After another heartbreaking Week 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many Vikings’ fans are now wondering where the team is going to go, moving forward.
There is much debate over HOW each loss was suffered, and in the end, it may be the how that could dictate the where in this debate.
In respect to what the Vikings have done, they have shown that they can in fact be taken serious offensively and even defensively, despite some spot idiosyncrasies.
But in my opinion, where the Vikings go from here solely depends on what the coaching staff learns from their two debilitating defeats; defeats that could’ve been prevented.
In both contests, the Vikings held onto a lead that seemingly vaporized late in the game. Both defeats looked like the classic late game team collapse, but that actually hasn’t been the case.
Against the Chargers in Week 1, San Diego stopped targeting their wideouts exclusively down field because they weren’t being allowed the type of success they wanted thanks to a stingy Vikings defense.
The counter was to move the chains in increments, dropping the ball off to the running backs out of the backfield, and the underneath routes to their tight end, Antonio Gates.
This was a offensive feature by San Diego that Vikings’ defensive coordinator Fred Pagac failed to adjust to.
In Sunday’s contest against Tampa Bay, we saw much of the same thing.
When the third quarter hit, Bucs' quarterback Josh Freeman never even targeted his outside receivers, instead, targeted the open man over the middle in a wide open field that was left vacant by a defense that still continued to bring pressure up the middle.
The other issue was the Bucs decided to feature the run a little more, and when that ground game found success, they utilized the play-action to their benefit—a solid coaching decision on the behalf of Tampa Bay.
When it became abundantly clear that Tampa took a page out of San Diego’s success, the Vikings’ defensive coordinator, STILL did not adjust to the offensive change.
When you hold a lead in the NFL, it is easy to get complacent. But when your opposition adjusts to what you are successfully doing, and you do not adjust, you are—as an NFL team—going to lose that lead no matter how big it may be.
This is not so much blame on the players in my opinion.
Everyone still played relatively consistent, but the scheme was never changed to reflect the post half-time adjustment by Tampa Bay.
This is, without even needing to explain, a problem.
What do the Vikings Need to Do Moving Forward?
So where do the Minnesota Vikings go from here?
Well, for starters, they need to realize they have a huge test with the red hot Detroit Lions coming to town.
But the real responsibility comes on the shoulders of the coaches.
Look, the offense showed a vast improvement from Week 1, and the defense as well—this team does have talent.
But the coaching staff seemed to be likened a deer in headlights when things suddenly unraveled which isn’t going to float for 16 straight games.
The dictionary calls that complacency.
The Minnesota coaching staff needs to stop letting the “boys be boys” in small dosages, and just let the guys play, while also realizing they too (the coaching staff) needs to get with the freaking program before the team finds themselves 0-3, and otherwise far away from even contending for a postseason appearance, let alone a respectable season.
Again, this all comes down to the coaching staff.
Going forward, the Vikings need to continue allowing Peterson to shoulder the offensive attack, allow McNabb to utilize the playbook more and put the defense in a position to preserve the lead FOR FOUR STRAIGHT QUARTERS!
Any deviation from this simple plan will reduce the Vikings to the team everyone pegged them to be: a team that is far better than the collective opinion.