CHICAGO – Mike Zimmer has more to worry about than stuffed animals. His team suddenly looks like a bunch of lost cats.
One bad loss is no need to panic. But a second consecutive one in which the same flaws were further exposed in gory detail?
Yeah, the Vikings should be a little concerned right now.
Facing a wounded, one-win Chicago Bears team Monday night, the Vikings looked even more wounded and vulnerable than the home team — and not just on offense.
Oh, their offense remains in shambles. But Zimmer’s vaunted defense got severely outplayed by the NFL’s worst scoring offense.
The only redeeming aspect of a 20-10 loss at Soldier Field was the play of punter Jeff Locke. That’s about it.
“We’ve got to do a lot of things better to get ourselves back on track,” defensive end Everson Griffen said.
Zimmer blasted his team after a no-show at Philadelphia, calling that performance “embarrassing” and his offense “soft.”
This one was worse. Significantly worse.
“We’re such a good team, and what we’re putting out on the field right now is not us,” offensive guard Brandon Fusco said.
They were a good team in a 5-0 start. The ineptitude of the offense the past two weeks has sucked the life right out of the team and halted its momentum.
The Vikings can’t run the ball. Their line can’t protect Sam Bradford. The passing game looks disjointed. And Norv Turner’s play-calling has become unimaginative.
Basically, the offense looks broken, like the Vikings are fresh out of answers and just slamming their head into a brick wall over and over and over.
I asked receiver Stefon Diggs how they get back on track.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re off track,” he said. “It’s small things that don’t go our way.”
Let’s see: They managed only 95 total yards in the first half and had three points until a garbage-time touchdown catch by Diggs.
They rushed for 57 yards. They gave up five sacks and a number of other quarterback pressures.
They were 2-for-13 on third-down conversions and had a stretch of four consecutive three-and-out series in the first half.
That seems off track when coupled with the mess they left in Philadelphia.
“We’ve got to go back to things that we do well,” receiver Adam Thielen said.
Which is what? It’s hard to know what those things even are at this point, especially with the line sabotaging the entire operation.
They couldn’t even capitalize on favorable situations.
The Vikings started their third possession at the 50-yard line and did nothing with it. On second down, Diggs gained separation down the middle of field, but Bradford overthrew him. Diggs dived, but the ball glanced off his fingers.
The Viking’ only points in the first half came after a bone-headed sequence by the Bears. Linebacker Pernell McPhee hit Bradford as he threw the ball, causing a backward pass.
Defensive end Akiem Hicks started running off the field as the ball rolled freely next to him. Hicks obliviously kept jogging to the sideline, allowing Thielen to recover the loose ball.
What’s worse, Bears defensive lineman Cornelius Washington ran off the sideline onto the field, drawing a personal foul.
The Bears should’ve had possession on the Vikings’ side of the field. Instead, the Vikings got the ball at the Bears 42.
And they did next to nothing with it.
Trailing 13-0, the Vikings moved the ball to the-3, a chance to grab momentum.
First down: Matt Asiata up the middle, 1 yard.
Second down: Asiata up the middle, no gain.
Third down: Sack, both center Joe Berger and right tackle T.J. Clemmings beaten on the play.
The pressure and hits on Bradford have made him look skittish in the pocket, and his timing with his receivers has disappeared. Combine that with a nonexistent running game and this is the result.
“I can’t put my finger on what’s going wrong,” Fusco said.
The answer Monday night was pretty simple. The offense stunk and the defense wasn’t any better.