...then, on to the meat grinder
Well fans, the game down in New Orleans was not as close as the 14-9 score indicated, the Purple rising to the occasion neither on defense or offense. Most disappointing was the inability to keep the Saints from running the ball in the second half. They made gains right up the middle versus the Williams Wall, particularly Big Pat, who looked for much of the afternoon like he was on wheels, e.g., when the Saints scored their second TD. It seemed he was constantly getting run out of position from behind while the ball carrier cut back through his hole. Cleverly designed plays or a drop-off in leg power as the years also roll along? If the Vikes are suddenly vulnerable to a straight ahead rushing attack, itís going to get ugly real quick.
And where was the vaunted Purple pass rush? Drew Brees was sacked just once, and pressured but little. Under those conditions, the careers of rookie QBs blossom while those of journeymen take on new life. Next week the Vikes face Miamiís Chad Henne in a must-win game even this early in the year, with the brutal October schedule looming, Jets, Dallas, the Pack and then Pats. After Arizona in the first week of November, things ease up a bit, but if they canít get by Miami and then Detroit before they head into that meat grinder, it is unlikely that by December the Vikes will still be in a race with the Cheeseheads, whose schedule is far less rigorous.
It was a hopeful sign last Thursday that the Vikes were able to keep Brett Favreís jersey reasonably clean against a pass rush that punished him so severely in January. Now all he has to do is get on the same wave length with his receivers, few of whom ever got open against the Saints. Greg Camarillo is an intriguing possibility as a possession guy, and it is reasonable to assume that Percy Harvin will get back on track, assuming that the key to his migraines has been found. Given a passing attack anywhere near as potent as last seasonís, the outcome against the Saints could been much happier.
It is too early, after only one game, to assume that Adrian Petersonís fumbling ways are behind him, but he looked as if he were taking much better care of the ball last week. If he can be counted upon to pound the opposing defenses for twenty-five carries or so, without leaving the ball behind, it will take the pressure off of Favre and the passing attack, which was not up to the task against the Saints. The Purple had control of the game in the second quarter with that formula, but when the defense couldnít stop the run in the third quarter, the game turned around. At that point, only Favre heroics could save the day, and they didnít materialize.
The Vikes now have two dates to get their legs under them as they did against Cleveland and Detroit early last year. They need to take advantage or #4 will be wishing he was back home in Mississippi shooting possums by November.