Breaking news: this entry will not fawn over Don Shelby. Although, since he's an expert on everything -- just ask him -- I bet he has some ideas on why the Vikings are underperforming beyond anyone's expectations this year.
The answer is pretty simple: many players are performing way below expectations.
If you believe that this team would be 6-3, instead of 3-6, with a different head coach, then I would like to sell you some left-handed microphones.
That doesn't mean that coach Brad Childress is blameless. But I get the sense that many fans would rather go through the body scanner at the airport and have those images posted on YouTube than watch another game with Childress in charge.
The Vikings had 10 legitimate Pro-Bowl players last year. Of those, only two, running back Adrian Peterson and wide receiver Percy Harvin, are anywhere near a repeat performance. And even Peterson has failed in some key situations, most notably against Miami and New England at the goal-line.
A few different play calls or personnel groups do not make up for the Vikings trailing for long periods in eight of their nine games. Only against Detroit in Week 3 have the Vikings led for an extended stretch . Because of that, the pass rush has been non-existent. They are last in the NFL in turnover margin at minus-11. Their 23 turnovers to date are five more than all of 2009. Quarterback Brett Favre's interception rate of 5.5% is on pace to be the highest of his career.
The Vikings have the 25th-ranked red zone offense. Their special teams have shown warts. The defense can't come up with third-down stops. Linebacker E.J. Henderson should win Comeback Player of the Year, but clearly isn't the same player he was before his injury. Linebacker Chad Greenway is the only starter among the front-seven playing better than his 2009 form.
At what point can we say that the execution is just as bad as the coaching? On Sunday, Chicago won easily despite committing 11 penalties for 116 yards, throwing a red-zone interception, and missing an easy field goal. How is any of that Childress' fault? Childress is the same coach who won 12 games last year, and was one Favre interception from the Super Bowl.
No reason to pick Shelby's brain on this one. The reality is that the Vikings just aren't that good, and the players are to blame too.