Sid Hartman: Worst Vikings team ever? It has to be 1984

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 26, 2011 - 11:55 PM

The Les Steckel-led team not only lost regularly, but it lost big regularly.

hide

Minnesota Vikings head coach Les Steckel and quarterback Tommy Kramer survey the damage from the sidelines as they watch the San Diego Chargers ruin Steckel's coaching debut with a 42-13 rout in Minneapolis, Sept. 3, 1984.

Photo: Larry Salzman, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Yes, the Vikings are 2-8, a 10-game record that the Purple has compiled only twice in the history of the franchise. Those two seasons were the first two years of the team's existence, 1961 (when the Vikings finished 3-11) and 1962 (2-11-1).

So now some of the various experts are trying to decide which team ranks as the worst in the Vikings' 51 seasons. Some have already decided on this 2011 edition.

Well, I have covered this Vikings franchise from the day it was born. And the worst team without a doubt was the 1984 squad. That team was a little better through 10 games, going 3-7, but finished 3-13, and it was worse than this year's team for a number of reasons.

That season, the Purple lost its last six games by an average of 27 points per game. Included in that was a 51-7 loss at San Francisco that remains the Vikings' worst loss of all time. I am confident this Vikings team won't go winless the rest of the way.

Bud Grant had resigned as coach after the 1983 season, when the Vikings went 8-8. For an unknown reason, General Manager Mike Lynn selected young wide receivers coach Les Steckel to be Grant's successor instead of longtime offensive coordinator Jerry Burns. Lynn made a lot of good decisions, but this was a bad one.

Scott Studwell, Vikings director of college scouting, was a linebacker on that 1984 team, and he and his many teammates found when they reported for the first practice session a number of exercise machines used only by the Marines. That didn't sit well with players, who revolted and did all but strike against Steckel that season.

"Bud Grant and his coaches were on the same page and we knew what to expect, but Les Steckel tried to change all that, do it his own way, and I think it kind of blew up in his face, to be honest with you," Studwell recalled.

"It was very difficult. You know, we had some injuries, certainly that hurt us, and you know we were competitive early on in the season, then things kind of just fell apart for us. We had a lot of guys get hurt. Quite honestly, we had some players that kind of laid down and quit on him and quit on their teammates. So I mean, we were not competitive late in the year. Our talent had dropped off. But it was a tough year, I think there was a lot of transition, a lot of new coaches, a lot of new players. I think everything kind of just fell apart."

For the season, the 1984 team was outscored 484-276. There was one loss at Chicago's Soldier Field on Nov. 25 when a Vikings offensive line that was changed the Friday before the game allowed quarterback Archie Manning to be sacked 11 times. The Bears won that game 34-3.

Steckel was fired after the season, and Lynn persuaded Grant to come back the next year.

With essentially the same roster, the 1985 Vikings went 3-1 in the preseason and 7-9 in the regular season. Of those nine losses, five were by a touchdown or less, including four by a field goal or less.

"It was basically the same personnel," Studwell said. "He brought the stability back that we lost in that transition. You can't just blame coaches; you can't just blame players. I think it was everybody involved with the football team that particular year had a part in it."

This year's Vikings have lost six games by a touchdown or less -- including last week's loss to the Raiders, where the team once again had the ball late with a chance to tie or win. The Vikings have been outscored by 271-200, a 71-point differential that is the fifth worst in the NFL. But it's by no means as drastic as that 208-point gap the Vikings had in 1984.

One thing about the 2011 team is that the players haven't quit or lost respect for the coach like they did in 1984. They have given 100 percent in every game.

And rest assured, when the season is over, they will have a better record than the worst team in Vikings history.

Gophers end on dominant high note

Those who have followed Gophers football forever like me can't recall having seen anything like what I saw in the halftime statistics of Jerry Kill and Co.'s 27-7 victory over Illinois on Saturday.

The Illini had 23 plays for 18 yards, compared to 40 plays for 217 yards for the Gophers. Illinois had 15 passing yards and 3 rushing yards.

The final stats were similarly dominant for the home team. MarQueis Gray alone had 27 rushes for 174 yards; Illinois finished with 32 carries for 82 yards as a team. The Gophers more than doubled Illinois' offense, with 333 yards to the losers' 160. You don't often see numbers like that.

"He made some awful good decisions today," Kill said of his quarterback. "He ran the ball and made good decisions."

As Kill noted during the week, the Gophers learned a lot over the final few weeks of the season, having fully adjusted to the system of their new coach.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the great job Kill and his staff have done working with the seniors. They lose many players who will be hard to replace next year, such as Da'Jon McKnight and Duane Bennett on offense and Anthony Jacobs, Brandon Kirksey, Gary Tinsley, Christyn Lewis, Kim Royston and Kyle Henderson on defense.

Like Kill said Saturday, he and his coaches didn't know what to expect when they got here, and it took them a while to do the type of work they were used to doing at the other places they have been.

And it has started to pay off. The Gophers will be more competitive next year because of this great staff.

Jottings

Asked to explain the Vikings' 2-8 record, Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson said: "I think talent is not an issue. It's more of a combination of untimely mistakes and us shooting ourselves in the foot, a lot. It's hard to play the opponent and overcome our own mistakes, and, in a sense, play ourselves each Sunday."

• Chris Kluwe, the Vikings punter whose mistake on a hold for Ryan Longwell last week cost the team a shot at three points, hadn't dropped a snap since the first game of his career. "I dropped the very first one of my career against the Redskins," he said. "Ever since then I've been perfect. ... It's just the law of averages." Incidentally, Kluwe's band, Tripping Icarus, will be playing Thursday at First Avenue.

• It's going to be more difficult for the Twins to re-sign Michael Cuddyer now that the new collective bargaining agreement is in place. Cuddyer was a Type A free agent in the old system, meaning a team signing him would have given up its 2012 first-round draft pick to the Twins. Now, a team can sign him penalty-free. The Twins would still receive two picks if he were to leave, though.

• Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith said it is impossible to compete recruitingwise with the other Big Ten schools who have a basketball building for practice while Minnesota doesn't.

• Fundraising for a new Siebert Field is approaching the $7.5 million needed to start work on the Gophers baseball stadium, so watch for an announcement soon.

• It will be season No. 60 when John Gagliardi returns next year to coach St. John's football.

 Forest Lake's Griffin Lentsch, who scored 89 points for Grinnell in a 145-97 victory over Principia on Nov. 20, didn't record an assist in the game. "Basically, whenever I got the ball I was so wide open that I just shot it," Lentsch said last Sunday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 26 FINAL
Atlanta 24
Tennessee 24 FINAL
Philadelphia 43
Detroit 9 FINAL
New England 34
Green Bay 24 FINAL
Minnesota 21
Jacksonville 3 FINAL
Indianapolis 23
Cincinnati 22 FINAL
Houston 13
Tampa Bay 13 FINAL
Chicago 21
Arizona 3 FINAL
Seattle 19
St. Louis 24 FINAL
San Diego 27
Miami 36 FINAL
Denver 39
Washington 13 FINAL
San Francisco 17
Dallas 31 FINAL
NY Giants 28
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
LA Clippers 91 FINAL
Memphis 107
Portland 94 FINAL
Boston 88
Charlotte 93 FINAL
Miami 94
Golden State 91 FINAL
Oklahoma City 86
Denver 101 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Montreal 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 5
Arizona 1 FINAL
Anaheim 2
Chicago 1 FINAL
Vancouver 4
Coll of Charleston 61 FINAL
George Mason 60
Massachusetts 75 FINAL
Florida State 69
Youngstown St 76 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 67
Wofford 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 53
Ark-Pine Bluff 43 FINAL
Central Mich 75
Southern Ill 67 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Drexel 61 FINAL
Cornell 59
American Univ 51 FINAL
Morehead State 46
CS-Northridge 88 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 94
Bethune-Cookman 65 FINAL
Central Conn St 60
Columbia 54 FINAL
Lehigh 44
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
New Mexico 51
TX A&M-CC 62 FINAL
Saint Louis 56
Merchant Marine 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 89
South Dakota 72 FINAL
Fairfield 80
Longwood 48 FINAL
Eastern Mich 79
Providence 75 FINAL
Notre Dame 74
Jackson State 50 FINAL
UAB 58
Coppin State 54 FINAL
Denver 80
Northwestern St 68 FINAL
Oklahoma 90
Catawba 52 FINAL
Radford 88
Newman 57 FINAL
Wichita State 105
Yale 66 FINAL
Kent State 59
St Katherine 49 FINAL
UC Riverside 102
NC Central 45 FINAL
Creighton 65
South Florida 65 FINAL
NC State 68
USC 61 FINAL
Penn State 63
Nichols College 70 FINAL
Holy Cross 101
Dayton 65 FINAL
Boston College 53
Wagner 71 FINAL
Hofstra 93
Towson 79 FINAL
Monmouth 75
NC A&T 50 FINAL
Bradley 58
Eastern Ill 49 FINAL
Cincinnati 54
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Georgia 74
Presbyterian 48 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 76
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Rutgers 76
UMKC 55 FINAL
Samford 64
Binghamton 68 FINAL
Navy 70
USC Upstate 69 FINAL
UCF 76
UMass Lowell 64 FINAL
Fordham 57
Montana State 28 FINAL
Kentucky 86
Iona 78 FINAL
North Texas 58
Gardner-Webb 67 FINAL
Seton Hall 85
Akron 68 FINAL
South Carolina 63
Hood College 51 FINAL
Howard 78
Sacred Heart 48 FINAL
Ohio State 106
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Vanderbilt 78
Connecticut 68 FINAL
West Virginia 78
Delaware 52 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 70
Mercer 62 FINAL
Colorado State 75
SD Christian 60 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 82
Northern Ariz 74 FINAL
Ole Miss 80
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Northeastern 65
Pacific 69 FINAL
Washington 76
Miami-Florida 77 FINAL
Charlotte 58
UC Irvine 69 FINAL
St Marys-CA 72
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Long Beach State 63 FINAL
UCLA 77
Montana 58 2nd Half 2:45
Seattle 59
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(8) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
(22) Minnesota 28 FINAL
Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(19) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 FINAL
(20) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(16) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
SMU 7 FINAL
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 31 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 FINAL
(21) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 30 FINAL
Ball State 45
Appalachian St 35 FINAL
Louisiana 16
(12) Arizona 42 FINAL
Utah 10
FIU 14 FINAL
North Texas 17
(18) Ole Miss 0 FINAL
Arkansas 30
(24) Louisville 31 FINAL
Notre Dame 28
Maryland 23 FINAL
Michigan 16
Texas Tech 34 FINAL
Iowa State 31
(14) Wisconsin 26 FINAL
Iowa 24
Syracuse 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
Boston College 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 20
Georgia State 0 FINAL
(23) Clemson 28
Tulane 6 FINAL
East Carolina 34
Stanford 38 FINAL
California 17
Western Carolina 14 FINAL
(2) Alabama 48
ULM 30 FINAL
New Mexico St 17
So Florida 20 FINAL
Memphis 31
Colorado 10 FINAL
(3) Oregon 44
Fla Atlantic 34 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 35
Samford 7 FINAL
(15) Auburn 31
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Virginia 30
Vanderbilt 0 FINAL
(4) Miss State 51
(17) Missouri 29 FINAL
Tennessee 21
Oklahoma State 28 FINAL
(5) Baylor 49
USC 20 FINAL
(9) UCLA 38
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
Connecticut 0
(25) Boise State 63 FINAL
Wyoming 14
Oregon State 13 FINAL
Washington 37
Fresno State 40 FINAL
Nevada 20
UNLV 35 FINAL
Hawaii 37
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
New England 2 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Montreal 24 FINAL
Hamilton 40
Edmonton 18 FINAL
Calgary 43
Alabama 58 FINAL
Temple 51
Massachusetts 46 FINAL
Florida State 74
Creighton 60 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 96
Bryant 79 FINAL
Boston College 90
Robert Morris 84 FINAL
UMBC 60
Sacred Heart 59 FINAL
Maine 58
Virginia Tech 72 FINAL
Providence 69
Coll of Charleston 61 FINAL
George Mason 71
Hartford 59 FINAL
Lafayette 74
William & Mary 80 FINAL
High Point 87
Western Ill 88 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 90
Pittsburgh 64 FINAL
James Madison 80
Toledo 48 FINAL
(24) Purdue 66
Western Mich 47 FINAL
Michigan 74
Cleveland State 73 FINAL
FIU 65
San Diego State 38 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 89
Mount St Marys 62 FINAL
Davidson 67
IUPUI 45 FINAL
(15) Michigan State 64
Illinois State 49 FINAL
Colorado State 70
Incarnate Word 49 FINAL
Indiana 85
Cincinnati 54 FINAL
Iowa State 85
Furman 69 FINAL
Clemson 79
VA Commonwealth 86 FINAL
Ohio State 96
Marquette 51 FINAL
(7) Duke 83
Bethune-Cookman 42 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Coppin State 54 FINAL
Wake Forest 65
(24) Georgia 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 57
Ball State 56 FINAL
(12) Louisville 69
Auburn 51 FINAL
Virginia 66
Utah 43 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 66
Minnesota 68 FINAL
Memphis 62
Georgetown 42 FINAL
Kansas 55
Northwestern St 30 FINAL
Arkansas 78
TX-San Antonio 72 FINAL
Lamar 40
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
McNeese State 57
Air Force 51 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 86
IUPU-Ft Wayne 73 FINAL
USC Upstate 85
Morgan State 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 65
Western Ky 77 FINAL
Miss State 88
Southern U 42 FINAL
Illinois 62
Eastern Illinois 59 FINAL
North Texas 57
Alabama State 61 FINAL
South Alabama 64
Wisconsin 77 FINAL
Drake 89
Seattle 61 FINAL
Montana State 74
UC Santa Barbara 49 FINAL
Northern Ariz 67
Hofstra 64 FINAL
Norfolk State 47
Iona 49 FINAL
Pacific 64
Middle Tennessee 71 FINAL
Ole Miss 65
Portland 67 FINAL
Cal Poly 76
(10) Texas 75 FINAL
UCLA 65
Fresno State 50 FINAL
USC 68
Ave Maria 54 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 102
Holy Cross 29 FINAL
(3) Notre Dame 104
Chicago State 40 FINAL
Oakland 66
(11) North Carolina 76 FINAL
Oregon 59
Harvard 87 FINAL
Quinnipiac 83
Princeton 63 FINAL
American Univ 56
Missouri 70 FINAL
(14) California 82
Yale 51 FINAL
Washington 81
UNLV 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close