So…yeah, I didn’t post a column last week. Sorry ’bout that.
Life kinda demanded my full attention, and I neglected a few typical things, including “Velspar” (sorry, Papascott)…which means I’m done with that for the season, as I’d already be a ton of points behind.
Anyway, one big reason that I didn’t do a column last week had to do with a single word: “discombobulated”. The term is defined as “having been upset, confused”, and that seemed to fit the team and the fans all too well. We’d entered the season confused after a tepid preseason, had a strong week 1 showing, then…well, the team looked discombobulated dealing with a backup QB on the road against a consistent playoff team. The offense was off-rhythm, the defense seemed unable to create initiative, and both the team and its fans seemed disjointed.
So, I considered publishing an article that would simply have been a copy-and-paste of “discombobulated” and its definition. I decided that wasn’t worthy of the fans, so I skipped it.
Needless to say, after Sunday…I’m feeling MUCH better now!
QB- So, Case Keenum stepped up to the point of having a career game! 369 yards, 3 TDs, no picks, and he looked more than acceptable as the designated place-holder ’til one of our vaunted starters returns from knee-limbo. I’m particularly happy to note that our vertical passing game should be officially accepted as MUCH improved, regardless whether it’s Sam or Case under center. Can Teddy air it out in this new offense? We may or may not find out later this season….
RBs/FB- Yep, he’s a-Cookin’. 97 yards on 27 carries may not be record-setting, but Cook is more of an every-down back than we’ve known in many years, and he has the potential (in my eyes) to carry the best qualities of both Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Throw in 72 yards on 5 catches (with a long of 36) and also getting that overdue TD, and the kid is looking like a true force for our offense. McKinnon and Murray were decent in their supporting roles, but Ham’s 12-yard reception was basically the only headline from this group beyond Cook’s efforts.
WRs/TEs- Diggs actualy had me worried early on, as it seemed he had a brutal case of the “dropsies” and I wondered if he was injured or ill. Yeah, as we know, he got over that to the tune of 8 receptions, 173 yards, and 2 touchdowns…one that showed incredible body control. It’s kinda glorious when Thielen has a “slow” day of 5 receptions for 98 yards, including his own amazing sideline catch. The rest of the receivers had a mixed day, though it was good to see Wright get a TD…even as Rudolph basically disappeared and Treadwell remains a small-font footnote in our offense. It makes me wonder what we’ll be like 2 games from now, when we get Michael Floyd in the mix…?
O-Line- I’m…damn…I’m impressed. Case was kept mostly clean, lanes were opened for the running game, and it really does seem like we have consistently competent play from our o-line for the first time in ages. It’s the sad truth of offensive linemen that the less said about them, the better…and I probably could’ve just said “well done, boys” here.
D-Line/LBs- It’s great to see this bunch bringing so much constant pressure to opposing backfields. The Bucs barely tried to run the ball, and while I had concerns about the number of early passes Winston was hitting, their offense put forth a lot more effort than they achieved in points. 2 sacks on a young, mobile, strong QB is a solid day’s work, and the core of our defense seemed to be completely on the same page. Griffen should have himself one helluva year.
CBs/Safeties- One immediate shout-out goes to our starting safety duo of Smith and Sandejo, who combined for 10 tackles ( they were the top 2 tacklers on the team last Sunday) and a pair of interceptions. Trae Waynes continues his maddening capability to get beaten on plays but redeem himself with a huge play…in this case, an interception at our goal line. XR and Newman both looked solid, and Alexander seems to be growing into his job. That can’t happen soon enough.
Special Teams- Kai Forbath seems to have gotten the message, as he drilled all 6 of his points-scoring kicks on Sunday. Quigley seems serviceable, and our kick coverage remains a solid strength of the team. Sherels and McKinnon didn’t have many opportunities to do much against Tampa’s own punt/kick coverage.
Coaching- It’s tough to find much fault with a dominating win, and Zimmer’s overall game-calling seems smoother to me this season.
Officiating- Average. They missed some typical things, but I largely forgot about the zebras…which is a good thing.
Conclusion- Well, hot damn…we’re already in a 3-way tie for the division lead with a chance to slap Detroit around this Sunday! Here’s hoping that the team keeps coming together, the injured guys make great progress, and that the Vikings send Matt Stafford home in tears this Sunday!