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New old questions reopened (09/19/2007)
By John Edstrom

O line turns in an especial stinker

Well fans, most of the questions we thought were answered in the affirmative last week were reopened against the Lions. But to cut to the chase, the key breakdown on Sunday was all along the offensive line, which did its best to get the young QB killed in action. Tarvaris Jackson will qualify for disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder if this happens to him very often. In fact, they are saying he may not be able to play next week because of the pounding he took in Detroit on Sunday.

It is easy to blame him for not taking better care of the ball, especially that last, panicked interception thrown up for grabs in the fourth quarter. But the way Jackson had been hammered, harassed, and chased sideline to sideline would have flustered a far more experienced QB. There was not an offensive lineman Sunday who could cash his pay check without blushing, and those in the backfield who were there to block should also be ashamed.

Many people are hoping to see Kelly Holcomb next week but they should be careful what they wish for. A less mobile QB, though more experienced, will do no better than Jackson and may well get hurt worse. The Vikes have to pick up the blitz better or they will not win any more games than last year, and they will surely be served up a steady diet of it after opponents watch last Sunday's game films.

The same questions about the defensive line loom up again also. The Vikes applied about 50% of the pass rushing pressure that the Lions mounted, most of that by Ray Edwards. And where was Brian Robison? I don't remember seeing him in the game, although he was credited with two tackles. (By the way, the Falcons gave up seven sacks to the Jaguars on Sunday, so the six that the Vikes racked up in the opener are looking distinctly less gaudy now.)

Minnesota will continue to see the spread offense from any opponent that can run it marginally. If they don't rush the passer better, and if their corners don't cover tighter and tackle better it will be another long season. The rookie, Marcus McCauley, was victimized repeatedly, although he is not likely to face a tandem like Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams again anytime soon. Nevertheless, he is going to have to cover tighter and tackle better if the Purple has any hope of holding the opposition to less than 300 passing yards. You particularly hate to see him turn his hips immediately at the snap, the better to run away from the line of scrimmage and concede the eight yarder.

Is there a bright side? The simple answer is no, without distinctly better pass protection and blitz pickup, but next week's opponent is not shaping up real well this year either. Kansas City has lost to both Houston and the Bears in its first two outings and does not feature either the spread offense or marquee wideouts that Detroit has. It would appear that Mewelde Moore has plenty of uses in this QB challenged offense, and hopefully, the brain trust will rethink the practice of leaving Adrian Peterson out of the third down package.

Although the Purple proved once again vulnerable to the spread offense, they played it much tougher in Detroit than many a Sunday last year, and any time you hold the opponents to less than 20 points in regulation, your team has a good chance to win.

The key against the Chiefs next week will be better play along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. If the million dollar babies on the left start earning their pay, and those on the right at least a small raise, the offense will take care of itself. 


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