10 Points: Vikings Stumble in Arizona

Lots to discuss this week, obviously…

1.  Everyone has their pet theory as to why the Vikings‘ running game has fallen off the table.  Some think it’s the downgrade from Matt Birk to John Sullivan.  Some believe Adrian Peterson is not picking out the holes.  Others point the finger at Steve Hutchinson‘s nagging back issues.  All those things are probably involved, but there’s one more factor that might be the biggest of all:  Lack of rhythm caused by Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell‘s new tendency to lean on Brett Favre.  I believe the Vikings would be a better running team if they committed themselves to it, but, when you have Favre and some good receivers, it’s so easy to just start throwing the ball around.  I’m not sure what you do at this point of the season except make up your mind to run more and hope you start opening some holes and hope Adrian doesn’t get all fumbley again.  I do know that our offensive line is not overpowering enough to expect those holes to be there all game.  We have to work at it and wear down defenses…but, of course, if Favre is throwing the ball well, what’s the point?  It only became a serious issue because we lost.

2.  Brett Favre had a bad game.  Guess what kids…it was going to happen sooner or later.  It’s no surprise that the interceptions came after we had fallen behind.  Favre blamed himself for the picks, saying he should never have made those throws (the one where he attempted a no-look pass to Sidney Rice and Michael Adams didn’t bite was just flat stupid).  It wasn’t all Favre’s fault that the offense fell apart in the second half though.  The pass protection got spotty, largely thanks to Bryant McKinnie, who got owned by Bertrand Berry.  Obviously, there was no running game at all.  And overall, I just felt like the offense came out seeming panicky in the third quarter, even though they were only down 11, and had started moving the ball decently in the second quarter after deciding to get Chester Taylor involved in the passing game.  There was really no reason to get pass-happy there, unless you made up your mind that: A) you couldn’t run; and, B) your defense couldn’t stop them.

3.  The defense had a terrible first half.  No pressure on Kurt Warner.  Blown coverages.  Absolutely no shot at slowing down Anquan Boldin.  In the second half, though, the defense was much stronger.  Obviously, part of this was that the Cardinals were ahead and sort of took their foot off the gas, but the Vikings’ players deserve credit for hanging in.  It’s unfortunate the offense was unable to get anything going, because the D did give them a shot to get back in the game.

4.  Two refrains were sounded most frequently among my tweeps last night:  “The old Favre is back,” and “Percy Harvin needs more touches.”  Indeed, Percy was the Vikings’ most effective weapon, with 6 catches for 79 yards and a garbage-time TD, and 2 rushes for a team-leading 22 yards.  My refrain was, and always will be, “Chester Taylor needs more touches.”  That goes double when there’s a big pass rush and you need some screens to slow that down.  Chester could also be a big weapon on those occasions when teams decide to disrespect the Vikes’ run game and start dropping 8 men in coverage like Arizona did.

5.  The injuries are piling up.  There was E.J. Henderson‘s gruesome leg break.  There was Visanthe Shiancoe’s aggravated rib cage issue.  Tyrell Johnson suffering a concussion.  Cedric Griffin getting banged up.  Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt both leaving the game, forcing the Vikes to face the horror of Jon Cooper and Ryan Cook being in at the same time.  Favre banging his hand on someone’s helmet.  Who am I leaving out?

6.  The Vikings are still 10-2 and comfortably ahead in the NFC North, so obviously, there’s no cause for panic.   However, I think the Bengals game this weekend constitutes something of a gut-check.  We’ll be facing another pretty good quarterback and another really good defense.  I can’t imagine how Chilly will approach it, but, I wouldn’t be surprised if the passing game gets dialed back a tad.  Chilly’s instinct is to play it safe.  Lately, he’s gotten out of his comfort zone by throwing more, but that didn’t work against Arizona, so now Chilly will likely revert to what he knows best, namely grinding.  Unless of course he’s lost all his faith in the running game, in which case, I imagine Favre will throw it 40+ times again next week.  I’m personally not convinced Adrian Peterson has suddenly become chopped liver.  There’s got to be a way to free him up; the brain trust just needs to figure out what it is.

7.  Some game balls need to be handed out on the defense.  One for Pat Williams, who played his best game of the year.  One for Benny Sapp who was also outstanding.  One for poor E.J. Henderson who was having himself a hell of a game before the femur thing.  None for Kevin Williams and Ray Edwards who were both erased despite the Cardinals focusing all their attention on Jared Allen.  None for Jamarca Sanford who, even before the unfortunate E.J. play, was acting like a total dipshit.  Someone tell Jamarca to grow up.

8.  Props to Kurt Warner, Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals offensive line, the Cardinals defensive line, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, the Cardinals secondary, the Cardinals linebackers…yeah, pretty much the whole damn Arizona outfit.  The Cardinals outcoached Chilly and Co.  Warner outplayed Favre.  Fitzgerald and Boldin had their way with our DBs in the first half especially.  The secondary outwitted Favre every step of the way.  The O-line swallowed up our D-line.  Their D-line ate our O-line for lunch.  It was just a thorough ass-whupping.

9.  Remember yesterday afternoon around 3 o’clock when it looked like the Redskins were going to beat the Saints and we were thinking we might have our hands on homefield advantage by the end of the night?  That was a great couple of minutes.  And then reality happened.

10.  For quite awhile this morning, the #1 search on Google was “E.J. Henderson.”  Further proof that, for a lot of people, the allure of football is the violence.

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Tags: Adrian Peterson Anquan Boldin Benny Sapp Bertrand Berry Brad Childress Brett Favre Bryant Mckinnie Cedric Griffin Chester Taylor Cincinnati Bengals Darrell Bevell E.j. Henderson Jamarca Sanford Jared Allen John Sullivan Jon Cooper Ken Whisenhunt Kevin Williams Kurt Warner Larry Fitzgerald Matt Birk Michael Adams Minnesota Vikings New Orleans Saints Pat Williams Percy Harvin Ray Edwards Ryan Cook Sidney Rice Steve Hutchinson Tyrell Johnson Visanthe Shiancoe Washington Redskins

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