Coming off a bye, the Vikings were back in the Metrodome this Sunday in a battle between two 1-3 NFC teams trying to get back in the playoff hunt. Playoffs were a long shot for the Vikings, but there was some optimism in Minnesota after winning their first game in London the week preceding the bye. Further, the schedule looked to be somewhat favorable, with a matchup with the Panthers at home followed by a Monday night game against the winless Giants. However, this Sunday, the Vikings reminded fans not to count their chickens before they hatch. This team simply is not good enough to assume that any given matchup will be a win.
The Vikings' quarterback situation has dominated the headlines this season- especially since the signing of Josh Freeman. Fans were curious how Matt Cassel would follow up his very solid performance leading the team to a win against the Steelers. Cassel struggled, throwing two interceptions and failed to help get the offense moving throughout the game. This loss, however, does not fall on the shoulders of Matt Cassel. The way the defense played, the secondary in particular, even Cassel's best probably wasn't good enough to win this game.
The quarterback situation will continue to be talking point #1 in the next couple weeks. Fans will want to know when Josh Freeman will take over the starting job (which I fully anticipate will be next week against the Giants). Once he does, he will be under a microscope as the franchise tries to evaluate whether he is deserving of a big contract this offseason. Don't get me wrong, this should be the primary focus of the team- the Vikings have absolutely no idea who will start game 1 of next season at the most important position in the game. However, people who think Josh Freeman will come in and turn this team around are unfortunately mistaken.
The Vikings have significant issues all over the field. For my money, the defensive problems have been the biggest reason for the Vikings 1-4 start- not the quarterback play. If the defense didn't allow last minute touchdowns to Chicago and Cleveland in back-to-back weeks,this team could have been coming into the Carolina game with a 3-1 record and we're probably not even talking about Josh Freeman being on the team. I'm anxious to see Freeman play and see if he looks like he can be the guy in Minnesota because clearly that's a huge question mark. However, with this defensive unit, this appears to be a lost season and even Josh Freeman returning to his prime form likely can't turn that around. This team is still a long ways away from being a year in and year out contender and the defensive secondary, not the quarterback, is the biggest reason for that.