Sunday, December 12, 2004

New Low

I've said it before and, unfortunately, I suspect that I will say it again. This week's performance was more miserable than the last. And this week's performance should seal the fate of at least one member of the Vikings, if not several.

Certain to Be Gone Next Week

There is no conceivable way that the Vikings can retain Derek Ross for another week. Last week, I said in jest that Ross' play took us back to the Waswa Serwanga days. But that, flat out, is an insult to Waswa. Ross has no ability to play in the NFL, a message the Vikings should have learned when the secondary-challenged Cowboys saw fit to cut ties with their former third-round pick. Ross was burned for three plays of 20+ yards today, including a 36-yard reception on 3rd and 6 and a 35-yard TD. Ross had one good jam on a third down play that helped create a sack, otherwise, he was a distinct liability.

Projection: Cut already.
Replacement: Rhett Nelson

Should Be Gone Next Week

A. The Secondary

The Vikings' entire secondary was once again putrid this week. Brian Russell was invisible, excluding a rare interception, except when the opposing receivers were juking around him or waltzing through his space--as if Russell were their personal escort--for an easy TD. Brian Williams was burned consistently and only his first pick of the entire season made his effort any less than abhorent. And Corey Chavous was MIA for the thirteenth game this season. The host of garbage that filled in in nickle and dime packages could just as easily have been stuffed uniforms (though stuffed uniforms would not be able to abandon their ground upon opponent's approach).

Projection: Would be cut already, but there are no replacements.

B. The Linebacking Corps

It is difficult to even discuss the linebacking corps because it is unclear that the Vikings even have one. Supposedly, EJ Henderson plays in the middle. His name was not called a single time today on a pass play as each of his four solo tackles came on running plays. Supposedly, someone also plays SAM linebacker. Yet, there was no mention of any such person in today's game despite numerous plays to that side. And Chris Claiborne is purportedly healthy, and healthy he may be, but he still is not a good linebacker. Claiborne was in on a couple nice plays today, but he was really cleaning up what the defensive line set up. The credit goes to the defensive line, not Claiborne.

On one particularly apt play, Claiborne, Shaw, and Russell pointed to each other to pick up the receiver. None of the three defenders was otherwise engaged in defending the play yet all three stood as the receiver stepped between them, caught a soft lob between them, and crawled into the endzone without a whiff of defense. That sums up the play not only of the secondary but of the Vikings' purportedly wily veteran linebacker.

C. Scott Linehan

Wow. What a totally horseshit job of calling a game. For the second week in a row, the Vikings failed to score a touchdown in the second half. And at least 75% of the blame falls on the playcalling.

Despite tremendous success running the ball in the first half, the Vikings, trailing by one point for most of the second half and by four inside the Seahawks' red zone late in the fourth quarter, completely abandon the run. Instead of running against the Seahawks' porous run defense, the Vikings continued with their unsuccessful "bombs away" approach of the first half. And, as if to put a fine point on it, the Vikings called a reverse pass option on 1st and goal from the seven-yard line!

It all would have been simply unbelievable had we not seen this so many times before under Tice/Linehan. Tice consistently says that his lesson learned from past games is to take what the defense gives. Today, the Seahawks utterly failed to stop the run. The Vikings, conversely, had no success throwing deep. Lesson? Throw deep. Nice job.

As poorly as the Vikings played today, they could have won with more astute play calling on the goal line drive, or at any other point in the game.

This looked like the fix was in and the Vikings' staff was orchestrating the fix.

Up Next: More rewind, including more analysis of offensive playcalling.


Lichty said...

I think the coaching staff has sealed its fate. There is simply no excuse for back to back games like this in back to back seasons.

I bet Tony Dungy smiles everytime he sees the Vikes play at his fortune of not being considered for head coach.

Boy, the one guy on this staff whom I thought could coach -- Linehan -- has been poisoned.

Who are some potential coaching prospects that would even touch this salary-cap minimum straddling team?

I guess hello Mack Brown - an overrated coach for an overrated program if I have ever seen one. Perfect fit.

Anonymous said...

Great piece. You have a great blog here.

In my opinion, the trick play call was more Tice's fault than Linehan's.

Tice is on the headphones. He hears all the play calls. If one stinks, he can tell Linehan to call another play.

Ultimately, the head coach has to have a good sense of the game of football. Tice is a good man and so on, but he doesn't know football half as well as he thinks he does.

Linehan's job is to be creative. He is a master at devising new offensive plays. He shouldn't overstep, but his play-calling has improved noticeably over the past few years. There is every reason to expect he will just get better.

Although they are both at fault, it's Tice's responsibility in the end, and Linehan has shown the ability to grow more than Tice.

I'd keep Linehan and dump Tice, but I wouldn't shed tears if both are fired.

The Vikings LB corps is pathetic. The situation rankles me because the Vikings have historically had poor linebacking. Exceptions include Studwell, Blair, Del Rio, and so on.

The Vikes need to focus on bringing in top-quality LB's. You build the defense by starting at the linebacker position.

They've had decent personnel up front and in the secondary. (Of course, the coaching staff may have ruined them by teaching them incorrectly, but that's another issue.)

In the game of football, you need three good linebackers. Not three great ones, but three good ones.

The Vikings need more than new personnel, however. They need a new defensive philosophy. I don't know about Cover-2 or the 3-4 or anything, but I do know that the Vikes' top-rated offense is innovative and new, and the dirt-rated defense is playing 70s style, except without all the tackling.

At this point it is right to be pissed. This horseshit underachieving team has got to be fixed. No more lame excuses for this crap, like a certain Minnesota newspaper has been doing for ten years now.

Anonymous said...

One more thing about the linebackers.

Newman has a lot of potential. We've got to keep him, groom him, and give him a chance. He could be real good.

Vikes Geek said...


Regarding potential head coaches, I thought Linehan was a fit for Red, and maybe Minnesota. After the recent offensive performances, however, I have a lesser opinion of Linehan, though Linehan would fit Red's salary goal to a T. I can think of two other possibilities off of the top of my head--Saban of LSU and Dick Jauron. Saban has no NFL experience but has been very good with all aspects of the college game and he does it without the gimmickry that marked the coaching of some other successful college coaches. I generally don't like college coaches as NFL coaches (except as head coach for other teams), but Saban might be the exception. Jauron is another possibility, though only if he comes in with a different offensive mindset than he had in Chicago. Jauron is a great defensive mind but needs help with the offense. I will address this topic with a more complete list later in the week.


Vikes Geek said...

The point regarding the local newspaper--the STRIB--is right on. The apologies continue to flow for the Vikings from the STRIB and that just feeds the dilusion of players, the coaching staff, and the fans who continue to dole out big bucks for increasingly escalating season tickets allowing an ownership to reap huge profits ($30 million last season in net profit) without improving the team.

Vikes Geek said...

I would be remiss if I did not note the single most logical and capable, experienced coach available--Jim Fassel. Fassel is precisely the type of coach that the Vikings need. He is informed and commands the attention of his players. He is also a coach that road the arm of Kerry Collins to the Super Bowl. That should say all the Vikings need to know to hire him.


Anonymous said...

agree with all here--i've officially packed it in this year and hope they don't win another game. the thought of this squad squeaking into the playoffs is giving me 41-0 flashbacks.

tice must go absolutely--there is not excuse for him and he should not be a head coach at any level. at this point i don't care who they get as long as he has been a head football coach before.

as noted by all, there are a lot of personnel deficiencies on defense. that being said, every other team is up against similar circumstances of having to evaluate talent and fill (or hide) spots as they are able. or game plan to overcome (or hide) weaknesses. some teams can do it, and others can't. i think the current players *might* be good enough to produce a capable team if they had coaches who could game plan, prepare, and adjust. the whole lot must go--Linehan might be good someday, but it would be hard to say he doesn't have the talent to work with. if he can't win with this bunch, why would an owner think he could do it with lesser talent?

as far as who to get--i like the ideas of Fassel and Jauron (or both if one would be a coordinator). again, as long as it is someone who has been a head coach before, i'm ok. i don't think Wannstadt is a good idea.

Other head coaching candidates i don't want:
- Tice's brother (cheap enough for Red, but would probably rehire his brother)
- Barry Switzer
- Wayne Fontes (or his brother)

bird said...

on the subject of the STRIB and coaching, why is it that every week's "analysis" gives the edge to the Vikings in coaching? granted, the analysis is worth what i pay for it, but really--how can Tice & co. be considered an advantage for the team when they show week in and week out that they are a liability and the sole cause of at least a couple losses (today and Indy come to mind)?

fill in this blank: Mike Tice is a better NFL head coach than ___________________

what name goes there? is there any?

Anonymous said...

One other thing.

I love Daunte, and I wouldn't trade him for anybody. That said, why does he do the false start penalty when he throws a touchdown? It's a little ironic.

Anonymous said...

"It baffles me," Vikings coach Mike Tice said. "To get three points in the second half ... that's this week's "Get-it-fixed.' "

"I was really surprised," (Seahawks DB) Boulware said. "We've seen them run a lot of gadget plays, but I didn't think they would run a reverse pass in that situation."

"He's a good enough athlete to do it," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. "I thought he'd just run it because he was so close to the line of scrimmage. But thank goodness. We needed that."

Tice said he wasn't going to second-guess individual plays. But he also said, "if I had it to do over again, we wouldn't have called the reverse pass."

"I'm not ashamed of the call," Tice said. "Your anticipation is the play will be executed correctly. The call didn't bother me -- until it was intercepted."

Do we need to know more? Fire Tice. Now.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even think of this before.

This is two weeks in a row (!) that the Vikings have taken the ball out of Daunte's hands in the fourth quarter, and put their faith in trick plays.

I love Tice! Let's keep him forever!