The Minnesota Vikings are off to a terrible start, there is no denying that, and with a quarter of the season over, it’s tough to see a positive end to the season.  The frustrating part for the Vikings is it seems to be the same players from the past couple of seasons ruining the entire outcomes of games.  Let’s take a look at each position to this point in the season, and I’ll tell you what I think, and I encourage you to tell me what you think.

Quarterback, C+.  McNabb has not played his best season.  I also don’t think that he’s been as bad as QB’s they’ve had in the past (Ferotte, 2010 Favre, Brad Johnson’s second stint, T-Jack, Brad Johnson’s first stint, and Daunte Culpepper w/o Moss).  The fans who state things like “McFat”, “McSuck”, and “McFlab” are pretty bad insults.  I mean my goodness, can’t you just say you think he sucks.  I would at least respect those comments, but just calling him names reminds me of childish little cry babies.  On that note, actually analyze the game if you’re going to make those comments.  “McFat sucked and threw like $***” doesn’t tell anyone what you think of the game (or more accurately it tells everyone that you know very little about football).  Getting back on topic, sure McNabb hasn’t played like the McNabb that led the Eagles for so many years, but look at Favre from last year.  That season wasn’t entirely his fault either.  The Vikings have been weak up front (which I’ll get to), which ended the career of Favre, T-Jack, and soon to be McNabb (I’m aware that T-Jack is still playing, but his career was never able to get started because of the terrible o-line play in Minnesota).

Running Backs, B.  Adrian Peterson has been good, his usually AP like self.  That means he fights for yards, has big, amazing runs, despite the fact that usually only 2 of his 5 o-linemen are blocking.  Gerhart has been solid when he comes into games, even if we give him the ball in the wrong situations.  Booker has looked acceptable on returns.  That being said, I can only give the group a B because of limited help up front.

Wide Receivers, C-.  I think that this one is awfully unbalanced though, but I’m not going to give each individual receiver a grade.  Jenkins has looked a fine replacement for Rice, minus the deep threat.  Aromashadu has looked good despite being mis-cast behind Berrian.  Percy has been effective in the run game, but hasn’t been the slot threat he was in the past, perhaps based mostly on Musgraves run heavy offense (which hasn’t been all that well done. Plus then we throw out of run formation when Harvin isn’t out there).  Berrian hasn’t been very good.  He has two catches, but I’m pretty sure he has more drops than catches, which is not good for a WR.  Berrian almost single-handedly brings this groups grade lower.

Tight Ends/Fullbacks, B.  Visanthe Shiancoe showed up last week and in big fashion.  Kyle Rudolph has had two really impressive looking weeks.  Kleinsasser has looked horrendous in the passing game, but solid in the blocking game (perhaps he can become an undersized o-linemen).  At one point against KC Kleinsasser had to block Tamba Hali and held up long enough for McNabb to get off a pass.  Allen Reisner even came in against KC to play some FB, but our blocking was terrible, so it’s hard to tell if that’s his fault or someone elses.

Offensive Line, F.  I’m not sure if it’s under-performing or if it’s just lack of talent, but since late in 2009 the Vikings O-line has been disastrous.  Favre got destroyed against the Saints in the NFC Championship game, he got destroyed several more times in 2010, so did T-Jack.  Now in 2011, AP hasn’t had any room to run (particularly in the second half).  Hutchinson has been OK, but even he has gotten beat at times.  I really like Loadholt, but the last two games he’s even been an embarrassment to the team.  The Vikings desperately need to do something in the offseason to rebuild this unit up front.

Defensive Line, B+.  They get the highest grade, especially since the return of Kevin Williams.  Jared Allen has returned to his dominant self, giving teams something to fear.  Against KC they tried desperately to shut him down, but he still fought his way through extra protection to get two sacks. Brian Robison hasn’t made me miss Ray Edwards, and shouldn’t make others miss him either, he has been a great replacement and a hard worker.  I think our DT’s have been great and even back up DE Everson Griffen.  The Vikings possible have one of the best D-lines in the NFL, but it’s hard to give any position on the team higher than a B+ with how the team has played as a whole.

Linebackers, B-.  Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson have looked good.  They have struggled a bit against TE’s over the middle, but have been solid against the run as usual.  Part of their struggles against TE’s over the middle is their lack of help from the safeties.  If you aren’t going to blitz, it means the safeties are in zones and need to better help out the linebackers against those TEs.  Erin Henderson has looked acceptable in his limited weak-side linebacker roll.

Defensive Backs, F.  Antoine Winfield has been our best DB without a question, and even at times the solid tackler that he is has struggled to make tackles.  Chris Cook is the next best guy back there, for sure.  He had monster games versus big threats like Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, and Calvin Johnson.  Cedric Griffin on the other hand has looked bad.  Week 1, he allowed the big pass to Vincent Jackson, fortunately Rivers overthrew him.  Against the Lions he allowed the big pass in over-time that lead to the game winning field goal.  Then against KC the stumble and penalty to allow Dwayne Bowe to be wide open, then the poor tackling.  Which brings me to the safeties.  Husain Abdullah, has been OK at best.  Tyrell Johnson has been horrible, and Jamarca Sanford has been inconsistent.  At one point during the Buccaneers game I thought for sure Sanford was on his way to being a good safety, but it’s been downhill ever since.  When you can’t protect the QB and can’t run, it’s the O-line’s fault.  When you can stop the run, but can’t stop the Chiefs from passing the ball, it’s our DBs fault.

A bonus:  Fans can argue that it’s the coaches’ fault that they’re 0-4.  The Gerhart dive on 4th down, the keeping of Berrian, the ignoring of AP in the second half, the playing of Berrian, the decision to keep playing McNabb, and the putting of Berrian on the field.  I get all of those arguments.  But ultimately it comes down to the players making plays.  Our O-line doesn’t know how to do that, and until that gets fixed, and the defense can stop playing 45 minutes a game, the Vikings will continue to lose.

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