Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming off the ledge

This sure looked to me like a game that was pissed away by the Viking quarterback. It's not that Favre didn't make some good plays. But aside from the obvious turnovers, there were several open receivers on plays that could have changed the game, and Favre missed them. At this point, are we still allowed to blame lack of time practicing together? Or at this point, do we simply call them inaccurate passes? Favre has been erratic at best. Receivers were often in position to make plays, but too frequently Favre failed to get them the ball where they could.

The Viking run defense was historically good from '06-'09, and that sort of run has to end sometime. I'm afraid it already has. And while the Viking defense appeared effective for much of the game at preventing touchdowns, I'm not sure how much that is on the defense. Frankly, the Jets frequently looked on the verge of breaking some long pass plays, and it wasn't quite good defensive play that was preventing it. I thought the referees really let defensive backs play physical pass coverage on both sides of the ball, and that it helped the Vikings more in this game.

The Vikings could have won this game. You might even convince me that it was the Vikings that blew the game themselves (I really didn't think it was the Jets defense looking great until the middle of the 3rd quarter, but rather the Vikings just not being able to get first downs). But right now, the Vikings are shaky and sloppy, so it's harder to make the argument they should have won this game. Actually, the argument is there. Favre should have hit a wide open Percy Harvin on a relatively short throw late in the game. But he didn't.

There's excitement, yes: they made a game of it, and Moss, Harvin, and Peterson are an incredible trio of skill position players that can make dazzling big plays. Seeing #84 run go patterns in a Viking uniform again is thrilling, no doubt. It was the Vikings' third close defeat of the season. However, the team also showed a lot of weaknesses in that game, and there's really no joy to take out of a loss like that.


  1. I still believe!

  2. If there's any hope, it's that we know it's a long NFL season, and teams often play very differently at different times of the year. Certainly, the Vikings have a recent history of early struggles that they turn around: a six game win streak in '05, a five game win streak in '07, 7-2 after the bye in '08. But it's worth nothing that in '05 and '07 they had dug themselves too deep a hole to make it to the playoffs. And that a team built so desperately around "win now" can have the bottom fall out into total disaster if things go real bad. We shall see. Certainly it is natural to try put that unpalatable mess out of our minds and think about Dallas in Thunderdome in six days.

  3. Anonymous12:25 AM

    I posted this at Football Outsiders, before I knew your post was up...

    Well, the two fumbles by Stubbleface were definitely instances of oldmanitis, but the ball was likely a bit slick, which is when oldmanitis is more likely to flare up. The closing int really was a case of desperation combined with horrid blitz pickup; if Peterson and Mckinnie do their jobs, Favre may have had a chance to go downfield to Harvin. He really did make some great throws interspersed with some bad ones, and by the end he looked like the elbow was shot. I don't think he can make it 12 more games, suspension or not.

    The most aggrvating thing is that, this deep into his career, Peterson still hasn't become enough of a professional to even approach adequacy in pass protection. Compare his effort with Tomlinson's; the contrast could not be more stark. I can understand the Vikings' delay in extending his contract, CBA issues aside. A guy who can't help you on third downs against a decent blitzing team really has reduced value, even if he has HOF caliber talent in other areas.

    All in all, health issues aside, there were things to like for Vikings fans, in a difficult environment, against a good team, but unfortunately the NFL doesn't allow you to put aside your old qb's ailing elbow, and cornerbacks who keep getting hurt. Looking at their schedule this past week, this game certainly seemed like the one they were most likely to lose, but the problem now is that their margin for error is about used up, they still have a difficult balance of October, and, again, their health appears to be on the downward slope. The window may be closed.

  4. Anonymous7:12 AM

    I can see the kind of blog this has become.


  5. Anonymous8:53 AM

    Anon, nice point about their thin margin for error. With 3 losses already, shakey QB play, and an overall sense that they're just dog-paddling to keep up, the upside right now might be 10-6 or 9-7, with a potential wild card game somewhere snowy. I think they'll need to steal one here soon either in Foxboro or Lambeau (as well as avoid stumbling against Dallas in the Self-Implosion Bowl this Sunday)to put themselves in a decent position.


  6. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Def. backs are terrible. Jared Allen is no where to be seen. (Maybe he does not want a sack so he can avoid the fine for his bull roping?)
    Offense has to develop some type of scheme, rather than "this looks like a neat play".
    Peterson is a stud. Percy is a stud. Moss adds a new dimension. (Cut Berrian right now)
    Favre looked old last night.

    LONG season, but they have to get it going pretty soon or they will be out by the time Rice comes back.

  7. Anonymous11:40 AM

    know the Childress complaints get old but once again he failed at the basics. The opening play not knowing that Favre would not be an eligible receiver. Also after the TD not knowing whther to go for 2 or kick an XP and having to burn a timeout. The Wilfs have handcuffed this franchise giving Childress an extension. He is just awful.

  8. Anonymous12:57 PM

    All teams waste timeouts occasionally. The biggest issue with Childress is talent evaluation. When you are four-plus years in, and the best chance you have at a playoff-viable qb is 41 years old, and won't show up until late August, you have a done a really bad job at one of the most important tasks a NFL head coach has; filling the depth chart at qb.

  9. Anonymous10:17 PM

    To borrow a poker analogy, as a fan I feel like I've been on "tilt" all season... After losses, I desperately look ahead to the next game, hoping to finally get a victory.


    Moss definitely helps both Peterson and Harvin. Peterson had decent numbers per rush, something like 4.2, before the TD pass, but the offense (Favre) just wasn't efficient enough on third downs to keep him on the field. After the td, though... you can see why the offense is potentially unstoppable. After that td, Peterson started to KILL the Jets, and the o was humming for a time.

    Also, when Favre was hot, his throws were spectacular - on three 3rd and waaaayyy long he put the ball exactly where it needed to be, twice for tds.

    So, yeah... I guess the trick is getting him in the "hot" situation. As of now, there are only two passes I think Favre is immediately capable of making consistently at the beginning of games: the parallel-to-the-line-of-scrimmage pass to a wideout or Peterson or the 5-yard-over-the-middle to a tight end. Personally, I only remember two of the plays in the entire game - one 11 yard "parallel" play (what, a slip screen? Bubble screen? Whatever...) to Harvin for our only first down of the half, and another over the middle to a TE in the second half on the td drive. IF we use these passes more, I think it can help Favre get into a rhythm... moreover, because he gets the ball out so quickly on each, they can be tough to defend with a pass rush. I'm not sure why they don't run more quick slants from scrimmage - that seems a staple of the wc offense that we never use, other than a few to Berrian (!?!?) here and there. Anyway, I think those kinda passing downs can help the passing game get hot, and loosen up the opposing d for runs and long passes.


    I'm not sure what to do about the D. Regardless of how shaky it seems at times - and Tomlinson ran right over us for long stretches - the fact remains we've been in each game because of its bend-don't-break ability. I think Frazier is scheming his ass off...

    But Childress... he gave up on the run too early against NO. He leaned too heavily on it - to the point of predictability, especially when space got taken away from Peterson at the goal line - against Miami (I know, I know. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. And yet, I think this is still a valid critique...). Yesterday, though, was the worst - he's making desperate calls in the moment, and not calculated ones... against Miami it was the failed 4th and 1 on the opening drive instead of an automatic fg. Yesterday, it was the failed two point conversion. WITHOUT THAT ATTEMPT, we have a shot at tying the game even with Favre's interception. That killed us. With shaky qb play, we can't afford shaky coaching.


    Great blog, pv.


  10. Anonymous10:25 PM

    Addendum: sorry for the shifting third-person/first-person... I can never decide which I want to use...

    ...and, as Josh said, I still believe (desperately), that we have a chance to win the division outright. I'm not so sure we can get a wild card... the NFC South is very dangerous this year, not to mention the 'Skins and Giants.

    IF we do make the playoffs, though, we almost certainly need a bye. I can't see us making it through one round, let alone multiple, without another rest week.

    Finally, I do believe we're capable. Even with the disorder, the offense has a chance to be unstoppable, and the defense, if not dominant, is physical and mentally tough.