Observations After Poaching the Eagles
Y’know…sometimes, life pays you back for earlier, rough days. Karma is as much of a friend as it is a b***h.
For those that don’t know, I live just outside Seattle, and have had to deal with the the smugness and swagger of the “12” throughout the 6 years I’ve lived up here. Similarly, as a Vikings fan, dealing with the worst elements of the Cheesehounds is always trying, always annoying as hell…and the complete s***-fest that was all around our loss in the NFCC game to a team with abusive, asshat fans has had my digestion off all year.
Some days, though, you’re sitting in a sports bar with some other Purple People and watch Detroit beat Green Bay…just before watching the Vikings get some revenge on Philly with the Seahags losing to the Rams on the next TV over.
I dunno if Sunday was a “day of rest”, but it was damned fine day to be a Vikings fan in Western Washington!
Well, it wasn’t the 49-0 blowout I was hoping for, but it was a win…on the road…that stopped the recent bleeding. The team REALLY needed the win, the fans needed it, and I think the coaches needed it. We know we have an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent, but the team hasn’t “finished baking”, as I keep insisting. Last Sunday’s game against Philadelphia restored my faith in the universe, and the team, a good bit. With that to build on, I feel pretty great about the rest of the season.
On with the detailed babble!
QB- It’s pretty telling when our new QB puts in a 30/37 for 301 and a TD kinda day…and it seems very average. With a pair of 400+ games already under his belt this year, Kirk Cousins has led an absolute transformation of our passing offense for 2018. As much as Diggs, Thielen, and Rudolph have been good for the team for years, there’s no getting around the fact that Cousins has elevated the game for the Vikings. I’ve said it before, but he seems to represent the kind of QB we’ve wanted since “Burt” was on the team: good arm, good instincts, and just enough of a gambler’s heart to push for big plays. Folks, we’ve got our QB…we just need to keep him upright.
RBs/FB- In a complete about-face from the Peterson years, the best qualities we’re getting from our ‘backs is their ability to catch out of the backfield. I think this will remain the case until Cook is really back on form. Our top rusher on Sunday, Murray, only had 42 yards on the ground…and the next-best rusher was Diggs. That all said, the blocking and “safety valve” values can’t be overstated…just as long as they CATCH those laterals in the future….
WRs/TEs- The afterthoughts are now, fully, the star attractions of the Vikings offense. Thielen caught 7 catches for 116 and a TD, making him the only WR in the Superbowl era to haul in 100+ yards in the first 5 games of the season; he also fell on the Eagles’ late on-side kick to seal the game. Diggs pulled in 10 for 91, while Rudolph added 5 grabs for 41 yards. Hell, even Treadwell caught 3 of his 4 targets for another 21 yards; the much-maligned 1st rounder is starting to be dependable. Right now, this group is as scary as any in the NFL, yet are still under the radar with some analysts. I expect that to change over the course of this season.
O-Line- YER ALL…UM…ON DOUBLE-SECRET PROBATION. Cousins was only sacked once, but was having to be elusive far too often and this bunch NEEDS to keep our $84 Million Dollar Man healthy for us to improve over last year. Maybe, just maybe, they’re gelling a bit more. Maybe.
D-Line/LBs- OK, right up front: Linval Joseph is awesome. He got a sack, had pressure on Wentz much of the game, and run back the Weatherly-caused strip sack for a TD. Hunter added a sack of his own to those of Joseph and Weatherly, Kendricks recovered an Eagles fumble, and the front bunch were a big, combined nightmare for the Eagles OC. Barr, Joseph, and Kendricks were all among the tackle leaders as well. I love it when a plan comes together…but they still need to solidify the run D between our tackles.
CBs/Safeties- This is a bit of a pickle. Rhodes is a bit off form, Waynes is spending as much time being treated for injuries as he is playing, Alexander can’t seem to prevent completions…but rookies Hughes is coming along decently and Hitman Harry remains solid. Sandejo…eh…it’s kind of hard to judge his performance when the refs are so flag-happy this season. Whatever the case, the secondary managed to limit its issues and contribute to a tough day for Philly.
Special Teams- WHAT THE UNHOLY F***ING HELL IS GOING ON WITH OUR KICKERS!?!?!? Seriously, folks…we’ve had a young kicker flame out after a brilliant start, a veteran strangely unable to hit extra points, another kid who got fired after sucking for his first few games…and now, we get the 2nd-most-accurate kicker in the league and he misses 2 of 3 in the first half!?!? Is Preiffer secretly working for Green Bay? In any case, the rest of the ST crew were all serviceable, if not stunning.
Coaching- Right now, it looks like Flip is getting better each week as the offense cooks into the minds of his players. Edwards and Zimmer are getting the defense more consistently solid than they’ve been since week 1, but Preiffer…eh…I’m starting to wonder about that guy.
Officiating- Another game where we didn’t get the rotation on sound, so…hard to judge. Frankly, if I don’t remember the zebras, it’s generally a good thing.
Conclusion- OK, another victory in the books and the team starting to look like its bad ol’ self…both very good things indeed! I hope that Waynes gets better and more durable, Cook gets back and lives up to our hopes, that Griffen gets himself in order in time to rejoin the team and make our D even scarier, and…I HOPE THAT WE BEAT ARIZONA SO BAD THAT FITZ BEGS TO BE TRADED…peferably, to us…!