A few themes have emerged in recent weeks pertaining to the Vikings:
*Despite shortcomings and having nothing at stake in terms of the playoffs, Vikings players were playing hard for head coach Leslie Frazier even as questions about his job status mounted.
*Matt Cassel showed an adeptness in running the Vikings' offense to make many of us believe the team erred greatly in waiting so long to give him the keys -- and that had he been the starter all season, Minnesota would at least be in contention in the NFC North.
*Cordarrelle Patterson is a beast of a playmaker, and the more we see of him the better.
After Sunday's 42-14 waxing at the hands of the Bengals, only the narrative about Patterson remains on track.
The other two took quite a hit Sunday.
Facing one of the better teams they will see this year, the Vikings looked discombobulated from the start. It's hard to say specifically if that was an effort problem, but it at least seemed to be a focus problem at times (three off-sides penalties on Fred Evans!). Regardless, it wasn't a mark on the "plus" side of the ledger for the embattled Frazier.
Cassel, meanwhile, put up a real clunker for the first time since a 35-10 loss to Carolina -- another very good defense. While the body of work still suggests he is a more productive QB than Christian Ponder, we can probably cool down the talk of "Cassel really could be the guy for the Vikings going forward." The plan in 2014 can include Cassel, but doesn't it also have to include the renewed search for a long-term QB answer from somewhere other than the current roster? We have to think the answer is yes.