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  Monday December 22nd, 2014    

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Bad play, bad breaks, dumb mistakes
Season over
By John Edstrom

Well fans, this time when the yellow hanky flew against the Vikes on the opening kickoff, it was an omen of things to come. The Purple was obviously overmatched by Philadelphia, but could have won if the breaks went their way and they avoided mistakes and turnovers. Instead, they put in one of the more bumble-headed efforts of a stumble-footed season.

How many times did they allow the Eagles offense to stay on the field by committing third down penalties? Then, when their best defensive player forces a fumble down on the goal line and it floats through the air to the one wrong colored jersey in the end zone, the suspense goes out of the thing. End of season.

At least, watching the Vikes lose to Philadelphia, you get an idea of what a good defense looks like. Constant pressure coming from well-disguised originations, with defensive backs able to cover one-on-one, blitzers usually in position to also stop the run, draw, or screen -- I think the Eagles won't have a problem getting by the Falcons and have a great chance in the Super Bowl, although the Pats are a well-oiled machine. (Their defeat of the Steelers is a foregone conclusion, say I.)

Whither the Purple? For better or worse, Mike Tice will be back, and most likely Ted Cottrell. The latter should get a chance to make his defensive scheme work with the good athletes he has who should mature plus, hopefully, another or two key free agent additions. If this defense doesn't improve dramatically next year, let the Grim Reaper pass through and cut down Cottrell first. He needs another linebacker to either emerge or come aboard, and probably another defensive back. It would also be nice if Keneche Udeze would pan out. The Vikes pass rush Sunday was missing in action, once again.

On the other side of the ball, the Purple has not done a very good job along the offensive line this year, an area of supposed strength. They have had injuries -- Matt Birk has been dinged up all year, Mike Rosenthal and Jim Kleinsasser gone from the beginning -- and have had to play rookies and subs. The running game, thought to be another strength, did not support Super Bowl aspirations after the first few weeks. David Dixon will have to be replaced at right guard soon, and the situation next door at tackle will also have to be addressed, either by the return of Rosenthal, blossoming of Goldberg, or something else. Tice seems to think that Big McKinnie has "learned how to practice;" if he's not right, the right tackle spot will need scrutiny too.

And then there's Randy Moss. But let's leave something for next week. 


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