By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings had higher expectations than starting winless in three games. To make matters worse, the team lost the last two by giving up touchdowns in the final minute of the game.
The Vikings have missed opportunities on the field, been predictable on offense and struggled to maintain consistency on defense. As a result, Minnesota has several players and coaches in the hot seat, including head coach Leslie Frazier.
However, change for change’s sake is not going to happen.
“You only want to make changes if there is a problem in an area where you feel that you have a better solution,” Frazier said. “I don’t know if change for the sake of change is the right thing to do from my perspective. You have to be able to stand in front of those guys in the locker room and talk to them about why you are making a change, and that it has to be something that you feel is going to help your football team be successful. So change for change’s sake; I don’t totally buy into that.”
“There are a lot of different things that you can do other than personnel to change things up a little bit,” continued Frazier. “You take that approach at times. But when you make those changes, you want to have a reason why you are doing it.”
Injuries are hitting the secondary
The Vikings lost Chris Cook three plays into Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns. His replacement, A.J. Jefferson, later left the game with an injury. The team lost a third defensive back, safety Jamarca Sanford, during the game as well. The Vikings finished the game with six defensive backs and were forced to use punt returner Marcus Sherels on defense.
“Depends on what happens with (Cook) and how severe is (Jefferson’s) ankle, I mean that puts you deep into your depth if those guys can’t go for some reason so we’ll have to see what happens with both of them,” Frazier said.
The three injured defensive backs will undergo MRI’s to determine the extent of the injury and whether the team needs to add another defensive back.
Offensive line woes hurting Vikings entire offense
The Vikings return all five starters from last season’s offensive line that helped Adrian Peterson reach 2,000 yards and nearly the single-season rushing record.
This season, Minnesota has been unable to open holes for the league’s best running back and keep pass rushers off their starting quarterback.
“We need to play better up front,” Frazier said. “It’s hard for our team to be successful if our offensive line and defensive line aren’t playing at a high level and our guys know that and our team knows that and we have to help them get to that point.”
The Vikings have pinned the reason down, now they need to correct the mistakes.
“We’re not obviously executing as well as we need to in order to be successful down in and down out,” Frazier said. “We’ve got two guys that are good at this point and then two other guys that aren’t doing it the right way on the same play and we have to find a way to get five guys executing correctly on each and every play.”
Felton returns; Line head to IR
All-Pro fullback Jerome Felton has served his suspension and will make his season debut Sunday in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He was the lead blocker for Peterson last season. He got a lot of credit for helping Peterson reach the 2,000-yard plateau.
“I think it will have a positive impact,” Frazier said. “He is a Pro Bowl player; really helped our run game a year ago quite a bit. So we look forward to having him back.”
Zach Line, an undrafted rookie, is still learning the blocking aspect of playing fullback. He was the primary ball carrier in college and was not called upon to be lead blocker. He was not given the designated to return label, so he will spend the remainder of the season on injured reserve.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.