Well, well, well, now…what have we here?
A Vikings team sitting undefeated after 3 games, 1 of which involved their most-despised opponents while the most recent was against the reigning NFC champions and their MVP quarterback?
A Vikings team achieving these wins after losing starters for weeks and/or months all too often, a team whose veterans and younger players all have bought into the coaches’ philosophies?
To me, that sounds like a damned scary team…heh heh heh heh heh….
Y’know, it can be rough to be a Vikings fan in foreign territory. Yesterday, our favorite team was locked in battle with the most recent NFC Champions in their house, and we didn’t even get volume for our game (the bar picks one game to get the volume at any one time…yesterday, it was the Broncos/Bengals). I had to work at blocking out the babble from surrounding tables, not knock my steak and eggs into my own lap while gesturing madly at plays, and trying to ignore the fantasy football bobbleheads at a couple nearby booths explaining how we were gonna drop this game, and our injuries were gonna guarantee we slipped to 3rd-4th in the division by mid-season.
On the other hand, getting to be the most smug summbitch on Earth when getting up to leave, and being just enough of a bastard to lean into their booth and ask, “how about them Vikings?” on the way out meant that I got to be…me…to a couple of twinks. That’s my attitude toward the whole NFL world right now, and I love how many Purple People were in the bar to share it with me…!
ON WITH THE BABBLE!
QB- Say whatever you like about our still-new QB, but don’t say he ain’t a warrior. Behind that childlike, goofy smile and quiet demeanor is a guy that has gotten pummeled throughout his whole career, been called a “bust” and “washed up” after injuries and serving time with some forgettable teams…and he comes to us, still getting mauled, and hits 64% of his passes against our conference’s defending champs (18 of 28, 178 yards, 1 TD). He’s looking like a pure leader for our offense, making very few mistakes, and he’s getting our players to really make plays instead of simply settling for results. His stats don’t tell the story of just how much good he’s done for us already.
RBs/FB- This might take some adjustment with AP sidelined, but our run game is currently demoted to a supporting-cast role in our offense. Our RBs combined for about 60 yards, and only McKinnon’s 2-point conversion got on the scoreboard. That said, we know our ‘backs can deliver if given the chance. This wasn’t their week.
WRs/TEs- After last weeks performance, the entire NFL world learned that they need to contain Diggs. The problem is, we actually have production among our ball-catching ranks, now, so shutting down Diggs frees up Rudolph…who got our offensive TD and was our leading receiver. Thielen had a heroic grab, CP84 actually had a catch, and most of our receivers got some work, today. While Charles Johnson continues to be a quizzical disappointment, he was missed when wide open in the end zone during the game, so…maybe it’s just about getting dialed in with Bradford. Time will tell.
O-line- Our greatest source of concern is still aging us (and our offensive skill players) way too quickly. While the stat line only shows 2 sacks for Carolina, Bradford got dumped pretty regularly (or so it seemed to me), while our RBs are still not finding many lanes to work with. I know, I know, our bunch was re-shuffled and then lost a starter to IR…but I think all of us are beyond tired of our QBs and RBs having to be helped up all game long.
D-line/LBs- On the other hand, DAMN…PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS IN DA HOUSE!!!! 3 sacks for Griffen, 1 each for BRob, Joseph, and Hunter…oh, yeah, and Hunter’s involved a safety on Cam (fig) Newton that finally got us on the scoreboard when the first half had been kinda brutal. The reigning NFL MVP was on his back more than a Las Vegas working girl during convention season, and one of his 3 INTs went to Johnson…so he’ll be crying into his protein-packed yogurt this week. Our LBs had a quieter day, but Kendricks in particular was always around the ball. What a bunch of beast we have in our front 7!
CBs/Safeties- Y’know why (overhead) Cam got to spend all that time dusting himself off? Yes, our monstrous pass rush was instrumental, but some of the credit is shared with our secondary, who were very solid in coverage for most of the game and made the head Panther hold the ball longer than he wanted to. Hitman Harry got one of the sacks and was the leading tackler, while Waynes and Newman hauled in INTs to seal a helluva dominant defensive performance. I compare this game to one we had against New Orleans where our D, particularly Winfield, had the opposing QB completely pissed off…and Newton likely pouted the whole way home.
Special Teams- Note to The Blair Walsh Project: missing wide right is different than wide left, but still a way to get bone-bruising towel poppings from the team’s linemen. Granted, the miss was just an XP and everything else went through, but…keep practicing. Sherels was the hero, obviously, returning a punt for a TD and really changing the momentum of the game (granted, the earlier safety had helped this process). The Little CB That Could did it again. Meanwhile, Locke and the gunners really got some good, deep, punts that pinned Carolina on a few occasions.
Coaching- This is what good coaching looks like, boys and girls, so save the footage: our bunch learns, adjusts, and keeps opponents guessing. Zimmer, Edwards, Turner, and Priefer had solutions for a powerhouse opponent all day long…so we’re in the opposite situation from the Frazier era. I wonder if he’s watching THESE tapes…?
Officiating- I saw a strange call against Sandejo that seemed like BS to me, but without hearing things…I can’t say much about the refs.
Conclusion- DAMN, WE BE BAD!! Granted, the Panthers’ offense had more yards in the air and on the ground, but I care about the scoreboard and the W/L columns…and we won both of those stat categories, running away. I honestly am not really worried about any other given game on our schedule after this, because I didn’t really expect us to be undefeated at this point…especially after Teddy went down. With many starters down, this team just gets meaner and reflects the badass will of the Z-man.
It’s gonna be a looooong season for our opponents. I suggest we enjoy every damned minute.