NOTEBOOK: Vikings Shocked By Futility

Several Vikings players expressed their shock at their record to date, but they aren't to the point of no return – not by a long shot. Plus, two Vikings safeties are at different crossroads – one trying to resurrect expectations and another trying to rehab for the future.

The Vikings' 67 points scored to date is close to the worst in the league, with only Baltimore, Houston and Chicago dragging lower than Minnesota's once-potent machine.

The lack of points has coincided with a lack of wins (one), leading the Vikings to a last-place tie in the NFC North. And also leading them to being only one game away from at least a tie for the division lead. That, in a synopsis, is wretched state of the division.

It's good and bad news for the Vikings at the same time.

"It's easy to say you're 1-4 and you're four games out of first place, but you're not. You're not in a division with an undefeated team. You're in a division where the leader is 2-3. So can you go home and put that into some type of context for yourself individually? Hopefully everybody can, and I think we will," said safety Corey Chavous.

"I don't think you can look at things and feel sorry for yourself. Nobody is going to wallow in self-pity. I don't think Green Bay was wallowing in self-pity when they went out and put up 52 against New Orleans. They were trying to rebound and trying to find answers, and we'll do the same things."

The Vikings will hope to find the answers against that 1-4 Green Bay Packers team in the Metrodome this Sunday. The loser will remain in last place. The winner might rise to a first-place tie in the division.

Does anyone remember when there was so much more pride on the line in these battles between the Vikings and Packers? Actually, there is a lot on the line, but it just doesn't seem like it in the gloomy division.

"There is a difference between perception and reality. Reality is we're only one game out of first place. At some point, you have to factor that in. Luckily, we're in the NFC North and there are a lot of teams struggling right now," Chavous said.

"The bottom line is there is another team coming in here that's 1-4 and they feel the same way that we do. When you look at the fact that a couple of years ago they were 1-4 and they did win the division, then I think that's something that we should all take into consideration."

It's true. Former Packer and current Viking Darren Sharper can attest to that.

But Sharper can also witness to the fact that the Vikings had much higher expectations this season. That was a big reason Sharper and fellow defenders Pat Williams and Fred Smoot all made the move to Minnesota. They were all in search of a winning team with an explosive offense.

What they have found so far has been a struggle.

"Things have definitely being going in a downhill motion since early in the offseason," Sharper said. "We've had a lot of incidents, whether it's the coaching staff, whether it's trading a guy, you get a little life bringing in some free agents and you think things are going to turn around and you think you're going to do some good things. Saying all that, you start out the season 1-4 and things aren't going well, but you still have a long season to go.

"When you bring in a lot of new guys to the team, you think that things are going to go in a positive direction. You're going to have some bumps in the road, and we've had a couple of little bumps in the road right now, but I'm extremely positive what we can do as a team."

The Vikings have been fighting the despair that a continued downhill spiral could put them in. A number of current Vikings have stories of nightmare seasons that they'd rather keep in the past, but the horrendous start to this season keeps creeping into their minds and reminding them of past failures.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield knows.

His former Buffalo Bills went 3-13 2001, "pretty much the same way things are happening now. We can't continue to let things slip away. We have to get up and correct it," he said.

As a college player, center Matt Birk's Harvard team was 1-8 his sophomore year until it beat Yale in the last minute of the last game of the year. He said you'd have thought they just won the Super Bowl after that season-ending victory.

While he sits out the 2005 season recovering from September hip surgery that led to him being placed on injured reserve, Birk remains at Winter Park trying to help pull his teammates out of a season-opening slump he has never been a part of as a professional.

"Being at the beginning of the year, we have adequate time to pull ourselves out of this now. … We have a chance to shock the world. The New England Patriots can't say that. If they win the Super Bowl, it will be like Page 2. If we win the Super Bowl, that'd be a hell of a story," Birk said.

Two months ago, that seemed like a reasonable, reachable goal. Right now, however, that seems like a huge "if."


Sharper played for the Packers for the first eight years of his career and was offering insight on his former team this week.

"I have a lot of information to give (the coaches)," Sharper said. "But I think Green Bay knows that I know them to, so of course they're going to switch up some things."

Head coach Mike Tice said Wednesday Sharper can offer assistance with players' strengths and weaknesses on the Packers, but he didn't expect Sharper to have a real influence on the schemes the Vikings would run.

The fact that both teams are 1-4 entering this contest takes a little shine off the rose that was supposed to blossom into two division contenders with good records. Instead, both have wilted in the fall air.

"I would have assumed or predicted that the records would have been a little different going into this game," Sharper said. "I still might have hoped that they were 1-4 but we were 4-1, but that's not the case. Both teams are scrounging for a victory."

Sharper is still close with Javon Walker, William Henderson, Al Harris and Rob Davis, he said.

The loss of Walker for the season changes the identity of the Packers, eliminating a player that can stretch defenses vertically. Sharper called Walker a top-five receiver in the league.

"To take him out of the equation makes your preparation a little bit easier, but you still have the guy back there slinging the ball and he kind of makes up for a lot of those losses," Sharper said.

In fact, when quarterback/slinger Brett Favre called out Walker for holding out of minicamps this summer while searching for a better contract, Sharper criticized Favre's public speaking on the matter. But Sharper doesn't expect any residual effects from those volleys.

"I don't think (the Walker comments) created a rivalry. Brett's a competitor and I'm a competitor, and we're going to try and go out there and beat each other," Sharper said.


Willie Offord was spotted at Winter Park this week after having knee surgery on Oct. 13. He reported good news: "There was no meniscus tears, no cartilage – it was just my ACL," he said.

Offord said he will do his rehabilitation at Winter Park and expects to be ready for minicamp next spring. Being the last year of his contract, it is uncertain if that minicamp will be in Minnesota or elsewhere.

"I haven't heard anything, and I don't think my agent has either. We haven't contacted them to talk about it, and they haven't contacted us about it. Basically, I'm just trying to rehab and not worry about that right now," he said of his future.

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