Oct 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Embarrass Themselves In 35-10 Home Loss to Panthers

Two teams came into the Metrodome today at 1-3 and hoping to turn their seasons around. One showed up to play, the other didn’t. Right from the outset, the Carolina Panthers looked like the more prepared, emotionally engaged team. The Vikings looked uninspired and sloppy and not ready to take the field. Which is inexplicable coming off a bye week.

Things went wrong early when Matt Cassel was picked on an overthrow in the direction of Greg Jennings. Jamarca Sanford had a chance to get it back on an errant Cam Newton throw but let it clang off his hands. The Panthers would go on to dominate the first half, going down the field at will against the Vikings’ defense. Minnesota finally got on the board with decent 2-minute drill, highlighted by some Adrian Peterson effort plays, making it 14-3 at the half.

The Vikings needed to come out in the second half adjusting to Carolina’s unusually aggressive blitzing and effective run game, but did neither. Instead the beat went on for Carolina. The big play of the third quarter was a long touchdown to Brandon LaFell after Josh Robinson evidently failed to play the correct coverage, letting LaFell get behind him. That seemed to completely demoralize the Vikings defense.

Offensively it wasn’t much prettier. After an effective effort vs. Pittsburgh, Matt Cassel reverted to the form that got him run out of Kansas City. He ended the day with 2 picks and a garbage-time TD to Kyle Rudolph that was mostly about Rudolph’s effort. The running game never got on track largely thanks to Carolina’s unrelenting blitzing, a scheme the Vikes were never able to pass Carolina out of.

And that exposes the problem with this offense as run by Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder. Lack of a deep game means teams will sell out to stop Adrian Peterson. AD is great but he can’t carry you every week. Against Carolina’s terrific front-7, led by a Pro Bowl-level MLB, you need to pass outside the hashes and go deep. That dimension is consistently lacking from Minnesota’s attack. Maybe Josh Freeman can help change that and maybe he can’t.

But this game isn’t about the offense, it’s about the complete lack of defensive effort coupled with an inexcusable lack of preparation. When a team isn’t mentally focused, that’s got to be on the coaches. We know the Vikings are short personnel-wise in their secondary but that’s only part of the problem. At some point Leslie Frazier has to bear the burden of accountability for the chronic lack of discipline and effort shown by his team.

It might be time to plant Frazier on the hot seat.

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  • Daniel Laxen

    You mean he hasn’t been on double secret probation all year? The bad thing is whom on this coaching staff would be an effective interim head coach?……..Yeah, that’s what I was thinking!

  • Rick Hodad

    Hard to believe that anyone can still think QB is the problem in MN. Ponder, Cassel, Freeman – it won’t matter! The O-line is the most feckless group I’ve ever seen in MN. As bad as the offensive line looks, they are not outdone by pitiful linebackers and porous secondary. As John McKay said, “We didn’t block very well today, but we made up for it by not tackling.” This season can be wrote off tonight. The team didn’t gel behind a tragedy and looked unprepared coming off a bye week. The blame game will begin soon enough, and the internal dynamics of the locker room will fall apart. All this happened on Frazier’s watch, and he must ultimately be held responsible. The first step in a rebuild is a new coaching staff. There is no hot seat for Frazier. He has to go immediately, and he can pull Musgrave along in a wagon behind him. As far as personnel, finding 3 NFL quality offensive linemen, 2 NFL quality linebackers, and a lockdown Cornerback unengaged during a season . . . ha! The Vikes blow another campaign.