As I predicted all year, Sidney Rice joined seven other Vikings on this season's Pro Bowl roster. Unfortunately that is the best news for Vikings fans this week.
Like the football leaving the wavering grasp of Adrian Peterson, so too is the Vikings storied season. Starting the year Vikings Management was unsure of which mediocre Quarterback would be starting so they went out and picked up a 40 year old ringer. As the season began some doubted if an aging Quarterback could lead a talented roster into postseason success. After a Week 3 miracle and an 10-1 start no one doubted the gray haired offensive leader.
Since the great start the Vikings have lost three of their last four and bandwagon Favre fans have busted ankles from jumping off the cart. Before placing blame on the elder member of the Minnesota squad, I am going to help find the true causes of the Vikings downturn. What a depressing loss for the Vikings after tying the game on fourth down with a touchdown as time was short in the freezing cold December night. This week's list of the seven most important things will all revolve around what is wrong with the Vikings as of late.
#1 I have been salivating at the mouth (or fingertips I guess) to talk about Adrian Peterson the dunce. How can a man with one flaw in his game continue to not address the issue. Once again on Monday night Adrian fumbled the football, in Overtime, a crucial point in the game, and this time in Bears territory. The next Bears play was a 39 yard touchdown to win the game. Adrian's fumble cost the Vikings big time, this time setting the Bears up to win the game.
How many times can I stress this issue? How many times do the coaches need to yell? Protect the football young fella! Ball security is more important than one extra yard. Especially on second down in your own territory. AP had just caught a check down pass and ran it for the first down but had to fight for one more yard. In pounces Hunter Hillenmeyer to punch the ball away. This most recent fumble is Adrian's seventh of the year, his sixth lost. Seriously Adrian, BALL SECURITY!! If he can't fix this issue Chester Taylor is going to get a lot of playoff carries.
#2 Brad Childress, what are you doing in the first half? Your mighty offense hasn't mustered a single point against the Bears below average defense. Where are the adjustments? Does it seriously take till halftime to recognize failure and change a faltering game plan? Zero points in a half against the Bears for any NFL team is an embarrassment. It is even more of an embarrassment when you are the fifth highest scoring offense in the league. As I have said before, the Vikings need to be a pass first, run second. Minnesota flourishes most on offense when employing this strategy. Yeah, yeah, I know the Vikings have Adrian Peterson, but he fumbles! Minnesota also has arguably the best Quarterback of all time taking snaps. Favre is the MVP candidate, not Peterson. I am not saying go unbalanced and quit running, just pass first. This is the worst I have seen the offensive line play in years and at least passing can put a defense on their heels. Running has not been working Childress, so let the veteran Quarterback figure it out. Well, that's if the line can actually protect him.
Childress is so set in his ways he is not willing to change even with his game plan is showing no success. The worst of all this, Childress just got a four year contract extension. I honestly think Childress is one of the worst coaches in the NFL for his lack of adjusting. Now Vikings fans are stuck with him until he falls flat on his face... which probably won't be long. Micromanaging is not a successful tactic as a NFL Coach, and Childress doesn't understand that.
#4 How about Antoine Winfield being burned twice for touchdowns in two weeks? Not saying he has lost a step (it is possible) because he was beat both times by lightning fast Wide Receivers, but you have to expect your best corner to come out better than that. On the overtime touchdown Winfield had no Safety help over the top which is the result of losing E.J. Henderson. Jasper Brinkley is a liability in pass coverage, so he can't cover the Bears most dangerous weapon, Tight End Greg Olsen. So who is covering Olsen? That's right, the Safety on Winfield's side of the field.
Cedric Griffin also got beat by the young Earl Bennett for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Not a good sign to see faltering Cornerbacks when the defense just lost it's best player.
Taking no credit away from Jay Cutler, Week 16 was one of the best games of his career.
#5 The Special Teams cost the Vikings once again. The Bears blocked an extra point that would have given the Vikings a one point lead, so overtime would have been unnecessary. The defensive kickoff coverage was as bad as Lindsey Lohan's diet of cigarettes and cocaine. Daniel Manning ran all over the Vikings special teams setting up two second half scores for the Bears. As much as I was harping on the defense, it is difficult to slow an offense down with such great field position.
#6 The offensive line played horrible once again, but where is the defensive line? The Vikings still lead the NFL in sacks but have only recorded five sacks in the past four weeks! That is a horrible trend coming down the stretch of the season. In tight games the best aspects of your football team need to come out. The defensive line has been shying away from that responsibility. The Vikings have been playing with out Pro Bowl lineman Pat Williams, but he hopefully will be ready for the playoffs. Both the defensive line and offensive line need to step it up for the Vikings to have a legitimate chance in the playoffs.
#7 The Vikings Week 17 opponent is the New York Giants. The Giants were murdered at the last home game ever to be played in Giants Stadium 41-9 by the Carolina Panthers in Week 16. The Giants defense has allowed 47 touchdowns this season, second only to the Lions. Once again, this week is a must win for the Vikings. Momentum in the playoffs is key, and the Vikings have none. With the Giants defense allowing so many touchdowns the Vikings better run up the score, and better take care of business against this inferior football team.
IMPORTANT THINGS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE
#1 Week 17's biggest and best match up will decide the NFC East crown. The Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles are hated rivals and this match up should prove to be a lucrative one. I am personally cheering for the Cowboys. With a Eagles loss the Vikings still have a chance at the #2 seed in the NFC.
#2 The Saints lost for the second straight week and this time to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Bad news rolling into the playoffs for the Saints. Where has the Saints league leading offense gone? For the second straight week the Saints only mustered 17 points. Not good news for the NFC's number one seed. Buccaneers punt returner Michael Spurlock is the MAN!
#3 The Colts pull their starters and finally lose. It worked out great for the Jets, they kept their playoff hopes alive with that victory. This week the Jets play the Bengals, another team with their playoff spot locked up. Pretty fortunate for the Jets to play teams two straight weeks sitting their starters.