Roger – did the blog change for you too?
The Vikings face off against their long-time rivals from across the border Sunday night. All eyes and ears are straining to find out who will be under center. Veteran Shaun Hill protected the ball, made some nice throws, and contributed to a win in game 1 against the Titans. He also, however, badly overthrew a wide-open Diggs streaking toward the endzone, and badly missed Johnson on a post. His limited ability to stretch the field allowed the Titans’ defense to stack the box and stifle (an albeit rusty) Adrian Peterson. The Packers will provide much stiffer competition than the Titans did, and the Vikings defense can’t be counted on for 2 TDs every week.
Newly acquired Sam Bradford has been taking every waking opportunity to digest the Vikings’ playbook…….even to the point of waking up QB coach Scott Turner in the middle of the night to ask questions. Bradford has had 2 weeks to become familiar with the offense – could it be sufficient to surplant Hill at the most important position on the field?
It was leaked through Twitter that Bradford took ALL the first team reps during Thursday’s practice, giving valid weight to the speculation that he will debut against the Packers. At this point, a more accurate and stronger arm may be able to offset inexperience with the playbook, and tip things in Bradford’s favor. The big worry, of course, is a repeat of the MNF fiasco that was Josh Freeman, who was rushed into the lineup LOOOOONG before he should have been.
Could we be headed for embarrassment, or vindication? Worst-case scenario, start Bradford and if things go sour, Hill is more than willing to step back on the field.
We’re 24 hours away from re-opening the season on Bears. Cutler & Co. are coming in to town with their eyes on spoiling Minnesota’s hopes of a Division title, while bolstering what little credibility they have going for themselves this season, having made a decent showing over the past 5 weeks after a dismal start.
The Vikings hold their fate in their own hands – winning out will give them their first division title since 2009. Minnesota is nearly a lock for the playoffs via Wild Card, however I have a hard time believing that the title isn’t on the mind of every player on the team. It all starts with the next game, however, which features a team we’ve already beaten on their own turf.
The Bears team we face tomorrow is significantly improved, and will prove to be a challenge as all divisional games are. Minnesota’s tough defense will again be without major players, with Barr, Smith, and Crichton declared out, Joseph and Griffen could be game-time decisions. The Vikings do get Blanton, Watts and Sendejo back, someone just needs to remind him to hurt the people in black/white, not purple/white.
Perhaps more hopeful for the team was the effort put forth by fill-ins Ant Harris and Shaun Prater last Thursday at Arizona, helping the Vikings to hold a high-scoring Cardinal offense to only 23 points.
With the Viking defense still on the mend, fans are hoping to see more success by our young QB. The game plan was tweaked to take more advantage of Bridgewater’s strengths last week, and Teddy had his best game, albeit a loss. RB Adrian Peterson has had good success running against the Bears in the past, and as always will be relied upon to wear them down and put up points. He should have rested legs after a mini-bye.
This season, home-field advantage has not proved to be all that advantageous, and tomorrow holds no guarantees. The Vikings’ defense will need to contain a 1-2 punch running out of the backfield, shut down the always-dangerous Alshonn Jefferey, and put some hits on Cutler. The offense will have to continue dialing up plays that get the ball out quickly, occasionally stretching the field. Peterson will need to rip through the line and punish the Bears’ defense.
The NFC North title is within our grasp, but it all starts with one game. I like our chances, and besides, it’s December – time to put the bears to bed. SKOL VIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!
Compare the 98 Vikings with our team this year.
Using a devastating passing attack, the 98 Vikings set the season record for scoring 556 points that season. They never scored fewer than 24, had 52 plays of 25+ yards (22 of them longer than 40 yards), Cunningham and Johnson combined for 41 passing TDs. Randy Moss alone caught 17 TDs, Leroy Hoard ran for 9. We had the 1st ranked pass offense, the 11th ranked run offense, the 13th ranked defense. We went 15-1, only losing to Tampa by 3 points, then got beat out of the playoffs by Atlanta when Gary Anderson decided perfection was a stupid concept.
Now, let’s see how a run-first offense has treated us.
We may have the league leading rusher, but our run game ranks 5th. Our passing (non)attack is ranked 30th. Our QB has 8 TDs and 8 INTs through 12 games. Our league-leading MVP rusher has amassed 8 TDs in our “run-first” offense. Wow. We’ve managed to squeak out wins on several losing teams, only have 2 wins against teams with a winning record, and gotten blown out by 2 of 3 marquis teams on our schedule thus far. Run-first is not working for us, because when the run fails, we have NOTHING to fall back on right now.
I know this does nothing to compare OLine protection, but the stats lean decisively toward higher success with a better passing game than a better running game. Focusing on AP has stunted Teddy’s growth. He threw 14 TDs as a rookie over the same number of games last year without AP on the field, and the OLine was just as messed up.
Vikings’ brass better invest a couple higher picks into the OLine next draft. Hoping for Sullivan and Loadholt to come back 100% is a risky prospect, and people are already forgetting how much they hated on Loadsofholds. If Bridgewater still can’t get it done with better protection, then the blame falls on the receivers.
A high-powered passing offense coupled with a dangerous running back, anchored by Zimmer’s powerful defense is the recipe the Vikings need to take their place among the NFL elite.
Minnesota rolls into San Fran for a (late night) MNF showdown to open their season. Fresh off some convincing wins in preseason, and not daunted by a meaningless loss in which most starters never saw the field, the Vikings look to be the favorites to beat a 49er team that is a shadow of its former self.
Why we will win: TB has picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2014 season. He is crisp, clean, and even more mature than he was last year, which is saying something. Minnesota added a couple valuable weapons to the offensive (but not offensive) roster – Adrian Peterson and Mike Wallace. Both are figured to open up the other’s game – Peterson will draw defenders up to the line, leaving Wallace open down the sidelines, or Wallace will take a couple defenders with him, leaving open field for AD to do his thing. Throw in a healthy Rudolph and the threat of Wright, Johnson and Patterson, and San Fran won’t know WHO to cover.
Why it could be close, but we still win: The Vikings have had troubles containing a scrambling/running QB. We may have blanket coverage on 49er WRs, and our front line may stuff the RBs, but Zimmer needs to designate someone to spy on Kaepernik. The O-line is a work in progress, with a rookie at RT, and several converts and backups filling in 4 of the 5 positions. Also, the Vikings have posted a dismal record in primetime matchups over the past decade. However, this patchwork O-line provided TB with enough time to run through his progressions.
Prediction: Minnesota will bust open the 2015/16 season with a victory.
LET THE SCORE PREDICTIONS BEGIN!!!!!!! SKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!
My wife is pissed at me. She DVR’d “The Biggest Loser” and tried to watch it last night – ended up being the Vikings’ game.
What happened to pre-season Teddy? And Atlanta Teddy? Remember him? The one who could nail slants, hit runners in stride, and complete a pass more than 10 yards downfield? How do you go from a 300+ yard game to “trying to simplify things for the Rookie?”
Our Defense has been stepping up this year. They’re 14th overall in points allowed, and considering the teams we’ve faced, that’s saying something.
Offense? Offensive. Subtract the Rams and the Falcons games, and we’ve averaged 9 points per game. We’ve had so many injuries to the front line that we can now say Charlie Johnson, aka “The Human Turnstile,” is one of our better players, and THAT sucks. Whatever affliction Ponder has must be contagious. Teddy has been regressing this season, due in a large part to being planted up to his shoulders in the turf numerous times per game, and also in part because our WRs look like they’re running routes with all the enthusiasm of a teenager asked to pooperscoop the back yard.
One bright side on our offense is that our rushing game ranks #10, SANS Adrian Peterson.
Our Offensive line needs a major influx of talent. We could conceivably win enough games to get into the post season if we start scoring points again. Is that possible at this point in the season, or is it time to start narrowing down our 2015 top 10 draft pick? Because currently, we ARE who they thought we were.