Minnesota Vikings: October a month-long soap opera for Vikes
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings returned from their bye week knowing October had the potential to be a taxing and treacherous month. Four games against teams that made the playoffs last season, three coming on the road, two in prime time, on...
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings returned from their bye week knowing October had the potential to be a taxing and treacherous month. Four games against teams that made the playoffs last season, three coming on the road, two in prime time, one on Halloween . . . good luck with that.
And then came the drama.
The team traded for Randy Moss on Oct. 6; Brett Favre got implicated in a sexting scandal and subsequent NFL investigation; the relationship between Favre and coach Brad Childress became even more frigid after Childress uncharacteristically ripped his quarterback's decision-making following a second-half meltdown at Green Bay; Favre suffered two fractures in his left ankle, putting his NFL record for consecutive starts in jeopardy.
Like sands through the hourglass . . .
Granted, Winter Park is never a dull place, but October was bonkers.
Oh, the Vikings also are 1-2 this month and in danger of digging themselves a deeper hole with a loss today against the New England Patriots.
At 2-4 overall and with frustration building inside the locker room, the Vikings hope to end their seven-game road losing streak and turn the page on a wacky month.
"It would be devastating probably to be 2-5, but we never thought we would be 2-4 either," All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "We have to keep fighting and just get one win at a time and try and crawl ourselves out of this hole."
It won't be easy for obvious reasons, starting with Favre's status. The 41-year-old quarterback made it clear he wants to play today, which would keep his streak alive at 292 consecutive starts. Childress, disappointed in the three interceptions thrown by his quarterback in last Sunday's loss at Green Bay, apparently at some point wanted to give Tarvaris Jackson the start, although Favre told ESPN on Saturday that he expects to start.
No matter what happens, the decision likely will be second-guessed and guarantees the Vikings another week in the national spotlight.
Childress was asked whether his team is in crisis.
"We have 10 games left," he said. "I'm not calling anything a crisis point."
It's hard not to wonder about the impact of the distractions, considering the high expectations coming into the season. Nobody envisioned a 2-4 start and the turbulence that followed.
"That's why you play the games," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Obviously predictions don't mean a whole lot when you haven't performed. We haven't performed well at all. We haven't won the close games. All phases we've fallen short. The only thing we can do is continue to fight."
Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen said outside distractions are not the cause of some close losses.
"If you let stuff like that take a toll on you, you're mentally weak in the first place and this probably isn't the game for you," Allen said. "Our games are going to have a lot of ups and downs, and right now we're obviously in a valley so we're trying to get up into a peak. We've got a close locker room. We don't have a locker room that guys are afraid to say stuff to another guy or someone's not afraid to voice their opinion if something is bothering (him)."
Childress, charged with setting the tone each week, admitted he was disappointed with his public outburst at the officiating and frustration over Favre's turnovers in the loss to the Packers. He chalked it up to "being aggravated."
"I hate when I get that way. I hate it," he said.
Childress made national news more than he would have liked. The decision on whether to play Favre has numerous tentacles and potential consequences, both inside and outside the locker room. Childress also riled the Patriots by referring to them as the "some of the all-time great signal stealers" -- even though he meant it as a compliment.
Childress was a psychology major in college, however.
"You can come in with your mindset that I'm going this way and these are the things we've got to get done and (then) you can be going 180 degrees the other direction," Childress said. "That's just the nature of the position. There is no manual. You draw on past experience if you have it, common sense and whatever empirical data you can get and then your gut. That's how you do it."
Turnovers and self-inflicted mistakes have doomed the Vikings and caused a lack of consistency on offense. Their four losses have been by an average of 5.5 points.
"It's frustrating and it's encouraging that every game has been close and to have an opportunity to win every game," tight end Jeff Dugan said. "It just hasn't gone our way for whatever reason. What's done is done. All we can do is look forward."
The Vikings' second-half schedule isn't as formidable, and the NFC is so watered down that a poor start shouldn't necessarily knock them out of playoff contention. However, a loss today means the Vikings likely would need to go 7-2 the rest of the way to be in the playoff mix.
"We know we've got the team to win these games and we've got a good chance with these last 10 games to get back on the winning side," Williams said. "Our division is still wide open. We still play the Packers, got Chicago twice and Detroit so hopefully we can win all our NFC games and get to where we need to be."
But with Favre's injury, a strangely inconsistent offense and the sideshows at Winter Park, the clock is ticking.
"You've got to keep swinging, you've got to working, you've got to keep fighting, you've got to take that journey inside (and ask), 'What do I have to get straight individually, what do we have to get straight collectively?'" Childress said. "As long as nobody is afraid to do that and there's no finger-pointing, then you have a chance to climb out of the abyss."