Week 2: Vikings @ Lions

See last week’s recap.

Ok, I suppose I could expand on that a bit more…

Just like last week the Vikings got off to a slow start and played a relatively poor first half (last drive notwithstanding). The Vikings picked it up in the first half and won by double digits.

Additionally last week I shared some concerns: Rushing Defense, Pressure, Turnovers.

In this game the rushing defense gave room for even more concern. The Vikings gave up some significant amounts of yards on the ground in the first half with strong runs right up through the middle on the Williams Wall. Just as last week if the opponent’s quarterback hadn’t turned the ball over twice it would have been a much more interesting game and I am certain the defense would have given up their first 100 yard rusher since Ryan Grant in 2007. However, if a step back in rushing defense increases their passing defense that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world; so we’ll wait and see how this plays out.

Jared Allen got a sack after equaling a career long sack-less streak of 3 games. Although it is worth mentioning that he got that sack on a mental mistake play where he was untouched to the quarterback. For the most part left tackle Jeff Backus handled Jared Allen easily on pass plays. Allen was active on running plays with 4 tackles, but overall the front four played below their ability.

The Vikings were lucky again in getting three turnovers from the Lions, but the fumble by Peterson gives concerns since he lead the league in fumbles in 2008. It’s cliché, but it is vital that the team limits turnovers once they face quality teams.

Another item to add to the list of concerns is Favre not throwing the ball downfield. Out of the 27 passes Favre threw against the Lions, 13 of them were at the line of scrimmage or behind it (e.g. RB and WR screens). Only 3 passes were thrown 10 or more yards downfield. The Vikings maintain that this has nothing to do with Favre’s arm strength, but more to do with what the opposing defense is doing. Time will tell, but on one incomplete pass to Shiancoe over the middle my thought was that it looked a lot like those passes Favre was throwing with the Jets late last year.

One final related item to add to the list is the play of the offensive line. Run blocking has been adequate the first two games, but the pass blocking has been atrocious. Rookie Phil Loadholt may be who determines if Favre stays health the entire season. On pass plays he is over matched and Favre has been paying the price by taking vicious hits in the Cleveland game (I noticed a number of hits on Favre where the defender whipped Favre down to the ground (legally) instead of a normal tackle).

The final verdict on this game is that the Vikings cannot afford to start a game this slow again (well, until they play the Lions again), otherwise they may find themselves down by more than 10 points in a hurry. On the other hand, maybe at that point we’ll finally find out if Favre can wing the ball downfield with some zip on it.

Up next are the 49ers who beat the Seahawks this past weekend. Had the Vikings had to travel out to San Francisco for this game I might be concerned. Frank Gore will most likely be the first rusher in two years to get over 100 yards on the Vikings, but Shaun Hill isn’t even as good as Matt Stafford, so take the Vikings and the points at home.

And now that I’ve said that, I suppose I should expect the Vikings to get beat with 4 TDs from Hill next week. Ah, the life of a Vikings fan…

Skol Vikings!







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