Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Facing Skelton instead of Kolb a break for the Vikings, but they have to score, too

By now I'm sure the majority of Vikings fans know John Skelton, not Kevin Kolb, will be the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.

Two weeks ago, after watching Kolb take a beating in a loss against St. Louis, I wrote that he might not be in one piece when the Cards met the Vikings on Oct. 21 at the Metrodome. That's turned out to be the case.

Skelton is a mystery to me. I've never seem him play. But his careers stats say a great deal and suggest the Vikings defense will be facing the lesser quarterback this week – even though Skelton won the Arizona starting QB job out of training camp only to hurt his right ankle in the first game, have Kolb replace him, and then watch Kolb win the job back.

In 12 career starts, the Cardinals have managed to go 8-4 in games Skelton starts. But that's where the positive numbers end. Skelton's completed just 51.7 per cent of his passes and he's thrown 18 interceptions to go with 13 touchdown passes in his short career. His interception percentage is 4.1 and his sack rate is seven per cent, which is very bad (to give you an idea of how bad, former Vikings QB Gus Frerotte, who we all thought threw too many INTs and took too many sacks, had a career interception percentage of 3.4 and a sack rate of 6.2.

Twelve games is a small sample size, still those stats are almost Spergon Wynn-like. Skelton also won't be getting much help from his running game – the Cardinals are averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season. He'll also be playing behind an offensive line that's given up 22 sacks in the past three games. There is no reason why an improved Vikings defense shouldn't produce a tonne of three-and-outs in Sunday's game. I'll be disappointed if they give up more than 10 points.

However, points could be at a premium for the Vikings offense as well. The unit hasn't been held under 20 points yet this season. But this could be one of those games. Arizona's defense has given up 20 or more points just once in six games – in a 24-21 win over Miami – and the Vikings passing game isn't dynamic enough (I'm being kind here) to give Minnesota the balance on offense to keep a very good Cardinals defense on its heels.

This could be a game very similar to the Detroit contest, where the Vikings offense doesn't do a great deal, but doesn't hurt itself with turnovers while the defense and the special teams do the heavy lifting. And part of that heavy lifting will require the defense to force Skelton into the kind of (poor) production that's been the hallmark of his young career.   


  1. I predict Minnesota sack-strips Skelton for a fumble recovery and gets a late pick 6 when the game is almost out of hand, and many Vikings blog commenters will talk excitedly about the defense getting it's scoring swagger back.

    It'll be something like 16-6 late before the pick 6 and a garbage long TD heave to Fitzgerald end the game at something like 23-13. Questions on offense will continue, particularly the redzone offfense.

    Thus Vikings team is not a paper tiger, but it will be easy for casual observers to think so after they string a few convincing losses together later this season.

    1. Peter:

      That Arizona-Minnesota game scenario sounds very plausible to me. I also think you are right that the Vikings are not a paper tiger because no one should have been considering them a tiger after five games anyway. 4-2 after six games is about the best-case scenario I had (realistically) envisioned for this team. The next two games loom large if the Vikings are going to be relevant come December when the sched gets really tough.

  2. Skelton is not good but he sure wins a lot, like you said he is 8 - 4. They will be more than happy with an ugly game too. Let their defense force Ponder into turnovers and get a big play on special teams. Peterson is just as dangerous as Percy. Their offense may not be as good, but I'd say their defense is better and special teams is a wash. And they have Fitz. Let's see if Ponder can bounce back from all those mistakes. And like everyone has said, throw the damn ball down the field please.

    1. ETR:

      Patrick Peterson scares the shit out of me on punt returns. Kluwe needs lots of hang time on his punts and it wouldn't hurt to kick a few out of bounds. Hopefully the won't have to punt too much.

      And yes, the Viings need a clean game from Ponder (no INTs, no fumbles that set Skelton up with a short field).

  3. Just reread this and chuckled at your use of the word "tonne". How many kilograms is that? Probably makes more sense than our American "ton" worth 2000 pounds.

    I'll just put that word alongside offence/offense and defence/defense in my kick-ass-blog-mental-conversion kit. Eventually I will be fluent in Canadian!

    1. I've actually given into the my legion of U.S. readers and stopped writing "offence" and "defence". I feel like a traitor.

      A metric tonne is 1,000 kilograms - or about 2,200 pounds.

    2. Wow! That's like a thousand dictionaries. Not too far off from an american ton!

      I liked your spelling of offence and defence. I think you should bring it back. It adds charm to the blog. Besides, you're gonna let other candian slips through from time to time anyway, eh?