November 1st, 2009 was the last time the Vikings won on the road. In that game we decimated the Packers on their home turf. Who would have guessed, at that moment in time, that beleaguered Vikings fans everywhere would have to wait until November 28, 2010 for their team to win again on the road? Not me, that’s for certain.
Speaking of the Packers – congratulations to the Falcons today on their tremendous win against a Packer team that was giving its all. I saw Packer fans complaining on Twitter about “roughness” when Rodgers got dinged on the QB sneak. My thought continues to be: would you Packer fans like some cheese to accompany your whine? Oh – wait, you already have cheese! But I digress.
Back to the Redskins/Vikings game. The Vikings have ended their road loss streak, but they still have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season. The Redskins were 5-5 coming into this game… which is not a winning record – but it’s close! Despite the .500 record, not many were picking the Redskins to win today. Those who picked the Vikings were not disappointed for only the 4th time this season.
Overall, my assessment of the game is that it was fairly boring. Although I did yell loudly during several plays – but not from glee. The Vikings finally scored a TD on their first drive in a game ALL SEASON. There was nothing, from an execution perspective, that stood out on the positive side today with the exception of the turnovers – or, lack thereof. What did stand out, at least to me, is that our Special Teams coach should be the next person to get booted from the organization. Chris Kluwe and Ryan Longwell have succeeded despite Brian Murphy’s coaching ineptitude. This year our special teams coverage on punt and kick-off returns has been declining at an alarming rate. If I were Leslie Frazier, I would look for a replacement tout de suite.
The highlight of today’s game, for me, was Brett Favre scrambling for 10 yards and a 1st down at the end of the game. In his post-game presser, Favre said that the 10 yards felt like 50. That drew laughs from the reporters in the room. My friend John and I were laughing and kept replaying the camera shots of the offense and those on the sidelines celebrating the fact that the team’s 41-year-old QB, with a sinus infection/possible pneumonia and 2 fractures in his left ankle had the presence of mind to dive instead of slide for the first down and had thereby secured the win. I’ll probably watch that a few more times before I delete the game off my DVR. I will add that it’s nice to actually want to review something from the game before deleting it permanently. Obviously, immediately after the last 2 games, I deleted the recording without a second thought.
Adrian Peterson was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter. He had been accumulating yards at an impressive clip, both rushing and receiving, prior to his injury. More to come tomorrow after additional tests are run. We also lost Ray Edwards to an ankle injury later in the game. Luckily, the defensive back/linemen is one area of the roster that is not light. Naturally, I’m hoping for good news on both players.
Toby Gerhart, enjoying increased exposure due to Peterson’s injury, was disappointing early in the game – to the point where I tweeted that he was officially the bust of the 2010 draft. However, Toby steadily improved throughout the game and I may have been premature in my assessment. Perhaps he just needs more time to get up to speed.
The offense today was more than serviceable and took care of the ball. We had 0 turnovers and kept most drives alive long enough to eat up some clock. The long throw that was incomplete to Shiancoe on 3rd and 5, after the previous throw to Rice was far too long, was one play I disagreed with during the game. We should have found a way to convert that 3rd down that was less risky with a higher success rate to keep driving down the field. Generally, Darrell Bevell did well with his play calling today. It was nice to see his work on display and you could definitely tell that Childress had previously reined him in during the games.
The Vikings’ defense was atrocious during most of the game. If I were Leslie Frazier, I’d sit the starters on the front line and give the second and third stringers a chance to get game experience. We couldn’t stop the run, we couldn’t stop the pass and we couldn’t pressure the quarterback. I’d like to see a mass overhaul of the defense in the off-season. We need 95% of the secondary replaced (keep Antoine Winfield and start over with the rest). Keep the “3″ of the 4-3 defense and completely retool the front 4.
The special teams were the worst we’ve seen this year. Thank Odin for the illegal block to the back on the Redskins that brought back their punt return TD. Our tackling was pathetic. As I mentioned above, Brian Murphy should be queried extensively as to how a previously top-notch special teams unit could have deteriorated so quickly during this season. Frazier should hold him accountable for the terrible performance both today and during the previous 2 games.
If you’ve read this far, you may get the impression that we lost today from my commentary. We, in fact, won. And it was a solid win against a pretty decent team. We still, however, are not playing the type of football you’d expect out of the 2nd most expensive roster in the league. Nevertheless, the guys played together, they celebrated the first win for their new coach by dumping Gatorade on him and Favre gave the game ball to Frazier. Frazier, in turn, said during his presser that the ownership, the team and the fans deserved the game ball. It was Vikings Valhalla on earth.
When Leslie Frazier was introduced as the Interim Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings last Monday, he said he wanted to put together a game plan and an effort that would make Minnesotans proud. As a Minnesotan who was not embarrassed today, I say to him: Well done, Mr. Frazier.
PS – when did you EVER hear Brad Childress say ANYTHING about the fans and his desire to produce a good product for them? I’ll help you: NEVER. I’m liking Leslie Frazier already.