Team really catching on to this losing thing -- 2-14, here they come?

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 21, 2011 - 6:03 AM

The Vikings now have a realistic chance of landing the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft. That should be their goal. The way they played for most of Sunday’s game, they should be up to the task.

The Vikings committed a false-start penalty on the first play of the game. They had a cornerback line up offsides. They threw three interceptions, dropped a field-goal snap and fumbled a kickoff return.

They shot themselves in the feet until they ran out of toes while coughing one up to Oakland 27-21 in front of a bunch of fans who didn't know whether to leave early or show up late. They fell to 2-8 on the season and 8-18 since the start of 2010 while their franchise player limped around on a bad ankle on the sideline, losing to a team that must commit personal foul penalties on the way to the team bus.

To summarize a day of really bad football:

Mission accomplished.

There were times during the 2009 season you could have argued that the Vikings were the best team in football. Today, they are contending to become the worst.

Well before they lost to Oakland, the Vikings, a dubious stew of uninspired coaching and overrated talent, had blown their chance to contend. Beating the Raiders would have been like putting Neosporin on a broken tibia.

When you're as bad as the Vikings have been, winning the odd game accomplishes nothing.

Losing offers hope.

The Vikings now have a realistic chance of landing the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

That should be their goal. The way they played for most of Sunday's game, they should be up to the task.

The post-Peyton Colts lead the Andrew Luck Derby with a 0-10 record. That's fine. Quarterback is not the Vikings' chief concern. Christian Ponder, despite his mistakes on Sunday, is a smart, talented kid who will benefit from this experience, and Luck has looked less like a surefire superstar and more like just another talented college quarterback the last couple of games.

The Vikings would be best served by achieving the second-worst record in the NFL. They are currently tied at two victories with Carolina and St. Louis.

If they can pull together and lose the rest of their games, they should have a chance to take USC offensive lineman Matt Kalil, the perfect addition to a team with a lousy offensive line and a stopgap left tackle.

Kalil would be a boost for a roster that, in August, would have led an optimist to predict seven victories, and a pessimist to become a hockey fan.

This team was not set up to win, not with weak starters and a severe lack of depth at offensive line, receiver, cornerback and safety, and the Vikings coaching staff has enabled this mediocre team to play below its talent level.

What Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has to figure out over the next six weeks is whether his current personnel department is capable of making the most of high draft choices, and whether the current coaching staff can get the most out of them.

"We all need to get on the same page and start having a great game as a team," said defensive end Jared Allen.

"It's the mistakes that kill you. The penalties. It's the dumb stuff like that that happens. You would think that we would learn from it and cut it out, but it seems to be contagious around here.

"Week in and week out we keep making the same mistakes, or we have one quarter where we play poorly. That second quarter was terrible. It was probably the worst second quarter I have ever been a part of."

Allen sounds frustrated. So does Adrian Peterson. Athletes aren't supposed to see the big picture. They are supposed to compete.

Anyone with a more well-rounded world view would realize that picking first or second in each round of the 2012 draft is the best way to bandage a roster that just isn't good enough anymore.

"You guys have heard the old saying, 'You are what your record says you are,'" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We're 2-8."

They're 2-8 because they are neither talented nor well-coached.

Six more losses could help them fix one of those problems.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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