Well, in the last 24 hours or so, we've learned that we've got a spineless moron for a head coach. Actually, we covered spineless yesterday, and at today's press conference, we got the moron part covered, too. When asked at his press conference today why he chose to punt the ball away on 4th and 13 with no time outs and about 2:30 left on the clock, Brad Childress gave the following answer, verbatim:
"Based on the way we were playing defense, I thought we’d have a chance to get it back."
What. . .in the blue hell. . .are you talking about? You thought you were going to get the ball back? How? Did you think that the Titans were going to fumble the ball DURING THE KNEELDOWN!? Good lord, just because a team coached by you is capable of something that stupid doesn't mean that a team with even an iota of discipline is capable of the same thing.
A couple of other things from yesterday's game before we get to the Vikings' problems.
The call on the Gage reception on 4th and 1 in the second quarter was complete horse crap. After the replay, the officials spotted the ball a full yard ahead of where Gage actually got to. . .which was at least 3/4 of a yard past where he needed to get to. Between the fumble and the fact that he didn't actually get there, that call was nothing short of complete garbage. Yes, I know that the Vikings lost that game in plenty of other ways, too, but it would help if a big call in a big situation would just once. . .just once. . .go Minnesota's way.
Oh, and the Vanden Bosch hit on Frerotte was completely cheap and gutless. He took way more than his alloted one step after Frerotte got rid of the football, and then felt the need to shove his helmet into Frerotte's. . .well, helmet. Eh, at least he didn't follow it up by stomping his cleats into Frerotte's face, I guess, so that's a plus.
But, anyway, enough about all of that. This is where we take a look at what the Vikings need to do to make an attempt, however futile, to get their season turned around. I thought about making this a Top Ten list, but items 1-8 wound up being "Fire Brad Childress," which would be a big part of the solution, in my opinion. . .but failing that, here are a few humble suggestions, in no particular order.
1) Get serious about the "accountability" and "discipline" we've heard so much about over the past 2+ years
We thought this team was undisciplined during the Tice era. They were, mind you. . .but Childress was supposed to be an improvement in that regard. He's been anything but. Through the first four weeks of the season, the Vikings are once again among the most penalized teams in the league. . .27 in 4 games, to be exact (of the ones that have actually been accepted, that is). But it's not just the penalties. It's other things, like. . .oh, I don't know. . .getting called for delay of game not once, but TWICE, on the first play of a drive after a TV time out. It's things like having one time out left down on the 2-yard line down by 6 points and burning your last time out rather than taking what would be a good delay of game penalty that would move you back a whole one yard.
Well-coached players on well-coached teams don't do that sort of garbage. Tony Dungy wouldn't accept that crap. Bill Belichick wouldn't accept that crap. Neither would Mike Holmgren. Or Tom Coughlin. Or any other coach worth his salt. But for the last 2+ years under Childress, we've seen exactly the same thing that we saw the previous four years under Mike Tice. It hasn't gotten any better, and it can't get much worse.
If you're going to preach discipline and accountability, start walking the walk.
2) Cedric Griffin needs to sit down for a while
The most surprising defensive play of the Vikings' season was turned in by CB Antoine Winfield. But it wasn't his sack/strip/TD against the Panthers that I'm talking about. No, the play I'm talking about was Winfield's interception against the Colts in Week 2. Why is that the most surprising defensive play of the year?
Because it meant that an opposing quarterback actually threw towards Winfield's side of the field. . .and, more surprisingly, AWAY from Cedric Griffin's. Honestly, for most of the last couple of years, every time an opponent has gotten a big pass play, the quarterback looks for where #23 is on the field, and goes right after him. And, the majority of the time, there's not a damn thing that anybody can do about it.
Part of it is the fact that the Vikings insist on playing way more man coverage than they should with cornerbacks that aren't suited to play it, but Griffin has gotten progressively worse since his rookie season. I don't know if the answer is Charles Gordon or Marcus McCauley (if Childress ever sees fit to activate him) or Benny Sapp or who it is. . .but as of right now, Cedric Griffin is NOT the answer. And he might never be the answer at CB. I still think he could be a great safety if they made the switch, but he's not a CB in the National Football League, in my opinion.
3) Get Adrian Peterson the ball in space and stop just slamming him into the line
Yesterday, Adrian Peterson took a handoff from Gus Frerotte, made a move to the outside, got around the corner, and went 28 yards for a touchdown. When Adrian Peterson gets out into space, he can do some truly special things. We all know that. . .which makes it that much more frustrating that he rarely ever gets the ball there. We can run eighteen different screens for Naufahu Tahi, but when was the last time we put together a decent screen for #28? There's hardly any swing passes, there's no splitting Peterson out wide or putting him in the slot. We have the best running back in the National Football League at our disposal, and we can't come up with more creative ways to get him the football? The Eagles can do it with Westbrook, the Chargers can do it with Tomlinson. . .why can't we do it with Peterson?
4) While we're at it. . .remember that Chester Taylor still plays for the Vikings
Chester Taylor got 11 carries for 44 yards in the game against Carolina when everyone knew Adrian Peterson was nursing a bad hamstring. In the other three games of this season, he has a total of 10 carries for 37 yards. It doesn't matter if you have the best 1-2 combination in the league at running back if you only use half of it.
Hey, I've got a wacky idea. . .why don't we put Taylor and Peterson on the field together? Isn't that crazy? Nah. . .I bet that would never work. I'm sure that Brad Childress and his infinite wisdom would have come up with that already.
5) Stop trying to get so cute with the play calling
Yes, I know the offense needs to be more creative. But 3rd and 1 with the running backs and the offensive line that the Vikings have is generally NOT the time to go to a 4 WR formation and throw the football. Get your one yard, move the chains, and do something more creative on first and second down when the other guys are least expecting it.
Do any of you folks have any suggestions for fixing the Beloved Purple? Feel free to share them here if you do.