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Sep 07

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Week One: Vikings vs Rams

I’m going to start today’s game commentary a little backwards. If you haven’t already done so, head over to www.vikings.com and check out the Full Highlights video in the video archive. The entirety of the highlight video is the Vikings. The VIKINGS! When was the last time we saw that? 2009?

Coach Zimmer got the game ball awarded to him by Zygi Wilf. I think that’s fitting. It’s been a long time since the Vikings have won on the road, it was Zimmer’s first win as an NFL Head Coach and it’s clear that Zimmer has had a positive effect on the Vikings defense, which looked proficient and maybe even really good today. Quite a turn-around over the travesty of a defense we had in 2013.

There was a lot to love about today’s game. There were quite a few things to dislike, too. Let’s break it down.

The Great

Cordarrelle Patterson runs 67 yards for a TD

Cordarrelle Patterson runs 67 yards for a TD

Cordarrelle Patterson. Whether he’s receiving a kick, catching a pass or rushing down the field, he definitely makes an impact.

During today’s game he had 3 rushing attempts for 102 yards, 3 receptions for 26 yards and 2 kick off returns, with a 29 yard return being the longest effort.

Last season, Patterson had a total of 158 yards rushing. In this new Norv Turner offense, it looks like he could easily double, triple, quadruple… you get the idea.

The question I’m left with is… what does this mean for Adrian Peterson’s production? Time will tell.

Coach Zimmer gives the distinct impression that he's engaged, involved and constantly assessing the team's performance.

Coach Zimmer gives the distinct impression that he’s engaged, involved and constantly assessing the team’s performance.

The Good

I have to start this section with my appreciation for Coach Zimmer’s absolute candor during the post-game presser. If you haven’t watched his press conferences in the past, I would highly recommend you start watching him after the game. He’s brutally honest, direct and, in my humble opinion, quite charming as he takes his team to task for those things that didn’t meet his expectations. It’s so refreshing to have a coach who’s willing to state things as they are; especially after having had 2 coaches in a row who excelled at moving their lips a lot without ever saying anything of import.

Enough about the new coach – about whom I’m feeling oddly positive – let’s talk about the team.

The DEFENSE. That’s right my Vikings brethren… we appear to have an actual defense that takes the field and actually plays 60 minutes of football. I’m trying to stay objective, waiting for additional data points as the season continues, but I can’t quite kill the feeling of glee that wants to escape my person as I think about the Vikings not having one of the worst defenses in the league. Now, I know that bar is set low… but just imagine! Wait – we don’t have to imagine, because…

Josh Robinson had a stellar interception during today’s game, demonstrating great awareness as he touched both feet down in bounds as he secured the ball. That was a great interception… but not the best of the day!

How ’bout that Harrison Smith, flying across the field and picking off a pass with perfect form. That would have been fantastic if that’s where it ended… but that’s not where it ended. Not only did he pick off that pass, but he also took it to the house and every Viking fan rejoiced as a Pick Six was successfully executed during a REGULAR season game.

Let’s take a quick break here so that those of you who have been following me over the last 4 years can unfurrow your brow as you try to comprehend how it could possibly be that you’re reading so much positivity from me. It’s ok – I’m sure I’ll be mega-disappointed soon and things can get back to the snarky normal… but for now, just remember that I can, in fact, be positive about the Vikings.

More good things….

Greg Jennings scored a beautiful TD, getting both feet down just inside the field of play.

Greg Jennings scored a beautiful TD, getting both feet down just inside the field of play.

Greg Jennings had 6 receptions for 58 yards and he and Cassel seem to have found a groove. Jennings also logged his first receiving TD of the season. I’m sure there are many more in his future.

Kyle Rudolph had a receiving TD – which ain’t too shabby when you consider he had 2 total receptions.

Robert Blanton had 7 tackles. Anthony Barr had 6 tackles and 1 assist. Everson Griffin had 2 sacks and the Vikings were able to tally up 5 total of those. Lastly, on the defense, Tom Johnson stripped the football away from Hill – but the Vikings weren’t able to capitalize on that, unfortunately.

The Bad

Ok. Now I’ll probably start sounding more like myself.

Plenty of bad things to comment on today. First, out of the gate, the offense was less than stellar. Lots of missed opportunities. Clear issues with snapping between Sullivan and Cassel. Even by the end of the game – and this is a concern – the offense only converted 27% of the 3rd down opportunities. I know the Patriots lost to the Dolphins today – but I can’t imagine that we’ll be able to log 2-0 if we don’t do a better job of converting 3rd downs.

The offense looked better as the game progressed, but I’m sure we all remember the last two seasons where the offense would either come out of the gate like a tiger and then wane or take forever to warm up and then finally start clicking – all with the result of lost games. I have zero desire to relive that frustration. Let’s hope Norv Turner and Mike Zimmer can get the offense to engage consistently.

Speaking of Norv Turner… am I the only one worried that he doesn’t have enough focus on Adrian Peterson? Adrian had 21 rushing attempts today, but was only able to rack up 75 yards rushing. Clearly not the performance we expect to see out of AD. I hope Adrian doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

In other unexpected events… Greenway logged only 2 tackles, which seems really low given his long-running standard of having the most tackles on the team over the last few seasons. In other silent performances, where was Brian Robison?

The Ugly

The Vikings racked up 7 penalties for 60 yards. Granted, they weren’t as terrible as the Rams (who had 13 penalties for 121 yards), but still… just the false starts alone were disheartening. Zimmer was very firm during the post-game presser – he wants those cleaned up. And for the first time in a LONG time I think we actually have a coach that can clean that lack of discipline up.

Well. That’s it Vikings fans. The team won. ON THE ROAD. Let’s celebrate! I’ll just end this first game review of the season with the following observation: it feels 9 different kinds of fantastic to not have to complain about coaching in “The Bad” and/or “The Ugly” sections. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have coaching in those sections so that (finally) is something to celebrate. Skol!

 

 

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