It's been a wild week for the Vikings. From rumors that Jared Allen was going to be traded to questions about who will be the starting quarterback, it hasn't been business as usual at Winter Park as the Vikings prepare to travel to Dallas this weekend to play the Cowboys.
Linebacker Chad Greenway was in the eye of the storm, disgusted about with the Vikings' performance Sunday against Green Bay, unsure as to whether he was going to have Allen as a teammate moving forward and trying to provide leadership to a struggling defense as the team gets ready for another offensive onslaught from the Cowboys.
Much of the focus Tuesday concerned whether Allen was going to remain a Viking. Greenway said he followed along Tuesday afternoon to see if there was going to be an announcement. As a family man, he understands that football is a business, but one that can uproot a family in an instant when trades happen.
"You understand that it's part of the game," Greenway said. "I don't know how close it was to happening or who was pushing for it. It doesn't mean that our organization was pushing hard to do it. It's just the circumstances we're in. From the personal level, I've played with Jared for six years and we have a friendship that goes beyond the football field. You don't want someone who is a friend to go through something like that, but it's part of the business we're in. You never know when it's going to be you that might be in the same situation."
When the trade deadline came and went without a deal for Allen, the focus returned to the business at hand – trying to correct the numerous mistakes made against Green Bay and getting ready to do battle with a Dallas team stinging from a last-second loss to Detroit in which it appeared they had the game sewn up.
Allen had suggested that the Vikings burn all copies of the Packers game film from Sunday and Greenway was in general agreement. He put much of the blame squarely on the defense and its ongoing struggle in preventing third-down conversions. It has been a trouble spot all season that was amplified Sunday when Green Bay converted 13 of 18 third downs and two fourth downs when they failed to get the needed yardage on third down.
"That game, when you look at it on film, was all about our inability to get off the field on third down," Greenway said. "They made some plays, but third down is what did us in. It seems like that has been our problem all season. We need to improve that situation and it has to improve – this week and for the rest of the year."
With the bad taste of that game still in their mouths, the Vikings defense now faces the challenge of a Dallas offense that is unique in a couple of key passing respects. The Cowboys are among the league leaders in passes of more than 20 yards, but also are near the top of the league in throwing screen passes. They will take deep shots often and use defensive aggression against them in the screen game. Few players do both as well as Tony Romo and the Vikings are preparing for the combination of the two that the Cowboys will sprinkle into their game plan.
"You get a little bit of everything from them," Greenway said. "The key for us is to be able to take away that screen game along with the running game. They throw a lot of screens and it looks like DeMarco Murray will be back, so not only to do we have to stop the run, we have shut down their screen game because they use it more than most teams."
As has become a habit during locker room media sessions, Greenway was asked how the Vikings are adapting to their 1-5 start in a season in which they were fully expecting a return to the playoffs. While that seems like a remote possibility at this point, the Vikings know what they're up against and know that the only people who are going to get the Vikings out of the trench they've dug is themselves.
"You shouldn't have to motivate people in this profession," Greenway said. "The reality is we are where we are because of the people in this building. We can also dig ourselves out of it with the people in this building, so we're just trying to stay the course and stay positive."
With the Cowboys stinging from their unexpected loss at Detroit Sunday, Greenway expects to see an angry team on the field Sunday. That suits him just fine, because the Vikings are even more frustrated than the Cowboys and both of them view Sunday's game as critical to getting their seasons back on track.
"They need a win just as bad as we do," Greenway said. "We need a win for many reasons, if for anything, just to get the stink out of here and get going in the right direction. With where we're at, these are the times that it is not that fun to come to work. We have to change that and it's on us to do it."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Greenway wants to ‘get the stink out of here'
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