For the Minnesota Vikings, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Between their mediocre quarterback lineups to their star player Adrian Peterson struggling to find his rhythm with the run game, the Vikings are a team that is going through an unprecedented struggle. To make matters worse, the Vikings play in a tough NFC North division where every other team is above .500. On top of that, the Vikings lost to a New York Giants team that hadn’t been able to garner a win in their last six games. While the regular season isn’t quite half way over, the Vikings should feel a sense of immense urgency due to their lack of production on both offense and defense.
If any team wants to compete in this day and age in the NFL, they need a sufficient quarterback who can get the ball to the open man. While the Vikings attempted to alleviate this glaring issue when they picked up Josh Freeman from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this acquisition has thus far turned out to be a dud. With that being said, Freeman has only been with the team for a couple of weeks and is clearly still learning all the ins and outs of the Vikings offensive playbook. Although Freeman can’t be blamed for all the mishaps that took place when the then winless New York Giants beat the Vikings handedly, he hasn’t exactly been the most consistent passer in the game. Aside from a successful sophomore season in which threw for 25 touchdown passes to just six interceptions, Freeman has lacked the poise and determination to emulate the breakout season he had in 2010. While Freeman’s opening performance with the Vikings isn’t necessarily indicative of his career as a whole, it still made it very evident that Freeman has a long road ahead of him before he can be the Vikings unquestionable starter.
Although the Vikings lack of a reliable starting quarterback is a big reason for their lack of offensive production, the fact that their running game has been this underwhelming is even more startling. So far, the Vikings are ranked 19th in rush yards per game (102), which is shocking considering they have one of the best running backs in the game in Adrian Peterson. While Peterson hasn’t had a horrible season, his production thus far has paled in comparison to last years MVP season where he rushed for over 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. Between the Vikings weak offensive line and their lack of an efficient passer, this teams only offensive weapon has been stifled time and time again. After seven weeks of the regular season, Peterson has rushed for just over 500 yards and only gains 4.4 yards per carry (Peterson hasn’t had a rushing average this low since 2009).
Yet, even with the Vikings offensive inconsistencies, it isn’t the sole reason for why this team has lacked immediate success. While the Vikings defensive front is fairly solid (ranked 14th in the NFL), it is their inexperienced secondary that has prevented this team from staying competitive in tight games. So far this season, the Vikings secondary has allowed 288.8 pass yards per game (ranked 29th in the NFL) and between the entire Vikings cornerbacks and safeties corps they only have two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Unfortunately for the Vikings, they play in a division that contains two highly prolific passers in Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers. Without a reliable pass protection, the Vikings secondary will continue to be picked apart by savvy passers who can find the gaping voids in their defensive schemes. In the next three weeks, the Vikings face three productive passers in Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo and RGIII. If the Vikings want any chance of toppling these offensive juggernauts, they’ll need to rework their defensive line ups and go back to the drawing board to see if they can find any glaring weaknesses these quarterbacks may have in their playing styles.
In the end, the Vikings are team riff with a myriad of inconsistencies and under performing athletes. Between Adrian Peterson’s lack of an offensive spark and the Vikings quarterback conundrum, this team is a depressing sight to say the least. While the regular season isn’t over yet, the Vikings need to address their problematic identity crisis to figure out what they can do to breathe life into this deflated franchise.