Mood is mellow among Vikings

The Vikings can't find a winning groove and it's clearly affecting the mood among players in the locker room. There wasn't a lot of talking going on Monday after another loss left the players feeling mellow and struggling to find answers.

The many faces of the Vikings' season have changed with each loss. From frustration to searching for answers, each point in the season has brought a little different flavor.

Color yesterday a mellow Monday.

"After a loss it's going to be a somber mood," cornerback Chris Cook said. "Everybody is kind of down about the (loss).We've got to look at heavy Green Bay this week and get ready for those guys and try to get a win this week."

With a 3-6 record, the Vikings' playoff hopes are fading fast. They trail the division-leading Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers by three games with losses to each of them, meaning their hope of successfully defending their last two NFC North titles is all but dead with seven games to play.

With a veteran team that had playoff hopes and Super Bowl aspirations before the season began, their current circumstance is a frustrating situation.

"You put all the hard work into trying to get a win and we haven't come out with many wins. You can't hang your head and think, 'Aw man, we're 3-6.' You gotta focus on Green Bay being a tough team and get a win," receiver Greg Camarillo said.

"We've got a veteran team that's been through the ups and downs and the highs and lows. I don't think anybody in this room is going to sulk and say, 'We're 3-6. Things don't look good.' I think everybody's going to say we need to work harder. We need to work better. We need to play better. And hopefully fight to get a win."

The good news for the Vikings is that they still face Chicago and Green Bay at Mall of America Field, and that starts this Sunday with the Packers, who are coming off their bye week. Four of the Vikings' next five games are at the Metrodome, where they fare much better, but it might take an improbable seven-game winning streak to complete a season-saving run that appears highly improbable at this point.

"I definitely feel like we can go on a winning streak. It just takes confidence, that's all it is," Cook said. "I feel like one win could get us the confidence that we need to win out for the rest of the season."

Nine days ago, when the Vikings beat the Arizona Cardinals at Mall of America Field, it took a 14-point comeback in the final five minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime. Once in overtime, the defense put in a three-and-out stop on the Cardinals and the Vikings drove down the field and into field goal position for the win.

However, after that win, several veterans were asked if they were playing to save coach Brad Childress' job. They won for themselves, they said, not for Childress. That further underscored the tension between the players and coach.

On Monday, Childress was asked if he's coaching to save his job at this point in the season.

"I always feel that way every year I've been in coaching. That's the way I feel – hey, we need to do a better job this year – since I've been a (graduate assistant), so we coach and do our best every single week. It's not any set schedule of games or half the year or one game. It's every game," Childress said.

Rumors have been swirling about the precarious position of Childress' job for weeks. Owner Zygi Wilf avoided pulling the quick hook on Childress after the coach decided to release receiver Randy Moss less than a month after trading away a third-round pick to obtain him. Childress made that decision without first consulting key front office members or Wilf.

The biggest shakeup would be to fire Childress and hope players respond to that move. That doesn't appear likely this week anymore, leaving Childress to consider his options for shaking up the product he puts on the field instead.

"We're always looking at that, how you can shake it up, whether it's different combinations of players playing," he said. "You'd like to think that perhaps coming from two touchdowns back last week or a couple weeks ago it would be a little bit of an impetus, but we've just got to play better. All together – offense, defense and special teams – and there really is no magic there, when you pull apart the tape and you look at all three of those phases, particularly yesterday, we didn't play good enough to beat that football team."

Despite the comments from players after the comeback win against the Cardinals, Childress said he believes the players are responding to coaching.

"I believe so. Everybody knows what to do on every play, and it's just a matter of executing it," he said.

"We're playing hard," cornerback Lito Sheppard said. "It's not even about the coaches. Each individual in here has a job to do and is going to be held accountable regardless of if the coach is here or not. We understand that."

Childress said that struggling times call for a return to the fundamentals, but the bigger task might be to alter the mood in the locker room.

"It's mellow," Cook said Monday. "Nobody is really talking today. I don't really know what to say about the mood. We'll see how it is when we come back for practice on Wednesday."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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