Changes Coming?

After yet another game in which the Vikings defense did more than its share to win a game, the Vikings face a crossroads with four games to play. If they run the table, they make the playoffs. But, with the current offensive malaise, is it realistic to expect a four-game winning streak without a change?

With four games to go, the Vikings currently stand just one game out of wild card playoff contention.

That is the good news. The bad news is that, to make the playoffs, the Vikings will need to run the table in their final four games. To do that, the offense will have to score points. That, it would seem, has been a season-long problem.

Doing their best to avoid pointing fingers at the offense, there was a collective shrug from defensive players for the Vikes – who, in the last three weeks, have set franchise records for least rushing yards allowed, least rushing attempts and, in Sunday's loss, 107 total yards of offense. The D has done more than it's job to make a playoff push.

It would be polite – and inaccurate – to say that Brad Johnson was anything short of brutal on Sunday. For the second time in five games, he was pulled solely because of futility. Yet, Brad Childress refused to acknowledge that a change at quarterback was in the offing.

"I really would be remiss in making a decision about a starting quarterback a half an hour after a game," Childress said following the game. "We usually make those decisions during the week."

If that change would be to Tarvaris Jackson, he should be informed as soon as possible that he is the starter. Clearly, he needs the work with the first-team offense. But, the sad reality is that the Vikings might decide they need to stick with Johnson until all hope is lost for the 2006 season.

If the Vikings can win their final four games, they could make the playoffs. But, considering what was expected in November, that is a long shot at best. The good news is that the two toughest opponents the Vikings face will both be home games. The bad news is that, with a potential mutiny of defensive players that have done more than what has been expected all year, the time might be right for a change.

While nobody will say it publicly, can the Vikings offense – from the playcalling on down – be any worse? It may be time to say "Let's give No. 7 a chance." Why? Because No. 14 isn't getting the job done.

* In the last five Vikings losses since the team started 4-3, Johnson has one touchdown and 10 interceptions.
* Chester Taylor was diagnosed with bruised ribs in Sunday's game. He sustained the injury in the second quarter and left the game twice before being shut down. His status for next Sunday's game remains in doubt.
* How much uglier can a win be when the winning quarterback has a passer rating of 1.3? It wouldn't be so rough if the scale was 0-100. Unfortunately, the perfect passer rating grade is 158.3, which makes Grossman's 1.3 closer to a 0.7.
* Troy Williamson, still sporting a bruise under his left eye Sunday, refused to entertain media questions following the game the Sunday. Five wide receivers were on the active roster. He wasn't. Perhaps that is the reason for his silence.
* Punter Chris Kluwe's net average for his eight punts was a dismal 19.9 yards.
* The Vikings came under fire for not going to a no-huddle offense when trailing by three scores in the fourth quarter. Their lone touchdown drive started with 12:14 to play and ended with 5:40 to go – a span of 6:34 off the game clock. At no time did the team employ the no-huddle – a scenario the team employed in their loss to the Dolphins. Seemingly points of any kind are better than taking aggressive actions in an attempt to come back from a double-digit deficit.
* The Vikings defense set season bests for allowing an opponent the least yardage (107), passing yards (24) and first downs (six), yet didn't cover the nine-point Las Vegas spread.
* According to the league's statistical service, the last time a winning quarterback had a worse passer rating than Grossman's 1.3 rating was in 1976 when Norm Snead and the Giants won 12-9 – despite his performance – over the Redskins.

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