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.

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