We haven't talked about it all that much, but this morning is a pretty good time to bring it up.
The Vikings are having a hard time wrapping guys up.
In other words, LaRod Stephens-Howling played really well more than the Vikings played badly.
Pelissero also quotes linebacker Erin Henderson singing the same song this week.
"You guys underestimate the fact that we play in the NFL and we play against some good backs every now and again," Henderson said. "They're going to be able to make people miss and that's what they get paid for and that's what their job is to do. We just have to do a better job of wrapping and getting people down on the ground."
I can buy that for Martin, a player I've been excited about since I saw him at the Senior Bowl. However, it's a convenient excuse and the second half of that quote is the one the Vikings better take home.
They are not tackling well.
It was obvious in many ways against Stephens-Howling, but we overlooked it because they won and we chalked up the yards to garbage time.
You could chalk this up to Martin but, simply put, the Vikings didn't wrap him up when they had the chance, and because of it they got their rear ends handed to them.
I have said for weeks that the Vikings were lacking the physicality that carried them through most of the early season. It's gone and never was it more evident than last night when a 5'9", 215-pound back trucked them over and over and over again.
Poor tackling is an epidemic in the league and I could go on for hours about it. Everyone wants to lay the wood, but nobody does a proper job of wrapping guys.
That was not the case for this Vikings defense in the first four games or so. They played aggressive and tough, but not sloppy.
Now, not only are they sloppy, they've lost that aggressiveness and edge.
Sure, you can say "well this is better than people expected," sit back and relax.
Instead the Vikings need to take this for the wake-up call it is.
Get better tackling. When you hit, stick. Better angles. Better technique. More power. More support.
Back to basics.
This is a game that was never going to be easy. But it shouldn't have been that hard either.
Taking away nothing from the great game the Bucs had (and they did fantastic) the Vikings did this to themselves. You can't lack in execution the way they did in terms of run defense.
This is not yet an offense which will dominate a game. It will get there eventually but isn't yet.
This team's success will come down to defense.
This time they let the team down. The Vikings can't afford a "next time."
On to the rest of the NFC North.....
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman may think he's Optimus Prime, but Calvin Johnson says he can call himself whatever he wants—Johnson will just use it as motivation, according to MLive.com's Justin Rogers.
The Free Press' Carlos Monarrez says rookie Ryan Broyles has to step up.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News points out that the red-zone effectiveness of the Lions has taken a huge downturn.
Over at CheeseheadTV.com, Brian Carriveau says that there are plenty of reasons why AJ Hawk has improved his play.
Lori Nickel of The Journal-Sentinel says the Packers have a 76.2% efficiency rating in the red zone this year—best in the NFL.
Weston Hodkiewicz says with the top receivers banged up, Randall Cobb and James Jones are ready to take over. Check it out over at the Press-Gazette.
Over at ESPN.com's NFC North blog, Kevin Seifert wonders if the Vikings' Cinderella season has turned into a pumpkin.
The Pioneer Press' Bob Sansevere says the Vikings did everything wrong Thursday night.
Check out the B/R NFC North Facebook page—like us and keep up with everything NFC North on Bleacher Report.
Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.
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