Vikings theme looks the same

For all the offseason improvements the Vikings made, their offense has looked similar to what we've seen in the recent past – struggling to score with a punchless passing game.

The Vikings entered the season as a trendy pick to win the NFC. But only two games into the season that seems like a long time ago.

The Vikings' 18-15 loss to Indianapolis in their home opener dropped them to 0-2 and leaves them two games behind the Green Bay Packers. Sunday's game against Carolina has taken on significance that almost no one could have imagined only a few weeks back.

The Vikings, who lost their opener at Green Bay, made some of the league's most talked about additions during the offseason, including signing free-agent receiver Bernard Berrian and trading for Kansas City Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen.

But for the most part, this Vikings club looks similar to the teams Brad Childress guided during his first two seasons. The Vikings have a strong ground game but remain, for the most part, woefully inadequate when it comes to the passing game.

This is largely because Tarvaris Jackson continues to struggle in his second season as this team's starter. Jackson has a 50.8 completion percentage with one touchdown, one interception and a 64.8 passer rating in two games.

A defense that was ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season against the run had an outstanding game versus Indianapolis, holding the Colts to 25 yards on 19 carries. But the Vikings' pass defense ranked last in the NFL in 2007, and when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning needed the big play through the air Sunday, he was able to get it.

All of this left the Vikings locker room a less-than-happy place. A few players stood up and spoke their minds as Childress attempted to hold things together.

"We're all in this together," Childress said when asked about his postgame message. "The last time I checked, they're not going to crown anybody king after one game or after two games. That's why we press on. Even though it's a marathon, these games are one-play sprints. One play after another play after another play. Quarter by quarter."

Childress made it clear Sunday that he is having no thoughts about switching to veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte and said Jackson will be under center against the Panthers.

The Vikings had better hope Jackson can begin to find the rhythm they thought he had during offseason practices and training camp. Jackson appeared to be an improved player at that time but then suffered a knee injury in the second preseason game and did not play in a game until the loss to Green Bay.

One key will be getting Berrian involved in the game plan. After catching three passes against the Packers, he did not have a reception versus the Colts.

"We definitely are a better team than this," wide receiver Bobby Wade said. "But the record says different. There is no secret about it. We are still an 0-2 team, no matter how good you think we are and we just have to find a way to win. I think every individual in this locker room knows that we can still turn this thing around."

NOTES

  • RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 160 yards against the Colts, giving him back-to-back 100-yard efforts. The 160 yards is the third-highest total of Peterson's career, trailing the NFL-record 296-yard output he had last season against San Diego and his 224-yard performance at Chicago. Peterson set a team record for 100-yard rushing performances in first two seasons with eight. Peterson also set a team record for rushing yards in the first quarter (72) and posted the fifth-best rushing total for a half (118) in team history. Peterson's 263 rushing yards through two games is the second-best start in team history, behind Robert Smith's 269 in 1998.

  • RB Chester Taylor had four carries to Peterson's 29 on Sunday. Taylor had a total of eight touches (four rushes, one catch, three kick returns) after having nine against Green Bay (five rushes, three catches, one kick return).

  • WR Sidney Rice was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his right knee after hurting it in Sunday's game.

  • LT Artis Hicks played against the Colts after being limited in practice during the week. Hicks injured his right elbow in the season opener at Green Bay and was forced to wear a brace on the injury versus Indianapolis.

  • QB Tarvaris Jackson continues to wear a brace on the right knee he injured in the second preseason game.

  • The Vikings continue to use different players in the return game. CB Charles Gordon and WR Aundrae Allison shared punt return duties, while Allison and Taylor split kickoff returns.


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