Category Archive: Vikings Game Review

Nov 23

Week Twelve: Vikings vs Packers


The Vikings continue to sail in stormy waters.

The Vikings continue to sail in stormy waters.

I will be honest. Like I always am.

I expected the Packers to put up >50 points on the Vikings today.

I was mentally prepared to be hopeless and disgusted for 3 hours. Instead the Vikings did something worse: they kept me thinking right up until the end that they might actually win the game.

And then, of course, they lost it.

And that’s the thing with this team… they can be stout on defense until they inexplicably collapse. The offense can get in a groove until… the music stops playing… or whatever was keeping them in sync stops.

Whatever it is, it’s hard to watch it week after week.

I often think people (specifically other NFL fans) don’t understand just how hard it is to be a Vikings fan – especially for those of us who have been watching the team since the days of Bud Grant. What’s the stat I saw recently? Something to the effect that since 1994, the Vikings have had over 20 different starting quarterbacks while the Packers had just Favre followed by Rodgers. Is it any wonder why us Vikings fans are often grumpy? Well – maybe it’s just me. I am grumpy. A lot.

Enough about that, though. We all know where we sit in the starting quarterback realm.

No Zimmerisms this week. There were technical difficulties with the live stream video (at least for me). He did seem reflective based on the comments I was able to hear. Will have to go back later and re-watch to see if I missed anything good.

Let’s break it down.

The Good

  • The game was competitive and the Vikings clearly showed that the Packers are not nearly as good as their record and the announcers say they are.
  • Kyle Rudolph is back.
  • Joe Banyard had his first NFL action and he was pretty good.
  • The Vikings converted an extra point to 2.
  • Josh Robinson was solid today.
  • Harrison Smith continues to be a shiny bright spot.

The Bad

  • It took until the 3rd quarter for the Vikings to have a sack. I like seeing Rodgers with his face planted in the turf, so that was irritating to me.
  • Judd Zulgad tweeted that Matt Kalil only has 4 – 5 bad plays a game. Sure seems like a helluva lot more than that. (And I found out later that Judd was actually mocking Kalil’s assessment of himself). Kalil is a huge bust.
  • Teddy Bridgewater’s accuracy. And continued interception issues. Clearly, he was forced to play too soon.

The Ugly

  • 3rd down efficiency: 38% so the offense remains terrible in converting.
  • The opponent’s 3rd down efficiency: 54% so the Vikings’ defense continues to allow conversions over half the time.
  • 7 penalties for 77 yards. Matt Kalil was the big offender here.

Next Up: Panthers. Maybe the Vikings can secure a win.

Until next week, Vikings brethren. Skol.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/11/week-twelve-vikings-vs-packers/

Nov 16

Week Eleven: Vikings vs Bears


The Bears were absolutely terrible against the Packers this last Sunday night. Which is how I knew that the Vikings would lose today.

Evidence: the Vikings cannot beat the Bears as of late. The Vikings look lethargic historically coming off of a bye. The Bears just got completely embarrassed on the national stage. The Bears are likely angry. Matt Kalil is a still a starter. A terrible recipe for a non-fun Sunday of football.

The Vikings’ defense looked slow and slightly incompetent during the first half. They couldn’t stop a 3rd down conversion if their lives depended on it. I’d love to say it was different during the second half, but I cannot. The Vikings offense was disgusting. And I say that as a fan with decades of history with this team.

I could keep going, but let’s just break this down and get it over with.

Harrison Smith - a lone bright spot.

Harrison Smith – a lone bright spot.

The Good

  • Captain Munnerlyn had an interception.
  • Harrison Smith had an interception.
  • Fake punt. I hate Priefer, but that was inspired.
  • There was a Cordarrelle Patterson sighting. 17 yard pass from Bridgewater. And immediately following, a 2nd pass to Patterson. It’s like stupid Norv Turner suddenly realized Patterson existed on the roster.
  • Vikings appear to have penalties under control, for the most part.

The Bad

  • The Vikings had 10 first downs. The Bears? 24. Twenty. Four.
  • Late in the 4th, the Vikings converted a 3rd down for the first time in the game. Naturally, it was called back for #82 holding. And, of course, the Vikings couldn’t convert after the penalty. BUT… they didn’t convert the 4th down with pass. Somehow. The first positive on offense for the game (which is still the bad part).
  • Bridgewater found a rhythm late in the 4th quarter. Of course, it was too late to matter and ended with with an interception. Par for the course.
  • The Vikings couldn’t do a thing with the Munnerlyn and Smith interceptions.
  • Josh Robinson continually getting beat by the receivers. This is an on-going theme.
  • Teddy Bridgewater never throwing for more than 5 yards.
  • The offensive line. See also “the Ugly”
What's better than Matt Kalil? An angry Capuchin Monkey.

What’s better than Matt Kalil? An angry Capuchin Monkey.

The Ugly

  • The game ended on a Bridgewater interception that was pointless and unnecessary.
  • Vikings’ 3rd down efficiency: 18%.  The Bears? FIFTY EIGHT. 58%.
  • Time of Possession: Vikings – 21:22, Bears – 38:38. That’s right – the Vikings had the ball for about 1.5 quarters out of 4. Think about that.
  • Tackling fundamentals. STILL an issue for the 3rd season in a row.
  • Matt Kalil. How is this guy not benched? Put a capuchin monkey in there. At least then there’d be a reason Teddy has no protection.
  • Inability to stop 3rd down conversions on defense.
  • Inability to convert 3rd downs on offense.
  • The Vikings had 23 yards of offense in the 3rd quarter.
  • The Bears just kept converting 4th downs. Because our defense couldn’t stop anything or tackle anyone.

The Untenable

  • Being asked to watch a team that is terrible year after year when the General Manager is not held accountable for things like… TERRIBLE QB draft choices, personnel decisions that are non-sensical and general ineptitude. Rick Spielman needs to go. Let’s all agree that the Vikings have been terrible since 2010. And the ONE common denominator from a leadership perspective is Rick Spielman.

So that’s it for another week Vikings fans. The Vikings had a chance for a division win against a downtrodden team but instead, like they usually do, the Vikings handed the Bears a division win. Am I the only one sick of seeing this level of mediocrity coming from the Vikings? I’m so tired of starting every season hopeful and having that team completely demoralize me by week 8. I wish I could say I enjoy watching this team, but I don’t. And I haven’t for a long time.

All that to say – see you next week, Vikings fans. When the Vikings take a thumpin’ by the Packers. Not even doing a survey this week. We all know the Vikings are looking at another loss.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/11/week-eleven-vikings-vs-bears/

Oct 26

Week Eight: Vikings vs Buccaneers


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.

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.

Zimmerisms

  •  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!

Someone has a lot to celebrate these days!

The Good

  • 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!

    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.

The Bad

  • 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

Vikings’ O-Line: More holes than a Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper

The Ugly

  • 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?

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/10/week-eight-vikings-vs-buccaneers/

Oct 12

Week Six: Vikings vs Detroit


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.

Coach Zimmer isn’t taking any crap from undisciplined dodos.

Zimmerisms:

  • “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.

Teddy has lots of upside at this point.

The Good

  • 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?

Is Robison only good when Jared Allen is on the other end?

The Bad

  • Dropped balls. Asiata. Jennings. Patterson. Wright.
  • Deflected balls.
  • Deflected balls resulting in 2 interceptions.
  • 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.

Matt Kalil: still getting beat.

The Ugly

  • 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.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/10/week-six-vikings-vs-detroit/

Oct 02

Week Five: Vikings vs Packers


There was lots of angry, aggressive typing at my house tonight as I live tweeted during the game. This showing by the Vikings was absolutely pathetic. I understand we’re down 5 starters, but that’s no excuse for the poor game planning, the offensive travesty and the absolute lack of run stopping by the defense. Heck – the Vikings defense managed to make chunky Eddie Lacy look like a power running back with finesse. Frankly, I cannot believe I watched the whole game. But, I did.

Let’s break it down.

The Good

  • The Vikings managed to score a touchdown, thereby avoiding a complete shut-out.
  • Teddy will be back next week.

The Bad

  • The Vikings on the national stage. The Vikings cannot play in nationally televised games. The NFL should stop putting them in those time slots. I don’t care if they have a rotation. Just stick the Vikings in the early games on Sunday and move on. NFL – I will call you if the Vikings are ever ready for the national stage. I hope I’m still alive when that happens.

The Ugly

  • Ponder’s QB rating barely made it to double digits.
  • The offensive line was like a sieve.
  • Patterson was barely utilized again. Someone needs to explain to me what the hell Norv Turner is doing. Because I don’t understand it.
  • The first three defensive series.
  • Matt Asiata fumbling.
  • Christian Ponder throwing interceptions.
  • 3rd down efficiency at 33%.
  • 9 penalties for 91 yards.
  • Red zone efficiency: 33%

The Worst Thing Ever

  • Christian Ponder starting a game as a Viking. I never want to see that again. Someone please get McLeod John Balthazar Bethel-Thompson off the practice squad and put him in as the 3rd string QB. Stick Ponder on the practice squad. Guaranteed he’d get there because no one would claim him off waivers.

I am going to work really hard at forgetting this game ever happened.

Skol, Vikings Nation. Next up: Lions. If only they still sucked.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/10/week-five-vikings-vs-packers/

Sep 28

Week Four: Vikings vs Falcons


Teddy & Asiata are quite the combo platter.

Teddy & Asiata are quite the combo platter.

Well, well, well! The Vikings had a decisive win today over the Falcons. I admit I did not pick the Vikings to win today. I don’t think anyone using their brain instead of their heart would have. And maybe that’s my problem sometimes. I underestimated our coaching staff, who truly seem to be bringing this team to the next level. After watching today’s presser, I can understand why Coach Zimmer was so loved in Cincinnati. He’s a no-nonsense, honest and direct person who truly believes anything is possible. And, unlike our other recent coaches, this coach can get the team to believe it, too. I can’t imagine the “next man up” scenario the Vikings have faced during the first 3 games being handled as well by Frazier or Childress.

I don’t know what Thursday will bring, when the Vikings take on the Packers, but with this head coach, I don’t think we’ll see some of the embarrassing blow outs we’ve seen since 2010 – and could, in fact, log a win. The Packers don’t look that great. Of course they never do… who could in that terrible uniform? But I digress.

Let’s look at today’s game.

The Good

Coach Zimmer is a breath of fresh air.

Coach Zimmer is a breath of fresh air.

Let’s start a list since we actually have a bunch of stuff in this category this week!

  • Coach Zimmer’s decision to go for the 3rd Asiata TD on 4th down and then go for the 2 point conversion. Gutsy – and it worked!
  • Teddy Bridgewater’s NFL debut was stellar. Not even his ankle tweak at the end could ruin the good vibes for him in his presser. Teddy threw for 317 yards with no interceptions. He rushed for a TD and logged 37 rushing yards total. He was calm, cool, collected and had a relaxed manner about him that I haven’t seen in a Vikings QB since Brett Favre took the field in 2009. And no – I am not literally comparing Teddy to Favre – I am merely stating that they share a confidence that makes you believe they’re in control.
  • Jerick McKinnon. 18 rushing attempts for 135 yards. Coach Zimmer was told during his presser that McKinnon hadn’t expected to rush for 135 yards. Zimmer’s response was that he’d talk to him about raising his expectations.
  • Matt Asiata. 3 rushing TDs and a steady presence in the backfield.
  • Jarius Wright! 8 receptions for 132 yards. His longest was 52 yards and if he were just a little faster, he would have made it to the end zone.
  • Greg Jennings had 3 receptions for 72 yards.
  • Blair Walsh posted 15 of the Vikings’ 41 points today.
Kalil didn't suck today!

Kalil didn’t suck today!

  • Cordarrelle Patterson averaged 43 yards on his kick off returns.
  • 2 Interceptions! Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson are getting the job done back there!
  • Anthony Barr got the only sack of the whole game.
  • Red Zone Efficiency: 4/6, 66%
  • Goal to Go Efficiency: 2/3, 66%
  • Total net yards: 558!

The Bad

  • The Vikings’ 3rd down efficiency is still under 50%. The offense needs to continue to improve that.
  • The Falcons rushed for 123 yards. Remember the Williams wall? It was nearly impossible for anyone to log >100 rushing yards against the Vikings in those days. We’ve finally made progress on the cornerback/pass protection positions. Time to reestablish the run stopping powerhouse we used to be.
  • The Vikings wracked up 6 penalties again today – the first 4 on the defense. Total penalties of 40 yards.
  • It’s great we out-scored the Falcons, but it’s not good that they were able to get 4 TDs against the Vikings defense.

The Ugly

  • The Vikings allowed the Falcons to log 411 net yards. In a normal game, you’re typically not going to win if the defense is allowing that many yards. Today, the Vikings had almost 560, but that’s something the defense should consider as the team pivots to face the Packers.
  • The Vikings defense allowed the Falcons to convert 66% of their 3rd downs. That’s been an on-going problem for this defense for the last several years. Coach Zimmer referenced “bone-headed things” the defense does that need to be fixed. I consider this to be one of those.

The Vikings still have some things to clean up. The good news is that we have a head coach who actually likes to clean. It’s so refreshing to not hate the Vikings coaching staff. It’s made me inadvertently positive at times when I’m tweeting during the game. It almost feels unnatural!

To sum things up: impressive start by rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater. If he continues to shine, I might hate Spielman and his inability to identify QB talent a little less. But probably not. The Vikings defense is improving and that’s a good thing. I’ll just shout out SKOL to Vikings Nation as we head into a short week for the team and our semi-annual Border Battle with the ugly green and mustard yellow.

Ponder closed out the game. Let's hope we don't have to see him on the field again this season.

Ponder closed out the game. Let’s hope we don’t have to see him on the field again this season.

 

SKOL VIKINGS NATION!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/09/week-4-vikings-vs-falcons/

Sep 22

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!

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2014/09/week-3-vikings-vs-saints/

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!

 

 

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