As the Vikings enter Week 9, it may be that they (and fans) are both excited at their 5-3 record and also disappointed in a way.
It's not that they have lost three games, but rather that all three losses were against teams they could (you might argue should) have beaten.
It's not that Washington, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay are all beneath the notice of the Vikings, that they're so much worse than the Vikings. All four are rebuilding teams. All four are missing general pieces, so on any day, all four could conceivably win.
That they lost all three is a bit of a surprise.
With the Colts, it was largely a matter of the Vikings not quite knowing what their strengths were and playing to them.
For Washington and Tampa Bay, it was more a matter of forgetting what their strengths were.
I've said for several weeks that the Vikings have lacked the physical play that won them games against teams like the San Francisco 49ers.
It's been most evident, from a defensive standpoint, in the tackling—or more to the point, the lack thereof.
As Judd Zulgad of 1500 ESPN pointed out last Friday, the Vikings are not tackling well.
He points to some sloppiness across the board, echoing what Jared Allen and Coach Leslie Frazier had to say about defenders staying in their position and minding their gap responsibilities.
But—and this is especially evident watching run plays—they just aren't tackling well. Technique is off, and they aren't wrapping running backs up.
They've struggled a little in wrapping up quarterbacks as well, as Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman evaded them a few times, but the damage gets done in the run game.
That will require the execution which was a hallmark of this team prior to the Washington game. Since then, when Robert Griffin III blew them up, this defense (and the team as a whole save maybe Adrian Peterson) has played a little sloppy and a little back on its heels.
If they are to even slow Lynch down, they need to get aggressive and hit him in the backfield.
Taking it further, the offense has to start hitting as well. Adrian Peterson runs angry (though if you want to see someone really run angry, wait until you see Lynch) but the rest of this offense has throttled it back.
Even Percy Harvin isn't delivering hits the way he was, though he is running tough when he gets the ball.
This team functions best when it plays angry, with a chip on its shoulder. When it walks onto the field in a bad mood.
I haven't seen that much the last month's worth of games.
I'm hoping to see it pop back up over the course of the second half of the season.
They need to, if they want to have a shot at the playoffs and maybe a division title.
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