Brad Childress and the Vikings say there are a number of things that have gone wrong this season, and the head coach's solution is to return to fundamentals. It's a disappointing state of affairs for a team with plenty of talent.
The Vikings are taking a back-to-fundamentals approach this week as they get set to play host to the NFC North rival Packers.
There is only one question: Is it too late?
The Vikings fell to 3-6 with Sunday's loss at Chicago and are on the brink of a lost season. That's shocking considering the Vikings roster is dotted with Pro Bowl players and includes Brett Favre
, Adrian Peterson
and Jared Allen
"We have a lot of talent," Vikings wide receiver Greg Camarillo
said. "We've said that since Day 1. It's an incredibly talented team but football is a team sport. It's the ultimate team sport. It's a matter of taking that talent and playing together as a team. That's what we haven't done, put together a game where offense, defense and special teams have all played at their best. And that's what we need to do."
Coach Brad Childress said Monday that his focus this week would be on improving fundamentals in all aspects of the game.
Childress pointed to a variety of factors when asked how his team got to this point.
"You have to paint with a broad brush right there," he said. "I can't just say one thing. We are doing it all together. We're just not playing good enough. Not doing the right things. You can talk about converting third downs. You can talk about turnovers. You can talk about not being able to get off the field. It is all-encompassing and typically that's the way it is. There's not one stand-alone factor."
While there has been speculation that the Vikings' decline could cost Childress his job, it doesn't appear as if any type of coaching change by Zygi Wilf is imminent.
Meanwhile, Childress said he still feels his team is playing hard, despite their lack of success.
"Those are typically things you are looking at and we identify loafs," he said. "I would be lying to you if I didn't tell you there was a loaf here or a loaf there on the backside of a play. That's the way football is a lot of the time, when you are the 11th guy from the play. Yeah, I see guys playing hard. I don't see us executing particularly well right now. It's a given if you don't execute particularly well on offense, defense and special teams, you're probably going to get your rear end handed to you."
Adrian Peterson was part of an offense that went 0-for-3 Sunday in the red zone against Chicago. "I don't know," he said. "We just weren't able to punch it in. You can't do that when you're playing against a good defense. As a good offense, if you're in the red zone, you have to come away with seven (points)."
Jared Allen on the Vikings' fading playoff hopes: "It ain't over yet. We can still make 10-6. I know that's optimistic. We have to beat the Green Bay Packers at home (Sunday). We've got to go home and beat the Green Bay Packers. That's the only thing we can do."
WR Greg Lewis also isn't giving up on the playoffs. "Obviously, it's a tough situation that we're in, but with the guys we have on this team and the character we have, we're not packing in the season at all," he said. "We're going to come out and look at the film (on Monday) and get back on the horse on Wednesday and try and correct this thing."
QB Brett Favre, who passed for a career-high 446 yards against Arizona the previous week, threw for only 170 yards (18 of 31) with a touchdown, three interceptions and a subpar 44.5 passer rating in a 27-13 loss at Chicago. Favre leads the NFL with 16 interceptions and also has lost five fumbles this season.
RB Adrian Peterson was held to a season-low 51 yards on 17 carries against the Bears, including 14 yards on eight carries in the second half. Peterson's rushing total was his lowest output since he had 35 yards on 12 carries in a loss at Carolina last Dec. 20. Peterson did tie for the team lead with four receptions and is second on the Vikings with 30 catches. He also had two drops against the Bears.
RB Toby Gerhart had four carries for 20 yards, the second-highest single-game rushing total of his rookie season. That came after he had four carries total in his previous two games. Gerhart also caught two passes for 17 yards and continues to see time on third down.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe had four receptions for 29 yards and is third on the Vikings in receiving with 28 catches for 360 yards and two touchdowns. Shiancoe tied for the Vikings lead against Bears as he was targeted seven times. Peterson also was the target of seven passes. In fact, both slipped on passes directed toward them that resulted in interceptions of Favre.
WR Bernard Berrian, coming off a game in which he caught nine passes for 89 yards, did not play against the Bears because he aggravated a groin injury at some point after being placed on the 45-man game-day roster. It's unclear exactly what happened but Berrian was not able to play, meaning veteran Greg Lewis saw extensive action.
WR Percy Harvin aggravated his sprained left ankle on a fourth quarter punt return but coach Brad Childress said he expects the second-year player to be fine. Harvin had four catches for 64 yards against the Bears, including a 53-yard touchdown that was the result of a busted coverage by Chicago. Harvin leads the Vikings with 44 catches for 583 yards and four touchdowns and is averaging 24.6 yards with a touchdown on 32 kickoff returns.
WR Greg Lewis saw extensive reps because of Berrian's absence but caught only one pass for 13 yards. Lewis was targeted three times.
WR Greg Camarillo also saw more reps than usual but caught only one of the four passes thrown his way. Camarillo had a possible touchdown pass tip off his hands.
CB Chris Cook started at right cornerback with Asher Allen because of a concussion. Cook then moved to the left corner in the nickel package as Antoine Winfield shifted inside and Lito Sheppard played right corner.
DE Jared Allen had one sack, a quarterback hurry and two tackles for loss against the Bears, giving him 4.5 sacks on the season and 3.5 in the past two games.
S Husain Abdullah had the first interceptions of his career Sunday and is now tied for the team lead with linebacker E.J. Henderson.