Dragon ship boarded, plundered by Buccaneers
Well fans, the Vikes played well enough to lose honorably down in Tampa Bay. Is anybody happy? – not me. A bunch of the old chronic Purple problems popped up and were duly exploited by the Bucs. The Vikes simply can’t deal with well-designed, imaginative blitz packages. It has something to do with the final capabilities of their offensive line, which doesn’t deliver when the game is on the line. Ryan Cook had another subpar game, and when the chips were down, Chris Hovan, erstwhile Vikes cast-off, simply ran over Anthony Herrera for the crucial sack. It was one of five. Meanwhile, the madcap Purple pass rush chased Bucs QB Jeff Garcia like the Keystone cops – ineffective but hilarious, vastly entertaining to the Tampa fans, no doubt.
Worse yet, the Vikes pass defense was finely sliced, once again by a tight end running down the middle of the field, “splitting the zone.” They could have won the game if they had stopped Tampa Bay in the third quarter after their incredibly good fortune with the two Bucs holding calls in succession, neither exactly blatant. Give Garcia credit for a great throw, but a playoff caliber team doesn’t give up third and 25. The Purple routinely does and collapses in most of these situations, losing close games. It is a culture. The Vikes, with superior talent, lost another game to a better disciplined team that made fewer mistakes.
There is a big problem with this outfit, no matter whether the Chiller or someone else mans the helm of the dragon ship next year. Gus Frerotte is simply not a playoff QB. He makes the bounce pass to too many open receivers, is prone to multi-turnover games, and has the feet of lead. Tarvaris Jackson is a long, long shot to step up to the starting role here or elsewhere. I fear that he will soon be his own agent, like Daunte Culpepper, conducting a Dutch auction for a product of rapidly diminishing value. By the time a competent QB is in place, some of the best current talent will be gone.
Oh well. The Northern Division is a dog fight, and there is no doubt that Minnesota fans have a one-eyed, one-eared mutt in it. The great lesson of sport is to never quit, because your opponent could always suffer unforeseen misfortune, like stepping on a nail, or food poisoning. The Vikes might well defeat Jacksonville next Sunday, even though they must play again down in Florida. That would leave them for the second week in first place, along with whomever. They could become accustomed to it and play to that level. More likely, Chicago might burn down again, or the team bus of the Cheeseheads unaccountably veer into the Bay. Never say die!
Talk back! Tell us what you think of this year’s teams. What would you do if you were in charge?
Go to winonapost.com, click on Football Forum to discuss this year’s season.