As the Minnesota Vikings try to pick up the pieces from Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bears, Sam Bradford and his offensive teammates are trying to figure out what has gone so wrong in the two games since the Vikings returned from their bye week.
One thing Bradford said wasn’t a problem was that the Vikings might have taken the 1-6 Bears for granted. He said the team was ready, they just didn’t perform up to expectations.
“I thought we had a great week of practice,” Bradford said. “I thought everyone was focused. We just didn’t come out and execute.”
Bradford was quick to own up to his own failings. Despite being pressured once again and knocked down 10 times by the Bears defense, he had a handful of big passes that he missed – including an early bomb to Stefon Diggs that should been a touchdown, not an incompletion.
As many problems as the Vikings had, Bradford said he was as big a culprit as anyone and needs to step up his game to end the team’s current skid.
“I think I missed some things early that could have changed it for us,” Bradford said. “The deep ball to Diggs – if I was able to hit that one, I think that could have sparked us. Overall, we just have to be better. We just weren’t good enough in any area (Monday) night. We have to figure out a way to get things going.”
One thing that has remained consistent since the start of the season – in good times and bad – has been a rush offense that has sputtered and struggled since Week 1. It was bad when the Vikings were 5-0. It’s been bad in the two losses since the bye week.
But, for an offense that has been built around Adrian Peterson and the running game, not having A.P. hasn’t changed the belief that the Vikings need to a employ a run-first offense. That’s how they’ve been built, whether their Hall of Fame running back is there or not.
“I think we’re best when we’re balanced,” Bradford said. “Any time you can run the football successfully, when you can keep a defense guessing – I think it makes it much easier. No, we’re not going to abandon the run. We are not going to go straight to pass. We have to figure out a way to run the football and stay balanced.”
The problems with the offense have become numerous. From Bradford to the offensive line to the running game to the coaches not taking many chances deep down the field and settling for short passes for minimal gains and not showing any sense of urgency.
There is a lot of blame to be shared and the Vikings aren’t pointing fingers. Their success early in the season was a shared experienced. Their current struggles are no different. It lands on everyone.
“I think it’s all of us,” Bradford said. “I made a bunch of mistakes. I had my fair share of misfires (Monday) night. I have to be better. I think we all have to take responsibility; I think we all need to be better. It’s not on one person; it’s not on one group. It’s on the offense as a whole. We have to figure out how to come together. Like I said, it takes 11 guys every play to make it go. We have to make sure we are all on the same page.”
Everyone from the national media to former players to fans are jumping off the bandwagon in huge numbers. The Vikings have lost their mojo and, in a world of immediate gratification, for those whose allegiances blow with the wind, the gales of November have come early.
But, the Vikings are sticking together. They haven’t lost at home this season and Detroit coming to town and has typically been the cure for ending losing streaks or extending winning streaks.
Their confidence has been bruised, but they’re still 5-2. They would still have a first-round playoff bye if the season ended today. They’ve banked a lot of goodwill in that five-game winning streak, so confidence might not be a problem. It’s getting their swagger back.
“The last two weeks haven’t gone our way,” Bradford said. “We haven’t played well. It’s not the same team that came out and started 5-0. But we still have that same team in that locker room. I believe in all those guys. I think everyone in there believes we have a special team, that we have a special team, that we have the ability to go and play good football. We just have to figure out the way that we did it, what the formula was those first five weeks, we have to do it.”null