Monday, December 10, 2007

Who would have thunk?

One month ago I had a handful of scathing posts in my head just ready to be typed. Posts like...

  • Why it is time to end the Brad Childress Experiment
  • the KAO is seriously the worst offense EVER
  • Why it is time to end the Tarvaris Jackson Experiment
  • How many games do we have to lose to get a franchise QB in 2008 Draft
  • Will we hire Schottenheimer, Cowher or Tim Brewster to lead this team in 2008
  • Will the offense be able to cross the 50 with Purple Jesus injured
  • Why would anybody on this defense stick around to watch another year of playoff D coupled with the worst offense EVER
I think you get the picture. Fortunately I was always too busy with work and gopher blog to ever type those posts.

Flash forward 4 weeks and the Vikings are playing great. The offense is able to move the ball, the defense is dominating and we are fans of the hottest team in the NFC (that doesn't have a star on the helmet). We are riding a 4 game win streak (5 out of 6) and the biggest shocker we are IN THE PLAYOFFS (for now).

Seriously, at 3-6 who actually thought that in week 14 we'd be a wild card team. Let me tell you, I drink the kool-aid pretty hard and after the Green Bay loss I had written off the playoffs completely. Even if I thought they had a little run in them I thought that the missed FG @ Detroit and losing to the Eagles at home would doom their playoff hopes. But I was wrong (first time for everything) and now we can start planning our trips to Seattle for the playoffs!

What exactly has moved us from 2008 Draft watch to Jan of '08 still playing? The run game would be the obvious answer but I think it is also the wrong answer. The run game has been solid since week 1 and we still struggled to a 3-6 start.


I stated in an earlier post that I hadn't seen anything that would give us any indication that Jackson would grow to be a competent NFL QB. But I also wanted him to play out the rest of this season so we'd know for sure. It was a simple 3 step plan. Let him play, evaluate in Jan, then most likely move on to a new QB for 2008. Letting him play out the season was a no brainer. Neither Holcomb or Bollinger gave you any better chance to win than TJax did. What is shocking is the turnaround we have seen.

(Notice the AWESOME photoshop to the right)

Comparing Jackson's first 5 games this year to his most recent 4 looks like this...

TDs INTs Best QB Rating Record
First 5 games 2 5 75.1 3-2
Last 4 games 4 2 139.2 4-0

In all four of his most recent starts his QB Rating was higher than his best from his first 5. We aren't exactly looking at Marino in his prime here but there is no reason not to be pleased with the improvement he has shown.

For my money the San Francisco game yesterday was the most impressive. The 49ers did all they could do to shut down the running game and make Jackson beat them with his arm. Take away Taylor's 84 yard run and the defensive TD and Jackson still beat them by moving the ball downfield and leading us to 13 points. Again, he won't be winning an MVP trophy based on this game but he did more than just "not lose" for us. On a day when Purple Jesus had a grand total of 0 yards rushing and Taylor has only 17 if you take away just 1 attempt, Jackson combined with the defense to win this game on the road.

2. Coaching and the KAO

This just in, Kirk Herbstreit is reporting that Brad Childress was actually fired 5 weeks ago. This offense has been balanced, making adjustments and creative and for a month now. Who are you and what did you do with the Kick Ass Offense? When comparing the offense of the last 6 games to the offense of the first 7 you get something like this...
  • +65 yards per game
  • +7 offensive points per game (taking away defensive scores)
  • Defensively giving up -20 yds per game and -2 points per game
When the offense gets better, it helps the defense out a little bit and you get a net gain of 85 yards per game and 9 points. And those numbers include the 0-34 game @ Lambeau.

But this really is less about production and more about the offense looking prepared, able to handle defensive adjustments with adjustments of their own and an expansion of the playbook to include more than 7 yard slants or deep balls. We actually throw 12 yard passes and utilize the play-action to get the ball downfield.

So first I was ready to jettison our young QB, and next I was ready to cut ties with Brad the Red Hot Childress Pepper (copyright Eric). But here again Brad finally seems to be showing signs of life. It only took him 23 games into his career to get adjusted and into a coaching groove. I am neither endorsing or demonizing the head coach at this point but at least he has proven that he deserves to stick around.

3. Big Play D

I think this is largely due to an improved offense that doesn't put the defense in bad situations. And most importantly the defense is taking advantage of offensive mistakes. This doesn't take a lot of explanation.

And what comes next?

We have 2 scenarios that I see here.

The We Should Have Seen This Coming Scenario - this is the one we are used to. Vikings do something like win 4 straight to get everything assuming playoffs and maybe a little playoff run. Then they lose 2 straight at home, have to win @Denver to get in, but lose in a snap over the punter's head for a Bronco TD. We've seen this before and it is almost an annual event.


The Playoff Run to the Super Bowl Scenario - We stay hot, we are a legit team that just took a 1/2 season to get going. We win 3 straight road games in the playoffs and play spoiler to the Patriots in Arizona!!! I'm drinking the Kool-Aid now BABY. Book your hotel rooms now before they are gone! SKOL VIKINGS!!! Woooo-HOOOO!

1 comment:

John said...

You're right--it has all begun with Jackson turning things around. All of a sudden he's making the passes and decisions that he should have been making early in the season.

He's doing enough to take pressure off of the run game and the defense and we're a playoff caliber team now.

Kool Aid Drinkers