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Monday (The Vikings' Meltdown) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: September 23, 2013 - 9:24 AM

The original idea was to write a post-game blog Sunday, much as we did last week. But it is hard to type when one's fists are still curled up in tiny balls of rage.

So we waited until this morning, when we might have some proper perspective on this Vikings' season -- one that is veering towards Packers territory when it comes to just how lost it is.

This about sums up the sentiment:

But the big picture is far more grotesque.

Basically, one of the Vikings' biggest offseason upgrades -- adding a more capable backup quarterback -- has been rendered almost meaningless.

And one of their most glaring omissions -- not upgrading the secondary, and in fact downgrading it by cutting Antoine Winfield -- has been magnified.

We'll explain: Last season, fans were constantly calling for Joe Webb to get a chance while Christian Ponder wallowed in mediocrity. But the thing is: 1) the coaching staff clearly knew what it meant to play one or the other, and that was made clear when Webb had to start the playoff game. 2) The Vikings, for all their 2012 ups and downs, were never out of the playoff picture. They started the season 4-1, and their most prominent low water mark came when they dipped to 6-6. If they had lost that next game to the Bears, one could have argued for Webb. Instead, they won and kept rolling to finish 10-6. In other words, they were never below .500 all season.

When looking initially at this year's schedule, it seemed to work out perfectly early. We could get a glimpse of Ponder in the first four games, and even if he continued to struggle there was a decent chance the Vikings would emerge from it 2-2 and keep treading water long enough to the point that if they did make a change and go with veteran Matt Cassel, it would be meaningful in a chase for another postseason berth. Instead, the unfathomable happened -- they lost at home to the Browns. It's hard to look at a schedule that includes the Packers twice, the Seahawks, the Bears again, the Cowboys and the Bengals -- just to name a few, since the Vikings have proven capable of losing to anybody -- and imagine a scenario where they lose just three more times all season. Does it really matter that they have another QB option who could help them steal a game here or there? Probably not.

On the subject of the secondary: The Vikings have given up at least 284 yards passing in all three games this season, and it's not because teams are abandoning the run (they are getting 4.4 yards per carry there). It's one thing to see established QBs like Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler do it; it's another to see Brian Hoyer shred them. And we don't want to hear about injuries. Yes, Chris Cook and A.J. Jefferson went down yesterday. But they were getting torched before that happened. In two of the Vikings' three losses this season, an opponent went the length of the field in a must-pass situation to score the game-winning TD in the final minute. Would Antoine Winfield and/or some other veteran talent have made a difference there? We don't know for sure, but we would have loved to have found out.

Your thoughts, as always, in the comments.

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