Sunday, April 7, 2013

Vikings vs. 49ers - a preseason game worth watching

NFL preseason games are often deadly dull. What's worse, they often don't tell us very much about what kind of season our favorite team is going to have nor what kind of season the players playing for our favorite team are going to have.

However, with the league announcing the dates and times for this summer's preseason games, one game on the Minnesota Vikings preseason schedule intrigues me.

That game would be the third one - against the San Francisco 49ers. And here is why:

1. Football fans are always told that the third preseason game is the one that most closely resembles a regular season game. The starters play for a half or more, and the teams try a little bit more as far as offensive and defensive schemes instead of being completely vanilla. So for the Vikings to go up against the 49ers, a team that went to the Super Bowl, and do it on the road - even in a preseason game - will be a test of the Vikings talent. It should give us some indication of how physical a team Minnesota is going to be, how mentally tough they are on the road and also how effective Christian Ponder looks like with his new toys (Greg Jennings and whomever the Vikings draft at wide receiver, because THEY ARE GOING TO DRAFT A WIDE RECEIVER HIGH IN THIS DRAFT, GODDAMMIT!)

If the Vikings starters look competent, play the 49ers to a standstill, or maybe get the better of them, that is a positive sign that last season's surprise 10-6 record and playoff appearance was not a one-year aberration and that Minnesota is a young team on the rise.

2. The other interesting aspect of this game is that the Vikes will be playing - barring some injury - Colin Kaepernick. He is one of those super mobile young quarterbacks who can run that read option stuff. Last year the Vikings faced two such QBs - Washington's Robert Griffin III and Seattle's Russell Wilson. The Vikings lost both games and the defense looked almost helpless at times trying to defend both guys. The 38 points Washington scored and the 30 points the Seahawks scored were the most and the fourth-most, respectively, the Vikings gave up during the 2012 season.

In 2013, the Vikings will face RGIII and Wilson again. Can the defense do a better job containing both players this time? Can they keep their scrambling to a minimum and also be less confused by the read option trickery? Facing Kaepernick in preseason game #3 will give the defense some valuable experience in that regard. We'll get some indication of whether the Vikings have the defensive talent to contain this new breed of QB - one that many other NFL team will be trying to find if Griffin III, Wilson and Kaepernick continue to have the success they did in 2012. And being as all three players reside in the NFC, these are the QBs the Vikings defense will have to stop if they want to reach the Super Bowl in the next 10 years. The Vikings did a pretty shitty job defending Griffin III and Wilson last year. They have to fix that or else the Washington and Seattle games are two on their schedule that you can put an "L" next to in 2013.         

2 comments:

  1. If the Vikings look persuasively good in P3 at the 9ers then the media will recall all of the halftime leads the Vikes gave up in their 2011 season.

    that said, I love the preseason. I like getting a look at rookies and seeing the final rounds of positional battles. Plus it's like foreplay the way it builds anticipation for the regular season.

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    1. Maybe they will bring it up, but the Vikings didn't blow many first half leads in 2012, so that is really ancient history.

      I like the preseason, too - moreso the second and third games then the first and fourth games. I'm always interested to see if any of the backup QBs will show anything (I'm frequently disappointed in that regard.)

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