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Viking View (10/17/2007)
By John Edstrom

Look for an aerial circus

...could be painful to watch

Well fans, I'll take the win, even if it comes with some nasty stuff on it. Apparently, the Vikes have developed a defense, if only the genius of Adrian Peterson.

But look a little closer, and solid gains in the downfield passing attack can be made out, starting with the TD to Troy Williamson. The play calling has become much craftier and is taking advantage of the potent rushing attack with play action passes that almost always spring someone open deep, or at least for long gains. There were probably four more TD's that weren't converted for just a small want of accuracy or good hands.

Tarvaris Jackson tends to throw high and hard, especially on the crossing routes or possession passes. This indicates no worse than a lack of maturity -- he gets excited and overpowers the ball like a baseball pitcher who overthrows his fastball. This should improve once he settles in, and the best of it is he doesn't actually have to complete those long balls to loosen up the defense for Taylor and Peterson. Jackson, despite being thrown into the breach before he is ready, enjoys the luxury of not having to do too much by himself.

Hopefully, the improvement in the play of the offensive line this week was not just an anomaly. Anthony Herrera, now anointed the starter, did a solid job protecting against Chicago's Tommy Harris, who is a premier defensive tackle. He blocked well for the run also. For whatever reason, Jackson finally got decent protection, and if this continues, you will see his accuracy improve by leaps and bounds. I would not be surprised to see the Vikes score thirty or more points more than once in the weeks to come, a prediction that would have been daft just a week ago.

Alas, now we must discuss the Purple defense, thoroughly pantsed in the last three minutes of the game, and giving serious indications of being more dreadful than last year's model. I had thought that Dwight Smith's play at safety was a plus, but his key role in giving away the fourteen point lead, with the atrocious missed tackle on Muhsin Muhammad, and then letting Devin Hester run right by him, could well land him in the Hall of Infamy. And he will know other people there, present teammates in the defensive backfield, if this keeps up.

As they did last year, other teams will be quick to notice that the fatal mistake in attacking the Vikes defense is in wasting time on running plays at all. What is the point, when a single toss will usually net six quick points, regardless of how clearly it can be seen coming.

The Vikes do not generate a pass rush even when the opposition abandons the run and, at least last Sunday in Chicago, showed little ability to cover a mediocre receiving corps catching for a journeyman. One fears that the reason the Purple has given up few points, is that their opponents have not felt the need to score more.

Look for the rest of the schedule to be an aerial circus, painful to watch, if the Vikes can't shore up their woeful pass defense.  


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