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Updated: October 17th, 2011 1:54am
Pelissero: 'Humiliating' loss should urge Frazier, Vikings to move on

Pelissero: 'Humiliating' loss should urge Frazier, Vikings to move on

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

CHICAGO -- Whatever doubt remained in Leslie Frazier's mind should be erased now.

Sunday's embarrassment at Soldier Field was the strongest proof yet the Minnesota Vikings need to embrace their rebuilding process yesterday.

Christian Ponder's relief appearance in this 39-10 wreck showed again he has enough ability to feel pressure and extend plays with his feet to not get himself killed.

As for the rest of this sorry bunch?

Let's just say nobody should get away from this one clean when coaches sort through the wreckage on Monday morning, and that includes Frazier and his staff.

"It's humiliating," end Brian Robison said. "That's the only word I can think of right now. It's simply humiliating."

Take your pick of the most humiliating part of a loss that dropped the Vikings to 1-5 and had the feel of a step on the road to 4-12, maybe worse.

Was it Husain Abdullah misreading the ball in the air as Devin Hester went to the post for a 48-yard touchdown early?

Was it Bernard Berrian dropping the first pass of his second chance on third-and-5?

Was it Marcus Sherels fair-catching another punt at the 5-yard line?

Or was it Donovan McNabb going fetal for a safety when protection broke down?

Letroy Guion getting blown out on Marion Barber's 3-yard touchdown run?

Julius Peppers leading the charge to five sacks on one leg?

McNabb having to explain on the sideline again why, even on a day he completes 19 of 24 passes, seemingly half of them are forcing receivers to go the ground?

"You get beat like this, it's time to (start) self-evaluation," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "Everybody needs to do that. Everybody, period. Everybody."

McNabb's declining skills and a lack of perimeter speed surely is affecting how Bill Musgrave runs his offense. When a Tampa-2 defense throws a safety into the box all day, there are holes that can be exploited, and not just with a bunch of bootlegs to set up 2-yard passes into the flats.

But a quarterback sweep on third-and-4 in the red zone? A draw play on the final play of the half when you're already trailing 26-3? And how in the world does the 2-minute warning not provide enough time to find a play you think might work on fourth-and-3?

Burning a timeout to get the offense back on the field only looks more foolish when Michael Jenkins false starts and then Ryan Longwell jogs on again to hook a 38-yard field-goal attempt wide left.

"It just seems like it's something every single play," McNabb said. "Nothing that you can just pinpoint, but you get in certain situations, you've got to be able to capitalize."

On this night, only Jared Allen made the type of play that could have swung the momentum, getting off J'Marcus Webb's block late, stripping otherwise-stellar quarterback Jay Cutler and recovering the fumble to set up the Vikings' lone touchdown.

Then, the Vikings decided to kick off the ball to Hester, whose 98-yard touchdown return was surprising only in that he really wasn't touched as he steered around Larry Dean and Longwell en route to the end zone.

"The last five games, man, all of them were close," Shiancoe said. "This one was a tremendous stumble. I wouldn't even call it a damn stumble. I'd call this a catastrophe. But we're going to have to go back to work. Look, we've got 10 more games."

And the only logical approach is to use those 10 games to do what the Vikings should have been doing from the start: provide hope this is the beginning of the future, rather than more of a present with players whose time has passed.

Put McNabb out of his misery. See if there's a trade market before Tuesday's deadline for the likes of Berrian, Shiancoe or any of the other contract-year guys who are on the wrong side of age 30 and probably won't be back regardless. Find out if the poise and athleticism scouts loved about Ponder in the preseason can carry him while he gets up to the speed of the NFL game.

Frazier was being asked if McNabb remains his quarterback when he said that "we're going to sit down on Monday and just talk about a lot of things and just decide on what direction we want to go." He easily could have been talking about the whole operation, though.

It would be unfair to put the Vikings' struggles squarely on McNabb's shoulders. He can't block for himself and catch his own passes any more than he can win a one-on-one on defense or squib a kick to keep it out of Hester's hands.

But it was a battle for relevance the Bears won on Sunday night, and now the Vikings -- never a playoff-caliber team in the first place -- have to figure out a way to gain something from their irrevelance before it's too late to do that either.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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