Each week, BringMeTheNews will analyze the Vikings’ upcoming game from both sides, and give you “5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried.” This week they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the struggling Buccaneers.
For 5 key reasons the Vikings will win, click here.
5. Turnovers and sacks
During their three-game losing streak Vikings quarterbacks have been sacked 19 times and have thrown seven interceptions.
- At Green Bay Christian Ponder was intercepted twice and sacked six times
- Against Detroit Teddy Bridgewater was sacked eight times and threw three interceptions
- Against Buffalo Bridgewater was sacked five times and intercepted twice
Thursday, Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner told reporters the team is working on a plan to help Bridgewater stay on his feet.
According to 1500 ESPN, Turner knows they won't be able to eliminate all of the pressure, but he thinks they can do things to reduce it.
"We're working on getting him a lot quicker, we're working on [play] design to help get the ball out quick, we're working on protection so we don't have to have the conversation about how he handles [pressure]," Turner told reporters Thursday.
In their two wins against St. Louis and Atlanta ,Vikings quarterbacks have not been intercepted or sacked.
4. Buccaneers quarterback situation is improving
Tampa Bay could be in the midst of a quarterback controversy. The Buccaneers signed Josh McCown after his great 2013 season in Chicago to come in and be the starter.
But injuries changed that plan. McCown has been out with a thumb injury and the team's possible quarterback of the future, Mike Glennon, led Tampa Bay to their only win of the season.
But at 1-5, is the future now for Tampa Bay? Don't forget Glennon isn't new to starting in the NFL. He started 13 games for the Buccaneers last season after the team parted ways with Josh Freeman.
McCown returned to practice this week, in a limited fashion, and his availability for Sunday is unknown. Equally as unknown at this point is if he should start.
"To me that's the first decision: If Josh had to play, can he play?" said Smith on Thursday. "And that's what we're working through with practice this week, to see exactly where he is. We're trying different things on the practice field and we're getting closer to being able to make those decisions. But that's the first decision we have to make."
As for the second question, Smith admits that Glennon has played well in McCown's absence.
3. Buccaneers' big receivers
Tampa Bay wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson will provide a difficult challenge for the Vikings secondary on Sunday.
Jackson, who has been the subject of recent trade rumors, has 25 catches for 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The rookie Evans, who has been compared to Jackson by many, has caught 21 passes for 258 yards and a pair of scores.
The Vikings know they will be tough to handle in the secondary.
"They're able to separate the defender from the ball using their bodies and they have strong hands, so once the ball touches their hands, they'll probably catch it," said Vikings corner back Xavier Rhodes to reporters. "So we've got to separate them from the ball."
Rhodes, at 6-foot-1, gives up 4 inches to both Jackson and Evans. Josh Robinson the Vikings other corner stands at just 5 feet, 10 inches.
"Get your hands on them, try to aggravate them, be physical with them and you can get your hand in there on some balls," said Robinson about going up against bigger receivers.
2. Injuries taking their toll
Already with without several of their key players due to injuries, the Vikings got some more bad news on Thursday.
Robinson's injury comes in a secondary that has been largely healthy throughout the season so far.
The same can not be said for the offensive line. Starting right guard Brandon Fusco is out for the remainder of the season. Center John Sullivan is expected to play after a concussion last week, the same game starting guard Vladimir Ducasse suffered a right knee injury.
On Thursday, both Sullivan and Ducasse were limited participants in practice, according to the Star Tribune.
1. History says the Vikings can't win at Raymond James
Not even the 1998 Vikings, who went 15-1, won at Raymond James Stadium.
In fact, the Vikings haven't won in Tampa Bay since 1997, which is remarkable considering the two teams used to be NFC Central division opponents.
In all, the Vikings have lost their last six games in Tampa Bay and have never won at Raymond James Stadium, which opened in 1998.