Sunday, September 17, 2006

2-0? Who'd Have Thunk It?

I’m sure I wasn’t the only Vikings’ fan that would have settled for a competitive 1-2 to open the season. When you consider that they were facing three of the best defensives from last year and that the Vikings’ offense is running a new scheme, has a remade offensive line, a brand new running back, and a passing attack consisting of a weak armed 38 year old game manager and a bunch of no name receivers, 1-2 was a worthy goal. And now, thanks to two great efforts by the Vikings’ defense, two solid efforts from the offense, and some fortuitous injuries to their opponents’ stars, they’re 2-0, with a home game against the defending NFC North champs up next.

Whether or not they hand Da Bears their first loss of the year on Sunday, they will still be in the driver’s seat for the playoffs. Once again, the Vikings’ have a relatively weak schedule, including 4 games against the Lions and Packers, road games at Buffalo and at San Francisco and a home game against the Jets. You have to figure that the Vikings will be the favorite in all 6 games, which means that if they take care of business, they only need to pull out two of the following games: @Miami, Arizona, St. Louis, Chicago, @ Chicago and New England. All of those are winnable games—all the Vikings need to do is win two of them, and take care of business, and they’ll be 10-6 with a playoff berth in Brad Childress’ first year.

And now, some thoughts on today’s game:

Where you going? NOWHERE!

  • I learned today that Chris Gamble is dumber than most rocks, and the Panthers need a new special teams coach. I can’t believe that John Fox decided to try for a “Music City Miracle” play on a punt, that it wasn't even in the playbook, or the Gamble would even attempt to throw that ball when both he and his target were under so much pressure. It’s just too crazy. That play might work on a kickoff, but on a punt? No chance. The players aren’t going to be able to create the kind of time necessary for the returner to throw it, and his target has to come from the line of scrimmage, rather than being lined up next to the player who received the kick. That being said, it’s kind of nice watching another team fail miserably to run a poorly thought out play, isn’t it?
  • Welcome to the Vikings’ Chester Taylor! Childress stuck with the run again today, calling for 33 rushes, and Taylor made the most of his 24 carries, gaining 117 yards, including a 33 yard run to set up Ryan Longwell’s game winner. If the Vikings can keep running the ball like this, they’re offense is going to be more than good enough to help carry them to the postseason.
  • Brad Johnson did not have a good day today, mostly due to poor pass blocking. That being said, his interception was simply inexcusable. He had all the time in the world on that pass, but instead of making the smart decision, like he normally does, he chose to force a pass to Marcus Robinson that Ken Lucas stepped in front of. The Vikings cannot afford for Brad Johnson to make throwing dumb passes a habit, as their offense isn’t potent enough to make up points they give to the other team via turnovers.
  • Make sure you mark down today on your calendars, as today was the first day that the Vikings’ looked like they didn’t give Randy Moss away for free. Troy Williamson looked like a #1 receiver, catching pretty much everything thrown his way, and then gaining significant yards afterwards. Adding to that, Napoleon Harris was dominant on defense, making 10 tackles and coming up with two huge sacks on important third downs (I’m still not sure why the refs overturned his second sack in OT). If the two of them keep it up, Vikings’ fans won’t have to worry about the Moss trade joining the Herschel Walker trade in the infamous section of the Vikings’ history.

Off to the Races!

  • Finally, despite all the injuries, the Vikings’ defense has been great so far this season. While their competition must be taken into account (the ‘Skins are having trouble adopting to Al Saunder’s offense and the Panthers were missing Steve Smith and offensive linemen), they’ve still held their opponents to 16 and 13 points respectively. So far, they’ve applied pressure, played solid coverage and done a good job of wrapping up. While they’ve had some issues stopping the run (both the ‘Skins and Panthers averaged 4 yards a carry) and have yet to create any turnovers, they’ve been great on third down, holding the Panthers to 3 of 14 on third down conversions (and the ‘Skins to 4-13). That kind of big play success will be necessary for the Vikings to continue to be successful, especially if they can’t force the other team to start coughing the ball up.

Farve Interception Watch: When Omar Stoutmire of New Orleans picked off Brett Farve in the end zone, not only did he prevent the Packers from scoring in a game the Saints won by 7, he also helped Farve along in his quest to overtake George Blanda for the most career interceptions thrown. Farve has 3 for the season, which means he only needs 20 more to reach 378 and pass Blanda’s mark of 377. If he keeps up his pace of 1.5 picks per game, he’ll set the record in the final game of the season. Let’s go Brett! Throw those picks!


Pacifist Viking said...

The Viking defense has been inexplicably good. Only 7 3rd down conversions and ZERO passing TDs in two games? Are we sure these are the Vikings?

TBird41 said...

Either Mike Tomlin is a genius, the 'Skins and Panthers' offenses are just really bad right now or the Vikings focus on the defense in the draft and free agency is finally starting to pay off. It's probably some kind of combination of the three, but still--I can't believe they're doing so well without DaVonte Edwards and without Dwight Smith in the opener.

Then again, considering how much pressure the line is putting on opposing quarterbacks, I guess it isn't that surprising--though it's nice to see the Vikings have a defense that can stop people without turnovers again.

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