Vikings vs. Giants: Takeaways from Minnesota's 23-7 Loss to New York
This was about as ugly as it can get for the Minnesota Vikings in their 23-7 loss to the New York Giants. The Vikings struggled badly behind Josh Freeman's first start against a very bad Giants defense.
Not only did Freeman struggle, but so did Adrian Peterson. He finished with only 28 yards on 13 carries. It was the lowest total for Peterson since Week 11 of the 2011 season. In that game, he rushed for only 26 yards on six carries before leaving the game with an injury.
This was a game that the Vikings badly needed to salvage their season—they fell flat on their faces. On a positive note, the defense held Eli Manning to only 200 passing yards, but it dropped two passes that should have been intercepted. It was the first game of the season without an interception for Manning.
The Vikings offense was shutout in the game as the only score came on an 86-yard punt return in the first quarter by Marcus Sherels.
Here are some terrible takeaways for this game.
Josh Freeman Is Not the Answer
Behind Christian Ponder, the Vikings offense was averaging nearly 28 points per game. On Monday, Freeman completed only seven of 16 passes for 74 yards in the first half.
He was even worse in the second half as he finished 20-of-53 for 190 yards for the game with an interception. His passer rating was a pathetic 40.6, the lowest including his three starts for the Buccaneers earlier this season.
Sure, this was his first game, and he doesn't fully understand the Vikings offense, but he missed on some of his passes so badly that he has no excuse.
Perhaps the problem is that he has too strong of an arm, and the receivers are too slow.
There Is Something Wrong with Adrian Peterson
This was supposed to be a big season for Adrian Peterson—after all, he was opening the season completely healthy.
Against the Giants, Peterson struggled to get going. After rushing for only 62 yards against the Carolina Panthers, he was even worse against the Giants.
He finished with only 28 yards on 13 carries. Plus he has not scored a touchdown the past two games.
There is no excuse for this. The Minnesota Vikings have the same offensive line that was in front of Peterson when he rushed for 2,097 yards last season.
As I have been pointing out all season, the Vikings only seem to run Peterson out of a double tight end formation when they bring the lone wide receiver in motion toward the center of the field. This brings another defender into the box and really plugs things up at the line of scrimmage.
Or perhaps, there is something wrong with Peterson.
Jeff Locke Was the Most Overworked Player Against the Giants
At one point in this game, the Minnesota Vikings had fewer first downs than Jeff Locke had punts.
Locke punted the ball seven times. If the Vikings offense wasn't going for it on fourth downs at the end of the game, perhaps he could have gotten an eighth punt and set a new career high. He also punted the ball seven times against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3.
The last time the Vikings played the Giants, in 2010 at Ford Field, Chris Kluwe punted the ball 10 times in another ugly loss. That game finished 21-3.
Locke also had to serve double duty as he also did the kickoffs.
The Only Good Thing Has Come to an End
Heading into the Giants game, the only thing that was close to perfect for the Vikings had been Blair Walsh.
He was a perfect 12-of-12 on field goals greater than 50 yards. That string came to an end when he missed a 53-yard attempt in the second quarter.
It's obvious that his left hamstring is hampering him as Locke has been handling the kickoff duties the past two games. In the third quarter, the Vikings decided to punt the ball, instead of attempting a 52-yard field goal. It was a bad gamble as Locke ended up punting the ball in the end zone.
Even if Walsh had been able to convert those two field goals, it would not have been enough to turn this game around.
Something Has to Change
The Vikings looked pathetic. Through three quarters, they had more punts than first downs.
The team appeared to give up as the defense would struggled to come up with a stop, only to have the offense give the ball back on a punt.
Against a terrible defense, the Vikings only managed 206 yards of offense.
Even though the offensive game plan had to be scaled back for quarterback Josh Freeman, the Vikings offense has been unimaginative all season.
If head coach Leslie Frazier wants to keep his job, he needs to make some changes, if for no other reason than to show he is attempting to do something.
He should shake up his staff and put Fred Pagac back in charge of the defense and move Alan Williams back to defensive backs coach.
On offense, he should fire Bill Musgrave and give any other offensive position coach a chance to call the game.
This is now a lost season, so might as well start thinking about the future—and by doing nothing, Frazier's future will be as an ex-head coach.
Start Playing Like a Team with Nothing to Lose.
This season, the Minnesota Vikings lost to a couple of teams that played like their backs were against the wall—and the New York Giants was not one of them.
In Week 3, the Cleveland Browns pulled off two fakes—one a field goal that scored a touchdown, and one on a punt that ended up scoring a field goal. That 10 points was part of the difference that helped the Browns win their first game of the season.
In Week 6, the Carolina Panthers twice converted on fourth downs on a drive that led to the first touchdown of the game. That set the tone for the entire game as the Panthers whipped the Vikings, 35-10.
The Giants didn't need any such tactics as the Vikings defense played mostly an uninspiring game. The offense was so bland, in part because it was Freeman's first start, that the Giants defense easily was able to stop the Vikings.
About as imaginative as the Vikings offense got against the Giants was an end-around to Cordarrelle Patterson that yielded two yards.
This Team May Be Worse Than 2011
Looking ahead at the Minnesota Vikings' remaining schedule, this team may only win one more game. That's if quarterback Jay Cutler is still out when the Chicago Bears come to the Metrodome in Week 13.
The Vikings' game of musical chairs at quarterback has taken a team that was averaging 28 points per game to a team that has scored only 17 points the past two games.
The defense has been terrible all season long, giving up more than 31 points per game before it held the Giants to 23 points Monday night.
With two games against the Green Bay Packers remaining and explosive offenses of the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals yet to play, the Vikings may not win another game this season.
This Will Be the Last Season for a Lot of People in Minnesota
There's most likely a very good reason that Jared Allen is not concerned about a contract extension with the Vikings—this is a terrible franchise. Certainly, he will be looking to play for a team that has a shot to make a Super Bowl run as his career comes to an end.
Other players whose time with the Vikings is running out include defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who is in the last year of his contract.
Christian Ponder has no future with the Vikings; the only thing that keeps him in Minnesota will be that no one will offer anything in a trade.
I don't see any scenario that saves the jobs of head coach Leslie Frazier and his entire coaching staff. There's no way this team winds up with a winning record, and taking a huge step backward almost guarantees that this entire staff is gone once the season ends.
General manager Rick Spielman might even be a candidate to leave. The failure of the team's three first-round draft picks might be enough to send him packing.