mansquatch wrote:If not mental then what?
I've already answered that question.
It's not all technique. That might make a good sound bite but it's inaccurate. When players are literally out of position, missing an assignment because they went to the wrong place, that's indicative of a mental error but missed tackles, being blocked out of plays, etc. are often physical issues. To an extent, technique is a physical issue as well and talent and matchups make a difference.When interviewed these guys all say the defense is all technique. Suddenly guys are out of position and big plays happen. That is not a physical issue.
Consider some of Adrian Peterson's runs over the years. How many times have we seen defenders come up to tackle him, in the right position, using proper technique, and fail simply because his size, strength and willpower made him harder than most backs to bring down?
Matchups and talent make a difference. A D-lineman can have great technique but if the guy blocking him has technique and ability equal or superior to the defender's, it can end in a stalemate or that defender can be neutralized for a game. It's not always that he's playing his position wrong or making a mental error. He's just being outplayed.
On a related note, sometimes when a player seems to be out of position, it's because the opposing offense has noticed a tendency on film and they are exploiting it. They see that an LB lines up a little too far inside or outside or that he tends to aggressively overplay the run in a situation and they call something designed to attack and exploit him. There are also times when the defense simply gambles and loses. Zimmer's aggressive, blitzing scheme looks great when it's working but blitz against the wrong play call and the offense can exploit the gap created for a big gain.
I guess I'm inclined to give more credit than that to the opposing teams. They won those games as much as the Vikings lost them and there were coaching blunders and physical errors involved, not just mental mistakes.The squad has suffered a cascade of injuries, most of which are concentrated within the weakest unit on the roster. They also lost their starting QB and starting RB. That is going to build over time. They are totally in the tank right now. The games vs. CHI, DET, and WSH were all games they should have won. They had DET beaten, same with WSH. They faltered on defense at the end. That isn't a roster issue, it isn't bad playcalls, and it isn't some coaching blunder. This is a team that is mentally in the tank and is playing beneath itself. The guys on that defense have the talent and ability to close out and win those games. They just didn't do it.
Why push so hard for a singular explanation? I'm not dismissing the mental aspect of the game. I just think there's more going on than just mental mistakes.