Sep 22

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Week Three: Vikings vs Saints

If I’m honest (and I always am), I fully expected the Vikings to lose today. The running game cannot be the same when the former face-of-the-franchise star RB is rightly no longer available to the team. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are not going to replace the league’s best running back. Norv Turner had a whole week to find a different approach on offense – and he didn’t do it. He still lightly targeted Cordarrelle Patterson and tried running Asiata up the gut as though he might be of the same caliber as our former starting RB. Hey Norv – Asiata is not that guy!

I was not happy with the Vikings on multiple levels today. Let’s break it down.

The Good:

Blair Walsh is a constant positive on the Vikings bench.

Blair Walsh is a constant positive on the Vikings bench.

In the good category once again this week, is Coach Mike Zimmer’s press conference. I absolutely adore his post-game candor. He’s blunt and honest and I appreciate his approach. Where I work, we have something called an “Accountability Ladder”. At the top, you have someone who owns their performance 100%. My observation is that Coach Zimmer spends his day there, holding both himself and other accountable for their actions and performance.

I would also characterize Zimmer’s ability to adjust on defense today as good. I was actually very excited to see this. It’s unfortunate that it took until the 3rd Saints offensive drive to see the results because, by that time, they’d already scored.

Also good today was the adjusted defense’s ability to keep the Saints to 20 points. The announcer said it had been several seasons since the Saints didn’t score at least 21 points in that Odin-awful dome. Greg Jennings caught 5 passes for 70 yards. But he dropped some balls, too. We should all send our undying love and affection Blair Walsh’s way for posting all 9 points the Vikings managed to get on the board.

Teddy Bridgewater looked fairly decent on the field after Cassel had “several bones in his foot” broken; however, I’m sure we can all agree that Teddy getting his first NFL experience under duress is not ideal. To give him credit, though, he did look poised.

I really wish there were more good things to highlight from this game, but as it stands, I think that’s about it. I would dearly love for the Vikings to get their collective head on straight so that they can go into this week’s game with clear minds and maniacal focus on securing a win. Against the Falcons. Who are on a roll. But let’s forget that for now and pretend there’s no conceivable way the Vikings could look as bad as the Bucs did against the Falcons. (Odin hear my prayer)

The Bad:

Cassel: down for the count.

Cassel: down for the count.

Let’s just start a list.

  • Out of the gate, the defense looked horrible. To Zimmer’s credit, they were eventually able to adjust and hold the Saints back.
  • Cassel’s out indefinitely. I’m not sure that’s necessarily bad, but having several bones broken in your foot isn’t good and I, for one, hope he heals quickly.
  • Greenway was out early – not because of his broken and in-a-cast hand, but rather due to a broken rib.
  • Kyle Rudolph went down – with a “groin” according to initial reports. Now, of course, we find out it’s a hernia that will require surgery and our outstanding TE will “try” to join the team for the last 8 games of the season.
  • Josh Robinson strained a hamstring, leaving us weak at corner.
  • Fusco was injured, too.
  • … so all in one game we lost our QB, our mike, our Pro Bowl TE, a starting OT and our 2nd best LB? And the Saints still didn’t blow us out. Maybe I should put this line up under “The Good.”
  • Sharrif Floyd had a sub-par performance; Coach Zimmer blamed himself for returning him to play too soon after not getting enough reps during the week.
  • When your coach says, “We’re average – on defense, we’re average” that’s never good. Super honest – but a true indictment of the defense’s overall efforts.

The Ugly:

Kalil isn't holding up his end of the bargain.Matt Kalil’s performance was atrocious. And that’s through 3 games this season. Yesterday’s effort was so bad that Coach Zimmer had to address it during a press conference today. Zimmer says he allows one play to affect a second play.

The Vikings now have no running game. Asiata, McKinnon and Joe Banyard are not going to fill the void that’s now a day to day reality for the Vikings. With no running game, we have nothing to take the heat off the passing game. Bridgewater seems elusive in the backfield, but he’s green and that’s an awful lot of pressure to put him under as he tries to acclimate.

Other ugly things:

  • Total Net Rushing Yards: 59
  • 5 penalties for 44 yards. I know that could be worse, but let’s all agree that the Captain didn’t need to drive Brees into the turf like that. We all know the Saints try to hurt QBs. We don’t need to join them in their lack of sportsmanship.
  • The Saints are just generally ugly. I’ve hated that team with a passion since January of 2010. I will never like them and it drives me nuts that we cannot beat them and put that team in its place. Ugh!
  • Red Zone Efficiency: 0/2 – 0%
  • Goal To Goal Efficiency: 0/1 – 0%
  • Interceptions: 0
  • Forced Fumbles: 0

In summation: if the Vikings are going to start winning some games, they have to improve the running game, give Teddy some space to throw, the defense has to storm out of the gate and we need to see some hard, physical play out of the defense – they need to be aggressive and force turnovers. This offense can’t do it alone after having been decimated by injury. The next man up has to rise to the occasion, or else the Vikings will be looking at another year of great positions… on the draft board.

Until next week, my Vikings friends, Skol!




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