Saturday, August 9, 2008

At least it's only preseason

The plan was that I'd go over to a friend's house Friday night, watch the Steelers (his team) vs. Eagles game on NFL Network followed by the Vikings/Seahawks game afterwards, which we thought would begin at 10:30 Eastern.

Well, Vikings/Seahawks didn't start up until some time afterwards, and this was after I saw both the score and highlights from the game. It was already getting late, and I didn't really think I'd want to stick around to see the team get hammered 34-17, so my analysis, such as it is, will be based on those few highlights I saw and the written description and box score of the game. The evening wasn't a complete waste, about those opening ceremonies?

With 2/3 of the defense's Williams -- Pat and Madeiu -- taking the night off, Seattle had little trouble with the Vikings defense. Matt Hasselbeck only missed once on eight passes, and the first-team Seahawk offense drove down the field and scored twice, a touchdown and a field goal. You don't want to read too much into the first game of pre-season, so I'm not too panicky about the result, but even without Pat Williams, it's disappointing to see Maurice Morris average over 10 yards per carry. I think one of the least-talked-about Viking losses of the offseason was interior lineman Spencer Johnson moving to Buffalo. He provided quality depth at defensive tackle but clearly wasn't going to get a chance to start, so it was probably good move for him to seek employment elsewhere, but the Vikings will need to address its depth concerns along the line, especially considering Pat Williams' age (36 in October), weight, and recent injury issues.

Adrian Peterson sat the game out and Chester Taylor had just four carries, so it was up to the passing game to carry the offense. Surprisingly, it did quite well. Most of the Vikings highlights I saw centered around Bernard Berrian, who looked impressive on his two catches, and Tarvaris Jackson showed some zing in getting him the ball. Vikings QBs as a whole finished with 22/38 passing for 246 yards, one TD (Jackson to Thomas Tapeh) and one interception (John David Booty). Brooks Bollinger only attempted two passes, though it looks like he might have lost playing time to two lost fumbles early in third-quarter drives. In any case, he still looks to be the odd man out in the quarterback carousel.

Overall, the Vikings fumbled five times, losing four, but that's not too great a concern, as only one starter -- the vastly overpaid Visanthe Shiancoe -- coughed it up. And after kicking Mewelde Moore out the door and picking up Maurice Hicks as his ostensible special teams replacement, five different Vikings returned a kick or punt in the game -- none of them by Hicks. You get the feeling that if this team had Deion Sanders and Devin Hester, they wouldn't use either of them on kick returns?

On the bright side, the team committed only three penalties, compared to Seattle's nine and Guitar Hero god Chris Kluwe averaged 53.3 yards per punt. It wasn't a great performance, but considering the personnel the team was missing on the field, I'm not too concerned. The team travels to Baltimore next Saturday and then everybody should get a chance to see the team, especially the first-team offensive and defensive units, hit the field in a nationally televised game against the Steelers on CBS on Saturday the 23rd. You can bet I'll be at my Steeler friend's house for that one.

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