s also had some misses in coverage this season. Cook knows the issues and takes responsibility. He needs to start making a bigger impact and coming up with interceptions. At some point he will go from injury-prone to plain out of the lineup for performance and reliability.

However, that time isn’t now. Cook is still one of the better options in a weak secondary. You’re right, no evaluation of rookie Xavier Rhodes can be complete at this point. He’s still just seven games into his first season and he was drafted in the first round because he is big and has the talent to be a top cornerback. Second-year player Josh Robinson has had his own issues and that includes playing outside in the base defense. I don’t see the Vikings pulling Cook out of the base defense at all. Marcus Sherels did see some time in the nickel defense on Sunday and might be deserving of more.

Q: WOW…once again the Vikings are letting the fans down and really becoming hard to watch…is there any positives to talk about after the Green Bay game? Without a decent quarterback and a defense that can get off the field on 3rd and 4th downs, do you think the Vikings have any chance at winning any more games. Do you think the veterans like, Peterson, Jennings, Robison, and some of the young players that are really showing up each week are ever going to complain to Zigy about the whole situation? I think Frasier and Speilman need to be looked a…either being replaced or something….your thoughts?— Jenny S., Brookings, SD

A: I do think the Vikings will win more games this season and will turn things around, in a sense. The quarterback and defensive issues are too much to make a big comeback, but I think more wins will come. There will be some winnable games at home, but Minnesota does need to make some changes.

As I mentioned before, one of the things that Frazier does best is limiting distractions and I don’t see any of the team’s veterans speaking up publically about the team or the coaches. Peterson, Jennings and Robison, and some of the other players tied to the team’s future likely respect Frazier too much and won’t cause a disruption. In a tough season, Minnesota and Frazier can at least hang their hats on that.

Q: Who would put a LB on a WR or was he suppose to get safety help?    I am referring to Greenway trying to cover GB’s best WR which resulted in a GB TD.— Norskie, Austin, MN

A: Norskie is referring to the 76-yard touchdown by Jordy Nelson on Sunday. Linebacker Chad Greenway was lined up over the center and then had to move across the field to cover the speedy Nelson in the slot. By the time Greenway got to Nelson, Greenway ended up with good coverage, but the anticipation and throw by Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers made the play.

Rodgers saw Nelson was going to be open and had Greenway coming across. While Greenway was blanketing Nelson somewhat at the point of the throw, Rodgers saw that Nelson was going to come open and threw the ball where Greenway had no chance to defend it. The Vikings were asking a lot of Greenway to come over in the coverage and guard Nelson, who was off to the races after the catch.

Q: You should fire Rick, and Fraizer they don’t know what they are doing. DO NOT TRADE PETERSONCharlene, via email

A: Charlene, I’m not sure I have that authority.

Q:  There seems to be some “big hush” put on the real reason Peterson has been ineffective and limited in calls. As I stated before the season started and showed in my not drafting him #1 overall in my draft, the personal foul for runners dropping the helmet outside of the tackles. I could be wrong but I don’t believe #28 has been called on an outside run all year. He may have bounced a couple that way but not called. Between Musgrave and Frazier they decided to let a new NFL rule dictate their run game rather than get Peterson to not drop his head outside the tackles. Of course that wouldn’t work, that how he runs. The Peterson you once knew is now going to be as effective as that string of nameless half backs that ran threw Green Bay over the past five seasons.— August Gutting, via email.

A: Come on, I had to include this. I don’t think the new crown of the helmet rule has really changed Peterson or the Vikings’ offense. That’s all I can say about that.

Thank you for your submissions. Sorry we’re not able to answer each question individually. I’ve tried to hit as many different topics as possible. I hope we continue to hear from you in the future. Be sure to check for upcoming mailbags.

Follow Brian Hall on Twitter