Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Morning After...

Here are my thoughts...

Brian Belichick + Tom Brady > Brad Childress + Brad Johnson - I know this isn't much of a shocker but there has not been a truer statement typed on this blog than the equation shown above. Belichick's game plan was perfect and it was perfectly executed by Tom Brady. Childress' gameplan was not as good and even if it was we never would have known because of the flawful (I know I made that word up) execution by Johnson. If Brad throws 2 TD passes instead of 2 of his INTs this game is VERY different in the 4th Qtr. But he didn't and it wasn't.

Joe Theismann is terrible - I love ripping TV/radio guys and this one is almost as easy as ripping Joe Sensor. Theismann rips the Vikings for getting burned by Brady when they blitzed. OK, I can agree on this. We blitzed, Brady hits us where were vulnerable and New England looked good. Then in the same possession for the Pats, Joe rips the Vikings for only rushing the 4 down linemen, saying that if you don't put pressure on Brady he'll pick you apart. I'm not sure what the 3rd option is that Joe would suggest the Vikings defense choose but I'm sure there was something in that brain of his. Obviously the Vikings D was getting picked apart but it wasn't for lack of trying new things, New England was just one step ahead every time.

4th and 11, KICK THE FG - OK so this maybe isn't what is taught in Coaching 1o1, but the deal is that I was down 2.5 points in my fantasy league and I had Longwell. This compounded my frustration with Brad's red zone INTs and late in the 4th Qtr when you are NOT going to make a comeback just get some points to hit double digits. Really this game as all about ME and nothing else.

Don't forget this equation - So this may be a math heavy post but... Patriots + refs > Vikings. How on earth do you figure that Wiggins did not catch that pass? How does a mutual hand check become defensive illegal touch but a Patriot DB grabbing Williamson's right arm is nothing? Tough for the Vikes top win when the league tells the officiating crew which team they want to win before the opening coin flip (and who won the coin flip, that's right New England).

OK, so this game was ugly and for the first time we were underprepared and did not execute the intended gameplan. I'm changing the grades a little bit this week.
Basically everybody got an F, but I want to single out a few players/coaches.

  • Mike Tomlin - this is not an indictment on anything other than this single game. Tomlin has been very good this year and our D is the reason we went into this game 4-2. But this game was the perfect reminder that he is a young defensive coordinator and he his fast track to becoming a head coach is not as greased as it was appearing. This was the first game this year where it appeared the opposing offense changed their method of operation to counter our defense. Other teams seemed to tweak and just try to out execute us. New England ran on their first play, lost 4 yards then put us on our heals for the remainder of the game. We could not make the necessary adjustments to stop them.
  • Brad Johnson - If there was a grade below F he would have received it. There is a lot of national media talk about how the Vikings should give Johnson a raise. His team is 4-3 and has beaten some very good teams but Brad has not played very well in most of those games. All 3 losses have some very poor decisions by Brad that were significant contributions to the loss. Brad has to show me more to prove that he should be paid more. He is paid and is asked to not lose the games for us and that is all that he has done. Also, was Bollinger in there because of an injury to Brad, the game was out of hand or Brad was benched?
  • Napoleon Harris - I have been hard on Napo at times but praised him when he played well. Napo seems to be the kind of player that when the pressure turns up or the lights get brighter he comes up short. When the opponent is weaker or less is expected of him he certainly outperforms. Last night Napo was a step behind more often than not.
  • Bryant McKinnie - Mt. McKinnie was brutal last night. I have felt for a couple years now that he has been slightly overrated and now after his monster contract extension coupled with last night's performance I am officially putting him in the overrated column. Bryant was beat way too often last night, he has to shore up his game.
Bright spots on a dark night.
  • EJ Henderson - while I was not impressed with Napo, EJ seemed to be the defensive MVP last night. He was moving faster than usual and was in position more often than not. Forced fumble and a big sack of Brady even late in the 2nd half when much of the team seemed to be waiting for the clock to hit 0:00 so they could go home. But EJ was still playing hard.
  • Darren Sharper - Sharper was ready to play. He closed on receivers, hit hard and was doing his part to try and stop the New England offense.
  • Mewelde Moore - the punt return was the spark we needed to get back into this game (until the kick return unit and the defense gave up what momentum we had). And on offense he did as much as he could when given the opportunities. Get that kid a sticker for his helmet.
The best part about that game is that it is OVER. We can move on. In all fairness New England has been playing great football for a few weeks now. They took a couple games to get going but they are hot right now. Getting dominated like we did disappointing, but it wasn't like we lost to a poor or even average team. With that said if we want to be considered more than just a 1 and done playoff team this was the kind of game we needed to be competitive.

But we are moving on. Hopefully there will be some more room on the bandwagon for a couple weeks. We have the easiest schedule in November and this can easily go from 4-3 to 8-3 and in control of playoff destiny. Bring on the niners!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Vikings v Patriots Kool-Aided Preview

Week 8

OK so I have taken a pregame, Kool-Aided hiatus. Week 6 was the bye week and Week 7 I was in South Bend for the weekend. But I'm back. I didn't get a chance to post it but my Seattle prediction was going to be Vikings 31 - Seattle 14. That was a pretty good prediction if you ask me, of course you have no way of disproving it so that runs my prediction record to 4-2.

Anyway, enough about me. In this mostly liberal state that most of us live in this is the perfect week for all of us. All of the anti-war, anti-Bush and generally anti-patriotic football fans in this state get to take this un-patriotism to another level. Because this week we are all un-patriotic. Patriots suck.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of my prediction, does anybody else wonder why this game was picked a the MNF game this week? This is a rare AFC/NFC battle between two teams with no history between them and when the schedule was set nobody thought these two teams would have similar records. The fact that this will be 1 week before the elections and a certain DFL resurgance is not lost on conspiracy theorists around the state. The Patriots will be defeated and a message will be sent (and this is payback for Wellstone!)! OK, I really don't know what message will be sent, what exactly we are paying back or what this has to do with politics, but I am certain this game will be a certain victory for the Vikings (and here is why)...

The Trenches - There are plenty of intriging matchups on both lines this week. I think the Vikings have a slight edge on both O and D line. The Vikings O-line has an advantage of the Pats D-line but that could be thrown out the window if they are unable to adjust to the 3-4 Defense which they are seeing for the first time this season. The matchup of Vikes D-line vs. Pats O-line is nearly a draw. The Pats O-line has been an anchor for them as they have won a few championships recently. But they are not quite as strong as in recent years and the Vikings D-line (especially the Williams brothers) has been dominating and stuffing the run all year.

The Pretty Boys - The Pats do very well what the Vikings are trying to do this year. That is have a productive, ball control passing game with a WR by committee approach. New England has been successful with that approach while MN has struggled. Advantage New England. Tom Brady vs. Brad Johnson? Advantage New England. Dillion and Maroney vs. Chester Taylor, I give advantage to New England. BUT the matchups that matter are Tom Brady vs. MN secondary (OK, I'll still give that to NE) and Dillion/Maroney vs. the Vikings run defense (ADVANTAGE Minnesota).

Brady is the guy you want behind center for every single game. He is cool as ice and gets better as the lights get brighter. MN will need to stop the Patriot run game, make them 1-dimensional then get to Brady and rattle his cage.

The Ball Hawks - New England has a good secondary and they are in luck because they will be covering an average WR core. Minnesota has a very good secondary and they will be taking on a highly efficient and opportunistic passing game. Both team's linebackers are playing at a high level and making plays in both the run and passing games.

All that to say that if Minnesota plays well at home this will be a very tight game. Mistakes have to be minimized and opportunities cannot be squandered. Minnesota will stay hot and prove that Seattle was not a fluke.

Keys to the game

  1. Dillion/Maroney vs. MN Run Defense - this is kind of a broad matchup, but this will be the primary key to the game in my Kool-Aided opinion. If Maroney thinks he's running against the Hoosier defense on the Metrodome turf again then the Vikings are in trouble. As stated above if they can shut down the run like they've done all year they can put Brady in comprimising positions and we have to jump on any (or the only) mistakes that Brady makes.
  2. Marcus Johnson - Marcus is facing a 3-4 defense for the first time this year. I assume that blocking schemes are different and he has to be ready for varying blitzes from the LBs. He has to have his head in the game and do his part to give Brad time.
  3. Don't let Brady be Brady - a scenario where MN is ahead late in the 4th qtr and New England has the ball is always scary when Tom Brady is the opposing QB. MN has to get in his face and make him uncomfortable and NOT let him be a road-hero.
It comes down to the team's logos. The old patriot is seriously gay and would not last a day on a Viking's ship sailing to Iceland.

Minnesota - 24
New England - 20

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Idiot of the week

Well I have a few local nominations for this week's top honor from PKA. Here are the runner ups followed by the prestigious winner...

2nd Runner-up - Joe Sensor. The Vikings radio broadcast color man might be the worst in the business. Had the fortune/misfortune of listening to Sunday's game as I drove through enemy territory back to the Twin Cities. His partner on the broadcast is Paul Allen who I think does an outstanding job bringing the game to life, but he is dragged down by Sensor. Let me recap.

  • Troy Williamson gets hit hard and is lying on the ground. We all now know that Troy got his clock cleaned and was suffering from a concussion. Joe quickly and emphatically told us that he broke his wrist. This wasn't a guess or prediction, he told us several times that Troy did in fact break his wrist and that is a blow to the Vikings. Someone tell Joe to wait for some information before he makes crap up.
  • Seattle kicker, Josh Brown was about to line up for a 1st half, 39 yard FG. Joe is adamant that Brown is the "hottest kicker in the league" and he "does not miss from this distance." The very next words uttered were Paul Allen saying that Brown is 8 of 12 on the season and 0 for 2 in the 30-39 yard range. You just can't make this stuff up, unless you are Joe Sensor of course.
  • I was keeping a mental list of other retarded things he said, but this post is long enough, you get the point.
1st Runner-up - Gophers head coach Glen Mason! This guy is priceless. At a recent press conference Mason stated how he wasn't bothered by the student section chanting "Fire Mason" during a recent 10-9 throttling of a tough Div 1AA North Dakota State team. But this chant that didn't bother him drove him to a tirade where he bragged about how far this program has come in the last 10 years and rhetorically asked where this team was 10 years ago? Well Glen, 10 years ago this team beat terrible non-conference teams then scratched and clawed for 1 or 2 Big 10 wins JUST LIKE THIS YEAR. His team is terrible (0 Big 10 wins thus far) and is last in the Big 10 in graduation rates. Glen can take credit for a handful of consecutive bowl games, but nobody should grant this program more than mediocre status at any point in the last 10 years. Way to go Glen, you are above any criticism because you took a terrible program and brought it to mediocrity (then back to terrible again).

Idiot of the Week - Wayne Derkotch! Nobody knows Mr. Derkotch but he is a class act. When he felt his son was getting slighted and deserved more playing time on the football team Mr. Derkotch decided he'd confront his son's coach, WITH A GUN. Some of you might be reading this and saying well maybe it was a big game, maybe his son had college scouts in the stands or maybe the coach really was benching the young Derkotch without warrant, but another important piece of information to this story is that this football game was amongst 6 and 7 year olds. That is awesome. An upset parent feels that pulling a gun on a volunteer football coach of 6 and 7 year olds was the appropriate response to a lack of playing time for his kid. This guy shouldn't just be arrested but really he should not be allowed to parent this child because the kid will likely grow up to make similar decisions as his brilliant father.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Morning After...

Well, after Sunday's road win over the defending NFC Champs I think I'm going to have to start brewing more Kool Aid. I do take it as my responsibility to keep the bandwagon hydrated.

I was afraid that local and national media would chalk this Viking's win up as a 1/2 victory since the Seahawks were without Alexander and eventually Hasselbeck. But I have heard phrases like "
beat down" and "domination" when talking/writing about Sunday's win in Seattle. While the high praise ultimately is meaningless, the victory was not. The Vikings notched yet another key NFC victory to give them a potential tiebreaker over Seattle and Carolina while also raising their conference record to 4-1.

My game balls go to...

  • Chester Taylor - 169 rushing yards including 95 on a single play is impressive. But beyond the big play he was fighting and falling forward for extra yards all day!
  • Rookies - Ray Edwards and Cedric Griffin both made big plays and have been reliable as they replace injured or underperforming starters.
  • O-line - I have been critical of this group, but this was by far their best game of the season.

Offense (A) - This unit showed some big play ability for the first time all year and also scored from within the redzone when given the opportunity. The little green trolls that seemed to taunt and frighten the Vikings offense when the goaline was in sight were confronted and squashed.
QB (B+) - this is what we expect out of Brad. No mistakes, few (if any) big plays and a victory. But by NFL standards this was an average day at the QB position. The grade goes from B to B+ because he got better as the day wore on and kept us poised after an initial 10-3 Seattle lead.
RB (A) - this grade is deeper than Chester's obvious 169 yard day. Tony Richardson didn't touch the ball all day but his name was mentioned a few times on the radio broadcast. Guys that make big contributions without touching the ball are they guys that truly lead you to Ws.
WR (B-) - the big Robinson TD is the only think to keep this above a C. Taylor and Williamson both had drops. Taylor did make a couple 3rd down catches, but overall this group still needs the most improvement. Hopefully the addition of Bethel Johnson will help to improve this group.
OL (A-) - the coaching staff has said that there is plenty to improve upon, but overall this group had a very good day. Marcus did stay true to form with holding penalty in the redzone but fortunatly the offense overcame and scored 6 anyway.

Defense (A) - quietly this unit has become one of the best in the league (7th in NFL) and currently is the #1 rushing defense. In fact they have not allowed a single player more than 100 yards rushing in 18 straight games (avg of 58 yards for top rusher in that span).
DL (A-) - 2.5 sacks and domination by the tackles sums it up for this group. Ray Edwards and Darrion Scott have stepped up nicely in the absence of Erasmus James.
LB (A) - EJ topped the defense with 9 solo tackles (easily his best game in 2 years). Leber once again proved to be one of the best 2nd tier free agent signings of the offseason with a forced fumble for TD as he sacked Seneca Wallace. Napo didn't make an impact on the stat sheet but he had a couple big pressures to force an incomplete on 3rd down.
DB (B+) - Whitaker concerns me when he is on the field. But the rest of the DBs performed solidly. Cedric Griffin is quietly contributing and hopefully has passed Whitaker as the nickle back.

Coaching Stafff (A) - as per usual the team was well prepared for the game and scored on our first possession. I don't think there is any doubt that under the previous 2 regimes this game would have had a very different feel and outcome. On the road, in a hostile environment and the home team jumps to a 10-3 lead the Vikings I know would have crumbled and compounded mistake after mistake on their way to a loss. Not under Brad Childress.

My biggest concern after this game is that we are now on everyone's radar. We beat a high profile team on the road and now we get New England on MNF. There are going to be some bright lights on this team this week. This is the perfect recipe for a let down game if they start to think too highly of themselves.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My thoughts....

Randy Who? Daunte Who? - Remember when Moss and Culpepper were impact players and national stories? Look at them now. Moss has been irrelevent on the NFL's worst team and Culpepper went from a super recovery freak to Joey Harrington's backup. The Viking's trades were scrutinized as MN "not getting enough" for those marquee names. Over a full season after the Moss trade I think it is obvious that the Vikes are getting more production out of Williamson/Napo than the Raiders are getting out of Moss. And this isn't about comparing numbers, the 2006 versions of Napo and to a lesser extent Williamson have contributed to the winning games for the Vikings. Moss and all of his abilities have done nothing to make the Raiders even competitive.

The Culpepper trade is still up for debate. He obviously rushed to play before his body was ready, but Culpepper at 3/4 strength should still be better than Harrington at 100%. But it is not and things are not so happy for DC back home in Florida. If the Vikings received anything of value in return is yet to be determined, but at this point you would have to be happy to have an average Brad Johnson rather than a former All-Pro who has been beat out by Joey Harrington.

Idiot of the week(s) - This is my new weekly award. But there are 2 worth candidates for the previous 2 weeks...

  • Albert Haynesworth was suspended for an unprecidented 5 weeks after he intentionally stomped on the face of Cowboy's C Andre Gurode. What a tool! Who does this? I know these guys are paid a lot of money to be aggressive and mean, but at some point don't they realize that there is something wrong with taking foot that is shielded with cleates and holds up your 300+ lb frame then dropping that on another human's unprotected face? IDIOT.
  • Antrel Rolle was fined $12,500 for intentionally tackling Chief's RB Larry Johnson by the facemask after Johnson ripped off 78 yards on a short pass late in a 20-20 game. What was he thinking? "We can't actually stop him and I'm frustrated so it is only fair that I grab his facemask and rip him to the ground." Johnson is lucky he wasn't injured more seriously for him and for Rolle. You are a football player and if you are pissed that someone is beating you then figure out a way to beat him without hurting him. You'll be shocked to know that Rolle learned his classless football skills at the University of Miami.

Welcome to the NFL rookies - 1 year ago Reggie Bush, Matt Lienart and Vince Young were the toast of the NCAA. It took till week 5 before all 3 were seeing significant playing time for thier NFL teams.
  • Reggie Bush has been playing in every game for the Saints, but week 5 was his first touchdown. He displayed his unique abilities as he returned a punt 65 yards for a TD.
  • Vince Young started for the Titans in week 4 but through 2 full games has struggled to a 46.6 QB Rating.
  • Matt Leinart finally passed Kurt Warner on the depth chart helped AZ jump to an early lead over KC that they could not hold on to. Leinart did throw 2 TD passes in the loss.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Morning After...

Thank God for the defense. After 3 ugly quarters of football in which the Vikings were down 2 TDs to the Lions, I was barely able to see straight due to massive Kool Aid consumption. I woke up 3 days later with a fuzzy memory of the defense leading the way in a 23-0 4th quarter and a Vikings win.

My fact checkers then verified that yes, in deed the Vikings beat the Lions 26-17. The LB corp lead the way with a combined 2 INTs, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery and 2 TDs. Not bad for a supposed weakness on the team. The rest of the defense was not left out of this party as the DBs recored 15 (13 solo) of the team's tackles plus 1 INT and the DL had 4 different players with a sack and Pat Williams' forced fumble.

That puts the Vikes at 3-2 heading into a bye that is NOT needed as everyone on the roster is healthy. But with the offensive stagnating maybe a week off and extra days to gameplan for Seattle is just what we need to continue this playoff push.

My gameballs go to...

  • All 3 starting LBs - this group alone was +3 in the turnover margin and gave us 14 points.
  • The starting D-line - 4 sacks for this group is encouraging and allowed the LBs to be in coverage more often.
  • Chester Taylor - 123 yards with a 4.7 average helped to keep the offense moving.

Offense (C+) - the rushing game was solid and Brad was efficient, but Detroit had given up 30+ points in each of their last 3 games. For the offense to only put up 1 TD is embarassing. I need further analysis before I determine where I'm going to lay the blame for a lack of production.
QB (B-) - Brad had only 8 incompletions on 34 attempts and did creep over the 200 yard mark. But as stated, leading us to only 1 TD drive is disappointing.
RB (A-) - Chester racked up 123 yards for his biggest output since 2004. We need more games like this for Chester.
WR/TE (C-) - Travis Taylor lead the team in receiving yards but 44 is nothing to call your mom about. Our RBs had 12 receptions which left 14 to be divided amoungst 5 other receivers. Overall this group is performing worse than expected and nobody expected much out of them. The up and coming "go to guy," Troy Williamson had 2 catches for 11 yards.
OL (B) - the group did not give up a sack and opened holes just enough for Chester to accumulate his yards. All in all not a bad day for this group but the stats hide that this was still not a dominating peformance that we expect to see from this group at somepoint.

Defense (A) - as discussed the defense won this game. In fact I would argue that the defense is 5-0 this year. Not much needs to be anylized on this side of the ball. Holding any NFL team to 8 total yards rushing is outstanding!
DL (A) - 4 sacks and a forced fumble as they dominated the line of scrimmage.
LB (A) - 2 INTs, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery and 2 TDs to put us in the lead.
DB (A) - combined for 13 solo tackles and Sharper had the game clinching INT.

Coaching (B) - well prepared and penalties were down. But a lack of creative gameplanning after the 1st drive (or lack of adjustments after initial drive) help to stagnate the offense. But the defensive coaching has been better than we could have hoped for and this unit is quietly one of the best.

3-2, heading into a tough 2 game stretch before a much easier 4 game stretch of SF, GB, Mia, AZ.
I think it is realistic to say we'll be 4-2 through those 6 games. But who ever gets anywhere thinking realistic or rationally. Vikes go 6-0 and head into Chicago 9-2 where we get retribution for getting screwed at the dome.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Not sure if you noticed...

I can't beleive nobody is talking about this but this week Terrell Owens is playing his first game back in Philladelphia.

Actually I think ESPN has officiall petitioned the NFL to name this week T.O. Week. Friday morning I was watching Sportscenter and their script actually made reference to how ridiculous the T.O. coverage has been and that he'll be going to Philly with 52 other players. Then of course the story that followed was 100% about T.O.'s return.

T.O. has quickly moved to a solid #2 on my list of all time least favorite NFL players (he's about to pass Deon). This guy is a team killer. I don't want to spent much time on him, but NOTHING would please me more than the networks ignoring T.O.'s antics and only discussing what he does between the white lines on Sunday. Here is all that is relevant surround T.O.

14 catches, 187 yards, 1 TD through 3 games.
2005 played only 7 games because of injury.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Vikings v Lions Kool-Aided Preview

Week 5

Well, now we will find something out about this Vikings team. Chicago was a game we gave away, Buffalo was a game we didn't show up for and now we get a weak Lion's team at home. Are we going to execute and beat a team we should be at home? Or are we going to remain in this 1 week funk and give the Lions a chance to beat us for the first time in a long time. The Vikings have tames the Lions for the better part of the last decade. We are 14-2 in the last 8 years including winning the last 8 meetings. This is a game the Vikings not only have to win, but have to dominate if they want to be established as a playoff team in 2006.

The Trenches - The Lions are hit and miss along their offensive line. OG-Verba is injured and likely will not be playing but C-Raiola is decent and OG-Woody is pretty solid. But this is a matchup our D-line should win. I think Kevin Williams and Udeze have matchups they should win, while Pat Williams should win his battle on most snaps as well.

The strength of the Lions defense is their D-line. Rogers is one of the better DTs in the league and his matchup with Hicks is a big one. This could turn into a Johnson/Peppers situations if the Vikes don't help Hicks out a little bit. On the left side McKinnie vs. DE-Hall is another matchup that we need to win. There really is no excuse for our O-line to not start producing, this group is counted on to help our run game out and to date they have been disappointing.

The Pretty Boys - If I feel as though our WRs are bad, for this game I like our corp better than the Lion's WRs. After what seems like 8 years of the Lions taking a WR with their top 10 pick, they still do not have a productive group that strikes fear into opposing DBs. Roy Williams is solid, but something called Mike Furrey is no more feared than a Teletubby.

If the Vikings passing game is ever going to get going this is the week it will happen. Detroit is last in the league in pass defense. But it doesn't matter how wide open you are if you drop the ball.

Chester has a chance to be a factor but I think he production is too closely tied to the O-line so he is not a key, but could be a factor.

The Ball Hawks - As discussed Detroit's pass defense is last in the league. This is a key matchup as our WRs HAVE to find a way to be productive this week and attack their weakness. The Lion's LBs are solid and 1st round draft pick Ernie Simms is playing like a ROY candidate.

I like the matchup of our DBs vs the Detroit WRs. Like so many of our games if we can get pressure on Kitna our DBs will have a shot to create some turnovers.

Keys to the Game

  1. Turnovers to TDs - The Vikings need to win the turnover battle and we have to make Detroit pay for their mistake by puting 7 points on the board instead of scoring in 3 point increments.
  2. MN O-line - time for them to step up and earn their paychecks. The Detroit D-line is solid but a group we should beat.
  3. WRs hang on to the ball - these guys will get open and I am confident Brad will have time, but drops are killing us and they need to stop.
  4. Execute - For the first time all year the Vikings will be favored and are the more talented team, they need to execute and beat an inferior team.
Execute and Dominate that is the mantra for Sunday's game! And it would be nice to score a few TDs. I predict we score a TD on our opening drive and never look back.
MN - 27 Det - 13

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Morning After...

Well on my 6 year anniversary I thanked my wife for 4 good years of marriage (just kidding honey). That's kind of how I feel about Sunday's performance in Buffalo. After 4 weeks I feel as though the Vikings gave us 3 good/competitive games. This week is hard to remain positive but drink enough Kool-Aid and I'm sure we can find something.

Wins - 2
Disappointments - 2

Ultimately this win doesn't kill us as it was against an AFC opponent. Losses are never good, but losing to a conference or divisional opponent looms larger in December than a loss at Buffalo. Now that Washington and Carolina are both 2-2, the wins over those 2 teams are looking bigger now aren't they?


Offense (D+) - We did not win the line of scrimmage, our QB made mistakes and our WRs were non-factors again this week. I'm starting to see a pattern that our passes are either short dumps to RBs/TEs or deep along the sidelines, while the Chicago and Buffalo offense were regularly completing 12-17 yard completions on deep ins and other holes in the zone. I'm not sure why we are unable to find these holes. Could be coaching, could be WRs not making the right reads on their routes, could be Brad not seeing them or it could be that the defense maning up our WRs so our reads are to take them deep when they are in single coverage. Or maybe we just drop the ones thrown in those areas so there are no completions to stand out. Overall another lackluster offensive performance.
QB (F) - What would the fan forums and radio talk shows be saying if Culpepper were to go 11+ quarters without his offense scoring a TD. Maybe we don't hear anything because we have no legit back up for Brad, but he has done nothing to impress in the last 2 weeks. It may be cruel but this is a what have you done for me lately, league and Brad has done nothing for me lately. Let's also not forget throwing deep on 4th down to turn the ball over last week and throwing short with no timeouts to end the game this week. Bonehead 4th qtr plays that Culepper would not have gotten the free pass Brad is.
RB (C) - tough to rate this one as a RB needs holes to run through. Chester was not able to make something of the little he was given but he can't be given a free pass every week. We need more production.
WR (F) - TOO MANY DROPS. I used to always feel you can get by with a gaggle of above average WRs, but I'm losing faith in that theory. TWill can no longer be talked about as a go to guy or a star on the rise. He just has to produce. Robinson and Taylor have done little to pick up the slack. This group needs to step up their game in a big way.
OL (D-) - this is not an F because Brad was not sacked. Walking up to the D-line and saying "My contract is bigger than your contract" won't increase production. Time to step it up, we don't have any more time to wait for them to "gell." The time is now.

Defense (B-) - Defense played well enough to win, but I think it was their worst game of the year. Price should not have had been able to go untouched into the endzone after the initial hit. On the other hand they did a nice job of keeping the NFL's leading rusher to 78 yards on 28 carries. The biggest problem on defense is lack of depth. The more we see numbers 91 (Edwards), 97 (Spencer), 92 (Mitchell), 55 (Glenn), 20 (Blue) and 27 (Whitaker) the lesser our chances of stopping the offense.
DL (B+) - 3 sacks and 2 of the top tacklers for the game would have given this group an A, if it weren't for a terrible offsides penalty on 4th down by Udeze that would have given us better field position and more time to score in the 4th qtr.
LB (C+) - This group was a ghost on Sunday. I rarely recall seeing #58 or #56 involved in big plays. Not a bad day but not a good day makes for a C+.
DB (C) - As a group the DBs seemed a little on their heals this week. No pursuit of Price on the TD run after Winfield's initial hit and a huge completion on the Henderson blitz when Losman threw it up for grabs only to be brought down by a Buffalo WR for a big first down. Just a little bit too reactionary, these guys should be initiating plays and knocking guys out of rhthym.

Coaching (C) - another well scripted opening drive that was killed by a penalty to force a FG instead of a TD. But going off memory I think we have TD, FG, FG, FG on each of our opening drives this season. I like that preparedness, but the rash of penalties has to fall on the coaching staff. I think we lost the coaching battle in the 2nd half with Buffalo making better adjustments. Buffalo did not take huge strides forward because of their adjustments but it was enough to win the game.

This game we seemed to be moving a 1/2 step slower and we didn't seem to be hungry for the win. Playing Chicago close doesn't earn you anything except a mark in the L column. I still love this team and think they have the makings to make the playoffs, but I hope games like this were left on the tarmac in Buffalo. With all that said we still have the ball and a chance to win it in the 4th. This team does not quit and will win more games that it loses. 14-2 still looks pretty good.

The good news is that the Twins made the playoffs and everybody seems to forget we lost to Buffalo.

Kool Aid Drinkers