An ugly win featuring a massive 4th quarter defensive collapse. Let’s see what I have to say…
1. The few of you who actually pay attention to what I say on this blog will note that, for the last couple of weeks, I have been lamenting the ease with which teams have been slicing through the Vikings‘ defense, and have sounded a warning bell about what would happen if some team ever started converting those opportunities into points (instead of fumbling them away like the Rams). Well, that nightmare scenario finally came to fruition Sunday against the Ravens. They chewed us up in the middle of the field, and put the ball in the endzone. Granted, it took until the fourth quarter for them to do this consistently, but still – it happened. Just like I feared it would.
Now the natural reponse here is to say that things would’ve been different with Antoine Winfield in the game. And I grant you that; Winfield makes a big difference. But, even with Antoine in there for 5 games plus part of a 6th, the secondary was average at best. That mediocrity got exposed by Joe Flacco and some very ordinary receivers. Also, Ray Rice‘s performance reminded us what a good receiving back can do to this team. Anyone else remember the way Maurce Jones-Drew tore us up last season? Rice did it to us again. And of course we remember the screen play to Brian Westbrook that broke our hearts in the playoffs. I don’t know why, but it seems like, as the game wears on, our linebackers and defensive backs get more confused about where they’re supposed to be. I’ve now turned on E.J. Henderson too – I think he’s only an okay MLB. People refer to him as the “spiritual” leader of the defense, but what this defense needs is a cerebral leader. A Ray Lewis-type would do the trick.
2. On Brad Childress electing to run the ball and chew clock going into that last field goal rather than try to score a touchdown: My reaction at the time was mild annoyance. “Typical Chilly,” I thought to myself, “doing the safe thing instead of going for the jugular.” But I was not outraged or angered or anything like that. I thought it was a lame call but not a total dumb-ass one. Until the Ravens got the ball back and looked like they were going to march down the field and score. That was when I started getting a little simmery. Now I’m on the verge of pissed. Now I’m thinking to myself, “Is that how Bill Belichick would’ve handled that?” I think we know the answer to that question. Belichick would’ve stuck the dagger in the heart. And twisted it. And yanked it out and licked the blood off and done a caveman victory dance.
Childress may be an okay coach but now I wonder if he has the killer instinct. I know Brett Favre does. And that’s why Favre was reportedly a little annoyed on the sideline after the play-it-safe field goal too. And Chilly says Favre needs to approach it like a serial killer? Actually, I think Chilly is the one who could stand to be a little more Hannibal Lecter and a little less Mr. Noodle.
3. The passing game and running game have taken on the same character: Dink-and-dunk, then go for the big one. Adrian Peterson now either gets 2 yards or 50 with seemingly nothing in between. The passing game is either a 5-yard slant or a bomb down the field to Sidney Rice. The Vikings have apparently succeeded in removing the concept of an intermediate gain entirely from the game, at least on offense. It’s fine as long as you keep converting in the redzone as the Vikings have done all season (though not as successfully Sunday, at least after the first quarter).
4. After his 176-yard performance, Sidney Rice is now 9th in the league with 409 yards. He is just the latest in a long list of okay receivers who became Pro Bowl caliber thanks to The Favre. Robert Brooks? Javon Walker? Antonio Freeman? They would’ve been nothing without Brett. Rice was nothing before Brett and will likely go back to being nothing after Brett.
5. Visanthe Shiancoe is tied with Larry Fitzgerald for the league lead in receiving touchdowns. Remember last year when he couldn’t catch?
6. I fear Percy Harvin‘s shoulder problem is going to dog him all year. It was iffy going into the game, and didn’t get helped when he was driven into the turf on a kick return. I love Percy on returns but I think Chilly might want to consider relieving him of those duties for his own good. He is too valuable as a receiver. By the way, the latest word is that the shoulder is no worse now than it was last week. So I guess that’s good to hear.
7. Karl Paymah is on the active roster every week because he is good on special teams. Unfortunately, he is also our first corner off the bench in the event of injury. He made one good play jarring the ball loose from Derrick Mason, but other than that, was unspeakably awful. The belief is that, if the Vikings lose Antoine Winfield for an extended period, they will try to make do with Paymah and rookie Asher Allen, rather than swing a trade for a corner ahead of the deadline. In other words, Antoine better not be hurt bad (today’s MRI showed a sprained foot).
8. The tackling sucked yesterday. Sucked. I better not hear anymore clueless national media figures referring to the Vikings’ “great” defense. It’s maybe a good defense if everything works right and Karl Paymah isn’t playing the #1 corner spot. Yesterday, in the fourth quarter, it was like the Wasswa Serwanga/Robert Tate era had come back. That’s the worst insult I can throw at a defense.
9. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf still don’t know that Antoine Winfield got hurt in that game. Honestly, why do they bother having announcers? They should just play music over the game or have some chick breathe heavy into the mic.
10. I just wanted to give a shout-out to the folks at The Marketplace in Hayward, Wisconsin, home of the world famous beer-loving bear. Down with Balloon Boy, up with Beer Bear.
Topics: Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Antonio Freeman, Asher Allen, Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick, Brad Childress, Brett Favre, Brian Westbrook, Dan Dierdorf, Derrick Mason, E.j. Henderson, Greg Gumbel, Javon Walker, Joe Flacco, Karl Paymah, Larry Fitzgerald, Maurce Jones-drew, Minnesota Vikings, Percy Harvin, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Robert Brooks, Robert Tate, Sidney Rice, St. Louis Rams, Visanthe Shiancoe, Wasswa Serwanga