While Vikings players will largely be away from Winter Park during this bye week, the coaches are using the bye to scout themselves and try to find ways to eliminate the mistakes that have led to a sub-.500 record.
Coach Brad Childress mentioned a few areas his team needs to improve upon when it returns from its bye week to play host to Houston on Nov. 2.
Among them are cutting down on penalties, getting more explosive plays on offense and eliminating them on defense, and perhaps most important, improving a turnover differential that right now is at minus-4.
That places the Vikings in a tie for 25th in the NFL. The Vikings had five turnovers in their 48-41 loss at Chicago on Sunday, while forcing only one by the Bears. Minnesota fell to 3-4 with the defeat and now has lost on the road to NFC North foes Green Bay and Chicago. The Packers and Bears are both 4-3.
, making his fifth start of the seasons, threw four interceptions in the defeat.
"That will be kind of our mantra going forward here," Childress said of the areas of focus. "Nine games to go, but for us it needs to be one game, the Houston Texans
. We can't worry about all the other stuff, all the other scoring combinations, NFC. We need to worry about one game and one game at a time, and it needs to be the Houston Texans."
The Texans game will be the first of back-to-back Vikings home games. The Packers will visit the Metrodome on Nov. 9.
Childress is confident the Vikings can get back on track.
"First of all, I'd say that there's nobody here that's not disappointed," he said. "We hold ourselves to a pretty high standard in this whole building. The big thing is that you're able to learn from past disappointments and hopefully get them in play here, going forward in these next nine games.
"I think I have a group of men that are committed to wanting to get it right. It's not for any lack of effort. Have there been mistakes? Yeah, there have been mistakes, but I see those guys playing hard. If they'll eliminate some of those mistakes, then obviously we'll have a better result."
QB Gus Frerotte dropped to 3-2 as the Vikings starter after throwing four interceptions in a 48-41 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Frerotte has now thrown seven interceptions and five touchdowns on the season and has a 72.6 passer rating. Despite a tough game Sunday, Frerotte almost certainly will be the Vikings starter for the rest of the season unless he gets injured. The 37-year-old has been sacked 13 times in five starts.
RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 121 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns against the Bears. That included a season-long run of 54 yards that went for a score. Peterson has had back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts after going three games without reaching the 100-yard mark. Peterson is ranked second in the NFL with 684 yards on the ground.
RB Chester Taylor caught a season-high six passes for 48 yards against the Bears. He also was used on three occasions in the same backfield with Peterson. Taylor scored a touchdown in one such situation, getting in from 1 yard out in the second quarter.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe continues to play well after dropping three passes in the first three games. He had four receptions for 68 yards and a 24-yard touchdown against the Bears and is tied for the team lead with three touchdown catches.
WR Bernard Berrian had another strong game on Sunday. In his first game back in Soldier Field after leaving the Bears as a free agent during the offseason, Berrian had six catches for 81 yards and caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Berrian now has three touchdown catches in the past three games.
WR Sidney Rice got about 10 to 15 snaps Sunday after being inactive for three of the past four games because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Rice did not catch a pass and will spend much of the bye week continuing to receive treatment at the Vikings facility.
WR Bobby Wade had five catches for 60 yards against the Bears and leads the team with 30 receptions on the season. That is two more than Bernard Berrian. Wade's 347 yards receiving are second to Berrian's 517 on the season.
LB Napoleon Harris played much of Sunday's game in the middle after being signed as a free agent Thursday. Harris, who had been let go by Kansas City earlier last week, figures to move into the starting role in the middle for the remainder of the season when the Vikings return from their bye. He served in that role for the Vikings in 2006 but was replaced by E.J. Henderson the next season. Henderson is out for the year because of a foot injury.
S Darren Sharper, who entered the season as the NFL's leader in interceptions among active players with 53, still does not have a pick this year. That could be in part because teams are deciding to go after rookie Tyrell Johnson, who has been starting opposite Sharper at the other safety position.
S Madieu Williams expects to make his debut with the Vikings on Nov. 2 when they return from their bye to play host to Houston. Williams has been out since early in training camp because of a neck injury. He was signed to a six-year, $33 million deal as a free agent this offseason. Tyrell Johnson has been playing in his place.