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Viking View (01/07/2009)
By John Edstrom

Vikes bow out early

QB an open question for Ď09

Well fans, I picked the Vikes against the Eagles by six, barring the turnovers and special teams gaffes. We got the latter and lost a tough game, but ultimately by a decisive margin. At the end of the first half, down only 16-14 and having survived a bunch of mistakes, the Vikes looked like they might be poised for the comeback. Instead, Philadelphia made the crucial adjustments and won going away. If there is any consolation, it could be that these same Eagles will get to the Super Bowl.

The first balance tipper was something the Eagles did on offense, which was to totally stiff the Minnesota pass rush at crucial moments; Donovan McNabb was given all day to complete two long third down passes, and thus weasel out from under his own goal post. These two Houdini escapes turned the game around. Instead of giving up the ball to the Vikes on the fifty for the probable field goal, it put pressure on poor Tarvaris Jackson to move the ball with his back to a wall.

The Eagles sold out to stop the run, and dared him to take advantage of it with his arm. Instead, he got nervous and blew up. First, you could see him holding the ball too long, unable to pull the trigger in the split second when receivers were open. Then, he seized up physically, and his throwing motion came apart like the swing of a bad golfer trying to get off the tee on a narrow hole with money on the line. In the second half, he ultimately reverted to the early season form that got him benched after game two.

The Purple defense, which played well enough to win a Super Bowl, finally succumbed to the long Westbrook run which clinched the game. They played well in the second half, but could not ultimately survive without a little help from the offense, which was not forthcoming in the air or on the ground.

So the season ends on an uncertain note for Vikings fans. The minimum, a playoff spot, was accomplished, and even a bit more, the division title. Yet the Purple disappeared after one game to a visiting wild card team, a loss not really very close, although certainly not shameful, unlike some within recent memory.

Brad Childress has earned at least another year of employment, but certainly not a contract extension. His judgment and performance under stress have been suspect at times. Why does he continue to mess up clock management and end game strategy? Why canít he get his special teams fixed so they donít continue to sabotage his team game after game? He has shown good judgment in personnel matters in the acquisition of Jared Allen, Bernard Berrian, and Madieu Williams, but not so in reaching for Ryan Cook in the draft and, most egregiously, Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson has shown the physical skills to be a starting NFL QB, but not the personality or temperament. Very simply, he does not handle pressure. At some point, with good coaching, and in the right situation, he could turn that corner, but for now, a plan B must be formulated for the 2009 season. It doesnít appear to be John David Booty.

The QB cupboard will be bare when the Vikes draft next year, and beyond Matt Cassell of New England, who will be a free agent, not much is available in that quarter. The Purple brain trust will have to pull a fine rabbit from its hat to improve upon a 10-6 record next season.



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