5 Ways the Minnesota Vikings Can Turn Their Season Around vs. Carolina Panthers

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IOctober 28, 2011

5 Ways the Minnesota Vikings Can Turn Their Season Around vs. Carolina Panthers

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    Earlier this week I talked about 5 specific ways the Vikings could beat the Carolina Panthers, and today, I would like to add to that topic by discussing five ways the Vikings could turn their season around versus Carolina.

    At this point in the season making the playoffs seems very unlikely, but that doesn’t mean this team can’t still find themselves before the close of the season; postseason berth or not.

    Even if the Vikings do not make the postseason it is imperative that they compete from this point on as if they have something to prove.

    Doing so would allow them finish strong and give them something to look forward to next season, but what else would a win against Carolina do?

    The answers are inside, so let’s take a look.

Christian Ponder's Identity

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    When Christian Ponder was drafted, the idea was he was to be the quarterback of the future, and while a lot of damage was done to every team during the CBA talks, it was Ponder who still worked with some players when he could, and still studied as much as possible.

    This was taking shape as Ponder’s team.

    But the Vikings felt it right to bring in veteran Donovan McNabb, and without even a competition, McNabb was the starter.

    Well the experiment didn’t work, and Ponder is now at the helm, so creating his identity now and claiming this team as his own is paramount in several ways:

    • A quarterback of the future sets the tone in the present, while using the past as his stepping stone.
    • Establishing himself now, when the team basically has nothing to lose, is a little easier than if the team was in a must-win mode for the last three games of the season, and that said season, resting on the shoulders of a rookie quarterback—in other words, less pressure to develop in real-time.
    • The team finally gets to play with the guy who is supposed to be their future, even if a few of them may not be back next year.

    After all that, just having Ponder grabbing his first win before the bye would be huge for his confidence, since he comes out of the bye week to face a Green Bay team he nearly defeated last week.

New Faces Bring New Beginnings

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    The Vikings will be without Chris Cook for the remainder of the season, and Bernard Berrian as well (hopefully).

    This is a fine opportunity for the team and coaching staff to find success through some players who have been sitting and waiting for the chance to show what they can contribute.

    Cook’s questionable character was a small distraction for the team, and with his absence, the Vikings are now afforded the ability to give fellow corner Asher Allen a much deeper look, which should bode well in the future.

    Berrian went unclaimed on the waivers and is now a free agent, which has all sorts of positive implications this team can finally explore.

    Quick note here: If there are any NFL executives in the market for a washed up, overpaid, underachieving narcissistic receiver, inquire within!

    The Vikings have had plenty of players at receiver waiting for their chance to ACTUALLY try and do something for this team—most notably Devin Aromashodu, a career backup.

    We already saw that without Berrian on the field, the Vikings moved the ball much better and had more reliable options over the middle and in the open field.

    The Panthers are a tough team to defeat through the air, so defeating a solid passing D such as Carolina is a prime way to give a huge boost to team morale.

    New faces bring new beginnings.

Playoff Possibility?

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    Let’s see how many people miss the point here!

    Mathematically speaking, the Vikings can still make the playoffs, though it will be a very difficult task at hand, but that is more than enough to play for.

    There are three roads the team could experience:

    1. The team could have a total reversal of the 1-6 record and wind up 7-7, only to split their last two and wind up breaking even. They won’t make the playoffs, but they’ll end the season respectfully.

    2. The team could wind up winning eight of their last nine (hopefully three of them would all be divisional wins) and wind up 9-7. With a little help, they could back-door themselves as a wild card entry.

    3. The team could do the unthinkable and continue to lose, which we won’t entertain because it is too painful to even think about.

    Yes, I realize the team could also shock the NFL world and win their next nine in a row, but the likelihood of that happening is incredibly low thanks to the law of averages.

    The point to all of this, is, the team could still play for a postseason berth or at the very least an 8-8 record, but using the possibility of the playoffs is a great catalyst to help turn things around.

    This pursuit can all start with defeating the Panthers, and taking that high note into the bye, before facing Green Bay next week.

What About the Defense?

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    Similarly to what Christian Ponder and the offense would gain in regard to that shot in the arm, the Vikings defense would absorb a huge boost to their overall moral and silent swagger that we only see at certain times.

    Let’s face it, with injuries to Antoine Winfield and Jamarca Sanford, this team is going to have its hands full with Cam Newton and the newly resurrected from the grave Steve Smith alone.

    But what if the Vikings were to shut this gruesome twosome down, while compromised no less? Think of what that would psychologically do to this defensive squad that has had trouble all year long hanging onto leads.

    Both Newton and Smith are just as deadly as they are electric, so keeping the lid on the both of them would seriously add a jolt to this squad; a jolt they can take into Lambeau against the most prolific offense in the NFL in two weeks.

Resurrect Purple Pride!

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    It’s plain and simple folks: this team, organization and fanbase need a win, and they need it now!

    Fans are jaded and indifferent to what the staff has ineptly done thus far. The Vikings brass and inside organization is a little disheveled after their offseason acquisition McNabb failed miserably, and the players are shell-shocked over the fact that their record only reflects squandered opportunities.

    But the fans haven’t given up just yet; the organization can still come to terms with the fact that even they make mistakes and the players can find lightning in a jar with a win that should be enough to help them rise to the ACTUAL level they should be performing at.

    These are all matters of pride, ladies and gentleman.

    Carolina just happens to be the team in the way at this point, so it isn’t their fault, but to be fair, are they not playing for similar reasons?

    Isn’t Carolina better than their 2-5 record suggests? Don’t the Panthers have a core of players who are not playing at their full potential regardless of the reason?

    Of course they are and of course they do, which means it comes down to an old war mentality:  It’s us or them!

    One team will walk away the victor, and it will be that team who benefits greatly; a benefits package that could help turn around a season that seemingly was reduced to ruination.

    It all starts with Carolina, and hopefully that team will be Minnesota.