Monday, December 26, 2005

More Thoughts on the Night the Season Died

Somehow, despite the fact that I knew that the Vikings were going to lose to the Ravens, I'm still having a hard time getting over the Vikings' loss. This was the third year in a row that they needed to beat a team with a losing record on the road in order to make the playoffs (or stay in the hunt) and it was also the third year in a row that they failed. That fact alone should be enough to convince Zygi to fire Tice. Some other thoughts from the night the season died:

  • The Vikings need a running back who can they can rely on to convert in short yardage situations. Near the end of the first half, they pounded Ciatrick Fason into the line twice from the Ravens' one yard line, once for no gain and once for a loss of four yards. In the third quarter, facing third and 2, they threw the ball. On fourth and 1, with the game on the line, they punted. A Super Bowl team needs a back they can give the ball to in those situations, like Jerome Bettis, Corey Dillon or Shawn Alexander. The Vikings, however, have Fason. Finding a back for situations like these should be a priority for the Vikings' brain trust, whether they find him in free agency or by converting Jim Kleinsasser back into a fullback. If they start next season with Fason, they are going to regret it the next time they face a third or fourth and short in a critical situation.
  • One surefire way to create turnovers is to put pressure on a shaky quarterback. "Shaky" is one of the kinder words used to describe Kyle Boller during his career. The Vikings' didn't apply any pressure, however, even when they started to blitz in the second half. One of the keys to the six game winning streak was the pressure from the defensive line. It led to sacks, fumbles, incompletions and interceptions. Without it, the secondary was picked apart by a shaky quarterback.
  • The Vikings ran the ball 14 times. They ran pass plays 40 times. Their quarterback is Brad "Game Manager" Johnson. Does anyone else see the problem with that?
  • What does the number 61 mean to you? Roger Maris? The year the Twins and Vikings came to Minnesota? How about the average number of yards the Vikings had in the second half of the last two games. Those 61 yards per game yielded nine total points, three of which came after a fumble recovery in field goal range (The Vikings failed to get a first down after the turnover) and three of them came in the final minute of Sunday's game, after the Ravens had pushed their lead to ten points. Kind of makes you think that the Ravens and Steelers were able to make effective adjustments defensively at half time, while the Vikings' offense were not, doesn't it?

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