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  Friday February 27th, 2015    

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Viking View: Vikes seem improved
or perhaps Cards were especially bad
By John Edstrom

Well fans, the Vikes got the victory, but they didn't make it easy on their followers, with Chester Taylor's fourth quarter fumble down on the Cardinals' goal line and resultant 14 point swing. Chester is a lucky man. Had Cards QB Matt Leinart not been chased from the pocket on the last play of the game, he might well have gotten the ball somewhere near the 221 lb., 6'3" Larry Fitzgerald, who would have gathered it in, along with the odd Vikes DB, for the improbable win. Then, Taylor is forever the goat whose third disastrous fumble in two games finally wrecked the Vikes and Brad Childress' inaugural season, rather than the hero of Sunday's victory, going on 1500 rushing yards for the year.

And that is only fair, considering Taylor has been one of the few consistent bright spots on a very inconsistent team. Sunday, it was evident how many yards he gains on his own, long after he has run out of blocking which, by the way, seemed to improve against Arizona, especially on the right side where the porous Hicks and Johnson have been replaced with Jason Whittle and a combination of Mike Rosenthal and the giant Ryan Cook. After Rosenthal's performance last season, I never thought I'd be happy to see him back on the field, but there he was, a seeming improvement over the hapless Marcus Johnson.

Well, that was against the Cards, and the Bears are up next down in Chicago. We shall then see whether Whittle and Rosenthal are a Vikes upgrade, or Arizona just especially bad on defense. It is clear that the Purple have got to start picking up the blitz better. Much criticism has been wasted on Brad Johnson's performance this year that ignores the constant presence of blitzing opponents scampering freely about in the Vikes backfield while various running backs and tight ends stand around with nothing to do.

Sunday the Vikes pass defense seemed its usual shaky effort, but the Purple will not see a better set of QB and two wideouts than Leinart, Fitzgerald, and Boldin again this season -- by a considerable margin. The Purple pass rush was again inadequate, but time after time Leinart was able to get the ball off while on the run or just prior to getting whacked, right on the money, especially to the giant Hoover of a Fitzgerald. Cedric Griffin played very good, tight coverage on him, but could never get his hands anywhere near the jump ball.

The Vikes will probably give up less yardage to the Bears next week, a team not nearly so likely to abandon the run, particularly the way Rex Grossman has been performing lately. If, and that's a big one, they can score 15 - 20 points and avoid the disastrous turnovers and shoddy special teams giveaways, they could come home with the miraculous win. 


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