Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Morning After...

So it is really the afternoon after the morning after, but I don't think anybody is frantically checking the blog hourly waiting for my post-game grades.

A very dissapointing loss for the Vikings. Leading by 4, with the ball, late in the 4th qtr is exactly where they wanted to be. 1 botched handoff and 1 blown coverage later the Vikes trail by 3 with under 2 min to go. I have a 3 month old baby, I can put things in his hands but he is not mature enough to grab a hold of said object. The Vikings are maturing from a team loaded with talent and negative headlines to a tough minded and accountable team. This game was in their hands but they did not grab a hold of it. Chalk this up as a learning experience, the wake up call that every Super Bowl team gets at some point throughout the season!!!

No game balls to go out this week, you have to win to get a game ball.


Offense (C-) - I'm still sold that Chester Taylor was a very good offseason signing and is more than capable of being the #1 guy in the backfield, I'm looking forward to seeing him run vs. a team that isn't a run stopping force (Carolina and Chicago). Other than that the rest of the offense was very average. Another key dropped ball by Williamson, unimpressive O-line play and an average showing by Brad. I know Chicago's defense is very good, but we have to be better in the red zone and if we want to claim one of the best O-lines in the league we have to perform against the best defenses in the league.
QB (C) - didn't make any mistakes but also did not make any big plays happen. I am expecting better leadership and results in the red zone from this point forward.
RB (B+) - I see Chester making the first guy miss most of the time and falling forward through tiny holes. Don't let Moore be forgotten here. As we were trying to put the game away while leading in the 4th he had one of the guttiest runs I've seen on 3rd and long. There was no amount of arm tackling that could keep him from getting that 1st down.
WR (D) - Williamson had a drop that would have kept their 4th qtr drive alive, a pass interference call that killed a drive (although the validity of the call is surely questionabl) and the only contribution Travis Taylor made all day ended in a fumble. This group needs to step up more than anybody to get this offense jump started.
OL (C) - This is only a C because Marcus Johnson really stepped up his game since last week and made Ogunleye a non-factor for much of the game. But this group needs to live up to it's hype at some point. And I credit the 4th qtr fumble to the OL getting flat out beat by Tommy Harris more than I would fault Brad/Chester.

Defense (B+) - this would be higher if it were not for a couple big missed opportunities. Sharper with a dropped INT that would likely have been 6 points. EJ Henderson also dropping a sure INT. And of course the blown coverage on the Bears game winning TD. If you want to win big games (at home) you have to make the plays when you have the opportunities, and they didn't.
DL (A-) - Solid job of putting pressure on Grossman. They didn't get to him more than once but the Chicago O-line was consistently pushed back into Grossman's pocket. Also Pat Williams had a very good game.
LB (B-) - The DBs had way too many tackles, EJ's dropped INT and they were too easily blocked on 2nd half blitzes. It was not a bad game for this group but there is room for improvement. They did display very good lateral speed and flew to the ball on the edges.
CB (B) - This group was just OK today. I already discussed the missed opportunities by Sharper. But Smith and Winfield did not disapoint when they had their shots at the ball. It is hard to believe that Winfield had never scored a defensive TD before his pick on Sunday, but it was a monster play at exactly the right time. This group also lead the team in tackles so they were very active throughout the game.

Coaching (B-) - the team was well prepared as usual, but I would say that Lovie won the 2nd half battle from the sidelines. Their half time adjustments made more of an impact than Minnesota's. And the play call on 4th and 2 (whether it was Johnson or Childress) was a terrible call.

This was a highly entertaining game. There was a level of intensity and a feeling that every play was significant. I think we are far enough into the season to know that we have a team with a level of toughness and competitiveness that we haven't seen in several seasons. This defense is legit and the offense is not too far from being at the least more productive than it has shown. 15-1 will still be a pretty good season.

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