Immediately following an embarrassing 42-20 loss to New Orleans on Sunday, many Vikings seemed reluctant to admit the team showed a lack of fight in their 12th loss this season. On Monday, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had enough distance from the defeat to speak candidly.
"You could see some guys hung it up," Shiancoe said. "Not a lot though. Like a very small handful of guys."
Shiancoe visited with reporters for 10 minutes in the locker room and was far more gregarious than angry. But he did acknowledge the deflation that set in during Sunday's loss and expressed his discontent with teammates who seemed to cave under the weight of another failure.
"Ain't no games around here, man," Shiancoe said. "We're grown men around here. Can't see nobody slacking off, especially when you [yourself] give all your effort. That's not right. And that's not going to be accepted."
Shiancoe vowed to devote himself to keeping morale up over the final two weeks and also expressed his appreciation for die-hard fans who continue to show their support. But in the midst of a six-game losing streak, Shiancoe admitted the humiliation is growing.
"I mean, you don't even want to go out and pump your gas anymore. It's embarrassing, man."
Schematic changes soon might be coming to the Vikings defense. Not in the next two weeks, mind you. But the potential of changing the system has at least entered the conversation at Winter Park. Coach Leslie Frazier spoke openly Monday about considering an overhaul to the team's 4-3 Cover 2 defense if that's what is deemed necessary at season's end.
The Vikings rank 30th in pass defense (260.4 yards given up per game) and have allowed opposing quarterbacks to compile a cumulative rating of 110.8 this season.
"There are definitely some things that we've got to take a look at in the offseason to make sure we're doing the right things based on the guys that are lining up and playing the Tampa 2 defense," Frazier said. "We'll have to take a very hard look at our schemes, like we do every offseason, and just see if we're doing the right things. We can't be opposed to tweaking things if that's what you need to do. Especially after the season that we've had."
Frazier has been more forthright expressing his concern with the team's personnel in recent weeks, hinting at major changes in the offseason. But he did say Monday he still had confidence the Cover 2 system could work going forward with the right pieces in place.
Three Vikings emerged from Sunday's loss with significant injuries. Cornerback Asher Allen and guard Steve Hutchinson each suffered concussions and will have to pass league-mandated testing this week to be cleared for Saturday's game at Washington. Safety Jarrad Page, meanwhile, suffered a hamstring injury and will be evaluated as the week goes on.
Allen's absence left the Vikings to use a cornerback trio of Benny Sapp, Marcus Sherels and Brandon Burton for the final three quarters against the Saints, which may help explain Drew Brees' 412-yard, five-touchdown day.
The coaching staff made it clear where Cedric Griffin fits into the equation, leaving the veteran corner on the sideline for most of Sunday. Griffin was benched early in Week 14 in Detroit and, as has been well-documented, might not have much time left in the Twin Cities.
If Allen can't play Saturday in Washington, Griffin might be needed for spot duty in the secondary. But don't expect him to resume anything near a regular workload for the final two games.