10 observations on the Vikings‘ 38-10 demolishing of the Rams.
1. It was all about turnovers. Purely and simply. The Rams had chances to score, and messed almost all of them up by fumbling and/or getting picked off. The Vikings, on the other hand, converted on 4-of-4 red zone trips, and added a long field goal and a defensive touchdown. All the rest of those stats, like the Rams outgaining the Vikings on the ground and in total yardage, mean nothing if your guys are going to cough it up close to the endzone. That is a killer.
2. Adrian Peterson scored two touchdowns and averaged 4.6 yards per carry against a Rams front 7 that is better than I thought they were (Laurinaitis is a very good player). He only ran for 69 total yards, but I feel like, if the score had been closer and the Vikings had needed him in the fourth quarter, he would’ve broken off a big one or two and run that total well over 100. The fact is that, in spite of The Favre‘s presence, teams are still stacking the box. And Steve Hutchinson is not 100%. And John Sullivan is not that good of a player. So, it’s not really setting up right now for AD to have the epic season we wished for going in. His touchdowns are up though. I’ll take a 1300 yard, 17 TD season from Adrian, as long as we go deep in the playoffs.
3. The pass blocking was very good again, same as against the Packers. I don’t know what changes were made but, whatever they were, they are working. The Favre has gone from looking like a human pinball to standing in the pocket sometimes for six or seven seconds without anyone getting a sniff of him. There ain’t a secondary on this earth that can cover guys for that long. And the hell of it is, when teams blitz The Favre, he tears the crap out of them even worse.
4. The Vikings are taking bend-but-don’t-break defense to a rather ridiculous extreme. They are basically a sieve between the 20s and then inside the 20s they become a brick wall. You can’t convince me, however, that this is exactly the way they want to play. I know their overall philosophy is to take away the deep stuff, which leads to all those 10-to-15-yard pass completions, but is it really supposed to be as easy as the Rams made it look? And, let’s face it, there have been some blown coverages. There have been wide-open guys that would’ve scored long touchdowns if the quarterback had gotten them the ball, or if they’d continued routes as they were supposed to. Matt Stafford missed one like that to Calvin Johnson, and Shaun Hill missed one to a guy who broke off the pattern and got reamed for it by Mike Singletary. The big plays are there for teams to make against us, they’re just not making them. Yet.
5. Benny Sapp is now the second best corner on this team. He tackles better than Cedric Griffin and he covers better. But I think the Vikes should leave him as the nickel corner; he’s too valuable against the slot man. Nickel is on the field such a huge percentage of the time that the distinction between 2nd and 3rd corner is practically meaningless anyway.
6. Guys, I’d like you to meet Tyrell Johnson. He’s actually been around here all season, though you may not have noticed because he didn’t really do anything. But, against the Rams, the playmaker got to be a playmaker. Darren Sharper would be pleased.
7. Naufahu Tahi had 37 yards on 16 receptions in 2008. In 2009 he has 40 yards on 3 receptions, 32 of those yards coming on one play Sunday. And it wasn’t even Brett Favre throwing him the ball, it was his old buddy Tarvaris Jackson. You knew one of those dump-offs into the flat was going to break big one of these days.
8. I think we’re lucky Marc Bulger didn’t play the whole game. Yes I realize that scoring drive he led was in garbage time with the defense playing even softer than usual, but I don’t know…I have a feeling, if Bulger had started, the score would’ve been a lot closer than 38-10.
9. A question was asked often during the Tarvaris Jackson years: Is T-Jack really this bad, or is it just a lack of receiver talent? I think the performances of Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe and Chester Taylor have answered that question. It was not a lack of receiver talent. So, process of elimination…T-Jack sucked.
10. Phil Loadholt didn’t play. I don’t think it made a difference.
Tags: Adrian Peterson Benny Sapp Bernard Berrian Brett Favre Calvin Johnson Cedric Griffin Chester Taylor Darren Sharper John Sullivan Marc Bulger Matthew Stafford Mike Singletary Minnesota Vikings Naufahu Tahi Phil Loadholt Shaun Hill Sidney Rice St. Louis Rams Steve Hutchinson Tarvaris Jackson Tyrell Johnson Visanthe Shiancoe