After a little time (and what I believe is a flu bug) spent processing Sunday’s loss…I’m still annoyed, but less than I was right afterward. Granted, right after the game I wanted to pillage Michigan in a booze-fueled assault with a collection of snarling, fellow Norsemen-hey, urges happen-but I’m looking at things a little differently, now….
…but I’m still wanting to go full-on “Immigrant Song” on Detoit. The problem is, the city looks like the apocalypse has happened there…weekly, since about 1976.
On with the football bits, which are not, maybe, how I would have seen them Sunday afternoon:
QB- our signal-caller certainly has had ups and downs since arriving in Minnesota, and shows many signs of the mileage behind our o-line…but he actually had a decent outing against Detroit. No picks, 1 TD, 31 of 40 for 276. Granted, he had to throw a ton underneath…but after the last few weeks, he likely is going to assume he has less than 2 seconds before getting used as a “jacked up” highlight. If he gets some rhythm back-which seems more possible than it did a week ago-he might be as good or better than he was during the win streak.
RBs- I didn’t notice Zach Line doing anything in the game, so I left him off of this review. As for the rest…well, Hillman got the longest run (14 yards) and had the most yards overall (30), but this group still shows few signs of being a major part of our offense. I think this has to do more with the lack of lanes getting open than anything else, but…we’ll see.
WRs.TEs- Diggs had a pretty big day, contributing 80 yards in receptions plus some work running and returning. Thielen turned 4 catches into 68 yards, CP84 continues to get regular work and makes decent gains, and both of our TDs were scored by our TEs: one reception for Rudolph and the run by Ellison. The Vikings are once again a passing team, which will take some adjustment.
O-Line- You’re all fuggin’…improving? Yep, the impossible happened and the line actually gave Sam decent time on most snaps. They’re still needing to improve far more if our team is ever going to have much of a rushing attack again, and they’ll be facing better defenses for most of the remaining games…but Long seems to be getting better, and I’m all for showing the bunch some encouragement…!
D-Line/LBs- Here’s the bunch that I’m most concerned about, lately. Granted, Kendricks was out and everyone has mid-seasons wear and tear now…but if there’s one area of the team that I’m seeing less intensity from, it’s these guys. Opposing QBs have had largely clean pockets since our bye week, and while we’re making some good stops for losses, we’re also getting gashed at least once per game by huge run plays…and we’re not getting many sacks. I don’t know if they’re tired, if Zimmer is getting more conservative with his playcalling, but something is changing here…and not for the better. That said, Griffen was our top tackler on Sunday, and had our only sack.
CBs/Safeties- This bunch had a largely decent game as well, but some strange misses on tackles and assignments made me wonder if these guys, like the d-line, are nicked up or just too tired to being the same level of intensity that they had earlier in the season. Holding Stafford to 219 yards is actually pretty impressive, but it’s annoying when the game was lost on a couple of plays. Oh…let’s face it, Tate’s game-winning TD is damned annoying.
Special Teams- I think the least-surprising headline in sports yesterday was “Vikings Working Out Kickers”. The Blair Walsh Project looks to be ending, and I’m afraid that my response is to offer to hold the door for him. Locke remains solid, and our kickoff/punt coverage held Detroit well…while CP84 may have found his niche as a jack-of-all-trades type player.
Coaching- This is the most complicated facet of the team from Sunday’s game, as Zimmer kinda blew some clock management, the defensive calls seemed overly conservative, and the offense is obviously in flux. That said, Shurmur will be truly taking the reins for the first time this week…stay tuned.
Officiating- I saw several missed calls, including some that would’ve gone against us…but I also was watching in a bar with no volume on our game, so I’ll accept that I don’t really know how the zebras did on Sunday.
Conclusion- After a couple of days to think and chill out, I’m actually pretty optimistic about the season going forward. The NFC is largely cannibalizing itself (especially our division), and I think that Shurmur will get our offense playing better to Bradford’s strengths going forward…which will hopefully give the rest of the team the spark it needs to defend the divisional title. I think our slump is going to end, maybe it already has.