I've said it before and, unfortunately, I suspect that I will say it again. This week's performance was more miserable than the last. And this week's performance should seal the fate of at least one member of the Vikings, if not several.
Certain to Be Gone Next Week
There is no conceivable way that the Vikings can retain Derek Ross for another week. Last week, I said in jest that Ross' play took us back to the Waswa Serwanga days. But that, flat out, is an insult to Waswa. Ross has no ability to play in the NFL, a message the Vikings should have learned when the secondary-challenged Cowboys saw fit to cut ties with their former third-round pick. Ross was burned for three plays of 20+ yards today, including a 36-yard reception on 3rd and 6 and a 35-yard TD. Ross had one good jam on a third down play that helped create a sack, otherwise, he was a distinct liability.
Projection: Cut already.
Replacement: Rhett Nelson
Should Be Gone Next Week
A. The Secondary
The Vikings' entire secondary was once again putrid this week. Brian Russell was invisible, excluding a rare interception, except when the opposing receivers were juking around him or waltzing through his space--as if Russell were their personal escort--for an easy TD. Brian Williams was burned consistently and only his first pick of the entire season made his effort any less than abhorent. And Corey Chavous was MIA for the thirteenth game this season. The host of garbage that filled in in nickle and dime packages could just as easily have been stuffed uniforms (though stuffed uniforms would not be able to abandon their ground upon opponent's approach).
Projection: Would be cut already, but there are no replacements.
B. The Linebacking Corps
It is difficult to even discuss the linebacking corps because it is unclear that the Vikings even have one. Supposedly, EJ Henderson plays in the middle. His name was not called a single time today on a pass play as each of his four solo tackles came on running plays. Supposedly, someone also plays SAM linebacker. Yet, there was no mention of any such person in today's game despite numerous plays to that side. And Chris Claiborne is purportedly healthy, and healthy he may be, but he still is not a good linebacker. Claiborne was in on a couple nice plays today, but he was really cleaning up what the defensive line set up. The credit goes to the defensive line, not Claiborne.
On one particularly apt play, Claiborne, Shaw, and Russell pointed to each other to pick up the receiver. None of the three defenders was otherwise engaged in defending the play yet all three stood as the receiver stepped between them, caught a soft lob between them, and crawled into the endzone without a whiff of defense. That sums up the play not only of the secondary but of the Vikings' purportedly wily veteran linebacker.
C. Scott Linehan
Wow. What a totally horseshit job of calling a game. For the second week in a row, the Vikings failed to score a touchdown in the second half. And at least 75% of the blame falls on the playcalling.
Despite tremendous success running the ball in the first half, the Vikings, trailing by one point for most of the second half and by four inside the Seahawks' red zone late in the fourth quarter, completely abandon the run. Instead of running against the Seahawks' porous run defense, the Vikings continued with their unsuccessful "bombs away" approach of the first half. And, as if to put a fine point on it, the Vikings called a reverse pass option on 1st and goal from the seven-yard line!
It all would have been simply unbelievable had we not seen this so many times before under Tice/Linehan. Tice consistently says that his lesson learned from past games is to take what the defense gives. Today, the Seahawks utterly failed to stop the run. The Vikings, conversely, had no success throwing deep. Lesson? Throw deep. Nice job.
As poorly as the Vikings played today, they could have won with more astute play calling on the goal line drive, or at any other point in the game.
This looked like the fix was in and the Vikings' staff was orchestrating the fix.
Up Next: More rewind, including more analysis of offensive playcalling.