Sep 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) catches a pass between Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) and cornerback Josh Robinson (21) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Purple People Eaters Not Impressed With Current Vikings Defense


Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Carl Eller at the 2013 Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings used to have a dominating defense back in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s.  They were called the “Purple People Eaters” and were one of the best defensive squads that the NFL has ever seen.  As a matter of fact, there were a couple seasons where that squad didn’t even allow their opponents to score 10 points a game.

Let’s flash forward to this season.  The Vikings are giving up an average of 31.6 points per game.  If they continue on that pace, they will officially be the worst defense in team history.  The current record average is 30.3 points per game back in 1984, when Minnesota went 3-13 during Les Steckel’s solo year of terror with the team.

Vikings legend Jim Marshall was part of that defensive squad in 1969 that only allowed 9.5 points per game.  He had some comments to say about the current team’s defensive situation:

“The teamwork isn’t there, and that kind of hurts me,” said Marshall. “Nobody loves the Minnesota Vikings the way I do. It’s very frustrating. Our attitude back then was, ‘Nobody scores on us.’ If somebody scored on us, we made sure that was the last time. Everybody on the team was very tight and working together. When I look at the games now, it seems like there’s no coordination. They’re being very aggressive, and I take my hat off to them for that. I don’t know what the defensive scheme is and what the plan is, so I can’t really talk about that. But it just seems like there’s a lack of coordination on everything that’s being done.””

Former Vikings defensive tackle Doug Sutherland was even less polite about his frustration in the team’s defense:

“In those days, the offense would get a field goal for a 3-0 lead, and they’d say, ‘OK, we’ve done our job. Go shut them out the rest of the game,’ ” Sutherland said. “They can’t stop anybody! Greenway is a hell of a linebacker, but the other two linebackers are weak. Obviously, the underneath stuff has to be the linebackers.”

Aug 25, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier reacts after a penalty against the Vikings during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is aware of the problem that the Vikings hare having and says that it all comes down to execution and making plays.

“We are definitely giving up too many points,” said Frazier.

Meanwhile, former defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema sees it are more than just a problem with execution and making plays:

“It’s been painful to watch for every fan,” said Lurtsema. “You’re not seeing effort. I’m not seeing wasted energy. You don’t see them busting their tail in pursuit or anything like that. I am confused why they move the linemen in and out to keep them fresh. What does fresh mean? You’re either in shape or not in shape. If a player raised his hand to be taken out with Bud Grant, that would have been his last play. He would have been cut on Monday.”

Despite their frustration, the Purple People Eaters will always be Minnesota Vikings.  Their loyalty is unquestioned and they remain hopeful for the Vikings to return to grace:

“What I can tell you is I always have hope,” Marshall said. “I always have hope that things are going to click and things are going to come together. And that’s what you have every game. You watch and you hope things are going to click.”

They had better start clicking soon, or else the Vikings may become the worst defensive unit in franchise history.

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  • Bob E.

    I think these quotes need to be read to the team out loud during a meeting or something… these guys dont just suit up for the patcheck, they suit up in honor of the guys who came before them and the fans who devote their time, energy and money to the team we were raised to love. Great post Adam.

  • Daniel Laxen

    I must say one of your better efforts!…Problem is players today don’t give a good shit about what the former players say. I remember the days of the best defense in the NFL. I also remember the best defense in the NFL getting dismantled in the Super Bowl year in and year out…The largest O-lines would shove the undersized D-line into oblivion every time…Carl Eller was the only guy that could hold his own on the big stage. Jim Marshall was so bad in their last appearance he didn’t even get a tackle in that game. Allen Page, still one of my favorites just couldn’t take over the game on those 4 days. He was simply too small. I would really like to see what that guy would have done in a 3-4 defense because he was such an athlete…Oh well, those days are long gone. Now we are subjected to horrible coverage and awful LB play. A disappointment to be sure!

  • David Crosby

    I wonder how many fans would the Vikes lose if they resigned the entire coaching staff like the twins did again? I know I’ll be one and I never thought I’d say that.