I’m just going to jump right in this week. That’s right… no fancy preamble. No comical lead in. No extra words to preface my upcoming remarks… but I digress!
I didn’t pick the Vikings to win today. Donovan McNabb is still our quarterback and Leslie Frazier is still our coach and Bill Musgrave is still coordinating the offense. Ergo, it didn’t take much critical thought to conclude that the Vikings would be who we thought they were.
And then they won. The difference today was Fred Pagac‘s defense: 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles and 4 sacks.
I’m not inferring that we shouldn’t feel happy about this win. Although I’m not happy as this, in Frazier’s mind, will reset the “Bench McNabb” clock and he will allow a QB that can’t throw to continue losing games for us by being unable to convert 3rd downs due to a lack of a passing game.
Still feeling good about today’s game? Let’s look at some stats to see if I can’t bring you back to reality.
Last week, McNabb threw for 202 yards against the Chiefs. This week he threw 169 yards against the Cardinals.
Last week he completed 18/30 with 2 TDs and 1 INT. This week, he was 10/21 with 0 TDs and 0 INTs.
That’s right Vikings Nation: our passing game is WORSE, not better.
And how ’bout that highlight of Percy standing in the end zone, wide open, while McNabb threw to Jenkins for 5 yards? That’s the best illustration of how bloody inept McNabb is that I’ve seen.
Today’s win was due to our defense making big plays deep in the Cardinals’ territory and good field position post-punt. From there it was All-Day, well, basically all day.
We had a great first quarter. In fact, we essentially front loaded our typical good first half into the first quarter and then held on for dear life the rest of the game. We didn’t score at all during the 2nd quarter. And we had 1 field goal in the 3rd quarter and another in the 4th quarter. That’s right Vikings Nation: we are the same team we’ve been all year. Nothing has changed, other than we played a team that had a QB who was not taking care of the ball and a group of guys who couldn’t pull it together the way the Chargers, Bucs, Lions and Chiefs did.
In short: there is no cause for optimism because we won this game. If you were feeling awesome about the upcoming games until you read this, you have my sympathy but I will not apologize for taking this team to task over their performance.
Jared Allen and Brian Robison were quite beastly today. These guys make a tremendous pair of defensive ends. We should have let Ray Edwards go elsewhere sooner as we can consistently count on B-Rob to show up and care on a weekly basis. Also – I suspect we won’t see him launch himself into the air to perform an aerobatic helmet to helmet with Matt Stafford because he doesn’t play dirty.
Asher Allen. Yeah. I said it. Prior to the game I was tweeting and texting my disdain for Asher. And then what does he do? Makes a great play and doesn’t mess up the rest of the game. Huh. I didn’t see that coming, but I’ll take it. Imagine if his game becomes consistent and we have a healthy Antoine, Cedric, Cook and Allen available. Heck – we might actually get in the top 20 teams against the pass!
Jamarca Sanford. People – we had a SAFETY intercept passes TWICE today. I think I was eight the last time that happened. Ok – probably not. But it’s been a while. Jamarca gave it his all right until the end and that’s what we need from everyone on this team on a weekly basis.
Devin Aromashodu, leaping like a gazelle, to catch passes. Berrian was right where he belonged: out of uniform and sitting his lazy behind on a bench. Let’s hope the next item out of Winter Park looks like this: “Today, the Vikings announce that they’ve released Bernard Berrian…” Let’s all pick up the red phone and get Odin on the horn to make that happen.
The Percy Harvin/Lorenzo Booker reverse play was working for me. I hope we see that again. I would have liked to have seen Percy get the ball more today. I don’t understand why we use the 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year as a blocker more than the targeted receiver. Sure – he’s out there blocking like a crazy person – but c’mon – the kid has wheels. Let’s use ‘em.
Last, but definitely not least, Adrian Peterson. He had a great game – and a nice presser post-game as well. Adrian and I have had a complicated relationship over the years, marked by my cursing him from my hospital bed on Dec 28, 2009 when he fumbled in OT against the Bears, costing us home field advantage. The nurses weren’t too excited by my yelling and cursing. But, he’s worked hard to get back in my good graces by curing his fumbling problems… What? You didn’t know that was for me? Well, it was. Let’s move on. AD was dragging defenders by the dozen (or twos) and bowling people over in his quest to rack up 3 rushing TDs in the first quarter alone. Congrats to him on setting a team record to boot.
Vikings receivers are perfecting the “Plank and Catch” technique, favored by no one in the NFL. Don’t know what I mean by that?
A receiver should be upright (the majority of the time) when catching the ball. With McNabb at the helm, the Vikings spend most of their time in a horizontal pose – “planking” if you will – attempting to catch the ball before it can skip across the grass. Of course many times they just end up planking sans catch because McNabb not only has no zip to his balls, he chronically under-throws them as well.
Ok. I joke about Cris Carter – but seriously – McNabb can’t throw! Until, all of a sudden, he actually hits a receiver in stride. But he does not do it enough to matter.
The Vikings convert 35% of their 3rd downs. By comparison, the Saints convert 59% of their 3rd downs. The Vikings are 23rd in Yards Per Game. We have the 5th most penalties and the 6th most penalty yards. We are inefficient and we’re undisciplined. And nothing has changed about that with this win. In fact, we only converted 30% of our 3rd downs today.
With this coaching staff and Donovan McNabb at the QB position, we will lose again the next time we go up against a team with some fight in them. I’m sorry to say that about a team that I love, but it’s the truth – based on statistics & facts, not emotion.
Frazier finally displayed a little bit of bite by benching Berrian for the game. If he does what needs to be done with McNabb, I might embrace some hope for the season. If not, I will continue to view the Purple & Gold with a skeptical eye.
Skol my Vikings brothers & sisters.