...but beware the horrible Lions!
Well fans, by the end of the day we got just about what we wanted out of our opening Sunday package, but that first half was a bad throwback to last year, and the typical seedy, shabby Purple offense second nature to the Childress era. In fact, when the second quarter ended, the attitude of the long-suffering was what does it matter who lines up behind center, since this offense is designed to telegraph where Peterson will run, and then throw two yards short of the first down to a receiver likely to drop the football.
I was cynically pursuing low-priority chores at the start of the second half, and then totally abandoned the game at a point where it appeared the Vikes were stumbling, not long into the third quarter. However, upon rejoining the narrative fifteen minutes later, the Purple had taken control of the game and there was no more drama to endure.
With some grim reservations, then, Vikings fans may cherish Super Bowl hopes without being absurdly delusional. Brett Favre, in the second half, proved himself the game manager and experienced old fox behind center which the Vikes need to craft an offense which is not just all Adrian Peterson, all the time. He is quick enough mentally and physically to make opponents pay for loading the box, or sending the mysterious or all-out blitz. There is the world of difference between QBs who dump the ball safely and predictably short of the first down, and those who are mentally agile and experienced enough to consistently find the hole in a gambling defense where the first down or long gain is.
This Vikings offense is going to be difficult for any team to keep under thirty points, nigh impossible under twenty. Sunday, we saw Favre feeling his way with about 20% of the play book available to him. When he gets comfortable, what defense will know where to begin against a team with all these weapons?
My chief worry is the inexperienced offensive line which gave up four sacks and and at least another four solid whacks on the Favre corpus, way too much punishment for an old fellow. Watch out for the behemoth lineman who catches him in a vulnerable attitude and takes him on the swan dive that lands him shoulders perpendicular to the turf, 350 lbs. making the point. Favre will not last the season if he doesnít get better protection than he did Sunday.
That is the chief worry for the Purple on offense. The Browns uncovered none on defense and the Vikes were disciplined enough to commit only three penalties, which was gratifying. Neither of the new offensive linemen, Phil Loadholt nor John Sullivan, was flawless in pass protection, but at least they did not lurch around like Frankensteinís monster before the snap, giving back yardage and killing drives. And the special teams played well with the one obvious exception that would have lost a close game.
Green Bay vs. Chicago Sunday night was very interesting, with neither team offering much clue as to how tough it will be this season. It is a toss-up as to whether they both played great defense, or merely lousy offense. Chicago will surely be much less the threat without MLB Brian Urlacher, who apparently is gone for the season with a broken wrist. A pasty-faced Jay Cutler looked like he might burst into tears at any moment, and Aaron Rodgers failed to scintillate, his inept right tackle nearly getting him killed many times.
The Vikes should handle the Lions and then San Francisco, leading to a big one against the Cheese in week four. If early trends hold, it is not a bad bet that the Purple will start this season 4-0. Then again, they always have a tough time with Detroit, managing usually to play only a bit less horribly than the current horrible version of the Lions.