…I worked on Sunday, and even though I snuck a security monitor and necessary hardware to my location so that I could theoretically watch the game, I was specifically busy for most of it. I did see highlights and lowlights, but had to wait until last night to really watch the whole thing.
I agree with the pundits: ties are like sister-kissing, and not in an Arkansas kinda way. For all the good and the bad, it feels like the game really didn’t end…
…and it didn’t, it just concludes in OUR house, later this year. They’ll regret making the trip.
Alright, dammit, it’s officially the football season, now. We’ve had our first divisional game, and learned more about our team in the last week than we did all offseason:
QB- Short version: I’m OK with the money. Long version: I think we got, in Kirk Cousins, a player that answers the wish lists of many fans here. His arm is a serious upgrade over everyone we’ve had under center in years, his accuracy is impressive even early in the system/season, his decisions are consistently good, and he takes a good ratio of risks if he sees enough potential upside. If last Sunday was a real indication of Kirk Cousins (35/48, 425 yards, 4 TDs, 1 deflected INT), then he may be a genuine bargain. Were there some near picks? Yep…but the threaded TD to Thielen seems to make them worthwhile.
RBs/FB- I actually think this group has become less important than it’s been in over a decade. After so many years of AD and needing our ‘backs to be the foundation of our offense, there is a more appropriate and fair level of expectations from our backfield. Cook is still warming back up (10 rushes, 3 receptions, 90 total yards) and Murray is more than passable in relief (4 rushes for 19), and Ham gets the odd run or catch…but it’s not all about this group being both our main yard producers and opening up the passing game. They carry important jobs, but stopping them doesn’t stop our offense.
WRs/TEs- I’m starting to love these guys like I did the Carter/Carter/Reed/Moss/Jordan bunches. If Diggs isn’t creating highlight reel footage (9 for 128, 2 TDs including the 75-yard bomb), Thielen is being the least-coverable WR in football (12 for 131, 1 TD) and Rudolph remains a big, reliable target (7 for 72). Yeah, there’s Treadwell…who had both a TD and a dumbass deflection leading to a late INT, plus drops…but I don’t think he’s going to find the field all that much for the rest of the season. In any case, this group is amazing…and, like Kirk, they’re all growing into the system and getting familiar with each other. The best is ahead…!
O-Line- YOU’RE…um…ALL KINDA ON PROBATION. I really don’t know that I can dig into this bunch all that hard with our starting center only now looking to return and too many substitutions going on. I’m trying to show some patience.
D-Line/LBs- I’m actually kinda “neutral” about these guys. Yes, our front 4 are monsters and our LBs are fast and athletic as hell…but Erin had way too much time, way too much of the time, for my liking, and I’m never happy to see opponents have success running at our tackles. Getting TJ back (but thanks, Parry…truly…!) should help, but I’m kinda wondering about this group, overall. To be fair, my ideal sack number against Erin is actually higher than his snaps per game, so maybe my expectations are kinda unrealistic. The roughing call on Kendricks was…well, more on that later.
CBs/Safeties- While the Rhodes weren’t completely “closed” on Sunday, he was our leading tackler and our secondary had most of our top tacklers in the game. This is the result of a game plan that got the ball out of Erin’s hands as quickly as possible all game long. Alexander had a sack, Harry was all over the field as usual, Waynes got a ton of business…it all went how I thought it would, though I really hoped we’d get picks. Maybe next time.
Special Teams- Hey Carlson…yep…YER FUGGIN’ FIRED, and none too soon. We had that game won at least twice, except our ex-kicker apparently shanks under pressure. Good riddance. Hughes had a sweet return, Hill and Sherels did solid work, but this bunch seems to need the most help.
Coaching- I’m just gonna join the chorus of voices that wished Z and co. had gone for the overtime TD more than the (eventually missed) FG. As many point out, we need to start truly decimating opponents, even if that doesn’t fit Zimmer’s game management tendencies. Hey, I get it…but it’s easy to be too merciful in the NFL.
Officiating- The zebras were truly annoying, and it’s by league design. One big reason both Vikings and Puker fans felt robbed on Sunday was the over-coddling of the QBs. I get it, broken QBs on IR are bad for revenue…but let the guys actually PLAY SOME FUGGIN’ FOOTBALL, ALREADY.
Conclusion- I’m trying to believe that the universe is trying to create a maximum-entertainment scenario for the meetup in our house later this season, something dramatic where the winner largely destroys the playoff hopes of the loser. I also hope that the intensity the Vikings showed in their scoring drives and best defensive series will be the starting point for the rest of the season, and that Buffalo will be trounced so completely that the entire NFL and its fans collectively go “DAMN….they’re PISSED” Sunday afternoon.
We didn’t win, but neither did they. We already made big adjustments, so…yeah…Coach Z and Rick are on the hunt in 2018. Let’s bag a bunch o’ wins and break the fuggin’ curse, already.