...or November could be the season of the wolf for Christian Ponder
Well fans, by now the careful observer is beginning to detect a pattern emergent in the recent succession of Viking frustrations. This team tends to collapse in the second half of its ball games, I think.
Actually, they played well enough to hang on and win last Sunday, given a little good, instead of bad luck. The Purple defense is legitimate and could easily accompany any sort of competent offense into the playoffs. The Lions gained but a scant 20 – 20! – yards on the ground. In something like 90% of NFL games that guarantees a loss. Impossibly, on top of that, the Vikes registered five sacks and mounted consistent pressure on the opposing QB. You will probably not unearth one game out of 100 in the NFL archives where that combination of defensive excellence resulted in a loss, yet the Lions salvaged a win by abandoning the run, tossing quick passes underneath the zone, and relying on Calvin Johnson, that beast, to beat man coverage for – what? – two TD’s. And the Vikes corners, Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook, played very tough defense, winning their fair share of battles against one of the finest go-up-and-get-the-ball receivers in the league.
What we have is a defense, especially a pass defense, that for years has been defeated by offenses that abandon any pretense of running, throw quick rhythm passes underneath the zone defense, and thus beat the Vikings, a team that can run the ball and stop the run, supposedly the unbeatable combination in the NFL. Experience has now proved that this is not the case with whatever the Purple is up to on defense, whose basic philosophy and design needs revisiting with a wrecking bar. Who else never wants to hear the words “Tampa Two” uttered in Minnesota again? The Vikes for years have been touted for defenses which gave up few rushing yards, only because their opponents didn’t bother to run the ball against a team which couldn’t defend the pass.
The Vikings have lots of talent on defense which is not being deployed effectively.
But the defense would not have been exposed as it has if the offense hadn’t disappeared in the second half these first three games and left them on the field for hours on end. The abysmal record of third down impotence points inevitably to the QB, Mr. McNabb, whose record in Philadelphia, despite many brilliant moments, was always haunted by whispers of a loss of passing accuracy when it counted, a certain lack of grace under pressure. The Vikes should beat the hapless Chiefs next Sunday, and it is looking as if their schedule is not nearly as tough as it seemed at the outset. But if the Purple offense doesn’t show more consistency soon, look for Christian Ponder to face the wolves come November.