I ain't even mad
by, 09-26-2011 at 06:38 PM (398 Views)
The Vikings for a 3rd consecutive week blew another 2nd half lead. Leading 20 -0 at halftime, The Vikings proceeded to give up 23 unanswered points. This pattern of losses succinctly sums up what it's like to be a Vikings fan. This team gets your hopes up, shows flashes of brilliance and quickly reverts to a shell of itself.
Where does one even start when trying to explain what is wrong with the Vikings. It appears the players and coaches themselves have no answer. There were certain coaching decisions made that are beginning to show that Leslie Frasier may be outmatched. I understand it's very early in his coaching tenure to start talking like this, but when a team breaks down in the 2nd half this consistently, the blame has to go somewhere and it starts with the head coach.
The first mistake Frasier made was abandoning the run. Yes Detroit came out and stopped the run much better, and penalties put them in 2nd and 3rd and long situations more frequently in the 2nd half than the first. But There is no excuse for Adrian Peterson only receiving 5 carries in the 2nd half. The Vikings signed Adrian Peterson to one of the most lucrative contracts a running back has ever been given and they use their most talented weapon only 5 times in the 2nd half? They were protecting a 20 point lead, and they abandoned the run. This flies in the face of even the most basic football logic.
I also believe that Bill Musgrave may be out-thinking himself. With a 20-17 lead, the Vikings were stopped just short of a first down and were faced with a 4th and 1 on the Lions' 17. As Frasier sent out the field goal unit, electing to take the points, he saw Adrian Peterson wave off the field goal unit and decided to let his players make a play. A gutsy move by AD, and a wise move by Frasier to trust the league's #1 running back. So on that 4th down play, they line up Toby Gerhart in the FB position with AD lined up behind him. Instead of letting their best playmaker have the ball, Musgrave instead chose to have McNabb hand the ball off to the 2nd year player out of Stanford. Toby inched forward and was stopped just shy of the first down. This play was intended to catch the Lions off guard, and it didn't. No one can tell whether or not the AD would have made the first down, but at least the Vikings would have been stopped with the ball in the hands of their best player, rather than a back up RB who only had 1 touch before that play.
Not all the blame lies in the coaching decisions. McNabb made several poor throws in the 2nd half, but did manage to manufacture a solid drive that led the vikings to kick a game tying field goal with 1 minute remaining in regulation.
Another play that stands out to me in this game was on the Lions final punt of the game. After the crowd and the intimidation of Jared Allen led to Backus being flagged for 2 consecutive false starts. The Lions were backed up to their own 5 and the Vikings pass rush and rush defense made some great plays and forced the lions to give the Vikings the ball back. At the end of a solid return, it appeared that Sherrels brought the Vikings to the Lions' 45 yard line with 13 seconds to play. But after the play ended Kenny Anatolu was flagged for a unnecessary roughness penalty that sent the Vikings back to their own 40. Without that flag the Vikings would have only needed a 7-10 yard gain and a clock stoppage to give Longwell a chance to win the game with a long field goal. Instead the Vikings were unable to move the ball and stop the clock leading to overtime.
The Lions also made some plays in this game that set them apart. Chris Cook and Calvin Johnson were matched up all game, and Cook deserves a lot of credit for the game he played. He beat Johnson twice for jump balls, but he was also beaten for a TD and the long gain that led to the OT field goal. Both of those long catches Cook was playing excellent coverage but was beaten by a superior Athlete. While the matchup did work well for the Vikings overall, it begs the question of why didn't the Vikings key more on Calvin Johnson? Cook is by nobody's assessment a shutdown corner, and was isolated on a player who is arguably one of the top 3 wide receivers in the game right now.
Another area of concern for the Vikings is their inability to cover TE's and backs on screens and underneath routes. For the last 3 weeks the Vikings' secondary has done an admirable job keeping the ball out of the hands of some playmaking wide receivers. But in that success they seem to have lost the ability to cover backs and TE's. Brandon Pettigrew, after struggling for the first 2 weeks gouged the Vikings for 11 receptions and 112 yards.
The Vikings head to Kansas City next week looking to break a 3 game losing streak. The Chiefs are a team that have struggled mightily this year, but even looking at an easy matchup i find it hard to find optimism that this will be anything but a bad year for the Vikings.