Friday, October 12, 2007

Chairs, Tight Ends and Revolutions

Do Not Mess with Chester Taylor:
"Wait a second, what's that? Good God! That...that...that's Chester Taylor's music!"

The fight between Taylor and Erasmus James is hilarious on many levels, from Taylor throwing a chair, James hurting his shoulder throwing a punch (which wouldn't be funny if James actually contributed on the field) and the fact that it finally sheds some light on Childress' decision making in the second half against the Packers. The man clearly faced bodily harm if he continued to give the ball to Adrian Peterson. And no, it's not ok to wish Taylor had thrown a chair at Childress. Violence is never the answer people.

Are Tight Ends a Weakness?
The Vikings will be facing two of the best tight ends in the game on Sunday, which doesn't worry Darren Sharper, who said this week that "If a tight end catches the ball on me, then I need to be fired."

That quote worries Gonzo over at Daily Norsman, who makes a very valid point about 1-3 teams talking trash. He also, however, states that "tight ends have killed [the Vikings] over the last season or so". After reading that, my initial impression was that he was wrong, or at least wrong this year, with the Vikings swapping Napolean Harris for Chad Greenway. This, my friends, are what statistics are for.

So far this year, tight ends have caught an average of 5 passes a game for 52.75 yards. Those numbers are skewed, however, by Tony Gonzalez' 7 catch for 96 yards performance against the Vikings. Those numbers seem to suggest that the Vikings aren't great at stopping tight ends, but they aren't awful either. So let's dig a little deeper, and consult Football Outsiders, who break down every defense's performance against various types of receivers (#1 WR, #2 WR, other WR, TE, RB).

And here is where we find an answer, of sorts, to our question. The Vikings defense has turned in a DVOA of 39.7% against tight ends this year, their worst performance against any type of receiver by far (negative DVOA is better), and the 12th worst in the NFL. The thing is, this is a reversal from last year's performance, where they had the 11th best DVOA against tight ends, with a -9.7%.

The Vikings poor DVOA against this year might be skewed by Tony Gonzalez' big game and the small sample size, or their performance has dropped off due to personal issues. Either way, it appears that tight ends, while a weakness this year, are not something the Vikings have had a lot of issues with in the past.

The Return of the Revolution:
Childress won't comment on which quarterback is starting on Sunday, but as I've said it before, and I'll say it again--if Tarvaris is healthy, he needs to be the starting quarterback. I know the Vikings have a playoff caliber defense that is being held back by the offense. I also know that if the Vikings don't find out what they have in Tarvaris this year, it's going to have negative ramifications on next year's draft, off season and team. There are quite a few quality quarterbacks available in the draft, and there will likely be solid quarterbacks available in free agency and the Vikings need to know by the end of this year whether Tarvaris is good enough to be their quarterback of the future. Personally, I think he can be.

This game will determine (for at least another week) whether the Vikings' have a shot at the playoffs or will be picking in the "lottery". And it's not going to be a pretty game. Luckily for the Vikings, they will be facing a Bears team that has been ravaged by injuries. The list of injuried players for da Bears includes Lance Briggs (hamstring), Bernard Berrian (toe) Tommie Harris (knee), tackle John Tait (ankle), CB Charles Tillman (ankle), CB Nathan Vasher (groin) DNP and DT Darwin Walker (knee). And that list doesn't include the players who are out for the season, like Mike Brown. The Vikings should be able to move the ball against da Bears and they should be able to stop one of the worst passing games in the league (-40.3% DVOA, 31st in the NFL). The key to the game will be whether they are able to limit turnovers and prevent Devan Hester from running all over them on returns. I think the Vikings are going to be able to do that, leading to an ugly 13-10 win.

1 comment:

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