The Vikings knocked off the Seahawks 20-7 in preseason action last night. Here are my ten points:
1. The offensive line looked pretty much the same
It’s hard to evaluate the first team offense because they only got two series (I’m sure the plan was for them to get much more action but Marcus Sherels’ pick-six plus the Seahawks’ typically plodding Bevell-style offense meant Seattle more-or-less hogged the ball for most of the first quarter). The good news for the O-line was that Donovan McNabb seemed to have decent time during the one long drive in the second quarter when the Vikes marched down and scored a field goal. The bad news was: 1) A protection mix-up in the first series allowed Raheem Brock to level McNabb. 2) Phil Loadholt slowed down the scoring drive by getting called for a false start. 3) Adrian Peterson had trouble finding running room a lot of the time (he might as well get used to that). Interesting note: Scott Kooistra started at right guard in place of Chris DeGeare. Anthony Herrera is still not ready to play and Chris DeGeare has been getting practice rips at right tackle. Be interesting to see who gets the first team reps at right guard during the week.
2. Bill Musgrave is not Darrell Bevell
One play-call stood out to me: The Vikes had 3rd-and-15 at the Seahawks 18 (after Loadholt’s penalty, a failed run play and an incomplete pass). I’m reasonably certain that during the Brad Childress/Darrell Bevell era the play-call would’ve been some kind of low-risk toss to a running back or a middle-screen to Jim Kleinsasser to get three or four yards and set up Ryan Longwell with a slightly closer field goal. But Bill Musgrave is not Darrell Bevell. Instead of doing the totally safe thing Musgrave tried to get the ball into the end zone, and might have succeeded had McNabb been able to hook up with Kyle Rudolph. Yes I realize Musgrave would’ve gotten hammered had the Vikings turned the ball over there, but sometimes you have to take a little risk. In that situation, when you’re already firmly in field goal range, it’s okay to press the issue a little. I hope we see more such relative aggressiveness from this offense (because I’m sick of the old Chilly/Bevell grandmotherish “take care of the ball” philosophy).
3. Mixed results for Marcus Sherels
Marcus Sherels is trying to make this team as a fifth corner/punt returner. He seemed on the verge of possibly being cut after infuriating his coaches by fumbling a return, then quickly redeemed himself with a pick-six off a tipped ball intended for Golden Tate (Tarvaris Jackson got the blame for that play but I thought Tate should’ve caught it; Pete Carroll evidently agreed, because he punished Tate by leaving him in for the rest of the game). I’m not sure I’d trust Sherels as a punt returner but I did like his quick reactions and sure-handedness on the pick.
4. Whither Jaymar?
Jaymar Johnson was only targeted once and caught no balls. And Marcus Sherels got two punt returns to Jaymar’s one. The other day I confidently declared Jaymar the fourth receiver…but today I’m not so sure. If Sherels emerges as the punt return man (we’re a long way from that after Sherels’ fumble) and Jaymar doesn’t show up in the passing game…I don’t know. I’m starting to wonder if Jaymar will even make this team. And that surprises me.
5. Manny Arceneaux, Devin Aromashodu and Juaquin Iglesias
Uptick for Aromashodu and Iglesias, big downtick for Arceneaux. Aromashodu made one really nice catch and may have edged past Jaymar Johnson in the battle for that coveted fifth receiver spot. Iglesias I still think is a practice squad guy but he’s made a decent impression two straight weeks. And Arceneaux…all I remember about him from last night is that he fumbled a ball through the back of the end zone for a touchback. If you’re going to make one play all night, you don’t want it to be something like that. I don’t think this guy makes it. Too bad because he has a cool name.
6. Christian Ponder showed slight improvement
The acquisition of Donovan McNabb took all the pressure off Ponder to develop quickly, which is good because I think if he had to develop quickly he’d be in a lot of trouble. After two weeks, I know Ponder can scramble a little, I know he likes throwing to Kyle Rudolph and I know he is absolutely not ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Slow development is what we’re looking for and slow development is what we’re getting. All I can say is, thank goodness for McNabb, because with Ponder or Joe Webb at the helm this offense would be brutal.
7. Ryan Cook is Ryan Cook
I have one note on Ryan Cook: He got called for a face mask in the third quarter, a play after Seth Olsen was called for a false start. Crap like that is why you’re not a starter Ryan. Scott Kooistra can get all the right guard reps until Herrera is ready to come back for all I care.
8. Lorenzo Booker has fumbling issues
Lorenzo Booker had a big fumble last week and he had a small fumble last night (it went out of bounds but it was still a fumble). He catches the ball and he’s shifty when he gets in the open field but if the guy’s gonna keep coughing it up…that’s a problem. And while we’re on the subject of fumbles: Toby Gerhart darn near committed one at the end of one of his runs. I mention this because the other day I happened to watch the second Packers-Vikings game from last season – cause I hate myself – and noted that one of the big early momentum-killing plays for the Vikes in that game was a Gerhart fumble. Adrian Peterson has cleaned up his fumbling problem, now it’s time for his back-ups to do the same.
9. Tarvaris Jackson is terrible
This is supposed to be a Vikings wrap-up but I can’t resist talking about Tarvaris Jackson. My God is he awful. 11-of-21 for 75 yards and a pick (more his receiver’s fault than his but still) in a preseason game, a lot of it against the Vikings’ second-team defense? I have to believe Seattle fans are already sick of this guy. I know Lawyer Milloy is. Sidney Rice may already be lobbying for Charlie Whitehurst to get the starting nod next week so he can see at least one catchable deep pass before the season opener. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Seahawks.
10. Darrell Bevell is Darrell Bevell
The Vikings’ goal-line stand against Seattle is going to be painted as a nice display of gumption by the second-teamers but we all know the truth: It was Bevell’s crap play-calling that stopped the Seahawks, not the Vikings’ mighty defensive line. How about play-action and a toss to the tight end Bevs? No? Let T-Jack throw a fade to someone to help boost his confidence? Not happening? Just run it four straight times and give the ball back to the Vikes. Hey it’s your offense dude. You know how best to run it.
Bonus: I used up two spots on Seattle so I didn’t get to the defense much. What stuck out was Jared Allen whiffing on a sack and Erin Henderson plowing a dude. And Adrian Awasom looking like he might be a player. And Tony Carter flashing a little bit in the second half. Yes I said “flashing.” That’s the buzz-word now I’ve noticed. When a guy does something good you say he “flashed.” I’m going to have to use that word more, so I will seem hip and in-the-know like Pretty-Boy Pelissero.
Bonus video: Here’s Sherels’ pick. Cause it was kind of nifty.