Well fans, the difference in Sunday's miserable bow to the Cheeseheads was that Brett Favre had all the time in the world to pick out his receivers, and Brad Johnson got chased all over the field and sacked four times. Pressured, Favre will throw interceptions. Given time, he will pick the best secondary apart, and the Vikes is not the best by far. Astute observers wondered, after the Patriots dissected Minnesota's pass defense without bothering to run the ball, if that is not what the Purple would face for the rest of the season. The Cheeseheads ran the ball 47 yards in 26 attempts, a 1.8 yard average, and still dominated the Vikes with 347 net passing yards. Once again, as in years past, Vikings opponents can deal easily with a stout run defense by simply passing the ball against a secondary that can't defend third and eight.
It is hard to see how the Vikes can turn it around this season. Their fatal flaw on offense is not, at bottom, poor wideouts, Brad Johnson's arm, or a propensity to commit crucial penalties, although all of these are weaknesses; it is a bad offensive line from right to left. Marcus Johnson can't cope with most left ends one on one. Artis Hicks is no better. Lots of pass rushers come right through the middle where Matt Birk is supposed to be an all-pro, and McKinnie and Hutchinson have allowed a bunch of sacks. The Vikes do not pick up the blitz on a regular basis, and this is getting worse, not better.
There were a couple of bright spots Sunday. It appears that Bethel Johnson can get open and catch the ball, as well as pose a grave threat as a kick-off returner. If only the Purple could avoid the crucial penalty, which dogs them week after week. Also, Cedric Griffin played better at cornerback than Fred Smoot has; he is supposed to be a better tackler, but looked also like a better cover guy to me. His stepping up will at least eliminate the need to rely on the miserable Ronyell Whitaker who gave up another long TD reception to Donald Driver. He could be observed breaking right just as Driver streaked by to his left on that particular play.
Just past the midway point in the season, the Vikes seem to be sliding rather than improving. What was supposed to be a strong point, the offensive line, is disappointing. The wideouts are are under achieving. And the defense has been exposed as unable to mount a consistent pass rush, and therefore unable to stop the medium range passing attack.
It is hard, after watching the Vikes effort against Green Bay at their own Hump, to predict that this bunch can finish 8-8. They are not a good bet to defeat any of their remaining opponents, few of whom possess winning records.