Sunday, October 12, 2008

When is a win not a win?

It shouldn't take a last-second field goal and loads of help from the officials to beat the Detroit Lions at home. But that's exactly what happened to the Vikings Sunday, who did everything in their power to hand the Lions their first win of the season, only to be thwarted by questionable officiating and that, when it comes down to it, the Lions are still the Lions. Better luck next week, perhaps?

By now, complaining about the play calling is like living in Alaska and complaining that it's cold. That's just how it is and it won't change until you make a major move -- either to a warmer climate or in your head coaching ranks. (Here's an idea: Send Brad Childress to Alaska.) The Vikings dropped back to pass 38 times and ran 31 times. Gus Frerotte was sacked five times. They dropped back to pass on their first three offensive snaps, resulting in an incompletion, penalty on Detroit, and a sack. Big runs after the catch by Bernard Berrian and, of all people, Jim Kleinsasser, inflated Frerotte's final numbers to just shy of 300 yards, despite having zero or negative yards on 22 of 38 pass plays (incompletion, sack, or completion for negative yardage). Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor racked up 132 yards on 30 carries -- but hey, running the ball is boring. Let's pass more!

Truthfully, I thought the second-half playcalling wasn't so bad from a run/pass ratio. And the defense played remarkably well, allowing only 10 points and only one real big play (a 50-yard run by Kevin Smith) and forcing a safety. And Peterson's two fumbles didn't help any. He now has seven fumbles on 397 career touches, not a terrible ratio, but if it creeps up any more, it might officially become a Problem(TM). That said, Brad Childress is still going to get a negative vote from me this week and will continue to do so until it looks like he actually knows what's going on during a game instead of just riding along the wave of inept opponents and bad officiating.

I didn't think it'd be possible to feel less good about a win than I did following the New Orleans game Monday night, but that's exactly what happened after today's game. At 3-3, the team now has a chance to take the lead in the division with a victory next week against Chicago (hoping that Green Bay loses to Indianapolis) and be over .500 going into the bye week. That's the good news. The bad news is that, if the team does continue to win, no matter how improbably, Brad Childress will likely keep his job after the season. Strange as it sounds, making the playoffs could be the worst thing to happen to the Vikings.

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