COMMENTARY | It would be easy for Minnesota Vikings fans to point the finger at quarterback Christian Ponder, and he indeed has to take some of the criticism for Sunday's loss to the Chicago Bears, but he is far from the only culprit.
The coaching staff has to be held accountable for some questionable decisions, particularly offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's conservative play calling in the later stages of the game. The Vikings drove into the red zone three times in the second half and only came away with two 28-yard field goals and a 22-yard field goal. The final field goal, which occurred after Adrian Peterson was stopped on third-and-goal from the 3, only gave the Vikings a 6-point lead, allowing the Bears to take the win with their late touchdown.
Other than safety Harrison Smith, who is looking more and more like the real deal, the Minnesota secondary was dismal. Yes, Jay Cutler is an above-average quarterback, but the Vikings' secondary made him look much better than he actually is.
The defensive front seven wasn't much better, allowing the Bears to rush the ball 26 times for 129 yards, and do a better job of stopping the run, as well as get more pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. Cutler and Detroit's Matthew Stafford have attempted a combined 82 passes and the Vikings' defense has just one sack. With such a porous secondary, the Vikings have to get more pressure on the quarterback.
Tight end John Carlson cannot continue to receive a free pass for his dismal play. The big free agent signing before 2012, Carlson has been a bust ever since leaving Seattle, is non-existent as a receiver and the team has much better blocking options. While injuries are at least partially responsible, at some point you have to deliver on the field.
And Ponder's play once again left something to be desired, whether it was his interception that was returned for a touchdown by Chicago's Tim Jennings or his 16-for-30 passing effort. With the pressure mounting on head coach Leslie Frazier, Ponder may be relegated to the bench quicker than was previously believed.
The Vikings have their first home date of the season against Cleveland on Sunday and follow that up with a trip to London to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team's bye week occurs after the game in England and if the Vikings aren't showing any signs of getting things turned around, don't be surprised to see wholesale changes before the team takes the field again on Oct. 13 against Carolina.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since the 1970s.
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