While the defense has been stellar most of the season, the defenders are struggling to keep a positive frame of mind when it comes to losing after solid performances.
With a defense that for the most part has exceeded expectations and an offense that has had all kinds of problems, coach Brad Childress has had to put out a few potential brush fires in the Vikings' locker room this season.
The latest came after Minnesota's 23-13 loss Sunday at Chicago when veteran safety Darren Sharper
called for changes to be made on offense. Sharper was the most vocal but far from the only frustrated member of the defense.
"It's a volatile situation after a game," Childress said attempting to downplay things. "I mean there are emotions that are on edge and I understand that. We're not trying to hide anything from anybody. ... The only thing you say is — and they're clear on this, they understand this — it's a team game.
"As long as they've played, you win and lose together. There's a lot of different ways to win it and there's a lot of different ways to lose it. As it's swinging right now defensively they're playing pretty good. You know that swings back and forth at times."
The frustration on the part of the defense certainly was understandable considering Chicago was held to 107 yards and quarterback Rex Grossman
had a 1.3 quarterback rating. "Everybody gets paid to do a job," Sharper said. "If you're not executing your job, changes need to be made."
Receiver Travis Taylor
, for one, doesn't blame Sharper and other defensive players for being unhappy. "When the defense plays like it's playing and you're losing games, you find yourself (thinking), ‘What do I say to these guys?'" Taylor said. "You don't even want to converse with them because you know we're not holding up our end of the bargain."
Center Matt Birk
, who is in his ninth season with the Vikings, has experienced plenty of seasons where the roles were reversed. "For a long time, at least on this team, offense carried the day," he said. "It's not about offense, it's about winning games. It's about finding ways to win games no matter how you do it. And we haven't done it."
RB Chester Taylor went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark at Chicago but also suffered bruised ribs that forced him to leave the game in the third quarter. Taylor has been limited in practice in recent weeks because of a variety of bumps and bruises but has yet to miss a game this season.
TE Jermaine Wiggins played Sunday and caught three passes at Chicago despite having a sprained MCL in his right knee. Wiggins had been limited in practice last week and might be held back again this week to give his knee some more time to heal.
WR Marcus Robinson tied running back Mewelde Moore with five receptions for 37 yards against the Bears but also dropped at least two passes in the loss.
NT Pat Williams has continued to play, and do it at a high level, despite being plagued by an undisclosed injury to his right knee. Last week, Williams participated in part of practice Wednesday and did no work Thursday or Friday but played against the Bears. Williams' practice reps likely will be limited for the remainder of the season.
LB Ben Leber recorded the first interception of his career against the Bears. Leber also had two passes broken up and recovered a fumble on special teams.
CB Antoine Winfield tied his career high when he recorded his fourth interception of the season against the Bears. Winfield also had four interceptions last season and appears to be making a bid for his first Pro Bowl berth.