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Vikes find many ways to lose...playing together (12/06/2006)
By John Edstrom

Well fans, it was obvious fairly early on that many of those wearing purple pants down at Soldiers Field didn't really want to be there. They looked like they were expecting a spanking and just wanted to get it over with. By early in the third quarter, this was also true of the fans watching them on TV, when the Vikes took that opportunity to blow yet another game they should have won.

I have not been among those calling for Brad Johnson's head, observing that a consistent offense is not a possibility for a team which pass blocks so poorly, and whose receivers have such hands of stone. But Sunday it was obvious that Johnson was no more up to the task than any of the other elements of that nonexistent passing offense. Of the four interceptions he threw, the one bouncing off of Jeff Dugan was not Johnson's fault, and most likely kept the Vikes from taking the lead. The rest were terrible throws and terrible decisions that combined to keep the Purple from winning a game it almost totally dominated.

Once again, the Vikes found a way to lose -- actually, many ways -- and it was truly a team effort. First, of course, was the Three Stooges special teams coverage on punt and kickoff returns, spotting the Bears seven points and a consistent short field on a day when their QB would achieve a 1.3 passer rating. There were the usual plethora of penalties, six false starts (at various crucial moments) on the right side of the line alone, but another six spread around liberally. I counted at least six dropped passes, and probably six times that the blitz was not picked up, to stay with a handy number. It is hard to understand why opposing blitzers so often get straight to the Vikes QB without a hand laid on them, or any reaction at all.

There might have been some comfort taken in the TD drive engineered by Brooks Bollinger, even though the Bears were playing soft defense with a big lead. But of course, Bollinger got hurt when plastered by a Bears pass rusher who roared unimpeded through the combined efforts of both Mike Rosenthal and Mewelde Moore. His availability next week is in doubt at this point, which is a shame, because the offense seemed to pick up when he replaced Johnson.

This season seems destined to dwell in memory with the ill-fated one of Les Steckel, except that it is unlikely we are not stuck with at least another year of Brad Childress. And who knows? Perhaps he can be successful here. The defense and rushing attack put in place this year are key elements of a playoff football team, and it is not Childress who wasted 2005's pick number seven on a receiver whose phenomenal talent, unfortunately, is all in in his feet, none in his hands.

It will be interesting to see what can be salvaged of the rest of the schedule. If Bollinger can play it will be an opportunity to evaluate whether the Purple passing attack is anywhere near rudimentary effectiveness, or fatally flawed in its design. I would hate to have to watch Tarvaris Jackson break in under this regime, and possibly damaged permanently, mentally, physically, or both. That would be a shameful waste on a lost campaign destined to end 6-10. 


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