Tuesday, August 03, 2010

What now?

The 2010 Vikings have two dominant strengths, two personnel areas that I think are as good as any in the league.

Defensive Line
Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Ray Edwards make up a disruptive, devastating unit that rushes the passer and smothers the run. The pass rush has been much less effective on grass than on turf, but this is still a unit that can wreck an opposing offense and cover for deficiencies in the secondary.

Skill Positions
Is there an NFL team with skill position talent that you would prefer to the Vikings? They have an elite RB in Adrian Peterson, a good red zone TE in Visanthe Shiancoe, and a diverse group of WRs in Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian that provide deep threat, short threat, runs after the catch, and basically any combination of things you'd want from WRs. Certainly having an elite QB to utilize the talents of those players brings out the best in them, and the Vikes will need at least mediocre quarterbacking to get to the playoffs. But remember 2007, when the Vikings' top receiving threat was Bobby Wade? Those days are long past.

I think the Vikings might need to get creative offensively: there are some things they can do with Jackson, Peterson, and Harvin in the backfield that could really electrify the field. It's also evident that if Jackson is again the starter, the focus of the team leans more on the run, so the run blocking of the offensive line will need to be more effective, and Toby Gerhart will need to provide something on 5-10 carries a game.

What do the 2010 Vikings do without Brett Favre? My guess is they eke out 8-10 wins, lose 2-3 games that they should have won, maybe get into the playoffs, and in the playoffs probably lose, but with matchups and luck, who the hell knows. The strengths of this team are enough to make them competitive any week (as has been true for most of the Childress era, actually), but the weaknesses (serious questions about the quarterback and the secondary, for starters) probably prevent them from being an elite team again. But I'll hope, because it's better to cheer with hope.

Two nights ago I had a dream that the Vikings started out 2-0; in particular, Pat Williams was just running around crushing people. For you, dear reader, I'll put my crazy purple optimism on once again. We'll get through this season together.


  1. Anonymous4:29 AM

    i think tavaris could be dangerous on a lot of bootlegs with harvin and peterson drawing attention. he brings a different game than favre and childress would have to accomodate. i don't know that you'd see the precision game at all but you'd see more deep bombs to rice and berrian.


  2. Anonymous5:35 AM

    You're assuming the Incomparable is not coming back. I think it's pretty obvious he is. Even if the Incomparable texted someone on the team "I'm hanging it up." That may mean, at most, at that nanosecond the Incomparable thought he was hanging it up, only to change his mind before the electrons actually left the the contact point when he pressed send.

    The guy has several screws loose and cannot help himself. So I have little doubt he caused this brouhaha but I think Percy or someone he texted took the "hanging it up" too seriously.

    And with ESPN doing the most ridiculous version of what the Incomparable could only dream of, it will get worse, and he's totally coming back, so he can put ESPN through this again next August.

    Did I mention he's totally coming back?

  3. RK, you weren't rooting for the Vikings during Tarvaris's games. His biggest problem is accuracy: he sometimes goes on a nice streak where he throws well, but he'll have a game or two where the ball is just all over the place. It's possible he's improved. Others see bigger problems for him (pocket presence, reading defense), but I think those things can improve with experience, but I don't know if the accuracy can/will.

    Anon, you are probably right. A lot of people seem to assume this means nothing. He's probably still coming back. It's just all weird.

  4. The Vikes threw for 4,400 yards last season. The previous three Childress seasons? 3,400; 2,900; 3,200. Now, the receivers for the current Vikings are far superior. In '06 the Vikes' targets were Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson, and Jermaine Wiggins, Troy Williamson was involved in '06 and '07, and Bobby Wade led the team in receptions in '07 and '08. The Vikes have much better targets to throw to, much more reason to throw, much more reason to expect successful passing plays. So why am I posting them in a comment here? Because I looked them up.

  5. Probably pointless to bring this up due to today's latest "news" on this matter and because, as Anon says, BF will be back.

    However, I couldn't resist when rk brought up Tarvaris Jackson's strengths.

    Anyway, if Jackson were to play quarterback for an extended period of time, the Vikings would have no deep passing game.

    Jackson throws a terrible deep ball. He always has. The only good ones I ever remember him throwing were in 2007 – both to Troy Williamson (Troy caught one for a TD at Soldier Field, he dropped the other one against Denver).

    While they would all suffer, the receiver that would really be hurt by a return of the Tarvaris Jackson Experience would be Sidney Rice.

    Remember all those catches Rice made last year on the sidelines, where Favre threw to Rice's back shoulder while the cornerback had his head turned the other way? Or how about the deep balls where Favre put just enough on it to allow Rice to reach over, under or around an opposing DB for a big gain?

    Tarvaris Jackson cannot make those throws. His arm strength can't be questioned and he can zip a five-yard slant into your gut as good as anybody. But he has no touch on his passes. Rice goes from an 80 catch guy to a 50 catch guy with Jackson QB'ing.

    But again, Favre is coming back, so what is there to worry about?

  6. It's true: Jackson has a tendency to throw a deep ball that looks beautiful and usually lands five yards away from a receiver. If he plays, it's short patterns to Harvin or Berrian that would have more success than deep passes to Rice.

    I also don't trust Jackson at all in the red zone, which is a place that Favre thrives. That also would hurt Rice and Shiancoe.

    But, yes, probably nothing to worry about this year.

    I wonder, though, if Viking fans have been burned by watching a division 1AA project during his thrown-in-too-early developmental period, while a 5th year guy familiar with the system and league might be better than the guy we remember.

  7. PV:

    That is a possibility. But I think one of Jackson's big faults is he cannot make all the throws better QBs make with regularity in the NFL.

    There are three passing plays I think Jackson does well. The short slant; the 8-10 yard out to the sidelines; and the play where he fakes a handoff to Peterson and rolls right or left and throws on the move (usually the a wide open Shiancoe). That's it.

    That makes him a very easy QB to defend against. Teams can sit on those type of plays because they know the Vikings have to run a lot of them if Jackson is going to have any success. Like Asante Samuel sat on that quick out to the sideline to Rice in the Wild Card loss in '08 and returned it for a touchdown.

    I don't see that changing even if Jackson plays another 10 years.

  8. Superfreak1884816:51 PM

    Most negative takes on Jackson I can respect because it all comes down to what he has proven when the pressure is on and that has been nothing. At the same time I think it's clear he does possess a skill set that could translate to success in the NFL if he is able to get the game to slow down enough for him to make the right descisions. Which is why I believe the most important factor in finding this out is for him to stay healthy which is something he hasn't been able to do but few seem to point out. Obviously, if everything goes as planned we won't have to worry about this for another year but I think it's important to point out why Tavarius Jackson's career has taken so long to fully launch and allow us to really know for certain what we have on our hands.