Tuesday, October 23, 2012
2012 MINNESOTA VIKINGS WEEK 7
What an ugly 21-14 win the Minnesota Vikings wrestled away from the Arizona Cardinals. For the second straight week Christian Ponder looked unlike his early season form. The Vikings offense looked like it did against the Detroit Lions -- a victory where Adrian ran the ball well, but few others participated. Against the Lions the special teams and defense were the story. This week it was Adrian and Percy making plays at the goal line, and most importantly, the defense.
Aside from Percy, who was far, far too quiet on Sunday, and AP, nothing worked on offense. This to me, doesn't make sense. I take not one once of respect away from the Arizona Cardinals defense. They have a very impressive unit that can defend both the pass and the run. They hadn't allowed a 100 yard rusher in 14 games. But on Sunday, they didn't defend the run very well. Adrian ran for 153 and a score on 23 carries. That doesn't compare to his 3 touchdown runs last season, but it's still a monster effort.
And even considering that, Christian Ponder and the passing game couldn't muster more than 58 passing yards. 58 yards. If a defense is getting burned on the run, play action has to work at least a few times on a competent offense. But somehow Ponder couldn't find a single guy open. There was pressure on him often, he was sacked 3 times, but no one open even on quick passes? Bubble screens? Percy? Nothing? 58 yards? And add two bone-headed interceptions.
How far has Ponder fallen? From the pro's pro of game managing, not turning the ball over, and getting the ball to your weapons type Quarterback to a second year player who looks confused in a few short weeks.
I love the guy, I do. But this team will not beat quality opponents not being able to compliment Adrian with at least serviceable passing game. Examples of this include, this victory, the 49ers victory, the Lions victory, and most of the loss to the Redskins. Toby and the sputtering offense late were dying to give the game to the Niners. The Lions, well, their offense is just terrible right now. So them not scoring much is no surprise. And the same can be said about the Cardinals led by John Skelton and their 'swiss cheese' offensive line. Any team that can score proficiently on offense will beat us if Ponder and Co. keep playing like this, just like the Redskins did last week.
Stop the negative. This is a victory, and I am happy about it. Yes. 5-2. But seriously, fans should be shocked at how far Christian Ponder has regressed compared to his early 2012 campaign. 1-10 on third down, and so many of those plays were manageable down and distance. Four straight second half three and outs. Only two drives of seven plays or more. Those are statistics to be very concerned about.
For my last negative comment, I'm again calling out Mike Musgrave. Another awful effort playcalling on his part. How does Percy only get targeted 5 times if the offense is struggling? He needs more targets then. How does Kyle Rudolph get 3 targets and 0 catches? With Adrian dominating, how could that advantage not create one second half opening?
Like I said above, the Vikings defense was the story of this game. 7 sacks, 3 by Brian Robison. They kept Larry Fitzgerald in check and didn't allow Arizona to put points on the board. LaRod Stephens-Howling burned the Vikings quite a bit, but he is sneaky quick and difficult to tackle. The difference maker this week was the defense coming up with turnovers. Robison got a strip-sack deep in Vikings territory and Harrison Smith came up with a pick-six -- great play by the rookie Safety there.
I'm excited about this victory, but I'm weary to play the Bears and Packers. Early in the season it looked like we could possibly throw a beat down on either team. And don't get me wrong, I still think we stand a fair shot in any of the four contests. But if I was a betting man, I wouldn't put money on Ponder and the passing game helping to decide victories against unquestionably better teams.