Vikings-Raiders Box Score at NFL.com
This week, after Adrian Peterson's injury status was revealed, I traded Cedric Benson, Kenny Watson, Larry Johnson, and Steve Smith for Chester Taylor in the Hazelweird Fantasy League. 202 yards from scrimmage and 3 TDs later, I'm pretty pleased.
Taylor had a very good day today, aided by very good run blocking and horrible run defense. So often, Taylor was getting through big holes and running around out in space picking up extra yards. We have been spoiled by Adrian Peterson's speed, but Chester Taylor had several longish runs on Sunday that were beautiful to watch.
There is no question that Tarvaris Jackson played his best game as a pro. He made one horrible pass that was intercepted in the end zone. But on the day, Jackson was incredibly accurate. I don't know how well it shows up on the TV screen, but when you watch the Viking WRs live, it's incredible how little separation they get from defensive backs. When Jackson was throwing outside passes to the WRs, he had to put them on a very precise spot, because defenders were right behind the WRs. Repeatedly, Jackson hit those WRs for short (but productive) completions. He also moved around well, throwing to (wide open) WRs while rolling to his left. A 17-22 performance from Jackson is worth smiling about. It makes me wonder if Jackson's various injuries earlier this season were really affecting his accuracy.
While I want Jackson to play well, his good performance should slightly terrify Viking fans. If Jackson struggles, the team knows it needs to go in a different direction at quarterback. No question. Simple. If Jackson starts playing well, making good decisions and completing accurate passes, then the team has to wonder whether Jackson really is the quarterback for this team.
I'm not ready to gush over one very solid performance in the midst of Jackson's struggles throughout the season. But Jackson's performance as the season goes on is worth monitoring. He's mobile and strong-armed. If he starts throwing accurate passes consistently, and he starts making good decisions consistently, the Vikings have a tougher decision to make in the offseason.
Pat Williams and Kevin Williams
Do you reach a point where you take the brilliance of PW and KW for granted? They just repeatedly make impressive plays.
We saw everything from Culpepper today. We saw the mobility and the accuracy. We also saw the tendency to hold the ball too long and take losses. I miss Daunte...but I sort of don't.
Red Zone Playcalling
Early in the game, I feared I was watching a repeat of the Kansas City game, when the Vikings played superb offensively early in the game, but just missed out on a lot of points, and then let the opponent come back. The Vikings should have had a multi-touchdown lead early in the first half. Turnovers were obviously one problem, but red zone decision making was responsible, too. Up 7-0, the Vikings had first and goal at the three yard line. They had run successfully with Chester Taylor, and they had the inexperienced/erratic Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. My plan would be to plow Taylor forward three times. The Vikings called a pass play, and Jackson threw a horrible interception (luckily the Raider tried to run out of the end zone, which helped set up a subsequent safety). 1st and goal at the 3 may be, as Jeff Dubay and Mike Morris said after the game, a good passing down, and the turnover entirely on Jackson. But the Viking playcallers know they have an inexperienced/erratic QB, and should have played it safe with runs.
A few series later, the Vikes again got the ball into the red zone. This time they did run three straight times--with Naufahu Tahi. Tahi is the team's fourth-string tailback. If Chester Taylor needed a break, they had Mewelde Moore. In the red zone, why would a poor offensive team use a needed scoring opportunity to run a fourth-string tailback three straight plays?
These decisions frustrated me.
When you look at a box score, and you see one WR in the passing category (2/2 for 94 yards) and another WR in the running category (1 rush for 26 yards), you know you're seeing some shifty plays. The first play of the game (a reverse WR pass to the TE that went for 79 yards) really woke the crowd up (and I presume woke the Raider defense up). Those gadget plays are always fun.
I don't care if the team is just 4-6. I love when the Vikings win. The W makes me happy. Listening to "Skol Vikings Skol" at Thunderdome makes me happy. Watching other smiling Viking fans makes me happy. I'm happy.