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Vikes 9-1 ...are they actually getting better? (11/24/2009)
By John Edstrom

Well fans, we finally made it through a whole afternoon of watching the Purple without a single moment of anxiety – just pure pleasure, like a kid eating all dessert for supper at grandma’s house. It was definitely not a character building day for Minnesota fans, and what a blessed relief.

What could this portend? It is a truly frightening temptation to view this Vikings offense as a work still in progress, with more improvement to be made week in and week out. Brad Childress seems to think so. Favre is still learning his receivers, who are mostly young, and his offensive line, with new guys at center and right tackle, seems to be making steady progress. Early in the season the battering he was taking from down lineman and blitzing pass rushers was unsustainable. Now, his jersey is clean in the fourth quarter – he could wear a carnation, but it wouldn’t be appropriate.

On defense, even with Antoine Winfield still nursing his cranky foot injury, the pass defense is holding up much better than in that first nightmare game against the Ravens when Winfield went down. The work that Karl Paymah, Asher Allen, and Benny Sapp are getting in his absence will be invaluable going into the playoffs, and depth on both sides of the ball is becoming one of the Purple’s greatest strengths. When Karl Paymah, in particular, develops better ball skills, he will be capable of starting at the cornerback position on most teams. He rarely loses coverage on a receiver. Benny Sapp is increasingly reliable, and Asher Allen is looking more and more like a play- maker. The improvement in these three has nicely sanitized the previous malodor at the safety position.

And helping out with all of this is a defensive line which not only racks up sacks, but applies constant, steady pressure, which is really more important. Good QBs like Matt Hasselbeck are missing passes they should make against the Vikes. It is because they are shell-shocked, and hearing footsteps where there are none. That is what a good pass rush does, and the Vikes have it in their starters as well as backups like Kennedy and Robison. Football is a brutal game, and quarterbacks are like boxers who lose their concentration and wear down if they take too many punches, or hits.

Now comes Chicago, a team which has shown nothing special this year, particularly from the supposedly world-beating QB, Jay Cutler. The Vikes should beat them as handily, in their own park, as they did the Seahawks. But football is a funny game, and this is, after all, the Purple. Remember history! – and be prepared, just in case, for generous helpings of carrots and peas next Sunday. 




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