Category Archive: Minnesota Vikings

Sep 14

Week Two: Vikings vs Patriots


The Vikings looked great on the opening drive today. Matt Asiata didn’t quite break free on his runs, but eventually he found the end zone.

And that, my friends, would be the highlight of the game. For Vikings fans, anyway. The truth of the matter is that you’re not going to stand a chance of winning a game when your QB’s passer rating is 39.1.  The harsh reality is that 4 interceptions are going to lose you the game. Now that we’ve all returned to earth from our trip into the stratosphere of excitement after the Vikings stomped the Rams, we must acknowledge that beating the Rams last week is probably going to be an anomaly. Especially if the NFL rightly suspends Adrian Peterson and Matt Cassel remains our starting quarterback.

Coach Zimmer is constantly assessing.

Coach Zimmer is constantly assessing.

The Good:

Since I am hard-pressed to find anything good about today, here are some funny quotes from Cassel’s presser.

“We… I… I can’t turn the ball over.”  (Captain Obvious in the house!)

“I thought the safety did a good job getting over to that ball.” (On the Patriots’ safety Devin McCourty)

“I have to do a better job. And I will.” (Should we ask the Chiefs fans about that?)

“After that first drive, we never got back into rhythm.”

I’d highlight Zimmer’s press conference as “good”, too. Per his usual approach, he was quite candid. He started by shutting down any talk about Adrian Peterson and the blight he has brought down upon the team. My favorite quote, “You know what affected the team? Throwing interceptions, getting a field goal blocked, not tackling well enough and having penalties on defense. That’s what affected the team.”

By Odin, I really like this guy. Another zinger when asked about bringing in Bridgewater… “I hold the quarterback position to the same level of expectation as any other position. Matt needs to play better, it’s pretty obvious… we all need to play better. And I need to coach better.”

“It’s a team game and we all have to step it up.” Praise Odin, Zimmer. Thank you for your candor.

Offensive mastermind?

Offensive mastermind?

The Bad:

Cordarrelle Patterson had just 4 receptions and zero rushing attempts. With his performance in 2013 and his performance in the season opener, how the heck could Norv Turner completely ignore him in the game plan for today. Understood that Turner was likely planning for Peterson’s presence. Why not try a few end-arounds with Patterson instead of expecting Matt Asiata, who is a serviceable running back, to try to replace the “star” RB? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Speaking of game planning… why can the Vikings never seem to adjust as other teams do? If Belichick is over on the other sideline, adjusting away, why isn’t the Vikings coaching staff doing the same? These are the days I really miss Bud Grant. I’ll just say this… I am so far not overly impressed with Norv Turner. I know people think he’s an offensive mastermind… but I’m just not seeing it yet.

Other bad things…

Dropped passes by Rudolph and Jennings. 19 total rushing plays. 2 fewer rushing plays than Peterson had all by himself last week.

Penalties – 7 for 58 yards. Total return yardage – 11 (Patriots had 126). Tackling fundamentals appeared to go out the window and the team displayed a general lack of urgency and no heart. No heart! The whole outing was completely uninspired and an absolutely unmitigated disaster.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The Ugly:

4 Interceptions by a quarterback who could not mentally recover after the first one. Cassel displays a general lack of intestinal fortitude when the chips are down. He fumbled, too.

Brian Robison had one tackle today. Add that to the 2 from last week, he’s got 3 on the season. He’s a very good defensive end. Where is he???

The defense was able to manage ONE whole sack today. Where was the defense from last week? Where was the blitzing? Where was the pressure? Brady could have made flapjacks on a griddle back there – he had that much time to find a receiver! “Order UP!” <ding>

Blocked field goal. I’ll repeat that. BLOCKED FIELD GOAL. Nice job, Special Teams.

Oh, there are probably 900 other terrible, ugly and atrocious things I could call out that happened during today’s game. If I had more energy, I might even talk about 3rd down efficiency. Or maybe I’d mention that the Patriots had almost 3 times as many rushing yards on us as we did on them. Anyone concerned those Patriots racked up 150 rushing yards today? I think that’s disturbing.

So much ugly in one game. It’s amazing how this team in particular has the ability to take us on an emotional roller-coaster every season. It’s not a ride I’m currently enjoying. Now, I’m not going to do anything stupid – like trade my beautiful purple secondary color to pair with gold for a truly butt-ugly green secondary color to pair with what Packer fans pretend is gold (hello mustard yellow!). But I was really hoping a complete coaching change would bring about some consistency in performance from our team.

It’d be easy to blame Peterson and the ugliness he has brought to the team for this loss; however, I think all the current situation has done is highlight the fact that the Vikings are not mentally resilient and they have a number of flaws that need to be addressed as quickly as possible.

That’s it for today, Vikings Nation. I’ll leave you with a Skol and let’s see what next week brings.

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/09/week-two-vikings-vs-patriots/

Sep 07

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!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/09/week-one-vikings-vs-rams/

Oct 27

Week Eight: Vikings vs Packers


I’m just going to jump right into my usual assessment.

The Good

  • Cordarrelle Patterson’s 109 yard kick off return for a TD
  • An Adrian Peterson rushing TD
  • Toby Gerhardt’s rumbling rushing TD in which he ran over Greg Jennings (that latter part wasn’t good but Greg laughed)
  • Minneapolis looked GREAT in the aerial shots
  • Did I mention that Minneapolis looked really pretty from the air?

The Bad

  • Cris Collingsworth having a microphone broadcasting his irritating commentary
  • Packers driving up the score just because they could; but hey – why not? If the Vikings can’t stop them then they deserved to be scored on.

The Ugly

  • Everything else. Literally.
  • Ponder was as terrible as he’s always been.
  • The o-line continues to do basically nothing.
  • The defense is inept, with no ability to make game-changing plays whatsoever.
  • Jeff Locke is a bust.
  • Coaching. The entire coaching staff. All of them.

The Packers scored the most points they ever have in the Dome. Aaron Rodgers has nearly perfect stats against the Vikings. The SNF crew was chock-full of horrible statistics showing just how much the Vikings have sucked under Frazier.

I don’t know what else to say other than the Vikings will take the field next Sunday once again, likely headed for another loss. The good news is that the game isn’t on prime-time. We won’t be embarrassed on the national stage again until Thursday, November 7th.

Let me end this with a poll. What do you think the real problem is with the Vikings?

 

 

See you next week.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2013/10/week-eight-vikings-vs-packers/

Aug 29

Preseason Game 4: Vikings vs Titans


Preseason Game 4. It’s the game we all dread, but watch or attend anyway. None of the starters are on the field; it’s essentially 3 hours of 2nd string or unproven talent desperately trying to make one last case for a spot on the 53-man roster. It’s rare to see truly stunning play, although thoughts of Audie Cole’s INTs and pick-6 last year run through my mind. I started this game with the hope of seeing something along those lines. I got a terrific 109 kick off return by Marcus Sherels. That’ll work!

Things I Liked:

  • Cassel to Rodney Smith in the waning moments of the 1st quarter. Yes, we had a pass of 28 yards!
  • Cassel to John Carlson over the middle for good yardage and YAC.
  • Matt Asiata producing a TD at the start of the 2nd quarter and showing good running instincts during the game.
  • Joe Banyard had some solid plays in the 2nd quarter, including the screen from McLeod John Balthazar Bethel-Thompson resulting in a TD.
  • Marcus Sherels: 109 yard kick-off return TD.
  • Marcus Sherels with an INT in the 3rd quarter.
  • A fumble recovery to end the game.

Things That Bothered Me:

  • A continued emphasis on short passes in the flat for minimal or no yardage. For Odin’s sake, Musgrave – can we just stop? Air it out, man. At some point we have to develop a passing game that worries SOMEONE.
  • The Titans were able to convert 3rd down after 3rd down after…
  • Lack of effort on the Titan’s TD in the 2nd quarter; slow play by the safeties and no real effort to break up the play.
  • Paul Allen calling Marcus Sherels’ smile “pretty”. I remain creeped out.
  • Free & loose on protecting the ball (goal-line fumble anyone?).
  • Blair Walsh missing a 42 yard field goal. What happened to our Leg-a-tron? Is Locke going to be his downfall?

Things I Hated:

  • Seth Olsen’s injury in the 2nd quarter. Neck injuries are terrifying.
  • Still no improvement in tackling fundamentals

So that’s it. Next up: regular season. Are the Vikings ready? My sense is they’re not quite ready for prime time. But I hope they surprise me.

Based on what you’ve seen during preseason play, predict the Vikings’ 2013 regular season record:

 

 

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Aug 25

Preseason Game 3: Vikings vs 49s


The Vikings took the field without much fanfare and less finesse. If Twitter’s any indication, Ponder’s going to be in for a rough time from the fans as long as he’s starting. It appears that the off-season didn’t do Ponder any favors when it comes mechanics and instinct. Not that I thought it would. I’ve never been much of a Ponder fan (which probably hasn’t gone unnoticed if you’ve been reading my blog for a while).

What I Liked:

  • 1st defensive series with a short field: 3 & out for the Niners
  • Chad Greenway’s INT in the 2nd quarter
  • The incredible 1 yard TD between Ponder & Zach Line in the 2nd quarter (yeah… I’m exaggerating – but any time Ponder scores a passing TD I feel we should all look on with surprise. I mean enthusiasm.)
  • Greg Jennings drawing PI and catching passes in purple & gold (because that has to piss off Packer fans)
  • Joe Webb’s TD catch. Ran a good route and pulled the ball in. Well done.
  • Mauti looks like a solid pick.

What Bothered Me:

  • Adrian Peterson on the field. Why???
  • Ponder on the field. Why??? (This is somewhat sarcastic – but seriously – just put Cassel in already & let’s move on)
  • Frazier in a starring role as coach. Still???
  • Matt Kalil’s antics on the field
  • Ponder’s lack of time awareness
  • San Francisco fans running onto the field. Please… why drag out my agony with your antics?
  • A lack of discipline. Boy – hasn’t THAT been a constant theme on the Frazier-led Vikings squads?

What I Hated:

  • 1st offensive series: 3 & out with a Ponder fumble
  • 2nd offensive series: 3 & out with a punt by a punter who isn’t Chris Kluwe
  • Tackling fundamentals. Our tackling sucks as much now as it has in the last 2 seasons.
  • The Vikings 1st string offense struggled against the 2nd and 3rd stringers on the Niners. Pathetic!
  • Multiple fans running onto the field delayed the end of the game.

Well my Vikings brethren, that concludes the preseason Dress Rehearsal. Something tells me that we’re in for a lot of pain. I hope I’m wrong… but we have so many gaps, I don’t know how this can go well. Agree with me? Disagree? Leave me a comment or send me a tweet!

 

 

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Aug 09

Preseason Game 1: Vikings vs Texans


Welcome back, Vikings fans! As we head into the 2013 NFL season, I know we’re all asking ourselves the age old question… Will the Vikings suck this year?

Things I liked tonight:

  • Mike Mayock was nowhere to be found
  • Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are not a concern until later in the season
  • The Packers got shut out by the Cardinals at Lambeau
  • Ben Leber’s shirt
  • Mike Maunti’s plays in the goal-line stand
  • Blair Walsh

Things that concern me:

  • Christian Ponder and his 50% INT rate (yes, I know there were only 2 throws but… he looked in mid-2012 season form, not like he had a bunch of months off to practice).
  • Tackling fundamentals (for 3 years running now)
  • Coverage gaps – Spielman sounded blasé about the gaps, stating the players were getting “pulled off” by the constant switching of the offense’s direction. Why, yes, Rick. That’s what offenses (*good* ones) DO. Do you really want to be unconcerned by players being duped?
  • The absolute lack of effort by the Vikings at the end of the game. Yes. It’s preseason. But those guys are theoretically competing for roster spots and they ended flatter than a pancake. Meanwhile, the Texans kept playing aggressive and focused. I’m going to renew my efforts in calling for Frazier’s head if I see that crap in a regular season game. Let’s just frame it up this way: preseason game or not, Bud Grant would have NEVER allowed the team to stop trying.

Things I hate:

  • The Packers. I know that’s redundant because I’m a Vikings fan, but I wanted to make sure everyone knew where I stood with regard to the green and mustard.
  • This is seriously going to bother me: someone please explain to me WHY does the Vikings’ new helmet NOT match the new uniform???? Those helmets would have looked delightful with the previous uniform. They should be dark purple. Who approved that???

Next up for the Vikings: The Buffalo Bills. T-Jack won’t be there to greet his former team since Pete Carroll decided to give him another go in June. Pete’s so sweet… but I digress. The game starts at 6 PM CDT so make sure to tune in to see the first moderate action of the starters. Let’s hope that they look solid!

 

See you after next week’s game, Vikings brethren! Skol!

 

 

 

 

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Sep 23

Vikings vs 49ers: Shock and Awe on the Field


Ponder looked like a pro against the 49ers.

The expectation of nearly everyone prior to the game today was that the Vikings would have no chance against the 49ers.

In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen… Duh… Winning!

There was tiger blood on the field today as the Vikings started with a very strong first drive. It looked like it might stall in the red zone after 2 consecutive incompletions by Ponder. However, the Vikings managed to get to the 2 yard line on a great catch by Rudolph… and then another stall as Musgrave called 3 running plays up the middle in a row. He’s awesome, isn’t he? Run isn’t working up the middle? Let’s try it again! In a move I did not see coming, the Vikings went for it on 4th and goal and a Ponder to Rudolph connection put 6 points on the board for the Vikings. Wow. I did not anticipate any of our coaching staff actually having the guts to make a bold move. Of course, when you’re playing the team that everyone is talking about (hint: that’s not the Vikings), you either go big or go home.

The first half was a strong showing by the Vikings; however, the defense got progressively worse as the game neared half-time. Poor coverage in the secondary (of course) but also minimal pressure on the quarterback. Allen missed a sack, Randy Moss was wide open – it really looked like the 49ers were going to march right down the field for a touchdown just before the half. Instead, the Vikings D finally held AND Letroy Guion blocked a field goal. I know what you’re thinking – but I’m not even kidding. And then, the Vikings get the ball back, march it downfield and Walsh stuffs a 52 yard field goal. First placekicker in the Vikings’ history to have 3 consecutive games with 50+ yard field goals. So – the Vikings went into the locker room at half-time with a 17-3 lead.

Starting the 2nd half, a Blair Walsh kick off, 9 yards deep in the end zone, resulted in the 49ers returning it 94 yards, nearly for a TD. The Vikings’ D held the Niners to 3, miraculously enough. Unfortunately, the Vikings went 3 and out for their 1st offensive series of the 2nd half. Later in the 3rd, Walsh had another deep kick off that the 49ers again returned, this time for 50 yards. Special teams for the Vikings are decidedly unspecial. Toby Gerhart tried hard to give the game back to the 49ers 3 different times, and the refs gave Harbaugh more challenges and time outs than were legal under game rules. But despite ALL of that, the Vikings managed the biggest upset of the weekend. Kinda makes me wish I had picked them to win, but let’s all be honest: no non-homer Vikings fan thought that they were going to win today, and yet, win they did.

Greenway produced big today!

The Good

Chad Greenway. 8 tackles in the first half alone. He was all over the field. He ended the day with 10 solo tackles, 3 assists and 2 sacks. For those who’ve been saying he needs to earn his contract, I assume he salutes you.

Christian Ponder. He made a lot of good decisions today, not the least of which was his 23 yard run for a TD. He came out strong and stayed focused the entire game. He said during the post game presser that he had prepared differently for this game – as had the whole team. Well, whatever they did, it should be the weekly standard. He ended the day 21/35 for 198 yards and 2 TDs, no interceptions (although one could argue he should have had at least 1).

Adrian Peterson’s productivity may be down, but he’s testing his leg and not getting hurt as he gets back into a rhythm. On the post-game Fan Line show on KFAN, they pointed out that he wasn’t making good decisions about which way to run. I agree with that to an extent, but I think it’s partly still being afraid to really let loose on his leg. I think he needs a little time and he’ll be back.

Antoine Winfield. Not only is he a tremendous player for the Vikings but he also addressed the team this week and I credit him with their new-found sense of purpose.

Kyle Rudolph. That guy can catch anything apparently. 2 TDs on the day.

Toby and AD need to have a heart to heart about how to hang onto the ball.

The Bad

Charlie Johnson. What is that guy still doing on the roster? Watching him play, it’s beginning to make sense that Peyton Manning has a neck issue.

Toby Gerhart making Adrian Peterson look like he really knew how to hang onto the ball in 2009. Frazier and Musgrave made a HUGE error in continuing to give him carries when the on-going fumbles (and the horrid officiating) could have still impacted the game. The coaching staff needs to be willing to bench primary players when their focus isn’t there.

The Ugly

Chris Cook. He’s crappy both on and off the field. He needs to be benched – or, better yet, cut like I wanted him to be last year.

Special teams coverage on kick offs. What a bunch of inept buffoons! 94 yard return, 50 yard return. For Odin’s sake – put Audie Cole in there or someone equally as solid if these starters can’t stop a damn return on balls 9 yards deep in the end zone.

Half-time adjustments. The coaching staff decided to go ahead and demotivate the team back to their usual 50% level of effort entering into the 3rd quarter. Luckily, the team remembered the inspiration provided by Antoine Winfield earlier this week and re-engaged for the win. It’s worth noting that Frazier said in his post-game presser that the coaching staff didn’t prep enough for the Colts and they decided to really focus in on this game. Guess what, Les… you should be doing that EVERY week. You should have been doing it since the day Chilly was shown the door! Frazier, Musgrave and Williams – what we need is for them to be fired and for the little old lady from Poltergeist to come to Winter Park to say “This house is clean.”

I saved most of my ire this week for the replacement officials. I haven’t said much about them to date because I think they are trying very hard in a difficult situation; HOWEVER – to not be able to count the number of time outs a team has. To give a head coach 2 challenges to which he is NOT entitled is unforgivable. Even fans at home have that basic level of ability. Those officials could have really impacted this game and so now, after that kind of absolute ineptitude, I will now officially say: NFL, you need to settle with the real officials. Real officials, you need to get reasonable with your demands and find a way to get back onto the field. Enough is enough.

Skol Vikings Nation!

 

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Sep 11

Week One Picks Recap


My aspirations exceeded my performance in the Week 1 pick realm. Disappointing to say the least! At least to me.

Cowboys vs Giants: Giants 27, Cowboys 17.
Wrong. Romo didn’t choke and led the Cowpokies to a win against the Super Bowl champs. It’s been 12 or so years since a Super Bowl victor lost the first game of the season. Just my luck that Romo decided to have a good day.

Colts vs Bears: Bears 24, Colts 14.
Correct. The Bears indeed won this match up. Hopefully the Colts will be a little depressed about that still this weekend so the Vikings can go 2-0.

Eagles vs BrownsEagles 17, Browns 13.
Correct. Eagles over the Browns in Cleveland by 1 point.

Rams vs LionsLions 20, Rams 14.
Correct. The Honolulu clad NFC North up-n-comers secured a win at home.

Dolphins vs Texans: Texans 27, Dolphins 10.
Correct. Got fairly close with the score, too!

Falcons vs Chiefs: Chiefs 19, Falcons 14.
Wrong. Chiefs couldn’t get it together and the Falcons swooped in like the raptor their name honors, going for the kill.

Jaguars vs VikingsVikings 14, Jaguars 10.
Correct. Vikings win it in a scary OT performance that continues to terrify.

Redskins vs Saints: Redskins 17, Saints 13.
Correct. And did you hear that the FBI is now investigating the Saints for controlled substance issues that could end up in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines? Listen NFL fans: after all the shenanigans this unethical Saints’ organization has been up to, I don’t want to hear the words “Love Boat” again!

Bills vs Jets: Jets 20, Bills 14.
Correct. I heard one commentator call Sanchez “angry”. Maybe anger is a good emotion for him.

Patriots vs Titans: Patriots 28, Titans 13.
Correct. The NFL commentators called the Patriots “quiet excellence in execution”. That sounds about right.

Seahawks vs Cardinals: Cardinals 14, Seahawks 10.
Correct. Ha! I had a LOT of people give me grief about this selection. Don’t bet against Minnesota (Larry Fitzgerald, I mean.)!

49ers vs Packers: Packers 27, 49ers 21.
Wrong. I have to admit, if I’m going to be wrong about something, THIS is a great thing to be wrong about. You know all is right with the world when the Vikings win and the Packers lose.

Panthers vs Buccaneers: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.
Wrong. Didn’t see Josh Freeman coming out on top of this one. Maybe Cam Newton was a one-year wonder?

Steelers vs Broncos: Steelers 21, Broncos 13.
Wrong. Broncos pull out a win at home with a healthy assist from their defense. Manning didn’t look GREAT to me but maybe the wobbliness of his throws will dissipate over time.

Bengals vs Ravens: Ravens 24, Bengals 14.
Correct. The Ravens really gave the Bengals a schooling.

Chargers vs Raiders: Raiders 19, Chargers 14.
Incorrect. I had not anticipated that the Raiders would implode. Wow. MNF Hilarity.

I was hoping to break .500, and I went 10 of 16. Pffft.

 

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Sep 10

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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