If you do a quick Twitter search on #DUMPSTERFIRE, you'll find multiple Vikings-related outbursts. And only one of them was written by me!
Where else can you go after that debacle on Sunday against the previously winless Browns, a team that had traded its only NFL-caliber running back and was starting its third-string quarterback?
This has to be the worst kind of Monday for a die-hard Vikings fan. I'm not talking about the blind loyalist who slurps the purple Kool-Aid all year long, the type of self-proclaimed "Super Fan" who named his dog Francis and his goldfish Randy and his first-born Tingelhoff (boy or girl), the guy whose wardrobe ranges in color from violet to eggplant. You'll never shake that guy's faith, and God love him for it. That's how scams like PSLs and $12 Budweisers continue to thrive in the NFL.
No, I'm talking about the more realistic Vikings fans, ones who can take the long view and acknowledge the team's flaws and know a thing or two about league-wide trends that have left the Vikings choking in a trail of dust. Those fans are going to have a hard Monday, because against their better judgment, they probably bought into the optimistic view of the Vikings' 2013 season that was being spun last week.
Surely you heard it. The Vikings offense – and Christian Ponder in particular – had figured it out in the second half against the Bears. The schedule gets soft after two tough road games to start the season. Four straight wins – against the Browns, Steelers, Panthers and Giants – seemed likely, starting with a "loser-proof" game against Cleveland.
Well, that optimism has been buried in an avalanche of turnovers, blown assignments, overthrown receivers and brain-dead special teams play that turned a "loser-proof" game into one of the Vikings' most disappointing losses in recent memory. The chances of recovering from an 0-3 start to reach the playoffs are miniscule, rendering the next 14 weeks (don't forget the bye week!) essentially meaningless.
Seriously, what can Ponder do to show that he's a legitimate NFL quarterback after the track record he's compiled? What can Leslie Frazier do to save his job when most observers believed he was in a "playoffs-or-bust" season? How can Adrian Peterson approach his lofty goals with the offensive line playing the way it has?
Oh, we'll figure out a way to cover the season, to glean importance out of each and every game. The takeaway from Sunday's loss is too obvious to require much elaboration, but we'll leave you with this: We agree that Ponder should remain the starting quarterback, because if they put Matt Cassel behind that offensive line, they'll get Cassel killed. He seems like a nice guy and we don't want that on our conscience.
Other than benching Ponder, what quick fixes would you make? Or are the Vikings truly as doomed as they appeared on Sunday? We'll take your suggestions in the comments.
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to the Vikings Yearbook, and has covered the Vikings for FOXSportsNorth.com, Viking Update and the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @donnelly612.
Like many Vikings fans, I expected Sunday's game at Soldier Field to be rough; something akin to what we saw in the Week 1 debacle in Detroit. Many of us anticipated that the Vikings would be sitting here at 0-2 (and 0-2 in the NFC North), in part because they rarely win in Chicago.
What I didn't see coming was the 31-30 roller coaster ride that has left me feeling woozy and unsure of what to make of this club. For every positive point in the Week 2 loss, there was also a negative side. For (nearly) every negative reaction, there was a silver lining. For example:
You get my point. If you're a glass-half-full person, you can look back at Week 2 and see some positive signs that weren't there after Week 1. If you're a bitter lifelong Vikings fan, then you're probably thinking that the team simply found yet another way to punch you in the gut.
It will be very difficult for the Vikings to climb out of this 0-2 hole and make the playoffs... but there remains a small, one-month window for optimism. The Vikings don't have another "road" game until October 21. If they are going to pull out of their tailspin, the schedule is in their favor with the 0-2 Browns, 0-1 Steelers, and 0-2 Panthers coming up in three "home" games. The Vikings still have a reasonable shot at being 2-2 headed into the Week 5 bye and 3-2 going into Week 7.
Of course, we shouldn't be surprised if Browns, Steelers, and Panthers fans are all looking at their upcoming matchup against the 0-2 Vikings as a good chance to pick up a win and cure some of their woes, so any optimism about those games is cautious at best.
My hand is hovering over the panic button and I've started to dream about a purple "Bridgewater" jersey, but I'm not quite ready to go there. My stomach isn't ready for the "time to blow it all up and rebuild for the new stadium" plan. Ponder, Musgrave, Leslie Frazier, and many others likely have two more weeks - and possibly another month - to show that this current roster and coaching staff can build on the positives of the Week 2 loss and still make a run at the playoffs. If not? Well, this slope is going to get very slippery, very fast.
There aren't many outside of Winter Park who seriously expect the Minnesota Vikings to win on Sunday. You know it's true.
In fact, given their history at Soldier Field, one has to wonder just how confident the Vikings themselves are of coming away with a win in Chicago this Sunday. Obviously, not a single person employed by the Vikings would ever admit such a thing on the record, but it is human nature to have such doubts. A look at the track record tells us why.
It's perfectly logical to question the Vikings' ability to win in Chicago – where the Bears have won the last five in a row and 11 of the last 12. That's an unmistakable trend, folks. Yes, the Vikings beat the Bears the last time these two teams squared off in Week 14 last season, but that was at Mall of America Field.
|Vikings vs. Bears in Chicago|
The Bears have defeated the Vikings by an average score of 28.4 to 17.6 over the last 12 games in the Chicago. My Richfield math tells me that's a double-digit difference on average. That's not promising for the Purple.
As the table shows, the Vikings' lone win in the Windy City in the last 12 years came in 2007. They needed overtime as well as 224 rushing yards and three touchdowns from a rookie named Adrian Peterson to win that day. They might need a similar Herculean effort from the MVP to do it again – which of course is never out of the question when it comes to Peterson.
Regardless of what Adrian does, Christian Ponder needs to play better and the defense needs to figure out a way to stop Matt Forte or he'll do the same thing Reggie Bush did to them in Week 1.
Moreover, if the Vikings are serious about their playoff chances – and I have every reason to believe that they are -- they'll have to buck the odds and figure out a way to win. If you've been paying attention to football at all this past week you have undoubtedly heard the daunting statistic about 0-2 teams and the postseason: since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, 0-2 teams have gone on to make the playoffs only 11.6 percent of the time.
Of course, starting 0-2 on the road isn't the worst thing in the world. I think the Vikings will likely lose this Sunday, but I also expect them to win their next two games against the Cleveland Browns (at home) and Pittsburgh Steelers (in London). I'm guessing the percentage of teams that start 2-2 and make the playoffs is considerably higher than 11.6.
Should Vikings fans be concerned if they fall to 0-2 this Sunday? Of course. Should they throw in the towel on 2013 if they lose? Absolutely not.
Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell
I guess I wouldn't be much of a Vikings blogger if I didn't go on the record with some sort of official predictions post for the season ahead. So as I sit here staring at a half-dozen televisions all tuned to NFL pregame shows at SportsData world headquarters on the first Sunday of the NFL season I thought I'd throw out a handful of purple prognostications.
Adrian Peterson isn't backing down from the 2,500-yard prediction. It's probably too late now anyways. He's been asked about it so often that to back away from it now would be un-Adrian.
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