Sep 10

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Vikings vs Jaguars: Terror on the Field

You may recall that I was feeling hopeful after pre-season game 2 but terrified after pre-season game 3. During Sunday’s Vikings game, we saw both of the teams we saw during pre-season. The first half was full of the lacklustre play we saw 2 weeks ago and then, during the 2nd half, the Vikings improved (dare we say that they actually made half-time adjustments?) right up until Cook got burned (not for the first time) on a deep ball from Gabbert to Shorts for the go-ahead TD in the last minutes of the game. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The star of the first half, unfortunately, was Chris Kluwe. It’s never a good thing when your punter is making an appearance on the field series after series. It’s a good thing we have a solid punter with as much time as he was spending on the field. Missing this week was his Gangnam Style Celebration. Bring it back, Chris!

Let’s look at some of the stats that concern me. Third down efficiency in this game for the Vikings: 20%. That’s totally unacceptable. You’re not going to win too many games if you can’t convert 3rd downs. Worse, the Jaguars converted 50% of their 4th downs. It’s critical to stop teams when they go for it on 4th down – you cannot let teams convert 50% of their attempts and win a lot of games. The Vikings offense and defense need to clean these stats up. Another concerning stat: Time of Possession. The Jags had the ball 10 minutes and 44 seconds longer than the Vikings. To put that in perspective: the Vikings had possession of the ball for 10:44 during the entire 1st half! That’s ridiculous, but it’s directly related to the team’s inability to convert 3rd downs to prolong drives.

Adrian Peterson’s Return: Triumphant!

The Great

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the impressive return of Adrian Peterson. He said he would play in the first game of the season, and play he did. It was no token start. He rushed for 84 yards and scored both of the touchdowns the Vikings put on the board during the game. As icing on the cake, All-Day is now the all-time rushing leader in the history of the Vikings. With his first TD of the day, Peterson broke Robert Smith’s record. AD now holds both the all-time rushing and all-time rushing TD records for the Vikings. Without a doubt, he will go down as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL. I didn’t agree with Frazier’s decision to start Peterson initially, and I still have angst about it during what will, undoubtably, not be even a play-off bound season; however, for Adrian’s confidence and for the good of the team, it’s a good thing. Not to be all Martha Stewart about it.


The Good

Chad Greenway celebrates breaking up a pass in the 4th quarter.

Percy Harvin. Percy was 7th in the league last year in receptions. Still, he wasn’t happy with the way Musgrave was using him in the offense (and neither was I, as you might remember). Percy made his point in the off-season and Musgrave relented – so we saw Percy in the slot, down the sideline, lined up as a tailback and returning kick offs on Sunday. As I tweeted yesterday: Percy Harvin is the answer to our woes. Keep him on the field and target him often. Chad Greenway had some significant tackles during the game. In many cases it felt like he was our last line of defense after the front 4 failed to stop the run. He had 9 solo tackles and 4 assists on the day. One has to wonder if having Audie Cole on the 53 man roster is a little extra motivation for Greenway to hop in front of passes like he did in Sunday’s game. We hadn’t seen that from him since the 2009 season.

In other “good news”, we have a tremendous new place kicker, without whom we’d be at the bottom of the NFC North (with the Packers!). We also have a spectacular punter (both on and off the field, if I do say so myself). Blair Walsh may be the leading scorer on the team if we keep getting field goals instead of touch downs. Hopefully next week we can celebrate a passing touchdown (not that I begrudge Adrian his 2 rushing TDs).

The Bad

Rotating Jared Allen in and out of the defensive front 4. Stop it, Williams! Jared doesn’t like it (per a post-game interview) and neither do we. Jared is fired up to break the single season sack record he almost shattered last season. He needs to be on the field to do that. Leave him on the field, man! Letroy Guion and his slip-n-slide maneuver when Gabbert was already on the ground, costing the Vikings the sack and 15 yards. Totally idiotic.

Intensity. Urgency. The team lacked both of these early in the game. Ponder rightly took responsibility for this in his post game presser, at least as it pertains to the offense. He needs to be ready to go from the first play of the game.

The Ugly

The Vikings are the proud owners of the longest streak in the NFL (33 consecutive games) with an allowed sack. C’mon o-line! You guys need to step up and protect the QB! Charlie Johnson and our first round draft pick at left tackle better step up on the blind side and Phil Loadholt should put as much effort into being a superior right tackle as he did skipping down the sideline after Sunday’s win.

Coaching. You’ve heard me say it before and I’m going to say it again. The team rallied yesterday to win despite the coaching staff, starting with Frazier. Given their lack of intensity hitting the field during the home opener, the fact that Frazier cannot motivate this team continues to be apparent. It’s by luck and some OT-inspired passion that the Vikings came out with a win. We need a new head coach. If the team continues to find a way to win, Frazier’s tenure will be artificially buoyed. For those of us lucky enough to be around when Bud Grant was the head coach, we know that Bud Grant would never have tolerated the weak offensive display of the 1st half. The Wilfs should be looking around for Frazier’s eventual replacement.

Based on Sunday’s performance, how are you feeling about next week’s game?



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