The Vikings aren’t known as a team that goes hog wild in free agency. When they do sign players, it’s rarely the high-priced veterans at the end of their careers. A typical Vikings big-money signing is a player who is still in the peak portion of his career – usually someone looking for his first big contract.
It was one of the primary reasons the team signed Captain Munnerlyn last spring was because he fit the role that the Vikings were looking for – a quick-twitch slot cornerback that could take on quick receivers one-on-one. He has been an upgrade at the position, because much of last year Josh Robinson was out of place in the slot – by his own admission, Robinson was markedly more comfortable on the outside.
But in his first season with the Vikings, Munnerlyn has become his own harshest critic. While he has been an upgrade at the position, he hasn’t been pleased with his level of play whatsoever.
“It starts with me,” Munnerlyn said. “I haven’t played well. I’ve got to have a better game to close out this season because I haven’t felt good about my level of play and I need to execute and improve.”
Munnerlyn was brought into a new organization with a new scheme and was anxious to make an early impact. But he had a setback in training camp and felt he never fully recovered in terms of picking up the defense and being comfortable around his new team.
“This year hasn’t been a great year for me at all,” Munnerlyn said. “It started in training camp with the hamstring injury. I just never got to being myself. I’ve got to do the little things to improve – film study, working harder and putting myself in position to make plays.”
Munnerlyn had an up and down 2014 that, by his own admission, wasn’t up to his standards. He came to the Vikings with experience against top quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Matt Ryan and excelled for the Carolina Panthers. He was expected to perform a similar role with the Vikings, but he has been frustrated with inconsistent play.
“It wasn’t good in my eyes,” Munnerlyn said. “I’m just keeping it real with myself. I don’t feel I played my best football. In fact, I think it’s some of the worst football of my career. I’ve got to play better.”
Some players could come up with a litany of reasons why they haven’t played up to their own standards. Munnerlyn isn’t one of those players. While Mike Zimmer has been critical of key mistakes he has made, Munnerlyn is harder on himself and isn’t letting being on a new team with a new scheme serve as rationale to justify a playing level he doesn’t believe is indicative of his expectations.
“I’m not making any excuses,” Munnerlyn said. “I know I’m with a new team, a new system, a new environment, but that’s not an excuse for not executing at a high level. At the same time, they brought me here for a reason and I haven’t been doing a good job with it.”
Munnerlyn said he’s rededicating himself this offseason to make amends for what he is convinced was a sub-par first season with Vikings. The Vikings made an investment in him and he doesn’t believe he’s earn every dollar he was paid. As he spoke, his eyes got deadly serious about the commitment he’s willing to make to turn 2014 into a bump in the longer road of his career, not something he will be remembered for.
“I was brought in here to be a leader and make plays – not have people make plays on me,” Munnerlyn said. “I’ve just got to use this offseason to get better with my situation, work harder and get myself better each and every day.”
Munnerlyn: ‘Worst football of my career’
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