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You can’t play football without the ball

Costly turnovers... Evidence of bigger problems?

Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles
Turnovers are just the tip of the iceberg, it seems.
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Your Minnesota Vikings didn’t quite lay an egg in Philadelphia on Thursday night, but it was very, very far from a pretty showing either.

Of course, It’s the turnovers that did the team in. Everyone knows this. Minus them, it is easy to see how 0-2 might be flipped to 2-0.

This article isn’t simply about the 7 (functionally 8, Alexander Mattison did fumble near the end of the Eagles game but was saved by a flag) turnovers that have influenced the season so drastically.

Obviously, they do anything but help, but what is seriously concerning is the complete lack of fundamental skills and football behavior on display here, which goes well beyond letting the ball go.

It is a symptom of an underlying problem.

What is that problem?

It’s the pitiful play of Ed Ingram, who can’t even muster up enough courage to pick his quarterback up after a sack that he just allowed. He just stands there, likely worried more about himself than his teammate.

It’s the inability for administration to invest properly in an offensive and, to a lesser extent, defensive line.

It’s the lack of literal accountability to make sure the proper personnel are on the field at the right time, Lewis Cine vs Tampa Bay, for one example.

There are many more signs... Insert your costly penalty of choice here... But what it all amounts to is a completely top to completely bottom disregard for the fundamentals of professional football in our management and supporting cast.

Our top players are, at the very least, giving the Vikings an opportunity to win games, and that is what they are paid to do. So far they are the baseball pitcher who is judged by individual wins... It just ain’t fair to do it to them.

These Vikings have a chance to clean these things up, which has been done plenty in past NFL seasons. It’s a long season and we’re only two weeks in.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think how worrying about how all the damn contract drama and administration-related BS this offseason resulted in the thorough lack of attention to the basics by less talented members of this Vikings team.

The lack of focus on assembling a complete team this off-season seems to have turned a squad that had each other’s backs into a collection of individuals. The difference between that team and this team is as stark as anything.

Last year the Vikings won because they held strong together as one, not because they had the most talent. All those one-score games were won with the right amount of heart and commitment to the Purple and Gold, something that seems to be seriously lacking now.

Gone are the days of the airplane chain. If you have seen any genuine camaraderie on the sideline this season, I’d like to meet with your optometrist.

Those Vikings found ways to win, these Vikings are finding ways to lose.

What we are left with is our two biggest stars simultaneously worrying more than ever about next season and/or the bag they might (Cousins) or in the other’s case (Jefferson) will eventually get.

It can only be a guess for me to make, but I don’t think it’s a complete shot in the dark that the lack of resolution on these contracts is effecting play further down the lineup and depth chart.

You also have a GM who is fast approaching incompetency in addressing critical needs and a first-time Head Coach now experiencing his first-ever major taste of adversity without success, and I am now not wholly confident in his ability to deal with it.

From there the individualism trickles down into every facet of the organization. The focus is not on the ball, but on the signature line or the fast car they drive or the stats they can use for their future.

Our upper management deserves (and judging by the in-game discussions, gets) all the criticism they can get because they haven’t enabled our leaders and, subsequently, players to play without the distraction of their future, whatever cost is.

You saw it in the frustration of Cousins and Jefferson during the Bucs game and I’m sure there were some pissed-off players in Philly. The concern here is not that they or others were angry or frustrated - that’s natural - but why they were angry or frustrated.

I just hope it was for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. It’s still a long season and I will be happy to be proved wrong. I don’t want to be the “the sky is falling” guy here but it’s hard not to be pessimistic about two losses that could have been wins.