OK, Purple People…we kicked off our new season with our new QB, our new OC, our rookie CB, and achieved a BFD by a convincing beat-down of the media darling 49ers! Jimmy G got used for target practice, our secondary grabbed some picks, and our new-look team came together for a victory against a team that finished last season 5-0! While not the crushing I’d have preferred, I’m sure that I’d even think that a 70-0 routing could’ve been better.
It ain’t about being rational or reasonable, it’s about being a Vikings Fan!
ON WITH THE BREAKDOWN!!!
I gotta tell ya, kids, that the annual offseason silliness was somehow more brutal than usual on me. While the QB situation was bizarre and the OC situation was similarly unnerving for a bit, the approach to preseason seemed to be “give the vets enough snaps to get ’em ready, get the kids some tryout time, and…oh yeah, maybe try winning if reasonably possible”. I get it, I even support it…when I’m not watching the games. Our brief glimpses of Cousins’ work in purple were inspiring, then tragic, then decent…but we knew it all meant nothing ’til today.
Naturally, I watched in a bar that didn’t have sound for our game, so I can’t comment on the announcers.
Here’s what resulted:
QB- Our much-debated star QB began his real Vikings’ career with a solid game: 20 of 36, 2 TDs, no picks, and 244 yards. I’m reserving most of my judgement on him for the moment because it was apparent to me that the offense, as a unit, is still very much “in the oven” and not fully baked, yet. Our guys looked good, but not comfortable/loose like I’d prefer…and with so many new elements in the offense, I didn’t honestly expect Captain Kirk to look, in Week 1, as I’ll expect him to look by about week 10. That said, he obviously can make the throws, had a few he’d like back, and didn’t make any tragic mistakes…though SF’s secondary got way too close to picks on a few passes. I certainly give Cousins a passing grade for today, but I want to see how he and the offense grow together.
RB/FB- I’m gonna say it: there’s gonna be too many easy “COOK HAM” jokes this season. Today, however, the running portion of our offense did their jobs at being a distraction, something to set up play-action passes. Murray ran it 11 times for 42 yards while Cook was 16 for 40, and Cook added 55 yards worth of receiving yards to his pile. I liked most of the blocking and the overall playing, though Cook needs to learn ball security when he’s fighting for post-contact yardage; his fumble was a sad end to a brilliant, violent run. I think these guys will have bigger games soon, but today…they were as stiff as the offense in general.
WR/TE- Yes, we can “Diggs it” (3 catches, 43 yards, TD) and we are “Thielen that Way” (6 grabs, 102 yards), and Rudolph created red-faced defenders (1 grab for a TD)…but Treadwell had a couple, Morgan had one, Conklin had one, and even as I complain about the stiffness of the offense, this bunch is gonna be a pain in the ass for opposing defenses.
O-Line- YOU’RE ALL FUGGIN’…um…sorry, habit. These guys were OK, but got badly beaten a few times and didn’t look all that integrated as a group. I actually think they can get much better as they gel, but with the monstrous early schedule involved…I really hope they get it together NOW.
D-Line/LBs- I’d hate to be our opposing QBs. Jimmy got harassed, knocked around, and sacked 3 times as our front seven made his existence terrifying at best. Hunter and Richardson were all over him, Griffen was in his face far more than he liked, and they made it a long day for the 49ers’ offense. While they did get gashed up the middle a few times and allowed some misdirections to get by them, the group looks amazing even as they’re shaking the rust off. I actually think it’s a helluva compliment when an opposing coach goes to trick plays so quickly….
CBs/Safeties- So, let’s face it: Harry’s the MAN. He got a sack on Jimmy G, a pick, and he got a fumble recovery as well. He was everywhere the ball was, looking like the dominating defensive monster we all know and love…while also being our leading tackler. I’m concerned about Waynes, haven’t seen an update yet, but it appears that our secondary is determined to reclaim their position atop the NFL’s defenses.
Special Teams- Carlson hit all his kicks, Sherels got a few scrappy yards, and the new punter (Wile) looks solid so far. Kick coverage looked generally good, though our first guy seems to miss the tackle too regularly.
Coaching- Our bunch coached well against a surging SF team, though I noticed the late-game clock management tendency rearing its ugly head when I believe we need to start truly putting the “fatal score” into our opponents late in games. I know Coach Z is pragmatic to a fault, so I’m not surprised…but I want him and our whole crew determined to truly bury the cheesehounds this weekend, plus the other top-shelf opponents we face all season. Like I said, 70-0 would be a good start…!
Officiating- Honestly, I didn’t notice the zebras much during the game, and that’s how I like it.
CONCLUSION- It’s just one game, and I think our offense will be melding for much of the season with the new OC and QB…but I believe the team is better-equipped to push into the postseason than any time in decades. When the Vikings get through the brutal early schedule this season, I expect that they’ll have distinguished themselves as true contenders…and more dangerous than ever.
It doesn’t hurt that our division already looks like a two-horse race. Damn, Chicago blew it and Detroit looks…terrible. So, let’s leave another big, purple stain on LAMB-BLOW field this Sunday!