The Vikings are using the old "one game at a time" mantra heading into their bye week. The mood at Winter Park wasn't depressed Monday, but the coaches and players realize that a 3-4 record isn't what they had hoped for at this point in the season.
As the Vikings enter their bye week, head coach Brad Childress admitted Monday "there is nobody in this building that is happy with the standard right now that we are playing at."
The question is, how do the Vikings get things turned around? A 48-41 loss on Sunday to Chicago at Soldier Field dropped the Vikings to 3-4. That isn't good given the expectations many had for a team that added Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen
and wide receiver Bernard Berrian
during the offseason.
Nonetheless, the Vikings find themselves only one game behind the 4-3 Green Bay Packers
and Bears, who both also have a bye this week. The Vikings will return to Winter Park next Monday to begin preparations for their Nov. 2 game against the Houston Texans
Childress said one positive is that the players recognize that things must improve.
"They want to be better, they want to improve, they are all pulling for each other," Childress said. "I will continue to look for that improvement. And it's in those critical areas of turning the football over, taking it away, offense, defense and special teams penalties and then explosive plays. Getting them on offense and denying them on defense, that will be kind of our mantra going forward here. Nine games to go, but for us it needs to be one game, the Houston Texans.
"Because we can't worry about all the other stuff, all the other scoring combinations, the NFC. We need to worry about one game and one game at a time, and it needs to be the Houston Texans. So these guys are going to have a little bit of time to get themselves fresh mentally, get themselves fresh physically and come back and be ready to work. I believe they will do that."
Defensive end Jared Allen on the fact the Vikings are 3-4 entering their bye: "Disappointing. Disappointing," he said. "We know what kind of caliber team we can be and we show it a lot. There's a lot of times we flash what kind of team we are. We've just got to get more consistent. We've got a nine-game stretch and we're going to have to win a bunch of them."
Allen, whom the Vikings acquired from Kansas City in the offseason and then signed to a six-year, $74.5 million contract that included just more than $31 million guaranteed, will enter the bye week with five sacks. That is second on the team to the six by defensive tackle Kevin Williams. Allen led the NFL last season with 15.5 sacks in 14 games.
Receiver Bernard Berrian said he heard some boos as he stood on the sideline Sunday during the Vikings' 48-41 loss to the Bears. Berrian was playing his first game back at Soldier Field since signing a six-year, $42 million free-agent deal with the Vikings this offseason. "Fans are going to be fans, they boo," he said. "That's not going to affect my play. I'm going to come out and play the way I need to play and prepare for a game. We wished we had won this game and it would have just put the icing on the cake."
Berrian caught a touchdown pass for the third consecutive game on Sunday and is second on the Vikings with 28 receptions for a team-leading 517 yards. That's an average of 18.5 yards per catch.
Linebacker Napoleon Harris was signed by the Vikings last Thursday after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. Harris ended up playing almost all of Sunday's game at middle linebacker after Vinny Ciurciu started. "I definitely felt prepared," said Harris, who was the Vikings starter in the middle in 2006 before leaving as a free agent. "The coaching staff did a great job of getting me up to speed on what we were doing. I stayed after pretty much every day I was there to the wee hours of the night learning. I thought I was prepared. I thought I did a pretty decent job out there (Sunday), and I'm going to keep on grinding, keep learning, and keep getting better in the upcoming weeks."
QB Gus Frerotte is 3-2 since taking over as the Vikings starting quarterback in Week 3 of the season. Frerotte's four interceptions on Sunday give him seven on the season. He has thrown five touchdown passes.
TE Garrett Mills appeared to suffer a leg injury in the Vikings' loss Sunday at Chicago but coach Brad Childress had no update on his status Monday.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe had a disappointing first season with the Vikings in 2007 after signing as a free agent and got off to another tough start this year. But Shiancoe has been very good of late, displaying the type of sure hands he previously lacked. Shiancoe's three touchdown catches are tied with Bernard Berrian for the team lead.