Monday, October 22, 2012

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Thoughts From the 40 Yard Line

Pacifist Viking's take on the game is here

I had the chance to go down to the Metrodome on Sunday and take in my first Vikings’ game in years. And, thanks to a good friend, I had a great vantage point to watch the Vikings’ offense “win” a game in the most incompetent way since they returned their way to victory over the Giants in 2005. Some thoughts from the 40 yard line (told you they were good seats):
  • I wrote about this last week, but I think it was even more glaring this week—the Vikings do not throw the ball deep (and by deep, I mean 15 yards or more). This week, only one of Christian Ponder’s passes traveled 15 or more yards in the air, resulting in a pass interference penalty. That pass to Jerome Simpson was a great play call, with both him and Percy Harvin running deep routes on 2nd and 2, guaranteeing that one of them (Simpson, in this case) would get one on one coverage. From that point on, the Vikings didn’t throw the ball very deep and the Cardinals back seven had no problem clogging up the short and mid-range passing game. No passing game can be successful without the threat of deep (or even medium range) routes and a lot of the Vikings’ problems stemmed from the inability of the receivers to get open against a Cardinals defense that wasn’t worried about receivers going deep on them.
  • Speaking of atrocious passing games, John Skelton is not very good. I’m not complaining, but it seemed likely that a competent quarterback would have led the Cardinals to a victory yesterday. Also, a competent quarterback would likely not have hit a cheerleader in the back with a pass that was actually meant for a wide receiver (and he didn’t hit a cheerleader in the row next to the field, but one in the second row from the field). Luckily for the Vikings, the Cardinals did not have a competent quarterback.
  • Antoine Winfield should get a lot of credit for the play he made to shut down a boot leg and stop Skelton on 4th & 2 in the third quarter. That was the closest the Cardinals came to scoring in the second half until their final touchdown, and without Winfield’s great play, the Cardinals probably would have gotten the third touchdown they needed. However, I still have no idea what Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Miller where thinking when they called that play. The Cardinals’ running backs averaged 5.29 yards a carry and gained 2 or more yards on 71% of their carries (17 of 24). Despite the obvious success the Cardinals’ running game was having, Whisenhunt and Miller decided to put the ball in the hands of John Skelton, who, as I noted earlier, hit a cheerleader with an errant pass. And then, because they apparently wanted to ensure Skelton was unsuccessful, they called the bootleg to Antoine Winfield’s side of the field, all but guaranteeing that Skelton would not only fail to convert the first down, but that he would be on the receiving end of a big hit from one of, if not the best tackling cornerback in the NFL. Then again, when you only gain 48 yards passing, it’s always nice to have Skelton, Whisenhunt and Miller in charge of your opponent’s offense.
  • So, everyone feels even more contrite about doubting the Vikings’ decision to trade up and draft Harrison Smith, right?
  • If Adrian Peterson isn’t at full strength yet, as he claims, then it’s safe to say there’s going to be another game or two this year that he takes over and wills the Vikings to victory. Both offensive touchdown drives featured multiple long runs from Peterson, including his masterful 13 yard touchdown run, and another run where he ran into the pile, emerged from the pile, was once again swallowed up by defenders and still moved that pile further down the field. The Cardinals may have beaten the Vikings with a better quarterback, but the outcome would definitely have been different if the Vikings’ running back wasn’t Adrian Peterson. How many running backs in the history of the NFL could get 153 yards on 23 carries when they weren’t 100% healthy? Not very many. It’s good to have Peterson back, even if he (somehow) still has a little ways to go to get back to full strength.
  • One last reason to marvel at Adrian Peterson—he was the only player on the team that delivered a hit as hard as Winfield’s on Skelton. Paris Lenon won’t admit it, but he knows he will never tackle anyone as hard as Peterson tackled him.
  • Kevin Williams chews gum while playing football. In related news, Kevin Williams plays without a mouth guard. This has apparently never been a problem for Kevin Williams. The word “tough” is an accurate way to describe Kevin Williams.
  • Finally, if you're looking for more Vikings' content in even fewer characters, you can follow me on Twitter. Don't forgot to follow Darren as well.


  1. "One last reason to marvel at Adrian Peterson—he was the only player on the team that delivered a hit as hard as Winfield’s on Skelton. Paris Lenon won’t admit it, but he knows he will never tackle anyone as hard as Peterson tackled him."

    I'm glad you noticed this. I hadn't heard any comments about this until your post, TBird, but I was cheering at the replay of Peterson's tackle. He came close to getting the ball out, too. Imagine that - Peterson takes over a game as RB *and* gets a tackle/strip/fumble recovery after an INT... lunacy!

  2. I was not all that thrilled that Spielman traded up to get Smith, but the early results have been outstanding (side note: I also thought Harvin would never be more than a change-of-pace guy in the NFL. Yes, I'm an idiot).

    I suspect Smith - and the play of Winfield, Cook and Josh Robinson - is having an impact on Sanford's strong showing at the other safety spot. Sanford's got his issues, but they aren't being as exposed as often playing next to another safety who knows what he's doing and has the athletic ability to act upon that knowledge.