Game Wrap-Up


The Vikings fell to 1-2 in the preseason by losing to the Seahawks at Qwest Field 30-13. For the Vikes, it was a game marked by offensive mistakes and, at times, shaky quarterback play – especially by alleged number 2 Brooks Bollinger, who may have finally demonstrated enough ineptitude to convince the organization that more help is needed at the position.

The game got off to a bad start for first-string QB Tarvaris Jackson too – he fumbled the first snap from Matt Birk and the Seahawks recovered, deep in Viking territory. The defense manned-up though and held Seattle to a field goal. The second Viking possession was marred by a Ryan Cook false start and they were forced to punt. The problems with our special teams came to light again when Chris Kluwe hung the punt way high, giving our coverage plenty of time to get down – and we still allowed Nate Burleson to run it back 53 yards. Again, the D stepped up and Seattle was only able to get a field goal. During that second Seattle possession, E.J. Henderson had occasion to speak to Matt Hasselback, whose season E.J. messed up last year by rolling into his knee. There had been some yakking in the media, but E.J. and Matt seemed to smooth that over with a couple butt-pats (nothing a good butt-pat won’t solve). Said E.J. after the game:

"Matt just said to me that it was all blown out of proportion and that things were all good. I caught a couple of the articles and the things that Matt said to the media, but I am taking it all in stride — I’m not sweating it. He said his bits and I said my bit. Then we knew we would take it out on Saturday and see what happened. Then we moved on."

The Vikings third offensive possession of the game went somewhat better than the first two – though Ryan Cook did set it back early by committing his second false start. The Vikes were able to get the penalty yardage back and then some on the next play, a throw to Bobby Wade where he got pasted by Kevin Bentley but held on. The Vikings then gave Seattle a good dose of Adrian Peterson, mixing in another Bobby Wade 22-yard catch. They worked it down to the 19 but the drive stalled and they were forced to try a field goal. Unfortunately, Ryan Longwell missed the kick badly and Seattle took over.

The offense struggled at times in the first half, especially with penalties and mistakes, but the defense consistently rose to the challenge. Linebacker E.J. Henderson made his presence felt after a couple of anonymous preseason performances; and then there was Antoine Winfield, who seemed to be everywhere. Winfield’s highlight came when he read Matt Hasselbeck and stepped in front of Bobby Engram to tip the ball to himself for a pick. That seemed to fire the offense up, because they came out on their next possession and hit pay-dirt. Again, Bobby Wade was the offensive stand-out. T-Jack hooked up with him on a nifty slant-and-go that went for 35 yards. Then, two plays later, the Vikings whipped out some trickeration – T-Jack faked the hand-off to Adrian Peterson, then gave the ball to Wade on an end-around. Meanwhile, Visanthe Shiancoe had faked a block and released, and was behind the coverage in the end-zone. Wade slowed up and lobbed the ball over the defense to Shiancoe for the TD. Nothing like a sweet preseason trick-play, eh?

Clearly, there are a lot of things the Vikings need to work on. The right side of the line is still unsettled – Anthony Herrera started in place of Artis Hicks at RG, meaning the position is still up for grabs, plus there’s the Ryan Cook false start issue. Also, Tarvaris Jackson, for all the praise he’s received about his poise this preseason, looked a bit uncertain at times, especially late in the first-half when the team was trying to run a semi-two-minute-drill. Jackson also showed his inexperience in a couple of areas. Brad Childress brought one of these up in his half-time bit with the KSTP side-line reporter – he mentioned that T-Jack needs to do better in zero-coverage situations, times when the other team blitzes heavily, leaving them man-to-man on receivers with no safety deep. The Vikes had a chance to capitalize on one such situation in the first-half, but Tarvaris didn’t lead Bobby Wade enough and the pass was incomplete (to be fair, T-Jack was being rushed heavily, and had to throw off his back leg). Jackson spoke after the game about being blitzed:

"This is what I expect me being a young guy. Everyone is going to come at me. I just have to make plays when they do it."

Another thing Jackson needs to work on is knowing when his receiver has his man beat and when he doesn’t. There was a near-disaster late in the first half when Sidney Rice tried putting a double-move on Marcus Trufant and the corner didn’t bite. T-Jack threw it anyway, and Rice ended up having to turn DB and knock the ball away. Jackson’s performance was okay overall. He delivered the ball with good timing much of the night, and managed to handle a few of the blitzes. He also didn’t pull the ball down and run as readily as he has in previous games.

Receiver-wise, outside of Bobby Wade, there was little to coo about. Troy Williamson was once again shut-out – not entirely his fault obviously, though there was one play early in the second-half when T-Jack led him beautifully and he seemed reticent to lay out for the ball. Sidney Rice and Robert Ferguson managed to get slightly involved. There were many fewer screens and other passes to running backs than we’ve seen previously, leading one to believe that Chilly and Darrell Bevell just decided they were going to work the receivers as much as possible. The one possession in the second half that featured starters saw Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson both gaining big chunks on the Seahawks – this was the best preview we’ve gotten yet of what the two-back offense may look like once it gets cranked up. The line seemed to be opening large holes, and the backs weren’t missing them. The Peterson/Taylor combo finished the game with 102 yards on 18 carries. Peterson was especially impressive, again, with the way he finishes plays. He always ends up going forward, either plowing tacklers or putting some kind of move on that gets his momentum turned so he’s gaining more inches as he goes down. The young man is simply impressive.

The defense, though it played well for the most part, also has a few issues. Again, there were large holes in the coverage at times, and Hasselbeck had plenty of time to find them (not that he needs much). Our linebackers had trouble covering Marcus Pollard as well, though it must be said that Pollard is a very good TE. And then there was Cedric Griffin, who seems to be regressing. His tackling looked inept at times as in the Jets game. He’s still a starter, but at what point will Marcus McCauley officially be breathing down his neck? McCauley looked good again last night, displaying sure tackling and showing his athleticism by diving to tip a ball away. Granted, he did get blown by on one long Seattle TD pass in the second-half, but that play might’ve been as much about the safety freezing in the middle of the field as anything.

And now on to a matter that I’m sure is causing Viking fans a certain amount of angst this morning – our back-up QB situation. Brooks Bollinger, to put it bluntly, sucks fifteen kinds of ass. This guy is supposed to be our “veteran” number 2 guy, yet he comes in against the second-team defense and looks inept. He overthrows every deep-ball he attempts, and misses short passes by wide margins. His final stats for the game sum it up: 6/11, 52 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs and a 27.7 QB rating. Will Brad Childress finally relent and make a play for a real back-up? I’m hoping a decent QB becomes available after cut-down day – or maybe we could coax Todd Bouman away from his new gig? Anything, just, no more fricking Bollinger.

A few final notes:

– Bobby Wade, our number 1 receiver for sure now, came off the field limping and could be seen in the second half sitting on the bench with his leg elevated. He has a sprained ankle which is being described as minor. Aundrae Allison also experienced back spasms.

Alex Reyes got no playing time, leading us to believe that Chris Kluwe has won the punting job. Kluwe did shank one, but he also had a sick coffin corner kick that did a 90-degree left-turn after hitting and bounced out at the one-foot-line.

– I know it was only against a second-team defense, but RB Naufau Tahi looked good. I hope we hold onto this guy. He’s got some stuff going on.

Ciatrick Fason, on the other hand, has nothing. Been nice knowing you C-Fase.

Chandler Williams could be the answer at kick returner. He did nothing special last night, but somehow he just looks better than anyone else we’ve tried.

Fred Evans saw his first action and forced a fumble.

– The end of the game was marred when LB Cameron Siskowic went down, and had to be strapped to a gurney and driven off the field in an ambulance. The players did the usual bit where they all kneel and look worried – though there was nothing as bad as when that insufferable holy-rolling nitwit Kurt Warner went out and prayed over Blaine Bishop in the Super Bowl. Siskowic has been given X-Rays and a CT scan, and both came up negative. He was kept in a Seattle hospital overnight for observation but is expected to be okay.

– Things got frisky between Brad Childress and Visanthe Shiancoe on the sidelines after Shiancoe’s false-start negated what could’ve been a big running play for Adrian Peterson. Said Chilly after the game:

"It was the heat of the game and I wasn’t very happy with him … You know, you’ve got to be able to hold your water.He didn’t like the things I had to say to him. But if I had to say them again, I’d say them again. He’s a professional football player."

Chilly, laying down the law.

The coming week will be a busy one for the team. Rosters must be trimmed to 75 on Tuesday. And there’s Thursday night’s final preseason game against the Cowboys, which will feature a whole lot of back-up players.