Monday, September 10, 2007

16-0 Still a Possibility

How's that for some irrational exuberance? The Vikings defense was dominant in all aspects of the game and the Tarvaris and Purple Jesus Show was good enough to leave Purple fans dreaming of the Playoffs.

The biggest change from last season was the amount of pressure the Vikings were able to generate whenever Joey Harrington dropped back to pass. The six sacks they totaled was a fifth of the sacks they had last year. The fourth rounder out of Texas, Brian Robison, continued to play like he did in the preseason, dropping Harrington twice. While that was nice, it wasn't necessarily surprising. What was surprising were the two sacks by E.J. Henderson (he's never had more than three in a season) and the game ender by Keneci Udeze. I hope I wasn't the only one who got a kick out of Karl Hobbs jumping on Udeze after the play. Now, the next step is for Udeze to get a sack during a more meaningful part of the game. Baby steps...Baby steps...

To use a forced segue, one player that doesn't need to take baby steps is Adrian Peterson. What speed, what power, what vision. There's a reason why he was the 1st Star of the Game. And why he's going to rack up a lot of accolades this year and for the foreseeable future. The injury to Chester Taylor is troublesome, however. Lest we forget, Adrian Peterson's has a long history of injuries, something sharing the carries with Taylor was supposed to help with. It doesn't seem like Taylor is going to miss any more time because of his bruised hip, but it's important that he play so that Peterson doesn't have to carry the entire load.

Any injury to Peterson would likely be devastating to an offense that is still trying to establish a real passing game. The Vikings took quite a few shots down field yesterday, something they hadn't done with Brad Johnson under center (Tarvaris having the ability to throw the ball further than 10 yards helped), but the Revolution wasn't able to connect with Sidney Rice or Troy Williamson down field, with his deepest pass going to Bobby Wade for a 28 yard gain. What he was able to do, however, was hit his receivers in stride, go through his progressions and keep plays alive by avoiding the rush in ways a less mobile quarterback would have been unable to. The best example of that was on a play that ended in an incomplete pass. During that play, Tarvaris rolled right, avoiding a Falcon in the backfield, only to have the defense end grab him and attempt to drag him down. The Revolution cannot be suppressed that easily, however. Tarvaris kept his feet, but just barely, and as the end continued to pull him down, Tarvaris flung the ball over the his head, out of bounds, avoiding what should have been an easy sack. Tarvaris hit Bobby Wade for 28 yards on the very next play on a drive that ended with the Vikings kicking a field goal. The Vikings' offense doesn't have the playmakers to overcome negative plays like sacks and penalties. Tarvaris' strength and mobility will go a long way towards preventing the Purple from giving up as many sacks as they did last year (they gave up 43, the 8th most in the NFL). The Purple also played an almost penalty free game on offense, only being flagged once, for Artis Hicks holding.

While it was clear that the offense needs to score more than ten points, the defense looks like it's fixed the only problem it had, the pass rush. As Tarvaris gets more comfortable in the pocket, those deep passes that fell incomplete on Sunday will become completions. And if the defense can stop the run and the pass, then those completions will be more then enough to get the Purple the wins they need to make the playoffs.

No comments: