The news out of Winter Park last week that made but a minor splash was the Vikings' contention that the collapse of the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River was behind sluggish ticket sales. Responding to inquiries about a possible blackout, misappointed Vikings PR Director, Lester Bagley, contended that the collapse of the I-35 bridge had caused Vikings' fans to reconsider their plans to attend games this season and had imperiled the televising of today's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Apparently, Bagley was not privy to either the Vikings' recent uninspiring play or the Viking organizations' arrogant attempt to cajole fans wishing to see the Minnesota-Green Bay game into purchasing tickets for the far-less-appealing matchup against the Joey Harrington-led Atlanta Falcons. Had Bagley had either bit of information, surely, as a well-paid PR director, he would have put better words to his explanation of the Vikings' lackluster ticket sales, perhaps offering a bit of institutional humility rather than yet another complaint from the Vikings' front office about the harm that the I-35 bridge collapse had wrought upon the Vikings.
Not to be outdone in the category of churlish comments was Brad Childress, responding to Vikings' sideline reporter Greg Coleman's patented softball questions. After Coleman essentially offered to get a room with Childress as a reward for Childress being "the first on to the field to congratulate Kenechi Udeze" for Udeze's late-game sack of Harrington, Childress' whining could be heard across the country. "At least we can put that question to rest now," Childress bitched, referring to questions about when we should expect Udeze to make the type of meaningful production one might expect from a first-round defensive end.
Never mind that Udeze still has only one sack in the past two years--one less than rookie backup defensive end Brian Robison had in his Vikings' debut against the Falcons--and that Udeze has zero sacks in the past two years at a meaningful juncture in a game. What is more interesting is the hint in Childress' boorish reply to Coleman that Childress was not all that pleased with today's outcome. The win, to be certain, was nice. But, for Childress, it appears, wins are far better when they come on his terms.
What went wrong for Childress today? Two things in particular. First, and most obvious, was that the Vikings once again won a game almost entirely on the strength of their defense. Unfortunately, that's not Childress' realm as the oversight of that unit belongs entirely to newly hired, soon-to-be-on-the-job-market Leslie Frazier. In fact, if not for the eternal hopelessness that is Joey Harrington, one might be tempted to argue that the Frazier-led Vikings' defense is already substantially better than the Mike Tomlin defense that propelled Tomlin to the head-coaching ranks after last season.
Alas, despite solid play from Robison and relatively good play from the Vikings' linebacking corps--two areas of concern against the pass last season--we will have to wait until at least next week to better assess the Vikings' defense. What we do know for certain, however, is that today's game could not have been won without a significant contribution from the defense, with the Vikings' offense contributing next to nothing yet again.
The other issue likely sticking in Childress' craw is the play of Adrian Peterson. While Childress undoubtedly is pleased that a player that he helped select high in this year's entry draft is already playing well, Childress seemed disappointed that the offense operated better with Peterson in the backfield than it did during Chester Taylor's brief stint in the game. An offense that operates equally under any running back would validate, at least in Chilly's mind, the offensive system that Chilly has put in place. That's not how things played out today, however, as Peterson clearly was the best offensive player on the field and the only player that made a difference in a Vikings' offense that continues to move with shackles draped over it.
In the end, the Vikings' won a game that they should have won and they did so with an impressive defensive showing and, all things considered, a marginally acceptable offensive showing. Now if only Chilly would speed up his evolution toward acknowledging that playing not to lose rather than to win is the formula for success in today's NFL, the Vikings might actually make a difference this year.
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