Jim Souhan: Aging, inept Vikings defense has few salvageable parts

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 23, 2013 - 9:50 AM

– At halftime of the Vikings’ loss to the Bengals on Sunday, monkeys riding dogs herded goats into a pen.

If the Vikings secondary had been asked to do the herding, those goats would have busted out of Paul Brown Stadium, stolen a case of whiskey and commandeered a paddle boat down the Ohio River.

A 42-14 loss filled with mistakes, turnovers, blown coverage and general aimlessness may have ended even idle conversations about Leslie Frazier and Matt Cassel, as two months of competitiveness segued into an afternoon of pratfalls.

In a week, the Vikings likely will be looking for a new coach and a franchise quarterback. To get this team back to the playoffs, the brain trust will also need to add a few quality defenders, but only at the positions of defensive line, linebacker, cornerback, safety and coordinator.

The Vikings offense may be one player away.

The Vikings defense needs a squadron — a gaggle, a pride? — plus herding lessons.

The team has allowed an NFL-worst 467 points this year. If the Detroit Lions score 18 points next Sunday at Mall of America Field, the Vikings will break the franchise record for most point allowed — 484 in 1984.

Too often, Vikings defensive backs look like mimes. They make familiar motions but didn’t seem interested in objects.

Safety Harrison Smith is a fine player. Xavier Rhodes, the first-round pick who was injured and did not play Sunday, will be a fine player. Everyone else in the secondary is either a bust or playing above his pay grade.

Former Gopher Marcus Sherels is an overachiever. He should be congratulated for becoming a better player than a second-round pick, Chris Cook, and a third-round pick, Josh Robinson, but his ascendance on the depth chart is an indictment of General Manager Rick Spielman’s roster.

Sunday, Cook earned the Steve Smith Love Boat Award.

The award, which was made up just moments ago by a Minneapolis writer, honors the memory of the Carolina receiver torching Vikings corner Fred Smoot in 2005, then pretending to row a boat in the end zone to taunt the Vikings over the “Love Boat” scandal.

Here’s what is frightening: Smoot on that day was a far better cornerback than Cook was on Sunday. Smoot got close enough to Smith to be able to tell whether he was chewing gum. Cook may have needed a spotter to find out A.J. Green’s jersey number.

The Vikings’ two biggest defensive stars, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, will play their final game together on Sunday. This winter, the Vikings may be looking for pass-rushers, run-stoppers, a middle linebacker, a corner to pair with Rhodes and a safety to pair with Smith.

Only Brian Robison, Chad Greenway, Smith, Rhodes and presumably first-round draft pick Sharrif Floyd seem assured of starting jobs, and none of them is as dominant as Williams and Allen were in their prime.

“I can’t speak for the whole defense, but I’ll speak for myself: This was embarrassing,’’ Allen said. “I don’t know what to say. I still remember the days when we survived on defense around here, and I think that’s the attitude we still want to have.

“It’s not for a lack of effort. Guys still practice hard and work hard. We’ve just got to get it together.’’

Allen spoke for a while in the present tense about the finale against the Lions, which will be the Vikings’ last game in the Metrodome and probably Allen’s last game as a Viking.

  • related content

  • Chart: Vikings can't stop anyone

    Monday December 23, 2013

    can’t stop ’emSome Vikings numbers this season:467 Points given up (31.1 per game). The team record is 484 in 1984,...

  • Souhan blog: What a beating

    Sunday December 22, 2013

    Vikings don't show up in Cincinnati

  • Jim Souhan grades the Vikings

    Monday December 23, 2013

    OFFENSE Souhan’s grade: FBig turnovers, a pick-6, terrible on third downs, no running game.DEFENSESouhan’s grade: FChris Cook is helpless, no...

  • Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) pulled down a 7 yard...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2 FINAL
Washington - WP: T. Roark 4
Baltimore - WP: U. Jimenez 5 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 4
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 7 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar 1
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 10
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Petricka 3 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 4
Philadelphia - LP: C. Hamels 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 2
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Wood 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 6 FINAL
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 2
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 1 FINAL
Texas - WP: N. Martinez 2
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 3 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: Z. Rosscup 4
Arizona - LP: A. Chafin 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 6
LA Angels 2 Top 6th Inning
Oakland 0
San Francisco 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Los Angeles 3
Colorado 2 Bottom 5th Inning
San Diego 0
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New England 9/29/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Carolina 0 FINAL
Buffalo 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Columbus 2
Boston 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Nashville 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Toronto 4
Detroit 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
San Jose 2 FINAL
Vancouver 4
Arizona 3 3rd Prd
Anaheim 0
Vancouver 0 2nd Prd 20:00
San Jose 0
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
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: Which struggling team is in the worst shape?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close