Well fans, most of the ink being spilled over last Sunday’s debacle down in North Carolina is covering the Favre/Childress dustup on the sidelines, with the coach supposedly wanting to bench his QB, who refused to leave the game. This misses the point, which has far more to do with coaching than QB play or attitude.
Once again, as in Arizona, the Purple has been taken totally out of its game, at its points of supposed maximum strength. The offensive line gave its QB minimal protection and its all-pro running back no help whatsoever. A decimated Carolina defense poured through the line of scrimmage like the Germans coming through Belgium, time after time stopping Adrian Peterson for minimal or negative yards – 35 in 12 carries, to be exact. Forced to rely on the pass in tough conditions, the Vikes meekly gave up the ball on third down. By the fourth quarter the defense had either worn down or quit.
And just like down in Arizona, the Panthers doubled Jared Allen, took him out of the game, and no one else picked up the slack. After leading the league early on, Minnesota sack totals have plummeted. Just like in the bad old days, they have once again made a third-string QB, undrafted from nowhere, look like a shooting star.
Against the Cardinals, the Vikes got caught flat by a good team playing well. In Charlotte they were outpunched and outlasted by a league doormat, most of whose best players languished on injured reserve. They were beaten by two marquee players, Julius Peppers and Steve Smith, and a bunch of nobodies.
What happened here? What is happening? First of all, you have to wonder how well this team has been prepared to play. Why would they waste most of the first quarter figuring out that they were improperly shod to operate on the icy field. Shouldn’t that be determined before kickoff?
Now, your supposed pro-bowler, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, can’t handle Julius Peppers. Why not give him help, rather than propose to bench your star QB and concede the game? Or bench McKinnie in favor of journeyman Artis Hicks, a panicky move? Good coaches make intelligent adjustments on the fly. The Vikes came out in the second half and played much worse than they did in the first. Despite every sort of mishap and bad break, the superior team took the field in the second half with a point lead and could not hold on. Good teams win on bad days and a lot of that goes to creative coaching when things are going against you.
Sunday was a day for stumbling, it seems, with New Orleans finally dropping a game, and the Cheeseheads going down at the last second in a wild shootout in Pittsburgh. The Vikes should be able to handle Chicago, even if it is a night game, outdoors in the cold, and on the road. But they should have beaten the Panthers, and recall what happened the last time Brett Favre played in these conditions in Chicago.
No matter what, if the Vikes can’t rediscover their rushing attack next Monday, and going forward, this season will go down as a bitterly disappointing bust at the end.