Monday, February 8, 2010

2009 Vikings predictions revisited

So, how'd I do?

Quarterback Prediction:
Brett Favre: 3,300 passing yards, 21 TDs, 19 Int.

Quarterback Actual:
Brett Favre: 4,202 passing yards, 33 TDs, 7 Int.

So I was a little off, but be honest -- you never saw this coming, did you?

There's little more that can be said about Favre's remarkable season, mostly coming after he crossed the age-40 threshold. I did somewhat predict his unpredictability, saying "he could be great, chucking 25-30 TDs, and he could be awful, chucking 25-30 interceptions." Technically, I was wrong, as he exceeded 30 TDs, but I wasn't exactly complaining. In fact, it was the most TDs Favre has chucked since 1997, and he set a personal mark in completion percentage and lowest interception percentage. Makes you wonder what he'll be like in 10 years.

Running Back Prediction:
Adrian Peterson: 1,450 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards, 14 TDs
Chester Taylor: 500 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards, 6 TDs

Running Back Actual:
Adrian Peterson: 1,383 rushing yards, 436 receiving yards, 18 TDs
Chester Taylor: 338 rushing yards, 389 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Here's one where I wasn't too far off, though Adrian Peterson's newly found skill as a receiver was a pleasant surprise. Believing that Favre wouldn't pass particularly well, I predicted higher rushing numbers for the Peterson/Taylor duo, which received 92.6% of all carries by Vikings running backs (if one counts Jeff Dugan and Percy Harvin as running backs). Overall, I predicted 2,450 total yards from scrimmage and 20 TDs for the duo, and they managed 2,546 and 20, so I'll call this one a win. If I was keeping score, that is.

Receivers Prediction:
Bernard Berrian: 55 catches, 900 yards, 7 TDs
Sidney Rice: 25 catches, 350 yards, 1 TD
Bobby Wade: 40 catches, 550 yards, 3 TDs
Percy Harvin: 20 catches, 300 yards, 2 TDs
Visanthe Shiancoe: 35 catches, 550 yards, 6 TDs

Receivers Actual:
Sidney Rice: 83 catches, 1,312 yards, 8 TD
Percy Harvin: 60 catches, 790 yards, 6 TDs
Bernard Berrian: 55 catches, 618 yards, 4 TDs
Visanthe Shiancoe: 53 catches, 556 yards, 11 TDs

I wrote, "Someone from the Vikings' second tier of receivers will have to step up this year... Sidney Rice shows occasional flashes but isn't reliable." Well, he's reliable now, and his Pro Bowl season definitely counts as "stepping up." If Favre retires, it'll be interesting to see how Rice's numbers respond, but he definitely proved me wrong this season.

If the previous category counted as a "win," this one definitely goes down as a "loss." I did somehow nail Bernard Berrian's 55 receptions and came within six yards of Shiancoe's yardage total, but Rice and Harvin exceeded all expectations and Berrian managed just a puzzling 11.2 yards per reception, after averaging nearly double that (20.1) in 1998. Other than the running backs, no other Viking receiver had more than 10 catches, and Bobby Wade had 36 catches for 367 yards and three TDs -- for Kansas City.

I don't have the energy right now to do a piecemeal dissection of the offensive line, special teams, and defense, so here's a Cliff's Notes looks at some of my best -- and worst -- predictions about those units for 2009.

"If Loadholt and Sullivan can get it done, the O-line could be one of the best in the league."

I've already discussed my opinion of the offensive line, which failed to open pretty much any holes for the second half of the season, even while it improved in pass protection. For the record, the Vikings were a mere 22nd in the league in yards per carry, and Vikings QBs were sacked on 5.8% of their dropbacks, 13th in the league. The line was average, at best.

"this has the makings to be a dominant defensive line, playing equally well against the run and the pass."

It had its moments, good and bad, but the defense began and ended, for much of the season, with the play of the defensive line. The starting foursome of Allen, Williams, Williams, and Edwards racked up 31 sacks, more than eight other entire teams.

"He'll probably never be considered an elite linebacker, but as long as he flies around the field like he does, I'll be OK with his lack of recognition."

That was in reference to Chad Greenway, who did indeed continue to fly around the field, leading the team in tackles.

"Unfortunately, as shown last year when Henderson went down (Napoleon Harris!), the team's depth at linebacker is almost non-existant."

For a rookie, Jaspar Brinkley did an adequate job filling in when EJ Henderson went down in December, and, depending on how Henderson's recovery from a broken leg goes, he might have more of a chance to build on his rookie season going forward.

"That could be a questionable decision in the future, with Winfield having just turned 32 and Griffin not being able to keep up with elite receivers at times last year, but both should provide at least decent play for a couple more years, provided the defensive line can keep quarterbacks on their toes."

By the end of the season, Antoine Winfield was a nickel corner and Cedric Griffin, while decent, again struggled in coverage when the defensive line couldn't produce pressure (though the weak safety play of Tyrell Johnson and Madeiu Williams contributed to these difficulties). With three of their four defensive backs (all but Johnson) locked into big-money, long-term deals (though Winfield's has a semi-"out" if he becomes a fifth DB), improvement in this area might prove difficult.

"Suffice to say, Longwell's earned his keep as a Viking."

Amen to that. In his four years in purple, Longwell has converted on 86.5% of field goal opportunities, including 26 of 28 this year. Tack on a league-high 54 extra-point attempts, and you have a 132-point season, the highest of the 13-year veteran's career. "Four more years!"

"the Vikings are turning to rookies Percy Harvin as their primary kick returner and Percy Harvin as the punt returner."

I'm not quite sure what I meant there, but Percy Harvin as a kick returner worked out fairly well, I'd say.

Projected Finish:
11-5, 1st in NFC North

Only off by one game, and that was with Brett Favre being mediocre. I think I expected more out of the defense and the running game to compensate, but however we got there, I'll take it.

1 comment:

Clint said...

Damn..not to bad with your projects for the Vikes this season. Keep up the great work on your blog.