...Quoth the raven, nevermore
Well fans, five weeks into the season, with the Vikesí record 5-0, we are growing jaded and picky, a condition rarely encountered among fans of the Purple these many years. Although Minnesota wiped out the Rams 38-10 on the road after an emotionally draining Monday night victory over the Cheeseheads, many of us would wish for a more stylish win down in St. Louis.
Certainly, the Rams were never in the game, but you wonder what might have happened if they hadnít repeatedly turned the ball over to the Vikes down in the red zone, after methodically advancing it against the vaunted Purple defense. The Vikes showed themselves once again suspect against the short passing game, particularly on third and nine, and surprisingly vulnerable to the run, not the first time this season. This was somewhat forgivable against a beast like Stephen Jackson, except that he was so often wide open on swing or screen passes.
It just appeared that the Vikes defense was suckered time after time by a fairly rudimentary offense, defense baying like hounds after the QB only to see the ball tossed over their heads to the running back or receiver camped out in the newly vacated middle distance. Yes, they won 38-10, but replay the game without the early St. Louis turnovers and try to predict the outcome. You would be looking at a tough, tight road game against a team that isnít supposed to stay on the field with us. At some point the fortunes of war will turn against the Purple, and then their defense will have to stiffen up.
It worries me that the Vikes have given up so much rushing yardage. Often, you see their perimeter defense get sealed inside against the end run, and then the quick-hitter straight up the middle that was not there the last few years. If Pat Williams were a dog house, a St. Bernard could live there. At 35 years of age, has he experienced the precipitous drop-off that very big men are prone to?
In a game when the Vikings pass rush did not live up to its marquee billing, members of the secondary stepped their efforts up, with Tyrell Johnson displaying the range in pass coverage which made him a
high draft choice, and Benny Sapp tackling aggressively as usual, but also making a nice play in coverage to save a TD. He seemed to be on the field more than half of the defensive snaps, made very few mistakes, and was conspicuous around the ball all day. Hopefully that was a breakout game for him.
While the defensive line was disappointing, the O-line had a second good outing, allowing just two sacks, one due to coverage. If this keeps up, Brett Favre might last all year, and not wear out the seat of his pants, as seemed likely. He appears to be getting more and more comfortable with this offense and its many weapons, the game getting easier and easier each week.
However, donít look for an easier time of it next week against the Ravens, who have just dropped two close games, and will be desperate to avoid a third loss which could put an early nevermore on their season. They are a level above any team the Vikes have faced so far, and will be well-motivated. It is going to be interesting to see how well Favre and his new, young pals can move the ball on Baltimoreís superior defense. If they win, you can start calling them a legit Super Bowl contender.