Going into the game today, I was hoping for a divisional win. Frazier’s divisional record to date has been pathetic. And by “pathetic” I mean he had never been able to secure a win against a divisional rival as the head coach of the Vikings organization. Naturally, this is one of the reasons I do not believe him to be a good coach. A point of curiosity: this is the 1st road win for the Vikings against a divisional rival since the Vikings played the Packers at Lambeau on November 1st, 2009. We all know that we technically won at Lambeau in 2010, too, but we’re classy (unlike the Packer fans) so we don’t cry about it. And we surely don’t make t-shirts about it!
The Vikings came out with a win but I don’t believe that Vikings Nation should be overly enthusiastic about it. Read on and I’ll tell you why.
The game started out promising enough. Percy Harvin in the end zone, waiting to receive a kick and then, somewhere around the 35 yard line, you knew he was going to take it all the way. Fantastic! Later in the game, Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a TD, too! Which was also fantastic and put the Vikings in the NFL history books as the only team to ever have both a punt return TD and a kick off return TD in 3 games. It also put the Lions in the NFL record books as the only team to give up both a kick off return and a punt return TD in consecutive games. I like the Vikings’ record better. But I digress.
Now that I’ve covered the 2 TDs the Vikings scored during the game… Yeah. This is where the problem lies. The Vikings offense continues to struggle when it comes to scoring TDs. Field goal? No problem. Although, one field goal was a problem today. The 46 yarder that Walsh wasn’t able to hit. But aside from that, the team can put 3 points on the board repeatedly. The problem? You cannot win games against a strong team with field goals. Kick off and punt returns for TDs are rare. You can’t put a game plan together with that as your strategy. So what are the Vikings going to do?
It all comes down to coaching and I think it was apparent to everyone watching the offense trying to put points on the board today, Frazier, once again, did not do an adequate job of preparing and game planning for this team. Without the 2 big gives on special teams, the Vikings would have lost this game 13-6. And. There. Is. Your. Dagger!
Percy in the shot gun with Ponder lined up like a sprig of parsley… pretty but functionless. Now, I love Percy as much as any Vikings fan does. But lining him up like that… I didn’t get it. Maybe I don’t have a great football mind, but he seems far more effective in a reverse or an end-around. Heck, he looked great as a tailback today. Why the shotgun, Musgrave? Explain it to me. Ponder’s out there – basically doing nothing, so, in my opinion, it’s a waste of an offensive spot. No one thought Percy was going to pitch the ball to him, for example. If Musgrave wants to get tricky, use Webb as a tailback or fake a field goal. There’s no need for a weird play just to be different. Make it count!
Where was Kyle Rudolph today? 2 receptions for 8 yards? This, after a 2 TD game last week? I need that explained to me, too, Musgrave.
Percy Harvin. He’s just generally awesome. Kick off return of 105 yards for a TD? No problem. Musgrave needs to find a way to get Percy more opportunities to score.
Marcus Sherels shows a great spark on the kick return game, thanks in large part to the Lions’ terrible special teams. He shook off a tackle though and had a full fleet of Vikings escorting him safely down the sidelines to score.
Mike Priefer apparently had a chat with his special teams members. And, in the good news department, they acted upon it.
Adrian Peterson had his first 100+ yard rushing game of the season. He ran, he juked, he twisted, he turned. His leg held up. I’m sure he spent time in the cold tub, and likely will tomorrow, but he’s making his way back to his previous self – both physically and mentally. I was worried that he would never be the same mentally after his surgery. I guess that time was a wasted endeavor.
Everson Griffen had 2 sacks on the day and was justifiably fired up about it. Letroy Guion also had 2 sacks. In the neutral zone – Jared Allen only had one.
Christian Ponder’s QB rating is down to under 100. He only completed 61.5% of his passes today. He looked indecisive at times and disconcerted in others. In the good news department, Christian Ponder is the only QB in the NFL without an interception. Many thanks to the several DBs who have dropped errant passes that likely should have been intercepted.
Jerome Simpson’s big debut was anti-climactic. 4 receptions for 50 yards. No TDs - but a shoulder wiggle celebration after each catch. Hey, Jerome, catching is your job! Unless you’re catching while riding a unicorn or scoring a TD after doing a flip, save the celebrations for the times when you’ve done something special.
Chad Greenway. He had one really good week and today he was busy missing tackles or, even better, getting personal fouls. Clearly he did not try to pull up on the hit he applied to Calvin Johnson – but he pretended innocence on the field. Chad, please leave that kind of posing to the Packers. Next time, divert your hit or own it. Either way, he’ll likely get fined this week.
Harrison Smith missed 2 INTs; however, he also made some solid plays. His performance would be enhanced if he could actually grab some of those passes out of the air.
Game preparation. Once again, Leslie Frazier didn’t prepare the offense to score and who could tell if the defense was prepared since the Lions’ WRs and TEs seemed very determined to not catch balls today.
Offensive scheme. The Vikings only posted 227 yards against a defense that typically allows 315 yards per game. Musgrave needs to step up or get out. I think we all know that I’m in favor of the latter.
With that, my Vikings brethren, I will leave you to Ponder whether or not the Vikings will be able to take their winning-streak to 3 against the Titans during the upcoming weekend.
What are your thoughts on the game?