Yep. . .that pretty much says it all. A season that started with so much promise now teeters on the brink after seven games with the Beloved Purple going into the bye week. No, the season's not over by any stretch, but there are a lot of things that need to change if things are going to improve in the season's second half.
So what have the major lowlights been to this point? Let's go through them, as only we can.
The Special Teams? Quite Possibly the Worst in the History of the NFL
And I'm not even remotely exaggerating when I make that declaration.
In the past three weeks, the Vikings' punt teams have allowed four touchdowns. . .two returns to Reggie Bush on Monday night in New Orleans, Chris Kluwe's. . .whatever the hell that was. . .against the Bears, and Charles Gordon forgetting to get the hell away from a punt that was going to land inside the 10-yard line. The two gaffes in the Bears' game are fundamental errors. Getting away from a punt is something you learn in high school. . .you can't be doing that crap in the National Football League.
As far as Kluwe, after the hissy fit thrown by Brad Childress after the New Orleans game and bringing in four different punters to "try out," I wonder if he just hasn't completely screwed Kluwe's psyche all to hell at this point. Kluwe was, for whatever reason, scared to death of an injured and ineffective Devin Hester, and didn't even catch the snap before he tried to punt it away. Whatever the reason, it's simply inexcusable.
The kickoff coverage team is awful as well. Three times in the first half against the Bears yesterday, we attempted to pooch or squib the ball to the Bears in an attempt to avoid Hester. The Bears started those drives at the 46, 48, and 41-yard lines. You know what that means? That in each of those situations, we would have been better off telling Ryan Longwell to just kick the ball out of bounds. That way, the Bears would have only gotten the ball at the 40.
I've never been a fan of "avoiding" returners on special teams. Discipline on special teams will stop pretty much any returner, whether it's Devin Hester or Reggie Bush or anybody else. Unfortunately, the Vikings are last in the NFL in pretty much every major special teams category, and they have absolutely no discipline in any phase of their special teams play. I don't know if it's on the players or on the coach, but the Vikings' special teams have been atrocious for a long time. Something needs to be done.
Our Quarterback of the Future? Not On This Roster Anywhere
Gus Frerotte showed on Sunday why he's been a backup for the majority of his NFL career. Yes, one of his four interceptions was tipped, but the other three were simply awful, inexcusable passes. Yes, the offense has looked "better" since Frerotte took over, but that's more of an indictment of how the "kick ass offense" looked before Frerotte than it does about how it looks with him at the helm.
Tarvaris Jackson is done in Minnesota, which is sad, because we're never going to know how he could have done with an actual football coach in a real, NFL offensive system. It's obvious that the current coaching staff has no confidence in him any more at this point, and when they get fired at the end of this season, it's unlikely that the new regime is going to hold on to him. Most coaches want to bring in "their guy" when they take over a team, and whoever is coaching the Vikings in 2009 will likely be no exception.
Could John David Booty be the answer? Not unless he somehow has a light bulb go on during the upcoming off-season and looks significantly less lost than he did during the 2008 pre-season. The guy's got talent. . .you don't get to start at quarterback for USC if you don't. . .but we have to see how that talent will translate to the NFL.
This situation is made infintely more frustrating by the fact that the Vikings have, bar none, the most talented team in this division if you take the other 21 positions into account. The only. . .ONLY. . .difference is that Green Bay and Chicago are getting productive play from their quarterbacks, while we've gotten next to nothing from ours for seven weeks. The fact that we're still only a game out of the division race given our quarterback situation, our special teams, and our coaching staff is a direct testament to the talent and abilities of the rest of this roster.
The Coaching Staff? They All Need to Go, and Sooner Rather Than Later
I'm not just limiting this one to Brad Childress. Everybody needs to be gone. Childress? Gone. Darrell Bevell? Gone. Leslie Frazier? Gone. Paul Ferraro? Gone.
Sometimes, I think that Leslie Frazier would make a fine head coach if we were to fire Brad Childress. . .and then there's times like yesterday that makes me think I should personally drug test myself for believing such things. For example, on Chicago's last touchdown, a 5-yard hitch that Marty Booker turned into a 51-yard touchdown, the closest man to Booker in coverage was. . .Jared Allen?
Now, I understand the concept of a zone blitz and all that, and I understand that such things will be called on occasion. However, let me question the timing of this one. In a situation where we're down by one score, we haven't stopped the opposing offense all day, and we need to stop them on one particular drive. . .we're not paying Jared Allen $73 million to cover Marty Freaking Booker. We're paying him to attempt to separate Kyle Orton's head from his shoulders.
I've been over and over my problems with the "Kick Ass Offense," and I touched on the atrocity that is our special teams earlier in the post. But I thought I'd highlight the defense because Frazier seems to get a free pass more often than not. . .however, when you consider all of the talent this defense has on it and then watch them give up 48 points yesterday to the Bears, one could reasonably draw the conclusion that Frazier might be doing the worst coaching job of all. At least the offense has the excuse of having garbage at quarterback to fall back on. The Vikings have talent at all three levels of the defense. . .there's no excuse for the kind of crap we saw yesterday.
There will be more throughout the week, but that's all the righteous indignation I can muster for this morning. Just keep telling yourselves "We're only 3-4, and we're only one game out." It's been working for me, for the most part. We'll see you back here later today, folks!