Frustration in check? Vikings are trying

Percy Harvin (Otto Greule Jr./Getty)

The Vikings are frustrated with their performances lately and squandering opportunities, but whether it's Percy Harvin or those involved in the run defense, they are hopeful things will turn around. It's a delicate balancing act for Leslie Frazier at a critical juncture in the Vikings' season.

Whether it's the passing offense netting 44 yards or the run defense yielding 195 yards, the Vikings have plenty of work to do – both on the technical elements of their game and with a precarious emotional position.

The Vikings, once 4-1, are now 5-4. If the playoffs started today, they would be on the outside looking in since building that initial five-game record. Losing three of the last four games no doubt contributed to a frustrating moment captured on camera, as Percy Harvin could be seen yelling at head coach Leslie Frazier during Sunday's game when the Vikings had to settle for a field goal.

"It was just in the heat of the moment. We got three points. I think the last two or three weeks I've been wanting to get seven and we didn't get seven. I thought we could have," Harvin said. "So it was just a frustrating point in the heat of the battle. But it was nothing more than that."

For his part, Leslie Frazier handled Harvin's venting with aplomb, allowing the receiver to voice his frustration and then putting back on his headset and returning to the task at hand.

"We have a lot of competitive guys on our team who want to win and want to see things happen for our team. He's one of them. I appreciate his competitiveness and there's a way to communicate and he and I have talked about some of that and we'll continue to work on that," Frazier said.

"He just wants to win. We were struggling with some things and you know he had frustration, along with a lot of us, because we felt like we could do more than what we did (Sunday). It's just frustration, frustration with our not being successful."

Harvin's frustration is understandable. The Vikings' passing offense has been brutal of late. Christian Ponder hasn't completed more than 11 passes or surpassed 65 yards passing in two of the last three games.

Through the first six games, Harvin had been averaging more than eight receptions per outing. That has been cut in half over the last three games. In Seattle on Sunday, it was a season-low two receptions for 10 yards.

Frazier admitted that part of the process to curing the passing-game ills is looking at the schemes the Vikings have been using. What was successful early in the year is predictably being met with resistance now that teams have more film of the Vikings' method of attack.

Asked if the offense is getting too predictable, Harvin said, "I'll let you all be the judge of that," but Frazier can speak to it.

"That's part of it, just being able to see how people have adjusted to some of the things we had success with early in the season," Frazier said. "Now we've got to offset some of the things that we're seeing that are beginning to pop up. It's not complicated, but we've just got to do a better job of figuring out ways to offset what people are doing that takes some of our strengths away. We need to get it done."

Frazier has a tough balancing act this week. He knows he needs to get the passing offense and run defense cured of what has been plaguing them for about the last month. But he also has to maintain whatever is left of the players' confidence.

Although the Vikings would be out of the playoffs if they started today, they are still 5-4 and left with a chance to compete for the postseason with five divisional games remaining in their final seven games.

"There's nothing declared at this point of the season. There's a lot of football to be played," Frazier said. "There are teams that will go through bumps in the road along the way. Some have already experienced some of that and been able to bounce back. We hit a little bit of adversity here, but it's nothing we can't overcome.

"So, the sky's not falling. There's some things we have to get fixed, for sure, to get things going back in the right direction. We were playing tough, smart, aggressive football early on. We got to get back to that, playing physical ball and playing smart. But there's time."

Guard Charlie Johnson noted that the Vikings still have a winning record and, despite recent troubles, believe things can be turned around.

"The vibe is good. We haven't played well the last couple weeks. We know that. There are things that can be fixed," he said. "If things were happening that we couldn't correct, then I think the vibe would be down, but the opportunities are still there for us and our season is still in front of us. Just because you lose two in a row doesn't mean you're out of anything. It's not ideal, but all our goals are still in place."

Johnson and linebacker Chad Greenway were part of the Vikings' 3-13 season in 2011, and Greenway noted that a 9-7 team last year won the Super Bowl. Timing is everything in the NFL.

"You have to be playing well at the right time. We're not playing well right now, we played well before, and we can get back to that. And we have time to do it," Greenway said. "So the idea that the season is over and we're scrapping? … No way are you going to get me to buy into that. But, I die hard, too."

A day after his sideline blowup, Harvin said the Vikings have "a lot of good things we've got going," but he even saw an opportunity for much more in a run game that produced 243 yards on the ground.

"It's very frustrating. I would be lying if I told you different. We've got a lot of work to do," Harvin said. "We're all still confident we can turn this thing around. We do have a lot of work to do so we've got to see if we can get it done."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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