Sunday, December 12, 2004

More First Half Follies

This game was supposed to be about quarterback play. It has been. It was supposed also to be about superior QB play from Daunte Culpepper. That has and has not been the case.

While Daunte has thrown some nice passes--particularly a low pass for a first down in the red zone--and while Daunte has judiciously left the pocket to pick up first downs (2.5 out of 3 times counting the close measurement that left the Vikings third and inches), he has also had some highly unspectacular moments.

Most notable among these unspectacular moments has been Daunte's reversion to throwing the ball deep no matter the coverage and despite openings in the short game; Daunte's poor clock-management and seeming inability to run a two-minute offense; and Daunte's penchant for either going for it all or making a play that has no chance for picking up a first down (when he has the option to run for a first down) on 3rd down.

While Daunte's mistakes have hurt the Vikings in the first half, the same can be said of Seattle's QB Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck, like Culpepper, has nice first half numbers. But the numbers, like Daunte's, are more the consequence of abysmal defense than they are the result of sparkling QB play. Had Hasselbeck not forced a ball to Darrell Jackson, a forced pass that resulted in an unlikely interception for the otherwise much-maligned Brian Williams, and underthrown a few passes this game might already be out of reach for the Vikings.

And even at that, the game migh already be out of reach for Minnesota, not because the offense cannot make up the one point by which the Vikings trail at halftime. No, the problem for the Vikings is that their defense is nearly incapable of stopping Seattle (or probably any team). And there is really no one place to point the finger.

The most obvious culprits of the Vikings' poor defensive performance in the first half have been the familiar faces--Brian Russell, Brian Williams, Chris Claiborne, and Corey Chavous. I would add the other linebackers to that group, but I first would need to check the lineup on each play to see who is playing the other linebacker positions, because, as poorly as Claiborne is playing (see Seahawks' easy third TD), he is at least visible on most plays. The other Viking linebackers might as well be up in the booth for what they have contributed. Just abysmal.

And if the Vikings cannot stop anyone--and there is no sign that they can do so--one point and the ball is plenty. And that is what Seattle has entering the second half of this charade.

Lone Hope

The Vikings have had constant success running to the right and up the middle. They need to continue to pound the ball in the second half and refrain from taking the harmless deep shots that Culpepper has found so appealing in the first half despite the lack of an open receiver. If the Vikings can force one stop--a huge "if"--the Vikings can win on the back of the running game. This assumes a dedication to running right, however. And it assumes that Tice ditches the plan to rotate running backs and simply sticks with what has worked--SOD.


Anonymous said...

Okay, now I want to see Tice fired again.

We've heard how Holmgren is on his way out of Seattle. Tice has done a worse job with the Vikings than Holmgren with the Seahawks.

I'm writing this after Randy Moss threw the interception.

Until that play call, the Vikings were developing a beautiful drive down the field for a TD and victory.

There is absolutely no reason to run a trick play at that stage in the game with the season on the line.

I would repeat the above paragraph three times, but you get the point.

Moss did a good job. You can't put any WR in a position to throw an INT at that point in the game. You just can't do that.

Just about everyone on the Vikings, from players to coaches, has shown the ability to learn from mistakes and get better. Mike Tice is the exception.

Mike Tice's problem is not his intelligence. It's his lack of judgment, his lack of common sense.

Mike Tice just makes stupid decisions in the middle of the game. And he keeps making them over and over.

This was a winnable game. And now unless the Vikings get a miracle interception, they have lost. It is time to fire Tice. He will make a fine offensive line coach somewhere, but he will never, ever develop into a good head coach.

Fire Tice.

So many decent head oaches will be available: Holmgren, Haslett, Wannstedt, Ty Willingham, etc, etc. So many are far better than Tice.

Maybe Red McCombs will read the Star Tribune today and realize he needs to hire Monte Kiffin as head coach or at least defensive coordinator.

Keep Linehan.

Vikes Geek said...

See the post-game column re: Moss' pass.

I would not touch Hasslett, Wannstedt, or Willingham. There are much better options than those guys.