Okay now, that was depressing. The game reminded me so much of the loss to the 49ers last year. An unheralded running back has a career game. Offense plays horribly. Defense lacks effort. I just need to keep in mind how the Vikings played after the 49er game last year. That being said, I feel like there are undercurrents to this loss.
- Defensive Effort: It is truly strange and disturbing to have a Zimmer coach team look like it gave up. But it goes beyond giving up in the 4th quarter, there was a lack of effort throughout the game. Two major observations in this regard.
- Trae Waynes: On the Bears first touchdown, the Bears ran to Waynes side of the field. He gave up on the play immediately. It was an amazing display of lack of effort. It makes me think he will never ascend to where he needs to be.
- Anthony Barr: I have not written much about Anthony Barr this year — which in itself is a surprise and disappointment. Last night, in the second half, there was a play that made me watch him more closely the rest of the game. That play was a first down pass to a running back who came out of the backfield. Barr did not react to the running back at all until the catch. It appeared to be a zone and the RB was in Barr’s area. I thought it was strange that he did not have any awareness on the play. There were two other plays (I think on the final drive) that also disappointed me. One was a sweep to his side and he was blocked totally out of the play. I can’t say it was a terribly effective block but Barr seemed happy to backpedal about 15 yards by this engaged blocker. It seemed like he wanted to avoid getting into the scrum (maybe to avoid injury). The second play was a Cutler rollout to the left and short pass to a TE (who should have been covered by Barr). As Barr realizes that he had missed his assignment, you can his helmet bob up and down for a second as he cursed himself (my guess). His head did not appear to be in this game and for a player with so much natural ability, he has been fairly invisible this year. There is something going on with Barr — whether it be some nagging injury or a personal issue, he does not seem all in. Really disappointing. It does seem like Zimmer has not wanted to unlease the Kraken this year — which I also find strange.
- Turner/Sparano: I almost feel that they are deliberately sabotaging the other except that the result is that they both look bad. With Sparano, the OLine actually is regressing. Sparano says he likes his lines to have “punch” but they can’t even move the opposing line one yard when needed. Turner’s play calling has become incredibly transparent and he does not seem to want to change anything to assist the struggling offensive line; very few chip blocks, etc. But here is the thing that pisses me off the most — the Vikings screen pass game. Hell, the offensive tackles can’t block a bit but they can’t fake block enough to disguise the screen passes. Heck, instead of fake blocking, they should just try to block and fail and then go assist on the screen pass. I do wonder whether there is something going on behind the scenes with the offensive game planning and coaches jockeying for position to replace Norv. It does not appear to be a cohesive game plan.
- Patterson: I have to say I could not understand why Patterson didn’t try to get over to return the opening kickoff. He does seem more cautious this year, for whatever reasons.
- Vikings PEE: Offense: Ellison again. Seems to be the only player who blocks through the whistle. Defense: Sendejo. This game really illuminated why Sendejo got an extension and is a starter. Special Vikings PEE this week: Jeff Locke. Dead and buried by most of us, he has become an excellent punter (maybe overstated a little). Deserve a little credit as the player most exceeding expectations this year (followed closely by Thielen).