The Minnesota Vikings 2013 season is a complete disaster. The team is 1-4 and just suffered an embarrassing home loss against a very mediocre Carolina Panthers team. How and why are the Vikings so bad? Below is a quick list of 10 reasons why …
10. Little To No Production From Draft Class
The Vikings 2012 Draft class was one of the most productive in recent years but unfourtunately for the team, the 2013 class isn’t off to as hot a start. There was a lot of optimism on Draft Night as the Vikings landed three first rounders after the Percy Harvin trade and moving back into round 1 to grab Cordarrelle Patterson. These guys were supposed to help the Vikings from the start this season, but they haven’t had much of an impact at all. Their first pick DT Shariff Floyd has flashed at times and does have 1.5 sacks, but he is way too inconsistent to be counted on. CB Xavier Rhodes has battled injuries early and has had trouble staying on the field. When he does play he is often flagged for being too aggressive on the field and needs to learn how to properly cover a receiver while following the rules of the NFL. Cordarrelle Patterson has had an impact as a return man, but hasn’t done much as a receiver. This is mainly due to his offensive coordiniator not getting him on the field, as Patterson is lucky to see 10 offensive snaps a game. The only later pick that has done much of anything is punter Jeff Locke, and he is currently third amongst rookie punters in the NFL. The Vikings need to play these guys as much as possible the rest of the way, so they know what they have heading into next season.
9. Inconsistent Pass Rush
The Vikings had an impressive 44 sacks in 2012 but have found getting to the QB much more difficult this season. They have just 10 sacks through 5 games with half of those coming in the game against Pittsburgh in London. This is extremely surprising as Jared Allen, Everson Griffen, and Brian Robison (just recently extended) are all playing for new deals. The Vikings haven’t exactly been playing top offensive lines either, the Lions, Bears, and Steelers, have some of the leagues most pourous units, but the Vikings still can’t get to the passer. The Vikings haven’t done a ton of blitzing this year and have relied on a lot of 4 man rushes but that isn’t working and what’s worse is that defensive cooridinator Alan Williams fails to make any adjustments whatsoever, but that is another topic on it’s own.
8. Lack of Emotion From Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Now I don’t think the Vikings need a coach as animated as Rex Ryan…. that said, it would be nice to know the Purple’s leader has a little fire under his butt. Frazier is a great guy and is hard to not like, but when you are 1-4 and are having a tough season, fans and players want to see a coach fighting for them on the sidelines. Bad call? Let the ref know it! I’m all for a coach having class and poise on the sideline but when the time comes when a coach is showing a little fire and emotion it can help rally his team. It isn’t just Frazier either, the entire coaching staff looks like they could be sleeping at any given moment. Even Childress managed to show a little animation from time to time.
7. Too Many Giveaways
The Vikings defense has created some turnovers this year but the Vikings offense has been very generous giving the ball right back. Christian Ponder was a turnover machine as he threw 5 picks and had a fumble lost in just three games played. Adrian Peterson has also reverted back to his 2009 fumbling ways and has had 3 fumbles already this season with two of them ending up in the grasp of opposing teams. Matt Cassel has also gotten aboard the turnover train, with 2 terribly thrown interceptions in the beating against Carolina. For a team that is struggling, they cannot afford to turn the ball over as much as they do, and this needs to get shored up in a hurry if the Vikings are going to salvage their season.
6. Lack of Adjustments/Creativity on Defense
The Minnesota Vikings defense has it’s weaknesses. The linebackers can’t cover backs, the corners can’t cover receivers and so on, but what is frustrating as a fan is what appears to be the inability for Alan Williams to make any adjustments mid game. If Jordan Cameron is scoring touchdowns like they are going out of style maybe try doubling him up. If Reggie Bush is shredding your defense over and over again, have your fastest linebacker or safety shadow him. In many games, it seems the Vikings are just sticking with the original game plan and are failing to make any adjustments or changes at the half. It is also rare to see any type of exotic blitz from the defense this season. Everson Griffen is one of the most versatile players the team has. Why not stand him up and let him blitz from the outside or the middle? How about some linebacker stunts around the edge or some corner blitzes? Alan Williams needs to be more creative and get his best athletes in areas to make game changing plays.
5. Poor Play in the Secondary
This pretty much comes down to lack of talent at the position. It is pretty safe to say Chris Cook is a borderline bust and will never live up to his early 2nd round selection. Josh Robinson has also had a very poor season in the nickel and doesn’t appear to have a long term future in the Vikings secondary. The Vikings 3rd corner, Xavier Rhodes has plenty of talent, but let’s face it, he is a rookie corner. Putting these 3 guys together and you are in for a rough season in the secondary. Minnesota gambled on having these 3 guys going into the season and the gamble doesn’t appear to be paying off. Look for the Vikings to build around rookie Xavier Rhodes next season and for seasons to come, but I would be very surprised if Cook/Robinson are in the mix next year.
4. Poor Play Calling/Use of Offensive Talent
It’s really surprising that Bill Musgrave still has a job in the NFL. This guy is one of the most unoriginal play callers in the league and one of the more gutless. He is extremely predictable as 90% of the time he runs on first down. On third and long we often see a 7 yd dump off pass called. When the team gets in the red zone, why doesn’t he utilize the size of Kyle Rudolph on fades and jump balls? We used a first round pick on an explosive player in Cordarrelle Patterson and he refuses to play the rookie, instead opting for two tight end sets with bust John Carlson often on the field. Obviously, the quarterback play has been lacking and it’s hard to know how much of that goes on the players or the plays being called. Too often though, Musgrave goes the conservative route and it has cost the Vikings at least two wins this season already. It’s time to get a new man playing the calls one who will maximize our talent and play to the strengths of our team.
3. Subpar Offensive Line Play
This one was one of the bigger surprises this year. The Vikings brought back the entire offensive line from a season ago, which was one of their strong suits. Unfortunately when the preseason rolled around, they just appeared to be completely out of whack. The inconsistency made its way into the regular season and has been shaky at best. Although they have played better as of late, the quarterback (whomever it might be) just doesn’t have any time in the pocket and the running game has also hurt. Come next year the Vikings could be looking at two brand new starting guards, it would be a shock to see them make any adjustments to either tackle.
2. Terrible Linebacking Play
The Vikings linebacking corps is one of the worst in the league plain and simple. They are missing way too many tackles and aside from Chad Greenway, lack the speed to cover backs and tight ends. We have seen them get scorched by Reggie Bush and Matt Forte and even struggled against Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams. The will linebacker spot is the weakest of them all, with Marvin Mitchell’s poor play and now Desmond Bishop being lost for the season. This was an area many expected the Vikings to address early in the 2013 Draft, with a Manti Teo or Alec Ogletree but they opted to ignore it until round 4., and that decison appears to have bit them in the butt. The Vikings might as well see what they have with youngsters Mike Mauti, Audie Cole, and Gerald Hodges in the coming weeks because it’s clear Erin Henderson and Marvin Mitchell are not the answers.
1. Inconsistent Quarterback Play
With no real suprise, the play of the most important position in all of football tops our list. The Vikings held out hope that Christian Ponder would figure it out in year three, but he simply didn’t. Ponder showed extremely happy feet in the pocket and made some very poor reads, often missing open receivers or seeing them too late, and making bad throws. He turned the ball over 6 times in three starts and was merficully benched after suffering a rib injury. His career as a starter in Minnesota appears all but over and he’ll go down as one of the Vikings bigger draft busts of all time. Matt Cassel took over in week 4 in London against the Steelers and played great. He took shots down the field and was confident in the pocket, throwing for nearly 250 yards and 2 tds. Then the ugly Matt Cassel surfaced after the bye, as he threw two interceptions on some very ugly passes. The Vikings brought in Josh Freeman and might as well try him out the rest of the way and see if he has what it takes to be the Purple’s QB of the future. If he fails, the Vikings will address this position early in next year’s draft with what will likley be a VERY high pick.