Vikings have four areas to fix — and they must do it quickly

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 15, 2013 - 10:19 AM

Sunday's blowout loss to Carolina dropped the Vikings to 1-4, and a sense of urgency hit Winter Park. "When you lose, heads roll,'' Jared Allen said.

 

The Vikings went about business as usual at Winter Park on Monday, 24 hours after their season drifted closer to an abyss that eventually could bring organizational changes.

Leslie Frazier announced no changes, and he attempted to remain upbeat after a 35-10 home loss to the Carolina Panthers left his team with a 1-4 record.

Several veterans vented in the postgame locker room, with defensive end Jared Allen offering a particularly blunt salvo. “When you lose, heads roll,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”

Frazier doesn’t need any reminders that a 1-4 start in 2011 deteriorated into a 3-13 nightmare. What transpired Sunday had a similar look and feel. “It’s not a lost season,” Frazier said. “There has to be a sense of urgency, there’s no question about it. We can still get things turned, but we’re going to need everybody believing that, as well.”

Here are four areas that need immediate improvement to avoid a repeat of 2011:

1. A never-ending quarterback carousel

On Wednesday, the Vikings could announce their third different starting quarterback in six games. That’s never a good sign.

Frazier said he hopes to choose his quarterback that day so the starter — presumably Josh Freeman — can get the majority of snaps in practice this week. Freeman received a crash course on the offense after signing last Sunday night. Frazier said he wants to talk to Freeman to gauge his comfort level with the new system.

Given Matt Cassel’s two interceptions against the Panthers and the team’s overall record, Freeman looks like a safe bet to start because the Vikings need to evaluate him to determine if he is a long-term answer in their never-ending quest to solidify that position.

Cassel and Christian Ponder have accounted for nine of the team’s 12 turnovers and their combined 76.5 passer rating ranks 24th in the league.

The coaches said they will need to condense the playbook for Freeman because he is learning on the fly, but at this point, there’s no downside to evaluating how the offense functions with him at the controls. Freeman’s strong arm could bring a legitimate vertical aspect to an offense that lacks a consistent downfield presence.

2. Defense equally at fault

The Vikings rank 31st in total defense, 30th in scoring defense, 29th in pass defense and 31st in third-down defense. Can’t win that way.

Their deficiencies are particularly glaring on third down. Opponents are converting 49.3 percent of their third-down opportunities, which essentially means it’s a flip of the coin whether the Vikings make a stop and get off the field.

Their third-down defense is even worse than in 2011 when they allowed 44 percent conversions. Not surprisingly, the Vikings also are allowing more points per game than in 2011 — 31.6 vs. 28.1.

Frazier has resisted changes in scheme or personnel and instead pointed to a lack of execution.

“You’ve got to execute your assignments,” he said.

3. Too many blades of grass

Anyone have a number for Pat Williams? Remember when the Williams Wall — Pat and Kevin — anchored the best run defense in the NFL?

The Vikings used to be so stout against the run that their motto was “blade of grass.” Give them a blade of grass and they could defend it.

The Vikings became the first team since the 1970 merger to lead the NFL in rushing defense three consecutive seasons (2006-08). They ranked second in 2009.

And now? They rank 17th in rush defense after finishing 22nd in each of the two previous seasons.

The Vikings once prided themselves on being able to make teams one-dimensional and thus predictable. But their inability to stuff the run puts even more pressure on their beleaguered secondary.

“When you can’t stop the run and you can’t stop the pass, what can you stop, right?” Allen said.

4. Blocking breakdown

The offensive line was expected to be an area of strength this season, but that group’s performance has fluctuated week to week. The entire offense revolves around Adrian Peterson’s running and the line’s ability to open holes and clear lanes for him.

Peterson is averaging 96.6 yards rushing per game and 4.7 yards per carry. Those numbers are pretty similar to his career averages.

But of Peterson’s 102 carries this season, 21 have resulted in zero or negative yardage. That puts the offense in unfavorable situations on second and third down.

Opponents will continue to commit extra defenders to stop Peterson so the Vikings must be able to control the line of scrimmage for their offense to properly function.



 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
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 NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close