Vikings Have No Answers For Offensive Play

Kelly Holcomb

The Vikings have switched quarterbacks, had different starters in the backfield and tried different coaches calling plays. Despite the changes, the fact remains that the offense still isn't scoring nearly enough points.

The Vikings will have a bye this Sunday, but that does not mean plenty of work isn't being done around Winter Park this week.

Coach Brad Childress's team is off to a 1-3 start after a 23-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome. The defeat left the Vikings tied with the Chicago Bears for last place in the NFC North and looking up to the 4-0 Packers and 3-1 Detroit Lions.

"We are obviously extremely disappointed, but we're a quarter of the way through (the season)," Childress said. "We're a 1-3 football team. We had an opportunity to win all three of those games. I'm not going to point in any one direction, but we could all improve in all areas."

The Vikings' problems continue to be familiar. A solid defense that is outstanding against the run and somewhat suspect against the pass, is not getting nearly enough support from an offense that either stalls or commits a miscue when it gets near the opponent's red zone.

This was the case last season when the Vikings finished 6-10, and it has continued to be a problem this year. Switching quarterbacks certainly hasn't been the answer.

The Vikings learned this as veteran Kelly Holcomb lost his second consecutive start Sunday. Holcomb replaced Tarvaris Jackson, who suffered a groin strain in Week 2 at Detroit. That loss started Minnesota's three-game slide.

Holcomb was acquired late in training camp from Philadelphia and has continued to learn the Vikings' West Coast offense while moving into the starting role.

"It is a process, but we have to make plays," Holcomb said. "It was the same thing last week (in a 13-10 loss at Kansas City). You can't run the ball up and down the field form 20 to 20 and not score. We have to score touchdowns, not field goals. Through my experiences when you are kicking a bunch of field goals you usually lose."

The Vikings got three Ryan Longwell field goals in the loss to Green Bay, and did not score a touchdown until Holcomb hit rookie receiver Sidney Rice with a 15-yard pass with one minute, 55 seconds left in the game.

That ended a drought of 20 consecutive possessions without a touchdown for Minnesota.

The fact Holcomb did not fare any better than Jackson makes it almost a given that the second-year quarterback will be the starter when the Vikings next play on Oct. 14 against the Bears in Chicago. Sitting out against Green Bay gave Jackson three weeks to rest.

Right or wrong, Childress has attached his future to Jackson.

The problem is if the Vikings continue on this path it might not matter who is under center. The Chicago game will begin a five-game stretch that will see Minnesota travel to Dallas (Oct. 21) and Green Bay (Nov. 11) and play home games against Philadelphia (Oct. 28) and San Diego (Nov. 4).

That is one reason Holcomb's main concern right now isn't about whether he will be starting.

"I have no clue," he said about the future. "Right now as a team we have to regroup. We can't hang our heads. Everybody's dobber is down a little bit. I know mine is. I don't know what's going to happen with the quarterback position. I really don't care. It's all about winning games and we're not winning right now."

NOTES

  • LT Bryant McKinnie had to leave Sunday's game because of food poisoning that had affected him during the week. With McKinnie out, Artis Hicks moved from right guard to left tackle and Anthony Herrera came in at right guard.

  • DE Ray Edwards suffered a bruised hip. X-rays proved negative but further tests were planned for Monday.

  • RB Chester Taylor returned after missing two games because of a hip injury. Taylor carried eight times for 40 yards but 37 of those came on one run. With Taylor and Adrian Peterson both active for only the second time this season, running back Mewelde Moore was the odd man out.

  • RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 112 yards on 12 carries Sunday, tying Chuck Foreman's Vikings record for most 100-yard games by a rookie. Peterson also set a mark for most yards gained from scrimmage after the season's first four games. He has 549 yards from scrimmage; Robert Smith had 512 after the first four games in 1997.

  • DE Erasmus James continues to sit out games as he recovers from a knee injury suffered last season. It's uncertain at this point when James will be allowed to return. He has been practicing so that is not an issue.

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