The Minnesota Vikings opened their sixth game of the 2010 NFL season with eye-watering predictability that led to an even more predictable three-and-out performance. How predictable was the playcalling? On second and nine, Adrian Peterson was forced to leave the game with a helmet malfunction. His backup, the heretofore exceedingly unimpressive Toby Gerhart, replaced Peterson.
Losing a starting running back to equipment malfunction one play into the game and being forced to resort to a low-level, college-type substitute normally would result in an offensive play call to anyone other than the non-entity that is that substitute. Either the Vikings failed to apprehend that notion or they attempted to catch the Packers playing insurmountable odds. Guess who lost?
Rather than change the play call, the Vikings handed the ball to Gerhart. The result was not totally miserable--a four-yard pick-up. But it revealed the extent to which the Vikings are wedded to script, no matter the odds and no matter the alternatives. Gerhart up the middle produced third down. A poorly developed screen to Percy Harvin on the subsequent play, again, certainly the scripted play, led to fourth down and a Vikings' punt.
The Packers began the game the way the Vikings should always begin their game--by mixing plays and employing the screen play on second down, rather than on the more predictable third down. Here, too, the Vikings' far too predictable tendencies were on display. While the Vikings attempted a screen to Harvin on third down--the most predictable Viking to be the focal point of a screen play on the most likely down for a team to run a screen--the Packers used the screen on second down and ran the play to their tight end--their tight end!
The Vikings subsequently intercepted Aaron Rodgers, but, predictably, turned the ball over on three downs and a punt.
There's certainly more to come in this game, but if this is any indication of how the rest of the game and season are going to play out--much like all but the tail end of last season has played out during the entirety of the Childress regime in Minnesota--the Vikings' front office is going to have to work even harder to find support for a new stadium.
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