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Monday, October 24, 2011
Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

By Kevin Seifert

After the Minnesota Vikings' 33-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers, here are three issues that merit further examination:
  1. Given the ratty state of the Vikings' offensive line, you could argue that tailback Adrian Peterson had one of the best games of his career Sunday and is producing one of the best seasons of his life. His 172 yard-yard effort Sunday was the fifth-highest total of his career and the most since he totaled 180 yards in Week 1 of the 2009 season. Sunday, however, the Vikings were using their backup center (Joe Berger) and had only part-time services of right guard Anthony Herrera, whose balky knee forced him to give way to rookie Brandon Fusco. In spite of everything, Peterson is on pace for the second-highest season rushing total of his career. Those are the kinds of accomplishments that get buried in a lost season.
  2. Head Exam
    The Minnesota Vikings take their turn in the examination room after losing to Green Bay.
  3. Here's another performance that can get lost in a 1-6 season: Defensive end Jared Allen has been in on at least one sack in all seven games this season. His 11.5 sacks in seven games surpasses the 11 sacks he had for the entirety of 2010, and he continued to punish the Packers in games when left tackle Chad Clifton doesn't play. You always expect the motors of elite players to continue running regardless of the circumstances, but we all know that doesn't always happen. Allen has set an example that some other Vikings players would be well-advised to follow.
  4. Coach Leslie Frazier has a program-setting decision to make on cornerback Chris Cook, who spent the weekend in Hennepin County jail after being arrested on domestic assault charges and missed Sunday's game. Cook's attorney told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that his client denies strangling his girlfriend. But Cook remained jailed Monday morning and a court appearance was canceled. There have been six player arrests for the Vikings in the past nine months. Obviously the issues are different in each case, and it's impossible to keep players out of trouble at all times. The Vikings would love to get Cook back on the field after watching Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers make mincemeat out of them Sunday. But Frazier also needs to make clear that off-field issues can and will impact a player's career, or at least his tenure with the Vikings, or run the risk of sending a tacit message of loose discipline.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
What made the Vikings think that veteran receiver Bernard Berrian was worthy of another chance in 2011, even if it was on a renegotiated contract at a reduced rate? Berrian had been invisible for two seasons since averaging 20.1 yards per catch in 2008. It was generally thought that he never connected with quarterback Brett Favre over the stretch, but maybe Favre was on to something. Berrian has now been deactivated twice for games this season, once as a disciplinary measure and on Sunday for reasons that Frazier wouldn't explain. Frazier said that Berrian's future will be discussed this week. If he is released, Berrian will go down as the worst veteran acquisition in an otherwise admirable time period for the Vikings.