The season opening loss to the Lions has Vikings' fans concerned this season is already in jeopardy. With a visit to Chicago on this week's schedule, and then what was predicted to be difficult games ahead, fans are resigned to finger-pointing and frustration.
But I say "chin up".
Christian Ponder is better than you think. And the defensive secondary is looking pretty good. Adrian Peterson is healthy, and facing the Bears, a team he has had success against. Sure, Chicago held the Bengals to 63 rushing yards last week. And AP did have down visits in 2010-11, totaling just 90 yards in the two games. But last year he had 108 on 18 carries, and in 2007 he recorded his first 200-yard game at Soldier Field.
On the down side Peterson is still missing Jerome Felton, and as the preseason and first game suggest, that is a big deal. The offensive line's inability to open holes against a tough Lions' front is also considered a reason Adrian was held to 15 yards rushing after his first carry.
While fans are excited (finally) about Jerome Simpson, they wonder where Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson were in week one. They blame Ponder for being unable to find them and get them the ball.
And they are angry with Leslie Frazier, but mostly for sticking up for Ponder.
It has become such a blame-syndrome that idiots are tweeting a physical removal of Ponder from more than the starting job. I wonder if Matt Cassel is thinking fans here are worse than the morons who booed in Kansas City when Cassel was lying injured on his home field with a concussion?
We just want a return to greatness. We older fans are spolied from success in the 1970s. Younger fans maybe wanting redemption for the 1998 collapse. Newbie fans still angry about the assault on Favre that cost Minnesota a Super Bowl trip in New Orleans in 2009.
Being a Minnesota Vikings fan is a testimony in perseverance.
Other teams have felt our pain. The Denver Broncos were every bit as snake-bit as Minnesota until John Elway got them a Super Bowl win. The Buffalo Bills may not win as many division titles, but they have felt the pain of Super Bowl loss just as frequent. Teams like Seattle, and expansion teams, and perennial losers all feel our pain. They simply have not suffered as much loss because they are almost always bad. Their fans have become apathetic.
Not us. We suffer still.
We might not have suffered so much this year if we had not had such a strong finish last year. The seven game turnaround and subsequent playoff visit turned what looked like a bad stretch of of football into hope eternal. Despite the difficult schedule, some fans felt we were on an upswing. A 10-11 win season seemed possible to the optomistic fan.
Now the critics, the spiteful, the frustrated fan has the floor. A lackluster first game has them wanting change. And change begins and ends with young Christian Ponder. They interpret the turnovers, bad-decisions, poor throws, and shakiness as a sign he will never be a good quarterback in the NFL. Sure, he looked good for a few games late last year, but with Aaron Rodgers staring them in the face, the fans want more.
And they may be right.
Or, they may be wrong. Maybe Ponder is struggling because the offense is not playing well together? Maybe the Lions defense will do the same or worse to others? Maybe it is tough to win on the road, and especially tough to win home openers?
We will find out soon.
One thing I can already see.. that schedule that looked so tough might be a tad bit easier the next few games. The Steelers looked worse than bad game one, and Cleveland disappointed as well. They will be our first two opponents at home (if you think London is homey).
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