"Now is the winter of our discontent. . ." - William Shakespeare, Richard III, 1594
I know it's not winter. . .not yet, anyway. . .but a lot of Viking fan nation, including your humble blogger here, are already quite discontented with the complete and utter lack of progress made by the Beloved Purple this season.
It's not the fact that we're losing. Most of us can handle losing. Hell, I can handle losing. What's difficult to handle is losing the way this team is losing. The Minnesota Vikings have lost 5 games this season, and they've lost those 5 games by a combined total of 30 points. That's an average of six points, or one touchdown, per game. Four of those five losses have been by one score (the 10-point loss to the Dallas Cowboys being the lone exception). The level of competition hasn't made any difference. . .the Vikings have played some of the best teams in the league (Dallas, Green Bay, Detroit), some middle of the road teams (Kansas City, Philadelphia), and some teams that, frankly, aren't very good (Chicago, Atlanta). With the exception of the Atlanta game, and possibly the Dallas game, every Vikings game this year has pretty much been a nip and tuck battle, and it's come down to one or two plays being the difference at crunch time.
The difference is that the Vikings' opponents are making those plays, while the Vikings are not. This has pretty much been the story not just of this season, but of the entire Brad Childress era in Minnesota. Through his first 23 games, Brad Childress has the third-worst record in Vikings' history. The only two that were worse were Les Steckel, who went 3-13 in his first season and didn't get a chance at a second season, and Norm van Brocklin, Minnesota's first ever coach. I'll give van Brocklin a pass, because he was building an expansion team, and the building process for an expansion team back then was vastly different than we've seen teams like Houston, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Carolina go through.
Now, granted, the Beloved Purple have only had seven coaches in the team's history, and two men (Bud Grant and Dennis Green) have coached the Vikings for a combined 28 of the team's 47 seasons, but this still puts Childress in some pretty dubious company. Jerry Burns (12-11), Mike Tice (12-11) and Dennis Green (15-8) had winning records through their first 23 games as Vikings' coach. Bud Grant had a record of 8-12-3 in his first 23 games, but he followed up a 3-8-3 season by going 8-6 the next year. . .certainly not the kind of improvement we're going to see in Brad Childress' second year at the helm.
Now, of the 15 losses the Vikings have suffered in Childress' first 23 games, 10 of those losses have been by one score or less, and an additional 2 more have been by 10 points. The only three real blowout losses of the Childress era were last year's game against New England, last year's home loss to the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets and last year's season finale against St. Louis (which, again, I won't hold against him, because the defense had checked out shortly after the opening kickoff). So the Vikings have been in nearly every game they've played since Brad Childress became the head coach. It's just those one or two plays a game that aren't getting made that are separating the Vikings from being a winning football team.
The question that Brad Childress needs to answer is "How can WE make those plays?" Unfortunately, the problem that Childress has is that while he has a talented, veteran defense, the Vikings are very green on the offensive side of the ball, and in particular at the quarterback position. Then again, "green" might not be the most accurate descriptor of the Vikings' QB situation. Maybe "horrible" would be better. Yes, let's stick with horrible.
For the second season in a row, Childress went into the year with a pre-determined starter (and don't try to tell me there was a pre-season "competition" this year. . .nobody actually bought into that) and absolutely NO viable second option. Tarvaris Jackson has a big arm and good mobility, but isn't ready. Kelly Holcomb is smart, but has pigeons landing on him when he drops back to pass. Brooks Bollinger, who actually looked better than either in his brief stint on Sunday, clearly isn't the Vikings' future, either. If this team has one plan this off-season, it HAS to be improving the quarterback position, whether it's through the draft (which I think is a very distinct possibility), through a trade (which is another very distinct possibility), or through free agency (although there really isn't going to be anything out there in that regard).
I don't know if Brad Childress will be around to see it come to fruition or not. Frankly, it wouldn't sadden me even a little to see a change when this season was over. But regardless of who it is or what happens, this team is wasting a very good defense by sucking it up every week offensively. Hopefully someone can remedy this before we don't have a strength on either side of the football. Then, maybe, the frustration can stop.
It's about making plays, folks. The Vikings aren't doing it, and that's why we sit at 2-5.