The Result: True story. When the score was 26-21, my dark thoughts made me think that Cousins would throw an interception. Then I thought, it will probably tip off Treadwell’s hands and totally ruin him as Viking. Next play interception and at first I thought it tipped off of Thielen and I thought at least it was not Treadwell. Then the camera kept following Treadwell and I realized that my worse thought had come true. Then my wife walked in and I told her the game was over. But the Vikings proved to be what I hope they will be. They fought and fought and played better and better. So, yes it was a tie but after the Vikes went into my dark thoughts, Cousins, etc. pulled me back. Yes, it was a tie but it showed a character that I did not expect — a character that will pay dividends throughout the season.
Cousins: Speaking of Cousins, he masterfully addressed all my concerns about him during crunch time. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Cousins was a perfect 9-of-9 passing for 160 yards and three touchdowns and a maxed-out NFL passer rating of 158.3. And he made his best passes during crunch time — passes we have not seen for many years. I was really impressed.
Cousins — More Thoughts: Cousins made some elite throws but I think only a few wide receivers make the Thielen TD catch and only a few more track the ball like Diggs. So, I thought about how much Thielen and Diggs improves a QBs performance. I did a little research ut I am not sure how much it illuminates this premise. Here are the facts to consider: (a) Cousins (Redskins last year): 64.3 completion % and 93.0 QB rating v. Cousins (Vikings) 65.5% and 108.7. (b) Keenum (Broncos): 59.3 and 73.7 v. Keenum (Vikings last year) 67.6% and 98.3. (c) Bradford (Cardinals) 60.7% and 55.6 v. Bradford (Vikings 2016) 71.6% and 99.3. (d) Alex Smith (Chiefs) 67.5% and 104.7 v. Smith (Washington) 71.1% and 100.1. It early to make such comparisons, but I wanted to think about how much Thielen and Diggs improves a QBs stats.
Carlson Family: Bad weekend as Daniel missed three FGs and his brother Anders missed one in the Auburn 1 point loss. While looking at this, I found this little nugget: “Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson reacts after missing a field goal in overtime to give Wisconsin the 34-31victory during the Outback Bowl Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.” Maybe it is a Wisconsin thing……. Frankly, I think kickers have to have different mentality — mentally they are like cornerbacks or baseball relievers — they have to be able to forget their last kick. Carlson admits that he can’t.
Carlson — More Thoughts: I think the Carlson failure requires a re-assessment of Priefer. He has shown he can’t assess the mental make-up of kickers. His kick coverage teams seem to be underperforming the past couple of season. Carlson, Walsh, — three strikes and you are out and Wile may be that third strike.
Linval Joseph: Why was Joseph in on a couple of third and longs on Green Bays opening draft with a less than mobile Rodgers? There were some stranger than normal defensive personnel groupings.
Linebackers: This unit has definitely become the weak link. I am not sure what is happening with Kendricks as he seems not to be analyzing plays fast and therefore he is slow to react. And, in a contract year, Barr has disappeared. You can spin this two different ways (which shows how easy it is to spin things). Kendricks is not playing well because he has been paid. On the other hand, Barr is not playing hard because he is afraid of injury in a contract year. Just speculation but Barr and Kendricks needs to revert to their form. TE are killing the Vikings: Jimmy Graham averaged 15.8 yards per reception against the Vikings; George Kittle averaged 18.0 yards per reception. Though not always a linebacker’s responsibility, TE killing the Vikings is just a bad look for that unit.
Other Thoughts: I was disappointed by Brent Jones; I was impressed by O’Neill (though he needs to anchor better); and I was generally happy with Alexander though he slipped a bit as the game went on. Last thing, I found this interesting: According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers took an average of just 2.24 seconds before throwing on Sunday, down from his 2.65-second average in Week 1 and his 2.55-second average last year. He completed 21 of his 23 passes when he released the ball in 2.5 seconds or less, posting a passer rating of 105.4 on those throws.