Did the Vikings ‘check out?’

The Vikings tried to fight through the initial adversity and bad plays, but did they eventually “check out,” as one player suggested?

Brian Robison said he knows how frustrating it can be when things aren’t going right, statistics aren’t being compiled and blowouts happen.

Like most of his teammates, he didn’t like the soundness of the defense and the lack of execution in Thursday night’s 42-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. But one thing seemed to bother Robison more than any of the lack of defensive discipline.

“The mood was almost like, like some people had checked out. You know what, I’m just going to be blunt and say it can never be that way,” Robison said. “This is a team that I’ve felt like all along has fought and scratched no matter what type of adversity we have faced and I felt like we didn’t have that (Thursday) night.”

The Vikings gave up two four-play touchdown drives to the Packers in their first three series, but Robison thought the defense adjusted and it started to make some stops. It forced three three-and-out series and the Vikings still had a chance to stem the tide of momentum in the second quarter.

Then the turnovers started for the Vikings.

When Christian Ponder threw an interception to Packers linebacker Julius Peppers that was returned 49 yards for a touchdown, that’s when Robison said he began to notice a change in the demeanor of his teammates.

“I thought defensively we did a great job of when they went up 14 of just getting back and fighting back into it and doing a great job of that,” Robison said. “I felt like when they got the pick six with Peppers and went up three scores, I felt like it started there. But we went down 28, I think it was downhill from there because you could see it on guys’ faces, you could see it on the sidelines. Everybody was quiet. There was no longer that chatter that we normally have on the sidelines and that’s just not the way you win ballgames and it’s definitely not the way that you try to make the best of the situation and try to make a comeback win. If guys aren’t in tune to it, then we might as well shut it down at halftime.”

Head coach Mike Zimmer considers Robison one his leaders on defense, but he said he didn’t evidence of what Robison saw.

“I respect Brian’s opinion, but when I watched the tape I didn’t say that,” Zimmer said. “I looked for it, hard, but I did not see guys – I looked at the offensive tape, I looked if the receivers weren’t running hard, special teams, if we weren’t going hard. Defensively, I think what he’s talking about is we maybe lost the fire a little bit. But I don’t think there was any not trying.”

The defense had one of their worst performances in some time, especially this year in Zimmer’s new scheme. They allowed 320 yards, 6.2 yards per offensive play, and 156 yards rushing, including a 5.6-yard average per run.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked twice but he completed 12 of 17 passes for 156 yards, didn’t throw an interception, threw three touchdowns and was done for the night by the end of the third quarter with Green Bay amassing a 42-7 lead at that point.

“It all boils down to just do your job. We don’t need to sit here and worry about statistics,” Robison said. “We don’t need to sit here and worry about who’s getting sacks, who is getting interceptions. None of that stuff matters if we’re not doing our job. Every person has to do their job and do it to the best of their ability.

“… I just think guys are trying to do too much. Guys are trying to make plays. When you listen to people talk and you listen to all these outside things, guys get wrapped up in, I’ve got to make plays, I’ve got to make plays. The bottom line is, do your job and the plays will come to you. If anybody knows how frustrating it is to not have stats, it’s me. But bottom line is I’ve got to do my job and eventually the plays will come. As long as I’m doing my job and my coaches are happy with what I’m doing, then that’s all that matters to me.”

Last year, Robison was second on the team with nine sacks and the Vikings had 41 as a team. This year, he doesn’t have a sack and the team is on pace for 32.

Fellow defensive end Everson Griffen, who leads the team with three sacks, said players will always have a certain look but leaders need to make sure everyone is executing.

“You know, there’s always going to be a look,” Griffen said, “but to be a leader you have to make sure the guys are ready to go and execute. You have to do your job, bottom line.”


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