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September 14, 2008

Vikings put on great statistical performance . . .

. . . but still lose the frickin' game. Adrian Peterson gained 160 yards on the ground. The Vikings defence came up with a pair of Peyton Manning interceptions, but it still couldn't overcome an offensive effort that struggled to get any points on the board (kicker Ryan Longwell had five field goals, and they were the only points for the Vikings in this game):

The Indianapolis Colts were overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage again, and the swarming Minnesota defense frequently pounded Peyton Manning into the Metrodome turf.

But the Colts put the Manning touch on another impressive rally, thanks to a handful of clutch completions near the end by their stalwart quarterback, and reminded the Vikings it's just not possible to win without throwing the ball.

Manning passed for 311 yards and moved Adam Vinatieri in position for the winning field goal with 3 seconds left, leading Indianapolis to an 18-15 victory on Sunday after Minnesota led 15-0 late in the third quarter.

"We played a lot of man, got in their face, got a lot of pressure, but it wasn't enough," said Antoine Winfield, who had one of Manning's two interceptions. "He's been around. He's seen it all. You can never rattle him, I don't think."

Given the Vikings' clear mastery of the running game (Adrian "All Day" Peterson), perhaps someone needs to whisper the magic words in coach Brad Childress's ear: "forward pass".

Honest . . . I've heard that other teams in the NFL have been using this secret weapon to immense effect lately. Perhaps we could try a few of them ourselves? Just not to Visanthe "Butterfingers" Shiancoe. Rumour has it that there are players already on the roster called "wide receivers" — perhaps they'd be able to catch a pass or two in a game?

Joking aside, I'm not yet ready to say that the Tarvaris Jackson era is over — unlike Ryan Rust (although I agree that the coaching staff is misusing Adrian Peterson):

Throughout the game, the coaching staff insisted on calling plays that demonstrated they have little or no faith in Jackson's ability to play the quarterback position. This is not to say that I don't agree with them. I was one of the faithful that stood next to Jackson, believing that a revelation was just around the corner. However, I now believe that he doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the NFL. He may lead the Vikings to a win or two through the course of the season, but I shudder at the thought of a playoff game with Jackson under center. He continues to struggle fundamentally, and can't seem to consistently make plays that should be "gimmies". (An example of this in today's game would be the pass that he sent sailing ten yards over the head of a wide-open Bobby Wade.) He looks confused on the field, and I constantly see him forced to check down or scramble due to his indecision in the pocket. Because of this, the coaches continue to call plays as if they're attempting to preserve some imaginary lead in an effort to keep Jackson from getting an opportunity to make a mistake.

The offensive coaching staff (Childress/Bevell) is not only guilty of dumbing down the offense to a point of futility, but also of neglecting to use Peterson in his most effective environment — the open field. Asking Peterson to plunge into the middle of the line over and over will not accomplish anything except exposing him to unnecessary punishment. Because teams have absolutely no respect for the Vikings' passing ability, running Peterson up the middle is essentially asking him to dive directly into a line of ten people. Even a back as talented as Adrian Peterson cannot succeed under these circumstances.

Posted by Nicholas at September 14, 2008 10:12 PM

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