Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune believes there is pressure on Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer to lead the team out of its recent slump. He wrote about the impressive start to the 2016 season under Zimmer:
Zimmer had a battered Vikings team atop the NFL at 5-0. The surge seemed nothing less than a continuation of his coaching magnum opus. In three seasons, he had improved the Vikings from embarrassing to competent to contending to, now, it seemed, a threat to win it all.
After Minnesota lost its fourth straight game Sunday – and dropped to second place in the division behind Detroit – Souhan quoted Zimmer's postgame press conference in which he said he was "concerned, obviously" but still has faith in his team. Souhan wrote:
The team's gumption shouldn't be in question. The Vikings came back from a 14-0 deficit on the road to take a 20-14 lead. They moved down the field in the final minute to position themselves for a pass into the end zone before the pocket collapsed twice around Sam Bradford.
Souhan said there can be a mistake in fans putting the cart before the horse when a team experiences early success, as the 16-week season almost always holds a variety of obstacles.
What we have here is typical of the NFL. Injuries, game plans and in-game coaching decisions can tilt a season one way or another at any time. […] the league is like marbles on a flat table. Any tremor can send them rolling in any direction.
Souhan said that the recent skid shouldn't take away from the Vikings success in their first five games, especially when they found that success after suffering a number of injuries to key players. But moving forward, it will be crucial to regain their composure.
Zimmer's coaching made the Vikings a supposed Super Bowl contender, and it will have to be his coaching that breaks their fall.
Defense slipping in current slide
A calling card of the Vikings 5-0 start was a near-dominant outing by the defense in each game.
That, however, has changed in recent weeks as injuries have mounted on that side of the ball.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press wrote about defensive trends. Washington totaled 388 net yards of offense and scored more (26) than any opponent this season.
Tomasson wrote:* *
*The defense was dominant in a 5-0 start. Even in the Vikings' first loss, 21-10 to Philadelphia on Oct. 23, the defense played well. *
*That hardly been the case, though, in three straight losses that have extended Minnesota's skid to four straight. The others were 20-10 at Chicago on Oct. 31 and 22-16 to Detroit in overtime on Nov. 6. *
*Entering the game against the Bears, the Vikings were giving up 279.5 yards per game. In the past three games, they've allowed an average of 367.3. * "We just have to capitalize on opportunity,'' said defensive end Brian Robison. "We got to create more turnovers, we got to be better on third down. There's a lot of things with that, that aren't happening right now for us. At the end of the day, we got to figure out what we got to get back to doin