The Vikings’ loss to the previously winless Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field — a defeat that came on Jared Goff’s 11-yard pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown as time expired — sent many fans of the Purple to Twitter to participate in the keyboard fisticuffs that take place whenever a local team has embarrassed itself.
One of the most frequent occurrences is for fans to pick one individual to put the blame on, while defending others. A generic example: “The Vikings’ 29-27 loss is all Mike Zimmer’s fault, and yet all of these people want to blame Kirk Cousins. Tell me what Kirk did wrong?! He threw for 340 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s more than good enough to have won the game.”
A potential generic response to that generic opinion: “You’re an idiot! Kirk only puts up big numbers after throwing 15 check downs. Zimmer can’t play quarterback! Cousins has never been worth his salary.”
And on and on it goes until someone finally loses interest and moves onto the next Twitter brawl. That’s where I want to offer some help, considering this is the holiday season and there’s no reason why Vikings fans can’t get along.
How can this be accomplished? Easy. When your team loses to a club that entered Sunday with an 0-10-1 record and is coming off a loss to the also awful Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day, there is no good reason to defend anyone. That’s right. No one.
Not Zimmer, not Cousins, not general manger Rick Spielman, not any member of a depleted defense who spent time trying to make Goff and the Lions look like the Greatest Show on Turf Rams of the late 1990s. No one should escape criticism for a brutal performance that dropped the Vikings to 5-7 and into the ninth seed in a conference where seven teams will make the playoffs.
Time to get Surly: Here’s the positive from a brutal Vikings loss.
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) December 5, 2021
The Vikings are now tied with Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans at two games below .500, but sit atop that group because of tie-breakers. The Vikings won’t have much time to focus on Sunday’s debacle because they will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.
Vikings fans, meanwhile, should be united in not caring about when their team plays next, but rather when their team will finish one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. Any hope that the Vikings can sneak into the playoffs as the seventh seed and make noise is now laughable after back-to-back losses at San Francisco and Detroit.
The key number for the Vikings is five. That is the games left in the regular season, a season that will end on Jan. 9 against the Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. At this point, no sane individual actually can be hoping the Vikings find a way to get into the playoffs.
As for blaming everyone — aside from fabulously talented wide receiver Justin Jefferson and maybe a few others — that is what fans and ownership need to do. None of the key players should escape the finger pointing that will be necessary for owners Zygi and Mark Wilf to do as they look to make changes that should begin on Jan. 10.
Dismissals that day should include Spielman and Zimmer and their replacements should have complete authority over what happens to Cousins. The Vikings’ 20-16 loss to the Cowboys and backup quarterback Cooper Rush on Oct. 31 resulted in a column that Zimmer’s time as the Vikings coach was nearing an end and that other changes might be necessary as well.
The Vikings are 2-3 since that time and, if anything, it’s looking as if a housecleaning will be a necessity. Spielman and Zimmer both have had good runs during their time in Minnesota, but watching a team take a defensive-first mindset (especially when that doesn’t work) in what is now an offensive-minded league, makes no sense. Spielman gets credit for some successful draft picks, but do you trust him to hire the right coach, or to find the next quarterback through the draft or trade?
It’s time for the Vikings to hit the reset button. To do that, you have to detach yourself from any misguided loyalty to particular individuals and put the franchise first. That means not engaging in debates with your fellow fans about whether this is Zimmer or Cousins’ fault, or trying to absolve Spielman because he lucked into Justin Jefferson before taking Jeff Gladney in the first round in 2020.
Wild fans fell into the same trap for years — Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu, among others, all had their defenders– and it took general manager Bill Guerin’s arrival to clean the three of them out and turn that franchise into one that is now near the top of the NHL. Guerin wasn’t worried about hurting feelings or playing favorites, he was worried about winning games.
The Vikings are guilty of not winning enough games and that means major changes are needed and trying to protect certain people will only get in the way of that goal. So let’s all unite in this holiday season to toast the fact that we no longer will debate who is at fault for the Vikings’ failures and agree that absolution will not be granted to anyone.