EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Time is running out in Minnesota — on the Vikings’ season and, perhaps, Brett Favre’s career.
The Vikings have said all year long that there is plenty of time to get things turned around, to put together a complete performance, to realize their full potential.
The gravity of their situation finally seems to be settling in on a team that started the year expecting to make a Super Bowl run.
“We are running out of games,” Favre said after the 27-13 loss at Chicago dropped the Vikings to 3-6. “The way we’re playing, it will take but a couple more losses, and we will be out of it. That’s just being honest. I don’t know how to sugarcoat it.”
Nothing went right for the Vikings on Sunday against the Bears, in any phase of the game. Even with stars like Favre, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and others, they haven’t been able to harness that talent the same way they did a year ago during their run to the NFC title game.
Now this star-studded team that sent a league-high 10 players to the Pro Bowl last season is coming to terms with the reality that a loss at home to the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers on Sunday could all but end their playoff hopes.
“We have to win this week,” receiver Greg Camarillo said on Monday. “What’s more urgent than a win this week? We’ve dug ourselves a huge hole and the only way to crawl out of it is to take it week-by-week. We’ve got Green Bay coming to town and we’ve got to get a win.”
After throwing for just 170 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions — one that was tipped and two that came after receivers slipped and fell down — Favre was asked what needed to change for this team to get back into the playoff picture.
“You name it. Pick something,” Favre said. “I can’t think of any one thing that doesn’t need to change.”
The 41-year-old quarterback reportedly told ESPN that his throwing shoulder was sore and he planned to get an MRI this week to check things out. Favre was unavailable for comment on Monday, but coach Brad Childress said an MRI wasn’t under consideration and he expected Favre to play against his former team on Sunday.
Receivers Percy Harvin (ankle) and Bernard Berrian (groin) are banged up as well, and it’s still not clear if Sidney Rice (hip) will play for the first time this season.
“We’re obviously not where we want to be,” Camarillo said. “But if you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Man we’re 3-6 this is terrible,’ you’re focusing on the wrong thing. We have to win games and we have to win this game coming up.”
Now the Vikings are facing the Packers (6-3), who are fresh off a bye week and looking to put Favre and their neighbors to the west down for the count.
“Vikings are done…. lets stick a fork in them next weekend,” injured Packers tight end Jermichael Finley tweeted after watching the Vikings lose to the Bears 27-13.
All the struggles have put Childress at the center of the fans’ ire as they clamor for a coaching change. Owner Zygi Wilf has not made a move to this point, and several players have brushed aside coaching as the main reason for the turmoil.
Favre and Peterson have both acknowledged that they don’t always see eye-to-eye with Childress. But both have said that it’s on the players to play better, a sentiment cornerback Lito Sheppard echoed on Monday.
“It’s not like we’re not playing. We’re playing hard,” Sheppard said. “It’s not even about the coaches. Each individual in here has a job to do and is going to be held accountable regardless of if the coach is here or not. We understand that.”
Childress also said he didn’t see his players giving up on him.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you there wasn’t a loaf here or a loaf there on the backside of a play, and that’s the way football is a lot of times when you’re the 11th guy from the play,” Childress said. “But yeah, I see guys playing hard. I don’t see us executing particularly well right now, and it’s a given now if you don’t execute particularly well on offense, defense and special teams you’re probably going to get your rear end handed to you.”
The Vikings have five days to figure out what’s been going wrong before the well-rested Packers come to town. From the health of the receivers to the lack of a pass rush and the struggles converting third downs, the list is long.
“Oh boy, you’ve got to paint with a broad brush there,” Childress said. “I can’t just say one thing. We’re doing it all together, just not playing good enough.”
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