Sunday, December 05, 2004

First Half Mess

The Vikings trail the Bears 17-14 at halftime, despite numerous opportunities to essentially salt the game away in the first half.

The miscues for the Vikings began early, continued through the half, and helped the Bears overcoming horrendous quarterbacking, mostly awful defense, and a deficit to take the lead at halftime.

Among the Vikings' miscues were the familiar maladies. The Vikings again burned all three timeouts well in advance of the final two minutes of the half--a time for which other teams typically reserve their timeouts. The Vikings used their first timeout on their opening drive when Daunte Culpepper audibilized despite a nearly zeroed-out play clock. Daunte burned the second timeout when, despite having extra time to call a play following a Chicago penalty, he was unable to get the play off before the clock expired. And, worst of all, the Vikings burned their final time out when they had the wrong personnel on the field for a 52-yard Chicago field goal attempt.

The misuse of timeouts cost the Vikings when they received the ball on their own 28-yard line with 22 seconds in the half. Had the Vikings had their timeouts, they would have had an opportunity to get into field goal range (or score a TD since the Bears' defense is that bad right now against the pass). As it was, they ran one play and let the clock run out.

In addition to the familiar clock-management errors, the Vikings continued their march toward the top of the NFL in false start penalties. On the second drive of the game, the Vikings pushed up to fourth in the league in false starts with 27 overall. One could dismiss the false starts if they were made by inexperienced linemen, of which the Vikings have plenty, but they were not. Instead, it was Randy Moss and tight end Jermaine Wiggins who committed the infractions. This is unforgiveable for either, but it is particularly gnawing when Moss is nabbed, as Moss already has several such infractions this season.

On top of these smaller items was that of far more import, namely, the poor play of the secondary and the linebackers. With Antoine Winfield out with an injury, the Bears threw at will against the Vikings, particularly against Winfield's replacement Derek Ross. The Vikings' defense was so bad in the first half that they made Chad Hutchinson look like the second-coming of Johnny Unitas (sound familiar). If not for David Terrell's weak-catching abilities and Hutchinson's desire to hit the turf when touched, the first half would have been completely miserable.

The Vikings also committed other gaffes that, though not seen this year, are symptomatic of the lack of preparation that this team appears to have at times. Whether the issue is wearing the proper cleats for the field on which they are playing (which several Vikings' players apparently did not), understanding that when the QB rolls out of the pocket that the outlet receiver must come back to the play (as SOD failed to do), or making the proper read in short and goal (as Daunte failed to do), the Vikings need to be more alert--and that usually means that the team needs to be better prepared entering the game.

More after the game. Including, the Derek Ross experiment and the 3rd and long odyssey.


Jamison said...

If you ever get a chance, I would be very curious to find out exactly how many has-beens and never-was QB's the Vikes have made look like superstars over the past four years. Maybe check out how many QB's that played the Vikes over the past four years had one of, if not the best, game of their career. It would make an interesting column.

I've lost count of the number of times I've heard the color commentator babbling on about how QB Joe Schmoe has been struggling at this or that aspect of their game, but has corrected that error and is playing magnificently while I'm screaming at the tv, "No you #%$#% dunce, he's just playing the Vikings."

Anonymous said...

I hear ya. And I agree.

We know that most announcers (Troy Aikman and a very few others excepted) are pre-programmed pea brains. I mean, really, Tony Siragusa? What can he possibly add to our understanding of the game? What do most any of them add? Not much. Except that they make PA and Senser sound very good (which is why my radio accompanies the TV picture with the TV muted).

I too look for the vomit bag every time announcers tout the opponent's QB. Do they do their homework? EVERY quarterback that the Vikings play against has a career game (see today's column for some support, tomorrow's for even more).