Well fans, it looks like Brad Childress against the world, at least in the area of personnel moves. News of the Purple is full of the impending math problem Thursday, the Vikes, with only three healthy cornerbacks, coming up one short of the Saints four wideout set. How wise was it to let the proven Benny Sapp go in a trade for a slot receiver who wasn’t projected to start down in Miami? Antoine Winfield is a great player, but now must be regarded as injury-prone and aging, while Cedric Griffin is coming back from knee surgery which has put the mark of doom on many a defensive back’s career.
Then there is the issue of backup QB, namely Tarvaris Jackson instead of Sage Rosenfels, regarded by all the world, saving Brad Childress, as the obviously superior player. It would be best if Brett Favre extends his iron man record for another season, so that Vikings fans won’t have to take cold comfort in denouncing the Childress personnel blunder. Not to carry on, but Jackson has shown only, in four seasons, a lack of accuracy, an inability to quickly process input so as to make speedy and wise decisions, and a tendency to lose his throwing motion under pressure.
But the issue Thursday down at the Super Dome will be decided along the line of scrimmage as usual. The Vikings offensive line will have to protect Favre well and at least prevent Adrian Peterson’s being greeted early and often by the Saints defense while he is still in his own backfield. It is a rarer running back than even he who can gain yards under those conditions. This year Peterson is supposed to have consulted Tiki Barber, the Giants RB who was prone to fumble early in his career but never did later. We’ll see what Peterson has learned in that area, as well as the crucial one of picking up the blitz. The Saints will surely throw the kitchen sink against the Purple in hopes of knocking old #4 off his game, or out of it entirely.
On defense, the Vikings best hope of slowing down Drew Brees and his flying circus will be a relentless pass rush applying constant pressure. A few sacks will not be enough. Given time, he will shoot the suspect Minnesota defensive backs full of nasty holes, gruesome as a Sam Peckinpah flick. None of this will matter, of course, if the Vikes’ usual stout run defense is not in place. Thursday will be a very unpleasant day to learn that big Pat Williams has lost a step, a very distinct possibility at his advanced age.
There you have the formula. Improved offensive line play, impervious blitz protection, a new and sticky-fingered Adrian Peterson, and a defensive line applying the pressure pass rush it is capable of will add up to a big win to start off this year’s Super Bowl run. Piece of cake, right?