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  1. #1
    Caine's Avatar
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    I like eggs...and other ramblings

    After having my entire world view shattered by a heartbreaking loss to the hated Packers last week, I took a few days off from PP.O and football in general to gather my thoughts and find my center...


    ...it didn't help.

    The more I think about it, the more concerned I become.
    Our Offense is easily one of the worst I have ever seen us field, and our Defensive Achilles Heel has been exposed.
    Those two elements combine to make one very bad outlook.

    On the Negative Side:

    1:
    Brad Johnson:

    A lot of people are pounding on Brad Johnson...and not just opposing DE's.
    On one hand, they raise a valid point in saying that Brad is not driving the team well...the point they conveniently overlook is that there is NO ONE on our depth chart who can step in and take over.


    I no longer buy the "Brad won a Superbowl" line...that was 4 years ago, and at his age, 4 years is a LONG time.
    Trent Dilfer won one 6 years ago, and I don't want him in there either.
    However, he does have the ability to read defenses - more so than anyone else we have - and has had sufficient arm strength to hit our receivers deep...even though they drop most of them.

    So, on the Brad Johnson issue, for me anyway, it's a wash.
    I certainly hope he's not the starter next season, but I'm resigned to the fact that he's our best chance to win THIS season.
    Don't bother arguing this statement, that fight has been fought too many times in the past three weeks with nothing more than opinion and conjecture to support any change at the QB position.
    Unless Brad tanks the next 2 games, he finishes out the season as the starter.

    2:
    Our Wide Receivers
    ...and I use the term loosely.
    Versus Green Bay, they actually performed fairly well.
    Bethel Johnson and Billy McMullen were fabulous in the 2nd quarter.
    Too bad none of the others showed up.
    The largest part of my anger here is reserved for Troy Williamson.
    Receivers are supposed to improve with experience...he has gotten worse.
    He has dropped critical balls...repeatedly...and not been able to elevate his play.
    I could easily see him being phased out of the lineup next season if this trend continues.


    While none of the others have done anything to change the overall picture of mediocrity that the mere mention of our receivers elicits, none of them have contributed more to that negative image than Troy has either.
    On the whole, this is not a group we, as Viking fans, are proud of, and they're certainly not a group to be widely feared by opposing Defenses.

    3:
    The Offensive Line:

    I can't decide which I like least, the play of Bryant McKinnie after he signed a big money deal for 7 years, or the play of the entire right side.
    McKinnie gets beat everywhere except into the buffet line, and the right side is so bad that I have seen - and heard - people asking for Rosenthal to be put in.
    Yes, ROSENTHAL!?!?!?!?!
    Either people have forgotten how bad he was last season, or the current right side is worse.
    I can't say because I have elected to block most of last season from my memory.

    Either way, the dominant line we all hoped for has not come to fruition this season.
    Any thought of blaming this on "gelling" should have been put to bed by now, this unit simply isn't that good.
    Birk and Hutch cannot block everyone, while Hicks and Johnson can't block anyone and McKinnie can only seem to block during the run.
    Again, however, we don't have anyone on the roster from whom we would expect better.

    4:
    Our Pass Defense.

    Contrary to popular belief, we actually have one...we've simply misplaced it.
    Here again there are plenty of fingers to be pointed, but many of them are at the wrong people.
    The truth is that our Linebackers are not very good in coverage, and any team with a fast TE or fast slot guy will likely feed on the crossing route all game long.


    With our secondary, I have to ask why we don't play Man more instead of living and dying by the Cover 2 zone...I have no answers to that.
    Maybe it's flashbacks to the torching Steve Smith put on Fred Smoot last season...or maybe it's something else.
    I don't know what it is, but I certainly hope Mike Tomlin fixes it soon.


    New England gave every team in the NFL the road map to success versus the Viking Defense.
    Don't bother running on them, just spread the Secondary and hit the slot guy crossing, the back in the flats, or anyone being covered by Ronyell Whitaker.

    Seriously, this guy is to our secondary - and our entire Defense - what the French are to warfare....a liability.
    Twice he's been torched for game-winning TD's (Chicago and Green Bay).
    Virtually every long play opponents have pulled off against us was HIS coverage.
    Jeeez, we might as well go get Ahmad Carroll.
    Oh....wait.....no.....Jacksonville already did - and look how well they've done since doing so.

    5:
    The Pass Rush:

    Where did it go?
    In our first 5 games we FEASTED on opposing QBs.
    Rex Grossman was so traumatized, his white pants had a big yellow stain in front after meeting our guys.
    fast forward to last week, and Brett Favre - whose pants were already yellow - hardly got touched.
    Kind of makes you wonder what's going on when an O-Line as bad as Green Bay's can stop a D-Line as "good" as ours (It also makes you wonder why their crappy O-Line can put ours to shame).

    Bottom line, we NEED to pay the QB more visits.
    No matter who it is, they need to hear footsteps on every single play until they are BEGING their Coach to call all running plays.


    The irony here is that in last weeks game, Singer and I commented repeatedly that we much preferred the Packers to have a 3rd and 2 than a 3rd and 8.
    If they ran, our "D" would stuff them....HARD.
    But they converted many of the long ones.
    Part of that was the fact that Whitaker was in, but part of it was the lack of pressure the D-Line brought.
    That needs to improve....obviously.

    6:
    Play Calling:

    We didn't see too much silly stuff last week.
    We took a few shots downfield, and two of them went for 6 - which is always nice.
    We did seem to give up on the run, but their linebackers were hitting anything that moved.
    All in all, this aspect didn't look to be a big factor in our dismal showing last week.

    It still gets mentioned in the negative column because of the two "game-on-the-line" plays called this season that wound up being deep balls...off target.
    When the short ball and the running game are your bread-and-butter, don't throw the fade route with all the marbles riding on it.
    Especially if your QB and your receivers haven't been on the same page all season long.


    The only other aspect that bothers me here is the lack of involvement the TE's have.
    The trouble is, I don't know WHY they are so ignored.
    Is it the play, Brad's read, or aren't they open?
    I don't know so I'll drop it in here for now.

    7:
    Stupid Penalties:

    While it is a given that there are very few "smart" penalties, I refer primarily to those that either dig us into a big hole, dig "them" out of a big hole, or bring back TD's.
    And that about sums up every penalty we've taken this season.
    Granted, a good handful of those flags are flat out bovine excrement (The illegal block in the back that cost us Johnson's TD return last week...complete cow poo), but many more times they're simply guys not executing or executing poorly (Is there really a difference between those two?).

    Marcus Johnson draws a lot of attention for his contribution to our penalty total.
    Travis Taylor has had the most points brought back for drawing flags - but 2 of those were flat out cow caca, so he gets a pass on that.

    Bottom line, the penalties reflect the way our team is playing right now, and that is POORLY.
    Once our guys start executing properly, penalties should diminish.

    ON THE POSITIVE SIDE:

    Well, I don't have to number these.
    Our Run "D" is #1 in the league...that's a plus.
    Bethel Johnson has been worth his salary, both as a receiver and as a returner.
    Marcus Johnson should soon be healthy, that will help our receiver corps.
    Fred Smoot will be back this week - putting Whitaker on the bench where he belongs (I think they should super-glue him there).
    Smoot caught a lot of bad PR early on, but has steadily improved over the past few weeks.


    And, lest I forget, Chester Taylor!!!!!
    He's been rock solid for us.
    He's not flashy, but he present a real threat every time he touches the ball.
    Tony Richardson goes here as well for his excellent play.
    Mewelde Moore has been playing like a man who lost his starting job and is considering making a run for it again...I hope he keeps it up.

    While I see a Wild Card as a HUGE long shot, I think we can salvage the season by going 8-8...or 7-9.....or even 6-10.
    Bottom line here is that many of the problems I listed above CAN be corrected NOW.
    And, if we correct them, that takes pressure off of the ones we can't address now, but can in the off season.

    All in all, we have a decent team to build upon, so that is a HUGE positive in my book.
    With a good draft and a few solid FA signings, we could easily be in the hunt next season...we just need something positive to build off of, starting NOW.

    Caine

  2. #2
    Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: I like eggs...and other ramblings

    Nice summary Caine, I'm guessing you are not going to pay me for the Ronyell Whitaker jersey now.
    I sure hope some of these woes are improved on this week on the peninsula, will be a tough game.
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  3. #3
    nickbo's Avatar
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    Re: I like eggs...and other ramblings

    Well done.
    I liked your take on the overall situation.
    All you need to be a successful coach is a patient wife, a loyal dog and a good quarterback, not necessarily in that order. - Bud Grant

  4. #4
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: I like eggs...and other ramblings

    "Caine" wrote:
    I no longer buy the "Brad won a Superbowl" line...that was 4 years ago, and at his age, 4 years is a LONG time.

    I never bought into that theory in the first place. While it says a lot about him & his smarts as a QB, he had a hell of a supporting cast around him on the team. Mostly on defense.

    In the SB, 21 of their points were scored on 3 interceptions that were taken to the the house & another that lead to a FG. Pittman also had 124 yards rushing. Their offense was only 6-15 on 3rd down conversions.

    Johnson did throw 2 TD passes, despite being picked off on their opening drive.

    There are a lot of QB's who have rings, but how well did they play when they were 38?

    I see a lot of his woes coming from poor offensive line play & receivers either not getting open or dropping passes. But I also see him trying to make things happen & force the ball more than he used to. Earlier in the season, he seemed more apt to throw the ball away than to try & make a play, but lately it seems like he's making poorer decisions. That's my opinion anyways.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  5. #5
    Caine's Avatar
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    Re: I like eggs...and other ramblings

    "singersp" wrote:
    I see a lot of his woes coming from poor offensive line play & receivers either not getting open or dropping passes. But I also see him trying to make things happen & force the ball more than he used to. Earlier in the season, he seemed more apt to throw the ball away than to try & make a play, but lately it seems like he's making poorer decisions. That's my opinion anyways.
    I wonder how much the inability of the Offense to score points is affecting that?


    What I mean by that is, when Brad was playing a more controlled game, we didn't score points because we lack the big play guys to break out.
    The fans and the media start hounding the Vikes for their lack of ability to score, and point most often - and most loudly - at Brad Johnson.
    Brad, in an attempt to reverse the trend, strats taking more chances and winds up turning the ball over more, and still not scoring.

    We saw this recipe in Green Bay last season when Brett Favre, feeling the pressure of an empty receiver corps and a poor offense, attempted to make things happen on his own....to the tune of 22 INTs.
    Brad Johnson is following the exact same model....without the arm that Favre has.

    Sure, a lot of things contribute to our inability to perform on Offense, and not all of them are directly related to Brad Johnson, but he HAS to control those aspects for which he IS responsible.
    He's not doing that.

    There are a lot of things we need in order to be a successful franchise.
    One of those things is a real GM, not a puppet-show spearheaded by Zygi Wilf (Whose football "cred" is about as distinguished as mine).
    Another is a real OC and not an empty OC title without any real OC responsibility.
    Until the two men at the top of the food chain get over their ego trips - or increase thier achievement on the learning curve - the bulk of the attention is likely to rest on Brad Johnson.

    In comparrison, I believe Johnson has far less to do with our lack of success to date than either Zygi Wilf or Brad Childress.
    The ironic thing is those two get a bye on the entire ordeal while Brad gets thrown to the wolves.

    Life's a biatch.

    Caine

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