The boos you heard coming from the Metrodome during the Vikings 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns were a death knell—and they were sounding for Frazier, Ponder, the Minnesota Vikings and their 2013 season. The Vikings lost to the lowly Cleveland Browns, a team that won 5 games last season—and none of those five wins came on the road. This was a Browns team that, 4 days prior to the game, traded away its #1 draft pick of 2012, Trent Richardson. This was a Browns team whose starting quarterback, Brandon Weedon, wasn’t starting (the third-stringer was). This was a Browns team that had lost five straight games. The story isn’t that the Browns are a good team, but the story is that the is the Vikings are not a good team right now. Is Leslie Frazier’s job is in jeopardy? Will Matt Cassel take the starting job from Christian Ponder? At this point anything could happen.
5 Things I Didn’t Hate
1. EJ Henderson
Henderson carried the atrocious Vikings defense with 8 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception. None of his efforts were enough, however, as the Vikings offense continued to give the ball back to the opposing team.
2. Brian Robison
I know, why am I starting off with two defensive players when the D gave up the game in the final minutes AGAIN? Robison seems to make key plays during the game, whether it be a fumble recovery for a touchdown or a key late-game sack. Perhaps this guy should see more action on the field. I like Robison and his play-making abilities.
3. Ponder’s Scrambling
Mr. Handsome ran for 46 yards today and 2 touchdowns. He still coughed the ball up twice, one fumble and one interception, but at least Ponder is realizing that he can’t rely on his shaky offensive line and covered receivers. I don’t like that Ponder scored twice as many TDs as Adrian Peterson today, but I’d rather Ponder take off and run than throw the ball into the air, where it is likely to be caught by someone not wearing purple.
4. The Defense Creating Turnovers
Henderson, Chad Greenway and Harrison Smith each snatched an interception today. The Browns also lost an additional fumble. As bad as the defense has been in giving up points and game-winning drives, the defense is also taking away the ball. Imagine how good this team would be if we stopped turning over the ball as much as we took it away?
5. The Vikings Are Not As Bad As The Giants
Yeah, there is not much to like about the Vikings these days, but there is solace in the fact that they could be WORSE. The Vikings did not get blown out 38-0 to the mediocre at best Carolina Panthers. However, both these teams have porous defenses and horrible pass protection. The good news is the Vikings get to visit the Giants at MetLife Stadium! On Monday Night Football! Going into the season, I thought this game was going to be impossible to win. Now I know that it will be possible for one of these teams to mess up more than the other.
5 Things I Hated
It’s time to stop blaming the players for their poor performances, although it’s true that no one on the Vikings is really playing well. But for the Vikings’ special teams squad to let not one but TWO trick plays past them at HOME, both for fourth down conversions (one for a touchdown) is inexcusable. Let’s not forget that Frazier illegally threw a red challenge flag for a muffed punt, a play that cannot be challenged, causing the Vikes to move out of scoring range. It didn’t help that the officials were wrong in the situation, and should have only charged the Vikings a timeout, but it doesn’t matter. Coaches ought to know the rules, as arcane and ridiculous as they might be—especially the arcane and ridiculous rules.
On top of that, the Vikings’ secondary was atrocious. But the coaching staff had to KNOW that the Browns didn’t have anyone to run the ball! Yet the secondary seemed to get beat all day. Did the entire team just assume this game was in the bag? What kind of mindsets were the coaches fostering in this team?
2. The Offensive Line
So much for being the vaunted line that aided AD to approach the single-season rushing record. These guys might be able to open up holes for the running backs, but I wouldn’t trust these guys to protect bag of stale Halloween candy from a class of third graders. They gave up six sacks. To the Browns. The Cleveland Browns. At home. I do get that the Browns’ defense is improved this year, but the Vikings have played a stout defense in Chicago and didn’t provide this little protection.
3. The Vikings’ 2-minute Defense
Two weeks in a row the Viking have led the game with two minutes left to play. Two weeks in a row, the Vikings have lost the game in the final seconds. Two weeks in a row the Vikings lost that game on a fade route to the opposing team’s tight end in the left corner of the end zone. I disagreed with Jared Allen last week when he put the onus of the Bears loss on the defense’s shoulders. I agree with his assessment now. I don’t care how awful the offense is playing. I don’t care how tired or winded the defense is. I don’t care how many times you’ve put the team in scoring position with turnovers. A squad cannot lose close games in the final minutes and remain blameless.
4. Offensive Turnovers
Ponder has played in 30 games. He has thrown 30 interceptions. (I’m actually more surprised to see that he has thrown 33 touchdown passes.) All Day coughed the ball up again and was another non-factor in the game. It seems that every time the defense takes away the ball, the offense negates it with a turnover of it’s own. This makes all the Vikings games sloppy, yes, but also weirdly exciting in that they are unpredictable.
5. The Boos
The Vikings deserved the boos from the fans. As much as they deserved the boos, and as disappointed as I was in the Vikings, it pains me to hear them on Week 3, the first day of autumn. It tells me it will be a long, forgettable season. Skol.
- Vikings Fall To 0-3 (thevikingage.com)
- Browns At Vikings Final Score: Minnesota Embarrassed By Cleveland, 31-27 (dailynorseman.com)