*Note from the Editor: This article comes from ‘The V61′ (Vikings61.com) The V61 is a new Vikings news/content site with some of the best writers in the Vikings media landscape–and a friend and partner of Vikings Territory and Purple PTSD! Check out their home site and follow The V61 on TWITTER here!
After the Vikings were out-coached, out-played, and downright whipped on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, one wonders if they are a team worth a fan’s time, attention and heart.
With everything “administrative” that leads up to a crucial football game, all the work and planning, the tickets and seats and stadium logistics, the travel, even the TV marketing and schedule, it’s still important to realize that a team’s game performance is still the most important thing in football–and it shapes the emotion and enthusiasm of its fan base.
In regard to that fact, the egg that the Minnesota Vikings laid on Soldier Field against Chicago on Sunday is just about to crack. Inside is a yolk that can easily make a mess of all those administrations.
The 16-6 loss that the Vikings were on the losing side of might have been 36-6. Chicago not only beat Minnesota to every punch, they did so after telling the Vikings every punch they were throwing.
Bears’ coach Matt Nagy stayed with a short, effective passing game even after his starting quarterback went out of the game with a shoulder injury, and the Vikings obliged the capable journeyman replacement, Chase McDaniels, by playing off coverage and producing little pocket pressure.
It was like watching a blackjack game where Chicago seemed to have an extra pack of face cards up their sleeve. The house kept winning; short gains, first downs, touchdown, field goal.
Chicago held the football with this stratagem for 11 more minutes in the game than Minnesota.
Anyone Have A Plan B?
Offensively, the Vikings showed the creative impetus of a sea urchin. Kevin Stefanski, again proving he’s not a mind that has any business coordinating an NFL offense, devised a game plan about as smart as the plan he came up with last season in week 17 when the Vikings met the Bears in U.S. Bank stadium with a playoff berth on the line.
The Vikings’ offense produced 164 yards in total offense in that week 17 game and were embarrassed by Chicago (using many defensive backups), by the score of 24-10.
Chicago’s defensive replacements again ruled the roost at Soldier on Sunday. Minus three starters–no problem! The Viking offense–with nary a game audible to be heard–swam upstream like salmon, jumping into Bears’ jaws throughout the game.
Afterward, Mike Zimmer offered stoic “coach” platitudes at his presser. He complimented Chicago’s efforts, told the press that his team didn’t play well, etc.
His temperament almost seemed resigned. His face said: ‘This is who we are’.
And just exactly who are they?
A team that can easily beat average teams like Atlanta and Oakland, but lose two out of two division games to begin their season schedule?
A team that employs an offensive coordinator that has no real identity of offensive acumen and needs to be supplemented by an “assistant head coach for offense” and a “run game coordinator”?
A team whose head coach and general manager can spend a fortune on a quarterback and two wide receivers and not get them linked through four games of an NFL season?
At 2-2, the Vikings are wavering. Their fans are wavering. In truth, these fans aren’t really sure whether the Vikings are good or just above average. It’s okay to lose from time to time, but not in the way they lost yesterday.
Such losses lead to a loss of fan confidence, attachment, and devotion. Devotion is what puts jerseys on backs, inspires office talk, canvases the town in purple-and-gold.
This week, you won’t see much of that. Not because they got simply beat by a team better than they are, but because they were beaten before the game even started.