Monday, October 01, 2007

Tale of Two Halves

On Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings took on the Green Bay Packers in the Metrodome. Though the Vikings lost the game, fans actually saw some things that offered a glimmer of hope--if only the coaching staff saw the same things. Instead, when it mattered most, those calling the offensive plays curled up.

Few would blame the coaching staff for much of what went wrong with the offense in the first half of Sunday's game. After finally seeing enough offensive line futility, the Vikings went with six blockers on several plays, leaving two receivers and a back as playmakers. Even with the lesser numbers going out on plays, the Vikings had fairly good success when using the six-man line, suggesting that the line, rather than the receivers, have been more to blame for the Vikings' recent offensive woes.

Another culprit on the offense has been the continuing poor play at quarterback. Whether it's rust or simply inability, Kelly Holcomb did little on Sunday to change the impression of him as a viable third-string quarterback. Again overthrowing a wide-open receiver on a well-conceived pass play and another time leading Troy Williamson out of bounds on another nicely designed play, Holcomb simply cost the Vikings points in the first half--an unfortunate result given the spectacular running performance by rookie Adrian Peterson.

The second half of Sunday's game was a bit of a different story. Though the Vikings' offense had more difficulty moving the ball, and some of that difficulty was attributable to some truly awful passes by Holcomb and atrocious line play by Ryan Cook and Bryant McKinnie, it was the system that once again faltered with the Vikings' offense looking as it has looked in the second half of nearly every game since Brad Childress became head coach--idled.

Despite opportunities and a need to press to the endzone, Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell took just one shot into the endzone against a suspect Packers' secondary that was starting a rookie, playing an overwhelmed Charles Woodson, and was often without the injured Al Harris. It was a secondary that was ripe for the picking. But the Vikings' playcallers opted to play it safe--which meant playing to win close or lose outright. Continuing a trend, the Vikings got the latter.

After a relatively easy touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Sidney Rice, who appeared to have a reach advantage of two feet over the tallest member of the Packers' secondary, Childress opted for a ground-it-out attack during the Vikings' remaining time with the ball. And, to make matters worse, he opted to do so with his most significant offensive threat once again standing helplessly on the sideline, playing Chester Taylor and sitting Peterson--a move no less stubborn than any former head coach Mike Tice ever made.

The Vikings' defense nearly held the Packers' offense to its season average of 22 points. Against a suspect Packer defense that should have been enough for a team with a running back who racked up over 100 rushing yards in the first half of the game and with two receivers who were playing well beyond the level of the defenders who were covering them. Poor execution in the first half and poor execution coupled with absurd playcalling in crunch time, however, doomed such prospects.

Up Next: Inside the Numbers. Plus, around the NFC.

5 comments:

J. Lichty said...

I have not heard anything from Childress' press conference, but unless Peterson was injured, he should be fired on the spot.

This team will go nowhere but down with that kick ass mustache man.

Vikes Geek said...

Lichty,

If you were disgruntled by the move--the second time this has happened in as many weeks--you will be nauseated by Childress' explanation. During his press conference, Chilly essentially stated that he needed to rest Peterson so that he did not get worn down from handling running back and kickoff return duties. He also strongly intimated that Peterson and Chester Taylor are interchangeable and pointed to Taylor's long run as evidence.

I think what it boils down to is that Chilly does not want to rely on a back that everyone knows is good to win games. He'd rather win with the guy that he uncovered. And, apparently, he'd so much prefer the latter that he's willing to put on blinders and ignore what's actually going on.

One of Chilly's sublime comments was his statement that he "does not look at stats to tell him who the better player is." It begs the question, of course, at what Chilly does look to ascertain who the better player is.

The Peterson fiasco in consecutive weeks is a microcosm of the problem that likely will doom Chilly in Minnesota. He becomes so attached to a plan that he simply cannot change course--not during the game, not during the week, not, apparently, during an entire season. Such a waste of a respectable defense.

VG

RM said...

VG,

I also think Secret Squirrel is horrible, but are we getting into a Bidwell type situation with Zygi? By that I mean constantly hiring the wrong guy and then having to fire him after a couple of years? I can't say I have much faith in this owner.

Vikes Geek said...

RM,

It's a bit different from the Bidwell situation in that Zygi isn't squeezing pennies as he walks. But it is fair to question Zygi's ability to make football decisions. That the Vikings ended up with a rookie head coach who has needed far too much time to figure out some of the small things that he still has not figured out is the consequence of Wilf having made the hiring decision with little input from anyone other than "league sources." Zygi has shown that he is best served as owner staying in the background and handling (non-PR) business matters.

VG

J. Lichty said...

Major Dad actually said that he kept the best RB in the NFC out of the game because he needed him to return kicks? OMFG!!!!!!

Comedy like that doesn't come around very often. No wonder he is married to Delta Burke.