If you follow me on Twitter or on this blog, you may have noted my absence last week (and for MNF and TNF, too.). I had something akin to the Bubonic Plague, which continues to linger but at least I can put some inflection in my voice now so I sound like a human.
Just in time for a Vikings win with a Strip 6 in OT!
This game wasn’t going to go down as the most exciting game taking place in Week 8 of the 2014 season. Until the last 5 minutes or so of the game, with a delightful win for the Vikings in overtime.
This game ended up being a lot more interesting than the first 3 and a half quarters would have indicated as a possibility. For example, with 7 minutes and 38 seconds left in the 2nd quarter, I found myself wondering if either of these befuddled teams would manage to score today. On Twitter I saw the game described as a “pillow fight”, a “snoozefest” and a tale of 2 teams playing down to the level of their competition. I can’t disagree with any of these. Frankly, I was enjoying other game updates on Twitter quite a bit. Who doesn’t want to follow the Percy-to-the-Jets saga? Or Geno Smith’s first quarter interception meltdown? Or Seattle’s struggles against the Panther’s defense. I think the fact that the first score of the game was a 46 yard Blair Walsh field goal with 4 seconds left in the first half is illustration enough of what kind of game this was. And, what an exciting first half!
To me, the game can best be summed up by the fact that the first red zone action of the ENTIRE game arrived with 7:39 seconds left in the third quarter. Surprisingly, it was the Vikings who not only threatened to score… but did on the first red zone play – a 15 yard TD pass from Bridgewater to Jennings in the back of the end zone. I’ll take it.
Let’s break down this laborious game.
When asked how he felt when Anthony Barr was running the Strip back for 6, Coach Zimmer said, “Initially I was a little bit upset with him because he didn’t widen with the Tight End enough and he let him catch the ball, but now that it’s over, I’m glad he did.”
On Jerick McKinnon, “He looks like a pretty good back, doesn’t he?” Oh Coach Zimmer… a McKinnon fanboy! He went on to say, “I love the way he runs. He’s got some great cut-ability. But the thing I like most about him right now is his physicality when he runs.”
On multiple punt touchbacks for the Bucs off Locke’s punting efforts. “It’s disappointing…. what’s more disappointing are the penalties in the punting game… I’m just about fed up with it.” (Go get ‘em Zim!)
Not a Zimmerism, but I sure do like the way Teddy Bridgewater handles himself during his pressers.
Someone has a lot to celebrate these days!
ANTHONY BARR with a Strip 6! In OT. And there I was, all prepared to be crushed.
Did I mention that Anthony Barr did what David Diehl called “The Old Lawnmower” strip of the ball? And then, did I tell you he picked it up? And ran it back 27 yards for a game winning TD? If I neglected to mention it, that’s all true.
Everson Griffen is having a hell of a season. He’s been racking up sacks like a Brit pounding tea in the face of a shortage.
All together, the Vikings had 5 sacks on the day. That’s not too shabby!
The Defense was strong today, pretty much right out of the gate. They were also great on 3rd downs, holding the Bucs to an 8% efficiency rate on 3rd down conversions. That’s 1 conversion on 12 attempts. Well done Zimmer-D.
Jimmy Johnson is bullish on the progress he sees with the Vikings. Must be nice to evaluate the team from afar, instead of living through year after year of mediocrity as a fan. #ThanksJimmy
Vikings managed to score a TD on a passing play – and get the first red zone action of the game.
Hide yo punt returners! They’re gettin’ destroyed up in here!
Mauti celebrating taking out the Bucs’ punt returner, Holiday. Wow was he hyped up after a massive hit. Ripped his helmet off and practically howled. Maybe some day someone can explain this side of men to me.
Tempo. The Vikings’ offense can’t find a consistent offensive tempo that allows them to relentlessly push down the field. Think Brees, Brady, Forehead Manning… when they’re in a groove, the offense flows like a machine. The Vikings’ offense hasn’t operated like that since the magical 2009 season with Favre at the helm.
The announcers for today’s game. Weird intonations with their inane banter, ill-fitting dress shirts making them look like freshmen boys having to wear their 7th grade special occasional button-downs to the Homecoming dance. David Diehl looked like the overgrown class jock while Justin Kutcher looked like he hadn’t yet hit puberty. With a size disparity like that, FOX should consider having the announcers sit down to do their commentary. Kutcher had to crank his head way back to look Diehl in the face. Certainly comical – and maybe the relief the game needed, now that I look back on it.
Greg Jennings has missed quite a few catchable balls over the last few games. I think he needs to fix that.
Vikings’ O-Line: More holes than a Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper
While somewhat improved, the offensive line for the Vikings continues to be a complete and utter travesty. Of course, because the o-line I refer to belongs to the Vikings, it manages to have moments of brilliance. In order to give us hope. Only to come back and trash that hope on the very next play. I know we all know what I’m talking about.
3rd down conversions. The team was actually at 40% today, which is less bad than usual. Nevertheless, they need to continue to ramp that up until they’re consistently able to convert on 3rd down.
Penalties. 6 for 59 yards. That’s a slight improvement since the beginning of the season; however, the bigger issue now is when the team is committing the penalties – and how many big plays they’re costing the team.
Things I’m Super Tired Of
The Vikings’ reliance on Blair Walsh making 50+ yard field goals to get any kind of output from the offense. There are things called “touch downs”. It’s not illegal to score them. The Vikings should try doing so consistently.
A lack of bold plays over the last 5 seasons. Why can’t the Vikings ever fake a punt and actually pass for the 1st down? What ever happened to flea-flickers? Robert Smith and Randall Cunningham used to do them every game. Seeing a few reverses, while not tricky, would be fun. Just anything to shake up the malaise. Please…
So, that’s it. Last week, our game ended in last second heartbreak. This week, last second triumph. What will next week bring?
The Vikings are 2-4 Vikings Nation. Not where we wanted to be.
Where to start with this game? I could talk for days about the atrocity that is the offensive line. Or I could drone on about needless penalties. Or I could lament the lack of Cordarrelle Patterson in Norv Turner’s offense, who I believe may be completely demotivating Mr. Patterson with his offensive “game planning”. Should we talk about turn-overs? Oh, so much to say.
But first, let’s start with some of my favorite quotes from Coach Mike Zimmer in my new post-game section, “Zimmerisms”.
Coach Zimmer isn’t taking any crap from undisciplined dodos.
“I’m the boss. Their job is to please me. Not the other way around.” (This nearly contained an “f” bomb!)
“This team cares. When things are going good we are pretty good… Trust me, we are going to get disciplined.“
“I expected better today. It was disappointing.”
“I’m extremely disappointed about this loss. I can handle getting beat, but I can’t handle getting our butts whipped like that.”
“They kicked our butts.”
“We didn’t block guys… and until we can figure out that this game is about blocking and tackling and catching the ball… doing your job, we’re going to have results like this.”
“I think we physically got beat.”
On Cordarrelle Patterson: “if he wants the ball he has to get open”.
Question: “Overall, were you pretty pleased with the defense?” After a long pause, Zimmer shook his head and said “I don’t know… (pause) we were better on 3rd downs.”
Not a direct quote, but Zimmer said he’s been fining players for showing up late to meetings and treatment. And those fines are about to go to the max allowed. Quote: “Those fines are going to start going to the max. I’m tired of it.” My thoughts: a) he’s pissed about it, otherwise a head coach wouldn’t say this to the press and b) money talks and that money is saying that Zimmer isn’t taking any amateur crap from a bunch of kids. I like this coach!
Teddy has lots of upside at this point.
The Vikings have some new players and a new head coach this week. Leading the team is “Don Zimmer”. New players: CORD-ar-elle Patterson. Matt Ahzee-AY-ta. Brian ROBE-isson.
It was still just 10-0 going into the 4th quarter. It felt like it should have been 34-0 at that point. 9 missed points on fields goals helped…. speaking of which…
Prater is not the answer to the Lions’ field goal problem, ensuring that the beating the Vikings took didn’t look as bad if you just looked at the score.
The defense finally found a bit of a groove in the game but it wasn’t enough.
Bridgewater didn’t give up. Despite multiple tipped passes for INTs, a number of dropped balls and a continually collapsing pocket, he kept soldiering on.
There was a Greg Jennings sighting.
The Vikings weren’t completely shut out. At home. On a nice day.
Is Robison only good when Jared Allen is on the other end?
Can passing plays to players behind the line of scrimmage be taken out of the playbook? I’m tired of watching those fail. You need a stout o-line for that to work and we don’t have that.
Norv Turner’s play calling. I remain completely unimpressed with him. He started out with a great reverse. And it worked, so consequently we’ll never see it again. I sometimes wonder if old Norvy thought Musgrave’s play list was too extensive.
The defense looks perpetually confused for the first 2 defensive drives of every game. Yes, EVERY game. As a result, teams march right down the field and score. And this after the Vikings defer when winning the coin toss. You can’t defer if you can’t trust your defense.
Penalties. Every. Freakin. Week. I don’t know what’s wrong with the discipline on this team, but for YEARS this has been an on-going issue.
The lack of high-impact defensive plays. No forced fumbles. No interceptions. Vikings lost the turnover game again.
Asiata’s running production: 2 carries for -5 yards. His longest run was -2 yards.
Matt Kalil: still getting beat.
The Vikings’ offensive line. Especially Matt Kalil. It took our former star Running Back years to learn how to pick up a blitz. Jerick McKinnon isn’t going to be able to do it in a few weeks. Consequently, Teddy was sacked 8 times. EIGHT!
9 penalties for 60 yards. If you’re a mediocre team, you can’t afford to have 9 penalties week after week. Nice to know the lack of discipline extends to the in-week activities, too. [heavy sarcasm]
Norv Turner’s plan for the 4th quarter. With time being short, Turner kept the plays centered on… dink & dunk away from the sidelines and running plays. When you’re down 17 points, you conserve time. You put your team in the position to do a long ball or two to someone like… Cordarrelle Patterson. You don’t eat up time in the middle of the field.
Red Zone Efficiency (when they could get there): 0%
Third Down Efficiency: 21% (this is not going in the right direction)
The Even Worse
The FOX announcers for today’s game. Now, granted, a team performing like the Vikings is not going to get the A squad… but this was like a couple of local Pop Warner announcers trying hard to sound smart.
There are still 10 games left in the season for the Vikings. Plenty of opportunity to continue to rip our hearts out and stomp all over them.
So that’s it, my Vikings friends. Another week, another loss. Next up, the Bills.