Sunday, December 9, 2012

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 21, Bears 14

Vikings-Bears Box Score (Yahoo!)

What is with the Vikings and the Metrodome?
The Vikes move to 6-1 at home and 1-5 on the road. This is an old story for the Vikings, who have frequently stunk on the road but defended the Dome well.

Despite how great the Vikes have played in Thunderdome, it may be a good thing that we'll be leaving it behind. The Vikes can't keep having such a wide discrepancy between their home and road performances. I don't see how the Metrodome causes this discrepancy (does the homefield advantage overrate the quality of the team, masking serious core problems so that the team doesn't try to fix those core problems?  Does the team get so comfortable at home that they are extra-uncomfortable on the road?  I'd answer both those questions in the negative, but I'll ask them anyway). But it's there, and it has been there a really long time.

The Vikes still can't pass.
The Viking offense reminds of an old wishbone team that hardly ever passes. Every pass completion for a first down, however routine it may be for other teams--a simple slant pass, for example--seems like an extraordinary accomplishment, something fans are expected to cheer extra hard for. Consider this: the Vikings had two interceptions for 100 return yards and a touchdown, and they had 11 completions for 91 yards, including just seven completions to wide receivers.

Overall, the pass defense won.
The Bears' passing game is interesting. The offensive line is bad, forcing them to a lot more scramble-around-then-chuck-it improvisational passing, and they lean hard on those gigantic, athletic wide receivers like Brandon Marshall. How do you defend Marshall on those underthrown/comeback/jump ball plays? It's difficult, and Marshall burned the Vikes often.

But...the Vikings forced 25 incompletions. The team had six pass deflections and two interceptions. Jay Cutler was sacked twice and harassed plenty. One interception return gave the Vikes first and goal at the five, the second gave them seven points.

The Bears aren't the same without Brian Urlacher.
This shouldn't be an excuse--the Vikes, after all, have only two skill position players that belong in NFL starting lineups, and one of them is out for the year--but Brian Urlacher makes that defense terrifying. Without him, it's hard to see how far they get.

The Vikes haven't beat the Bears since their first meeting of 2009 which, considering the course of the franchise since that time, was approximately seven millions years ago. And the Vikings are over .500 in December, also something to try and appreciate for what it is (I think 9-7 is within range).

So enjoy the week, fans: your Minnesota Vikings just beat the Bears to move to a winning record.


  1. WORST pass offense I have ever seen. Painful to watch that.
    Too bad AP is not even the best Viking!

    He is not only the best Viking, he may be the best in the NFL.

    1. Anon:

      Peterson has been phenomenal. I think the Cardinals pass offense right now is the only one that rivals the Vikings as far as being the worst in the NFL. Just awful to watch.

  2. I'm a little sentimental towards the Dome. When they move out, they'll seem to be a little less like the team of my childhood. But the reality is the team needed more revenue, and the new building should do a better job at generating that for them.

    Christian Ponder continues to build his resume as a soon to be NFL backup. He's hopeless. I can't remember a QB to be so statistically bad and to recover to have a decent career. After today, I think it's 100% over for him, but I'm still for letting him play out the rest of the season, because I don't think Joe Webb should even be on the team, either.

    Talking to a friend today, he mentioned that the Vikings would have been wise to get Orton for this season as a mentor type for Ponder. Just think where we'd be now with a serviceable veteran QB. It have proved to be a fatal mistake to put all of the QB eggs in Ponder's basket.

    1. Travis:

      Funny you mention Orton. I was thinking of ole' Mr. Neckbeard yesterday as thoughts of potential replacements for Ponder rolled through my head – as they often do these days. I hate thinking this way because guys like Orton, Alex Smith, etc. still would leave the Vikings with the worst Q situation in the division, but they'd give the Vikings a better chance of winning some of these games they've lost (Seattle comes to mind) partly because Ponder can't get it done.

    2. Another guy to keep an eye on is the backup here in Washington. You guys in Big 10 country know him, Kirk Cousins from Mich State. While Orton would be infinitely better than Ponder or Webb, it would be nice to get a young guy too. As much as everyone is proclaiming RG3 as the second coming, people here love Cousins too and he looks light years ahead of Ponder. They actually talked about him winning the job in preseason, well fans did anyway. He wouldn't be cheap, maybe a 2, but Washington needs draft picks in the worst way after they mortgaged their future for Griffin. He doesn't have a gun, but he's smart. Sounds like Ponder, but he's football smart too, not just book smart and then turns into Slingblade on the field.

    3. ETR:

      Washington might want to keep Cousins around with the way RGIII plays. Big injury risk there. I haven't seen Cousins play, so I have no opinion on him. Did Washington drastically change their offense yesterday when he came in after Griffin got hurt? Doesn't seem like they could run it the same way with Cousins in there, who I'm thinking is more of pocket passer type guy.

    4. Very true, he is valuable to them as a backup and he's cheap too as a fourth rounder. They need help in a lot of areas though and don't have any high picks, may want to cash in to get Griffin some help. Just throwing some ideas out there, I don't want another one year fix.

      Yes, Washington has to change the offense completely without Griffin. I'm interested to see how they do if he can't play Sunday. Cousins can run a little but probably isn't as fast as Ponder.

    5. From what I've been reading, it sounds like RGIII is going to start. Which is good for Washington and bad for the Vikings playoff hopes.

    6. Garcon was on the radio talking about how the team has to step up with Cousins starting, but it could have been gamesmanship. They're going to try and keep them guessing all week of course. Beat reporters saying Griffin really wants to play and they'll let him as long as the swelling doesn't get too bad.

    7. Sore knee could have almost the same effect as him being out, if defenses don't have to respect the fake handoffs and option stuff because they know he's not very mobile. It would makes that offense a different animal (and easier to defend, I think) even if Griffin III is playing.