I hope my pen runs out of ink immediately. Well, it didn't, so here I go. The players and coaches have to stand up and be accountable after a bad game like this 21-14 loss to Carolina, as well as some media people who love the Vikings. On this particular Sunday, every player seemed to have some small contribution to this loss, and since I feel the defense usually has a bigger impact on losses, I want to go back to what defensive coordinator Willie Shaw mentioned before training camp. He stated that it would take up to four or five regular-season games before one would know exactly how good this defense will be this year.
Talking with Shaw on Friday at practice, he re-issued the same statement to me. But at least now he says that the players know when they are making a mistake rather than answering "I don't know" after missing an assignment. This actually is a strong step forward for young NFL players, as professional football is so much faster than college.
I got to watch this defense play quite a bit Sunday, as it was on the field for about 60 percent of the time. I noticed on too many occasions the defenders were originally lined up in the wrong position and a lot of shuffling was going on just before the snap. You could expect to see this a time or two during a game, since today's wild offensive schemes have so many formations they throw at defenses, but the thing that bothered me the most was what was said in the Carolina locker room after the game. Panthers running back Lamar Smith, who had 30 carries for 154 yards, had this particular quote: "I knew we had them when I heard them bickering after 3- and 4-yard runs. They also anticipated us to pass on critical third-down situations, so we caught them off-guard."
I never expected for a minute that the Carolina Panthers would beat this Vikings team, and neither did the Minnesota fans. Even when the Vikings were down 14-7 early in the fourth quarter and they had the Panthers on the Vikings 42-yard line in a third-and-17 situation, the fans were confident, as I was. Just like they did in the previous week, the crowd gave the defense a standing, screaming ovation. Unfortunately, as seems to be happening too often this young season, quarterback Rodney Peete completed a pass for a 19-yard gain, giving the Panthers first-and-10 on the 23-yard line. They did score the winning touchdown shortly thereafter, and that creates tremendous frustration for the fans, myself, and it obviously carries over to the players.
The Vikings continue to work hard, and I totally believe in what Shaw is doing, so I'm still a driver of this Minnesota Vikings bandwagon.
So close, so close, so close … 0-3. Oops, my pen just ran out of i…n…
Lurtsema's Reaction: Young Defenders
Viking Update Top Stories
First half is doom and gloom for JaguarsThe Jacksonville Jaguars are too good to be 2-10, but, despite a talented roster, early struggles have been their undoing all season.
Viking Update8:38 AM
Preview: Jags loaded with talent, turnoversThe Jacksonville Jaguars should be better than their record indicates, but turnovers have been the Jaguars’ undoing.
Viking Update7:59 AM
Podcast: The odds on A.P., playoffsWill Adrian Peterson make it back and should he, and what are the odds the Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs?
Viking Update7:01 AM
Forbath hoping to find permanent homeVikings kicker Kai Forbath arrived in Minnesota under bad circumstances. He's looking to quit moving from town to town and make Minnesota his permanent home.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 8:19 PM
Zimmer will travel, coach; location uncertainMinnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will travel with his team on Saturday but says doctor’s orders are that he shouldn’t get hit.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 12:02 PM