Sunday, September 21, 2008

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 20, Panthers 10

Vikings-Panthers Box Score

E.J. Henderson
Middle Linebacker E.J. Henderson has fast become one of my favorite Vikings. He's a terror, running all over the field, tackling running backs behind the line of scrimmage, slamming runners down in the open field. Certainly he's helped by Kevin Williams and Pat Williams taking up blockers and leaving him room. But in the open field and in the backfield, E.J. Henderson makes great tackles.

Antoine Winfield
We need to find a name for the sort of play Winfield made: one man recorded a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown on a single play. And Winfield has been making these sorts of game-changing plays in his entire tenure with the Vikes. He's been a very fun player to watch.

Gus Frerotte
Let's put it simply: today Gus Frerotte made throws that Tarvaris Jackson could not make. The 48 yard pass to Bernard Berrian is the best example. Frerotte was poised in the pocket, patiently buying time, and he stepped up and delivered a perfect rainbow to a WR that had beaten the coverage. It was a beautiful play, and Tarvaris Jackson has rarely shown us the ability to make it.

In other cases, Frerotte just looked poised making progressions, running plays, and picking at the defense.

And Frerotte makes Bernard Berrian a factor. In the first two games, Bernard Berrian looked like a free agent bust, but today he made a few of the big plays we expect from him. He'll benefit from Frerotte, and the Vikings will benefit from getting productive big plays from a WR. Frerotte appeared to allow the Vikings to open up the offense. Not only were the Vikes doing more three wideout sets, but they were actually sending wide receivers wide more frequently--when Jackson was in, they often had a WR tighter to the formation. They're spreading it out, opening up possibilities for the offense.

Frerotte's not perfect: he can throw a pretty ball, but he can also throw inaccurate passes. What's the ceiling for Gus Frerotte? At best, he could be our Trent Dilfer (how much hope did the 2000 Ravens give to fans of teams with lousy QBs?). With an extremely good defense, with a very good running game, if Frerotte can convert some 3rd downs, hit on some deep passes, the Viking season can definitely turn around.

The Pass Rush
In the first half, I thought Jake Delhomme often had too much time to throw. But starting late in the second half, the pass rush really picked up. In the second half, once the Vikes had the league and needed to stop the Panther pass, the pass rush became ferocious. In the second half, the defensive linemen rushing the passer did all we could have hoped from them.

The run defense is so smothering we take it for granted: for the most part, a team running the ball against the Vikings just isn't going to succeed.

Stopping Steve Smith
I don't have the answer about how, but the Viking defense clearly contained Steve Smith, especially in the second half.

A lucky day: my brother and I got tickets in the ninth row behind the end zone for cheap. It's a thrilling angle to watch a game. I found it particularly great watching the defense, seeing the pass coverage, the intensity of the pass rush, the fast-closing holes on run plays.

This is our team
Today we saw how the Vikings are going to win games. They're going to control the game defensively, stalling the run and rushing the passer, holding teams to few points and forcing some key turnovers. They're going to run the ball a lot on offense, converting some timely passes and some deep passes but mostly controlling the game as a run team. If Adrian Peterson breaks out for some long runs, they might blow opponents out. But 20-10 scores are something we should come to expect. And I'm happy with that, if it continues. I'm really enjoying watching a great defense do its work.


  1. The vikings were actually fun to watch today. I think the big reason for the Vikings Defense (especially on the pass rush) was able to continue to intensify even later in the game was because the offense was able to convert 3rd downs and give the Defense a rest. The last two games our defense gave up touchdown drives late in the game because they were simply exhausted from the Offense going 3 and out.

    Frerotte's presence was huge today. You saw the players had a lot more confidence and played a lot more tougher on offense behind a QB they knew could get it done. As you said, Berrian was excellent, Bobby Wade made some key catches, and despite a dropped pass/interception early in the game, he came through with a nice TD catch and run.

    Playcalling: I liked the fact that they came out throwing. I don't know if it was because Chilly realized teams were on to him, or if he just felt more comfortable running deep pass plays with Frerrote over Jackson. Either way, I liked the approach with the offense playcalling. We were even able to finally execute a screen pass for the first time this season, something that we haven't done all last year even.

    If the Vikings can play "just average" football on the offensive side, it'll keep our defense fresh and allow for big plays and the shut down of power offenses.

  2. PV:

    The Vikings win their first game of 2008 and only two commenters responded to your post? the inbox should be overflowing.

    I wasn't particularly impressed by the Vikings play yesterday. The special teams were bad. The offence not much better. The defence did play very well.

    I think Vikings fans have already lost faith in this team and are bored with them. Perhaps that's the reason for the lack of comments. Frerotte looked better than Jackson. But the offence still only managed to score 13 points. Hard to get to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, when your offence performs like that.

    At least the Packers lost

  3. Anonymous4:44 PM

    i enjoyed the game yesterday. i do tend to post comments when my emotions are heightened and i am upset. hence no post yesterday. the vikings had a calming effect on me. the pass rush looked good. frerotte looked good. adrian seemed a half step slow (hopefully the hamstring gets better soon). all in all a good win for the vikings and something to build on. go vikes!

  4. I figure it to be a work in progress. Frerrote was fresh off the bench and hadn't played in a while, probably wasn't 100% familiar with running our offense in a life game situation. The offense did not look very good at all in the first half, but the second half is where they started to pick it up. Hopefully Frerrote picks up where he left off next week vs the Titans.