Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

After the Minnesota Vikings' 28-24 loss Sunday at the Green Bay Packers, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Coach Brad Childress offered some raw criticism for quarterback Brett Favre after he threw three interceptions and admitted he was one failed drive away from pulling him from the game. Childress is to speak to reporters Monday afternoon, but I can't imagine there is a scenario where he would leave open the possibility of benching Favre for next Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. I realize Favre is dealing with a re-injured ankle, but he has time to heal. It's true that Favre's 10 interceptions ties him for the NFL high, even after only five games. But the Vikings literally begged Favre to play one more season and are paying him $16 million to do it. If they're going to go down, it has to be with Favre behind center.

  2. I've never been one to harp on officiating calls during the course of a game, so we'll just say that two of the more questionable instances both went against the Vikings in scoring situations. They definitely have an argument on Andrew Quarless' touchdown reception in the second quarter; replays showed him losing control of the ball as he landed on his back. I also have to agree with Childress on what appeared to be a clean 17-yard touchdown reception by tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Ultimately, however, complaining about officiating calls is a loser's lament. The Vikings had plenty of other opportunities to win that game, and the Packers could probably find instances where they felt an official's call went against them.

  3. As we noted earlier Monday, the Vikings took some interesting steps to protect a secondary that has lost starter Cedric Griffin for the season and had shaky rookie Chris Cook at nickelback. Cook eventually had to be benched and replaced by Frank Walker, and the Packers looked like they were trying to target Walker and second-year cornerback Asher Allen. Ultimately, they were forced to pull up their pass rush and hope that Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Ray Edwards could help shut down the short- and intermediate game by blocking the passing lanes. Eventually, they slowed down the Packers. Rodgers threw for 227 yards in the first half but managed only 52 the rest of the way.

And here is one issue I don't get:

I'll never understand why the Vikings don't make a distinction between their third-down offense and their 2-minute offense. I'm fine if tailback Adrian Peterson isn't on the field for every third down, but I can't see how it makes sense to take him off the field for any part of a game-ending drive to score what would be a winning touchdown. But Peterson was off the field for third- and fourth-down plays on the Vikings' final drive, giving way to rookie Toby Gerhart. Nothing against Gerhart, but when a division game is on the line, you can't outsmart yourself. You need your best players on the field at all times.