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A new, improved Purple under Frazier? . (12/08/2010)
By John Edstrom

...or a mere illusion?

Well fans, itís two in a row and the Leslie Frazier version of the Vikings is looking like the team that almost made it to the Super Bowl last year. But letís wait until they match up with a quality opponent before we get too giddy. That will happen next week when the Giants come to town.

The top of the fold story this week was the return to the offense of wideout Sidney Rice and his amazing basketball skills downfield. Here is a guy who could steal your bowling ball out of the bag while you were carrying it, and you would never know. The knock on Rice when he was drafted was that he didnít possess break away speed, but with his ball skills he doesnít need to be fast. A pass downfield to him on third down is always going to be better than a punt.

And what would midweek be in Viking land without drama at the quarterback position? Will Favre play this Sunday or wonít he? I say, when you see him come off the field missing an arm or leg, and they canít find it, then bet he wonít play the following Sunday Ė but only an amount you can afford to lose.

Meanwhile, Tarvaris Jackson fails to scintillate, as Howard Cosell would have said, but he played well enough that you would like to see him finish the season as the starter. That first interception was a bad throw and a bad decision, but he followed up with a good scoring drive and, what was it, eight completions in a row? And the short TD pass to Rice in the end zone was a throw Favre could have been proud of in his prime. Given four more starts, will we see growth and maturation, or the same old TJ who canít make the quick decision or hold his throwing motion together under pressure? Watching that would be more interesting and humane than taking bets on whether Favre will survive the rest of season or not.

Sidney Rice aside, the real story of last Sundayís win over the Bills is the resurgence of the defense, specifically, the defensive line and pass rush. Buffalo has a very good young QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick, good receivers, (even the one who blames God for letting him drop passes), and a credible rushing attack. Despite sacking Fitzpatrick only once, the Vikes pass rush put such steady pressure on him that he quit looking for anybody but pass rushers, and by the end of the game, down thirty points, the Bills were running the ball more than throwing. Suddenly the problems in the Vikings secondary donít seem that serious anymore.

And strangest of all, the patchwork offensive line, missing both Hutchinson and Herrera, blocked well enough for 210 rushing yards and clean pants for Jackson, who was sacked only once.

Next Sunday, the Giants will present a much sterner test for the new and improved Frazier-coached Purple, which will then reveal itself either the real thing, or a mere illusion. 


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