After a vicious offseason of wondering what might have been, it was good for a real football game to start. A few plays into it, and it was just a football game, just a chance to watch the Vikings and root for them to win. It’s like it always was.
So what does this game tell us about the Vikings 2010 season? If the rest of the season is like this game, they’ll gurgle and sputter and play flat and generally underachieve to mediocrity (I can see it: there have been plenty of playoff teams that followed up the next year by losing close games early in the season and then not sucking, exactly, but just performing like an average team). Or does the fact that they went on the road with a depleted secondary and competed to within five points of the defending champion show that the Vikings are still going to be competitive and are still ready to push for a Super Bowl over the next 15 games? Well, who knows. It’s another nine days until the Vikings get the Miami Dolphins in Thunderdome (a matchup I like a lot, but we’ll wait for that). I would have read way too much into a win tonight, but I’m afraid we can’t read way too much into this loss. We saw a lot of problems, especially receivers failing to step up and the thin secondary looking vulnerable. Those problems are also fixable (I think the WRs will perform better, and certainly the eventual return of Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin will help the secondary).
This team needs to rush the passer.
There are holes in the secondary; the defensive backs occasionally did an admirable job, occasionally looked bad, and occasionally looked bad but were bailed out when Saint receivers couldn’t finish a play. Even when they do rush the passer, a smart mobile QB like Brees can make the necessary moves to throw the pass downfield. But right now, if the Vikes don't get to the QB, they don't have the DBs to cover.
Brett Favre looks off...
But let’s remember how 2009 started. The Vikings played against a terrible Cleveland Browns team, and Favre really only needed to make a couple of throws of note. Is Favre any different in early September 2010 than he was in early September 2009? I doubt it--he just had a tougher matchup and was asked to do more this year.
Bernard Berrian…a very disappointing dud game. Percy Harvin…a very disappointing dud game. Visanthe Shiancoe made plays in the first half, and then was simply not a factor.
Greg Camarillo barely played, but I think he needs to. I think the Vikings will like what they get if he’s on the field more. The Vikings showed in their offensive formations and personnel tonight that protecting Favre was a priority—but they’re going to have to give more receivers a chance to make plays. Harvin and Berrian disappointed, but as Camarillo gets more acclimated to the team and playbook, he’s a guy that should make plays and be a reliable pass catcher on third down.
That Saint kicker
Yes, I shouted profane things at him when he missed those field goals about why he didn’t do that in January.
A few hours before the game, I went for a walk. I started thinking about all the negative predictions for the Vikes, the positive predictions for the Packers, about that game in January, about the upcoming game. Pretty soon I was walking really, really fast, and I had a vicious scowl on my face (I'm not sure, but I think people who saw me avoided me).
And I realized that I had spent the offseason in a fetal crouch, variously wincing, pouting, and avoiding. But to borrow a phrase from Jimmy McNulty, “What the fuck did I do?” Fear and trembling is no way to go through a season.
So screw the Saints, screw the Packers, screw the league, screw the national media, screw football karma. Viking fans have been coming back from disappointment for most of 49 years. We still come back donning purple with desperate hope. There’s no reason to sulk. We’ll stand behind this team. We’ll shout. We’ll leap with joy at their wins. We'll root. It’s football season.
The last line of the last song I heard on this walk? “It’s gonna happen (HAPPEN SOME TIME)…Maybe this time I’ll wiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn!!!!!”
Well, not tonight. 0-1 isn't fun. Waiting nine days to play again won't be fun. But I'm not sulking, and you shouldn't either. Come in off the ledge, everybody--it's a new day.
Share your thoughts, suckers.