Vikings Face Tough Test Against the Jets

And now we will take a little break from the endless giggly Brett Favre schlong picture coverage to discuss actual football – specifically, tonight’s National Football League game of football between the football clubs the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Jets (this sentence brought to you by Mark Schlereth).  Hmm…where do we begin?  So many things to discuss.  Randy Moss vs. Darrelle Revis.  Brett Favre vs. the team that volunteered to employ him during his Ted Thompson-mandated one-year exile from the NFC North.  The Vikings defense vs. the young and dashing Mark SanchezLaDainian Tomlinson vs. the team he spurned because he didn’t want to end up Adrian Peterson‘s caddy.  The storylines are infinite.  And it’s only one game, people!

Well clearly, given recent events, there is only one place to begin:  Randy Moss.  What a crazy week it was for every Twin Cities metermaid’s favorite wide-out.  Just seven days ago, Moss was still a member of the New England Patriots, and there wasn’t even the hint of a whisper of a rumor of him possibly being traded anywhere, let alone to the Vikings.  Then Moss was shutout in the Pats’ game against the Dolphins and…well, things took off from there.  On Tuesday night, thanks to Bill Simmons‘ “accidental” tweet, the internet was set ablaze with talk that Moss had worn out his welcome with the Pats was about to be sent to the Vikings.  On Wednesday the actual trade happened – and there was much rejoicing in Vikingland.  On Thursday, Randy reported to his new/old team, practiced, met the media, kissed up to Sid Hartman, cracked a Love Boat joke…yes, Randy Moss was back in a Vikings’ uniform and catching passes from Brett Favre, and it wasn’t a weird Nyquil-induced half-dream/half-hallucination.  Tonight, Moss will put on his purple 84 jersey for the first time since January 16, 2005, and hopefully provide a spark for what has so far been a misfiring Vikings passing game.

Of course the job of fixing the passing game is not all on Randy Moss – for the air attack to get going in the right direction, Brett Favre will have to up his game from where it was the first three weeks of the season.  In all honesty, Favre hasn’t looked much better than Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels probably would’ve – and neither of those guys is making $20 million.  Now, there are no more excuses for Brett:  We’re in the fourth game, so I don’t want to hear any more about how the offense is still getting up to speed.  They made a trade for Randy Moss, so I don’t want to hear about how there’s no deep receiver.  No, maybe the offensive line isn’t great, but it has been good enough; and, needless to say, Adrian Peterson has been providing all the running game any quarterback could ask for, and then some.  It is all on Favre now – either he makes the throws or he doesn’t.  And no, I’m not giving him a break because he’s got some inflammation in his elbow.  You know he’s played with that kind of thing before, and been brilliant.  If he can’t fight through that sort of condition, then maybe he should’ve stayed home in Hattiesburg.

Not to sound like I’m picking on Brett – goodness knows he’s taken enough crap the last couple of days – but I really believe tonight’s game amounts to a litmus test for Favre’s immediate football future.  And no, I am not calling for Favre to pull off some majestic performance-in-the-face-of-adversity, like the Dead Father game – I just want to see a little feistiness, and if it’s not asking too much, a little more accuracy.  Favre does not have to throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, he just needs to show that he can keep his head in the game for four quarters, and run the offense with some efficiency.  I realize this is a tall order against such a good defense, with Randy Moss still getting up to speed on the offense and Visanthe Shiancoe dinged up besides – but, like I said before, we’re four games in now, so we need to start seeing some crispness.  If Favre can’t go in there, focused and motivated, and make the passing game at least look adequate?  Then I don’t believe the Vikings will get on track in time to save their season.  I’m not even talking about winning tonight’s game – yes, dropping to 1-3 would be bad, but even that would not be insurmountable.  What I want to see, if I can’t have a victory, is at least an encouraging effort, a sign that Favre has at last shaken off the rust.

However Favre plays, tonight’s game figures to be the toughest test of the season so far, both physically and mentally – even tougher than the season opener against the Saints.  The Jets look like a complete team now, with Mark Sanchez rounding into form, LaDainian Tomlinson providing an unexpected home run threat and a defense that, even with Darrelle Revis possibly not at 100%, looks just as scary as it did last year when it carried the team all the way to the AFC Title Game.  Tough as this opponent is however, and even though the game is on the Jets’ turf, I believe the Vikings have a legit shot at winning tonight.  The Vikings’ defense is for real, and Adrian Peterson is for real real.  It’s conceivable that the Vikes could win tonight just on defense and running, that’s how good I think those aspects of their game are (and they’d be even better if they could force more turnovers and find a #2 back to take some of the pressure off AD).  Then again, the Jets are good enough defensively that they could conceivably stuff Peterson, or at least limit the damage he inflicts, and are proficient enough offensively to give Leslie Frazier‘s boys trouble, especially if Brad Childress‘s offense can’t stay on the field.  This feels like one of those games that could slip away early, thanks to a bad throw or a fumble or a big special teams play, and possibly get out-of-hand.  But, if the Vikes are able to play their game – running it, containing things defensively, making enough plays passing the ball – they should be good enough to go on the road and beat the Jets, or anybody else for that matter.  Like I said before, it comes down to whether Favre can start playing like he actually wants to be in there, and knows what the hell he is doing.  Everyone chuckled when Brett said a couple weeks ago that he wasn’t sure who he was passing to – but if that’s still the case now, with Randy Moss out there, nobody will be laughing, and a lot of people might start yelling for Brett to haul his old butt home.

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Tags: Adrian Peterson Bill Simmons Brad Childress Brett Favre Darrelle Revis Ladainian Tomlinson Leslie Frazier Mark Sanchez Minnesota Vikings New York Jets Randy Moss Sage Rosenfels Sid Hartman Tarvaris Jackson Visanthe Shiancoe

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