I don't even know what to say about the Minnesota Vikings right now. It's as if they decided to take every season they've ever had and condense them into individual game performances.
Before Sunday, I thought I was more or less used to the Vikings choking away games and entire playoff runs. It's just what they do. But even I was taken aback when the team not only failed to hold a 20-0 lead on the Detroit Lions - that part everyone saw coming - but to blow two ensuing opportunities to reclaim the win. That was the twist of the dagger.
There's only one way to alleviate this situation: by benching Donovan McNabb and consigning him to the NFL scrap heap forever.
I know it's not McNabb's fault that head coach Leslie Frazier decided to go for it on 4th and 1 when he was still up 20-17, then didn't even bother to dial Adrian Peterson's number on the ensuing running play that everyone saw coming. And McNabb wasn't the one who committed a galactically stupid personal foul on the big kickoff return with less than a minute to go at the end of regulation. Kenny Onatolu did that, and he is awful. McNabb had nothing to do with any of that. Also, his line is terrible and his receivers are substandard. As he was in DC, McNabb is playing with a lousy hand.
But good quarterbacks have a way of mitigating those circumstances. And McNabb has run out of excuses at this point. He's a virtual nonentity at the position. When the Vikings have needed him in second halves this season, he has been nowhere. On third downs, it's as if he isn't on the field at all. His inaccuracy downfield is often astonishing to behold. In a year of gaudy passing stats (did you see what Matt Hasselbeck did on Sunday?), McNabb has thrown a lousy two touchdown passes. He makes nothing happen. And you can't have that when you're trying to hold onto a lead against the likes of San Diego.
The Vikings have now squandered three extremely impressive first halves because of rotten coaching and McNabb's disappearing act. They are in a division with three other teams that are almost certainly better than them. They need to bench McNabb for rookie Christian Ponder right NOW. This instant.
I don't care if it hurts McNabb's feelings. I don't care if it's "just" or not. McNabb can go crying about it to his boy Mike Wilbon all day long. He fails to make this team any better, and the team is dying as a result.
Anyone questioning the idea of a rookie being able to flourish this early in the season hasn't seen what Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have pulled off in three short weeks. Ponder may not be able to keep pace with those two, but he at least gives this team the hope that they can improve, that they can do better than an aging QB who has clearly already done his best work.
And the best part of switching to Ponder is: If he sucks, BOOSH! You get Andrew Luck or Landry Jones for your troubles. This is the NFL. You're always better seeking out new talent than you are trying to milk the last drop out of old brand-name talent.
This latest Vikings shipwreck isn't Donovan McNabb's fault. But that's the problem. He isn't important enough to this offense to matter either way.