Sunday, November 18, 2007

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 29, Raiders 22

Vikings-Raiders Box Score at NFL.com

Chester Taylor
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.

Tarvaris Jackson
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.

Daunte Culpepper
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.

Shenanigans
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.

Vikings win
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.

5 comments:

  1. i agree with pretty much everything you said, especially about Tarvaris. it DOES make me worried, because we only have a few games left to make a choice on TJ as our future QB. drafting a rookie would be like starting over, and i doubt Childress would be around long enough to develop him.

    one very important item of note is our secondary. i had defended them until today. i had said that it was a lack of pass rush as to why they struggle. not so. they just CAN'T COVER, besides winfield. mccauley is very, very raw and cedric griffin seems to have REGRESSED since last year. we need one more playmaking DB, either CB or S. haven't heard much from sharper recently, have we? what happened to the vikes that were scoring on defense at the beginning of the season?

    oh, and troy williamson has to GO. he runs kicks back like he's afraid. he and todd pinkston need to go somewhere and hold hands with each other.

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  2. I thought Troy Williamson had a pretty decent game...

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  3. Anonymous8:10 AM

    Nice that someone else noticed how bad (scared) Williamson is returning kicks. Glad they finally put Gordon in there.

    I am happy with the win but I think we found the one coach in the league worse than out own. Lane Kiffin. What was up with the conservative play calling ? You would think they were playing Marty-ball. Man had they spread the Vikes out and just thrown all day I think they would have gashed us. Thanks Lane we will take it.

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  4. I agree Williamson is just an ineffective kick returner. And he's never done anything to really show he has potential as a kick returner.

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  5. Anonymous11:21 AM

    If the scheme demands that receivers show up at a certain spot for their route running, perhaps the receivers' ability to separate is compromised, especially if everybody and their mother knows what play is getting called next.

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