Another loss, but I think we learned something really important from this one…
1. The disparity between the Vikings‘ offensive performance in the first half vs. the second half was stark and, I think, incredibly revealing. Here’s the best way I can sum it up: In the first half when we ran our little bunched-up running plays trying to establish our physical presence and all the rest of that Chilly stuff, we looked inept, and ended up falling behind 16-0. In the second half when Chilly realized he was about to lose again and had no choice but to open up the offense and let Brett Favre operate, we scored 30 points and nearly wrested victory from the jaws of defeat. Again, it seemed that Brad Childress‘ need to vindicate his own philosophy was more important to him than making the practical, game-dictated decisions necessary to win. Yes, the adjustment was finally made in the second half, but the adjustment should’ve been made at the start of the game, coming off that debacle last week in Carolina. Everything works better for this offense when Favre is made the focus. The rhythm improves, which helps the blocking, and keeps the other guy’s defense off-balance, and even allows the running game to get rolling. With any luck, Chilly will have learned from this game that he needs to come out in the first quarter in more 3- and 4-receiver sets and throw it to set up the run. Unfortunately, I doubt he will make use of this new knowledge. We will probably come out next week with our usual dumb-ass I-formation, two tight end, running-into-a-brick-wall approach, because Childress thinks he has the offensive line for a power running game when, clearly, he doesn’t.
2. Childress’ need to put his stamp on the offense at all costs led to a somewhat amusing moment. After Favre marched the team down the field in wide-open, defense-spreading, coverage-dissecting fashion, getting into a goal-to-go situation, Childress predictably ran the goal line package in, and Favre could be seen waving his arms at the sideline because he wanted to stay in the 3-receiver formation and keep the momentum rolling. Clearly, Favre believes in the idea of continuing to do stuff that works, while Chilly the control-freak always wants to revert back to his pre-determined plan. Favre feels the game and goes with what is effective; Chilly has no feel for the game and always sticks with his little maddening idea of the right way to do things, even if it’s actually the wrong way.
3. The second half was like a game of whack-a-mole. We get our offense to work…and now the defense can’t stop anyone! We get our defense shored up a little bit…and now the kick coverage goes away and we keep giving them short fields to work on! We finally learn how to tackle someone on a kick-off…and now our running back can’t hold onto the ball! How frightening would this team be if every part worked at the same time?
4. The worst part about those kick-off returns was, if you cover them and force Jay Cutler to work it all the way down the field and score, you increase the likelihood that he will make a bad throw, or one of his receivers will run a wrong route, or something will go wrong that leads to a turnover. When you give him short fields and no pass rush, he plays like the Pro Bowler everyone thought he was.
5. As bad as it was at halftime, it could’ve been worse. The Bears didn’t fully capitalize on all the chances they had and that was part of why the Vikings were able to mount their second half rally. The Bears also left a couple of relatively easy picks on the field. I shudder to think what will happen if we end up going to Philadelphia to play a real team that won’t let us off the hook. We’ll probably lose by 40.
6. Adrian Peterson is a fumbler. We have to live with it. We wouldn’t be better off with Chester Taylor, who only gets holes to run through because when he comes in, the defense thinks it might be a pass and hesitates a half-second. By the way, Adrian was facemasked on that fumble, but whatever. He has to hold onto it. There’s no other way to say it. Thinking about it and talking about it have become incredibly old.
7. Antoine Winfield should sit out the Giants game. He’s not right. Everyone knows it. Benny Sapp is good enough out there, let him play instead. Back on the turf, we’ll get our pass rush cranked up again, and Eli Manning will spend most of the game on his ass. And we will need this game to get a first round bye. Maybe if we get that bye, Winfield can rest the bad foot and be closer to 100% for whoever we play.
8. Madieu Williams‘ missed tackle on Jay Cutler was perhaps the emblematic defensive play of the season for the Vikings. What could sum up our flashes of ineptitude better than an allegedly hard-hitting safety failing to bring down a candy-ass quarterback in the open field? Stuff like that can’t be excused. It’s just bad football. It’s just not knowing how to do what you’re supposed to do. It’s just feeble.
9. Jasper Brinkley had kind of a bad game. I’m still not convinced losing E.J. Henderson was the end of the world – it’s not like he was killing it every week before the injury – but the lack of a veteran to step in has hurt. Maybe we should’ve called Napoleon Harris after all.
10. I’m not as angry after this loss as I thought I would be, and I know why: it’s because I think the game exposed Childress for the stooge he is, and I see the experience as revealing and perhaps even cathartic. Brett Favre is certainly not going to submit himself to another year of this nonsense, which means he will be gone after our last game of this season. That will leave Chilly to try and run his offense with Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels or some other loser who will just do whatever he says. And it will fail miserably and the locker room will lose even more respect for him, and Zygi Wilf will be left with no choice but to buy out his contract prematurely and find a new coach. Maybe Jon Gruden will be ready to come back out from the booth by then. Or maybe Bill Belichick will desire a change of scenery.
Topics: Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Benny Sapp, Bill Belichick, Brad Childress, Brett Favre, Chester Taylor, E.j. Henderson, Eli Manning, Jasper Brinkley, Jay Cutler, Jon Gruden, Madieu Williams, Minnesota Vikings, Napoleon Harris, Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson, Zygi Wilf