There are plenty of scapegoats for this performance, and Leslie Frazier is the one that has already been delivered his fate. With a new coaching staff coming soon, there are plenty of guys on the chopping block. However, there are five that absolutely need to take a walk.
CB Chris Cook
A second-round pick in 2010, Cook was supposed to be the future of the Vikings' secondary with Antoine Winfield and others getting up there in age. Instead, he turned out to be one of their biggest problems for a team that ranked 31st against the pass.
Most Vikings fans will struggle to recall Cook making an impact play. His next interception will be his first. He's also spent more time off the field than on it due to injuries and an assault charge in 2011 (after missing ten games, he was acquitted of that charge in March 2012).
After shoving an official late in the season, it was the final nail in the coffin for an uninspiring tenure with the Vikings.
QB Josh Freeman
The Vikings felt the need to have quarterback tryouts in the middle of the season, so they brought the Tampa Bay castoff on board to see if he could be the quarterback of the future.
The answer was a resounding no.
Freeman made only one start for the Vikings -- a 23-7 loss to the New York Giants -- where he looked like someone who was just thrown to the wolves. Perhaps if he showed up to a couple meetings on time, his one-year, $3 million contract would have looked like something other than a waste of resources.
Freeman is still looking for another foolish team to take a chance on him, while the Vikings are still looking for their franchise quarterback.
As the main reason why Freeman was brought into the midseason quarterback battle, Ponder's tenure in Minnesota has come to an abrupt end.
There are many reasons why the Ponder experiment failed, but it's time for general manager Rick Spielman and the rest of the Vikings to move on. He was never able to limit his "easily correctable" mistakes on the field, and Minnesota always seemed to be hitting a glass ceiling with him as the signal caller.
Ponder has had several chances to make it work with the Vikings, but he wasn't able to get the job done. Now the Vikings will have to take another swing at finding a quarterback in a draft where almost every team above them needs one.
The writing seemed to be on the wall when Williams voided the final year of his contract last offseason, but it was written in bold, red ink when the Vikings drafted Shariff Floyd in last year's NFL draft.
Floyd and Williams play the same pass-rushing technique and while Williams may be the better player now, Floyd is the younger, cheaper option with more potential. Sometimes, moves like this have to be made.
Viking fans will surely shed some tears if Williams has to go to another team, but if Floyd is able to live up to his pre-draft hype, they'll have a new big man in the middle to cheer for.
DE Jared Allen
Speaking of shedding tears, Viking fans will need to see a shrink if they decide to let Allen move on to greener pastures.
Allen loves it here, but he doesn't fit into the Vikings' long-term plans. Minnesota already signed Brian Robison to a lucrative extension earlier this season, and may not want to pay the same amount for two end rushers. A better idea would be to pursue fellow free-agent Everson Griffen and see if he can get back to his eight-sack, 2012 form when thrust into a starting role.
With Allen's play declining, he won't be worth his perceived price tag if the Vikings want to turn their horrid defense around. It's going to hurt, but Minnesota needs to make changes to get back on top of the NFC North.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Vikings follower that has seen triumph and heartbreak for the franchise over 27 seasons. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
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