Monday, December 21, 2009

Mauled by Panthers

It's probably just as well that I didn't go to see the Vikings game last night.

In a game riddled with mistakes, misplays, and poor decisions all around, the Vikings played probably their worst game of the season in a 26-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers. It's no longer a fluke, either: The Vikings officially cannot run the football, and while there are many theories, I think it still starts with the offensive line play. Compare the "holes" Adrian Peterson had to run through last night against an injury-depleted Carolina defensive line to the wide gaps Jonathan Stewart had against the vaunted, all-Pro-studded defense of the Vikings. "Run the ball and stop the run" is a tired old adage, but if it has any value, it's clear that the Vikings can no longer do either, which leaves them one-dimensional on offense and vulnerable on defense.

That one dimension on offense is still pretty good, at least when Brett Favre can find time to throw the ball. Other teams (minus the Packers) have figured out that they need to double-team Jared Allen on every play, but the Vikings were seemingly unable to come to the same conclusion regarding Julius Peppers. Peppers was usually matched up against the rookie Phil Loadholt or, even worse, against Artis Hicks, with little to no help from a guard or running back, and the results were predictable. Even so, Favre and the Vikings can't win by passing every down, but unless they solve what's wrong with the running game, they'll have to.

Then there's the defense, which is no longer the stout run-defense unit that we're used to seeing, giving up 100+ yards on the ground each of the last three games. Jaspar Brinkley has shown that he can read the play and shoot the gap. Now, if he could only wrap up and make the tackle, he might actually be a good player, but in the meantime, the team will continue to miss EJ Henderson. Also, while it may seem shocking to some, a fat 37-year-old defensive tackle isn't playing so great. Or, as I say a year ago:

As for Pat Williams, he ideally only plays on "35 to 40" plays per game, or about half the team's defensive snaps. Hey, I love watching the guy swallow up a running back as much as the next guy, but should we be paying $7 million a year for a part-time player, even if he is a Pro Bowler? That sounds like the epitome of "sell high" to me.

Apparently, the Vikings believe in "keeping a guy one year too late" instead of getting rid of him "one year too soon." Oh, and I hate Steve Smith.

The #1 seed, briefly dangled in front of our eyes, is now just a distant dream that relies on a confluence of miracles to achieve. The #2 seed, once ours for the taking, is now dangerously close to being yanked away from us. And any hopes of resting Brett Favre are all but dashed unless the Eagles misstep next week against Denver.

And just to top off the crappy weekend, I got bounced out of the playoffs of one of my fantasy leagues last week and out of my other league's this week. Great time to have your worst game of the season, Drew Brees!

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