Monday, September 20, 2010

Pushing the Panic Button

That Vikings loss yesterday was tough to watch. Despite Adrian Peterson's superhero-like efforts to carry the team to victory, he came up a yard short on a crucial fourth and goal, and Brett Favre did all he could to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Percy Harvin's dropped pass that became an interception in the first half almost certainly would have been a touchdown, but Favre made terrible decisions all game. Officially, he was responsible for four turnovers, three of which were his fault. He also threw another INT that was called back because of off-setting penalties. He's played terribly through two weeks.

Now, almost every Vikings fan is already writing them off, because that's a natural reaction after watching this team play the last two weeks. Of course, the Dolphins are now 2-0 and the Saints are favored tonight against the 49ers, so it's not like they've lost to the Rams or the Lions.*

*Also, just a random rant, but people complaining about the Vikings not kicking the field goal in the first quarter are incorrect. Kicking that field goal would have changed the momentum and the remainder of the game. Yes, it's possible the Vikings end up blowing out the Dolphins, or the score remains the same, but not kicking a field goal in the first quarter changes the whole game. When you have an offense that is supposed to be very good, and probably the top running back in football, going for it is the right play. It didn't work out, and yes, they ended up losing by four points, but if they manage to get the first down and they score a touchdown, the game may have been decided right then and there. I have no problem with Childress being aggressive in that situation, and I hope he doesn't get conservative over the next three months because that's going to hurt the team more than it will help them.*

The Vikings will win next week. Detroit is improving, no doubt, but with Matt Stafford hurt, Shaun Hill is, well, bad. Favre will have a good statistical game next week, and hopefully that'll give the team enough confidence heading into the bye week to come out rolling in week 5, on Monday Night Football against the New York Loudmouths.

It's clear the team needs to trade for Vincent Jackson. Favre still makes a lot of terrible decisions, last season though Sidney Rice was able to cover up a lot of those poor decisions with spectacular catches in traffic. Berrian is nothing more than a speedster, and Percy is simply too small to make acrobatic catches consistently. I am convinced Jackson will be a Viking by Wednesday, which is the deadline for him to be traded, although he's suspended through week four so the Vikings wouldn't be able to use him against Detroit. They shouldn't need him against the Lions, so Jackson will have basically three weeks to get familiar with the offense. He can't practice with the team until his suspension is over, but he'd pick up the offense just fine in my opinion. A second round pick should be enough to get him, maybe a little more, but it's worth it.

I'm not ready to write off the Vikings yet. The Bears and Packers do hold a 2 game lead over our beloved losers, but the Bears got lucky against Detroit and then beat a very overrated Dallas team. Cutler has looked great, but he looked fantastic through four weeks last season so I'm not ready to say he's turned the corner yet. The Packers are a much more talented team than the Bears, and they likely will win 11 or 12 games, at least. The win at Philly was impressive, but they did almost blow it when Vick replaced Kolb. Beating Buffalo means nothing, even if they did it easily, because the Bills will be the worst team in football this year.

As fans we love to overreact and make judgments as soon as possible, but it's a long season. The last time the Vikings started 0-2 was 2008, and they ended up making the playoffs that year. I fully expect them to blow out Detroit next week, and head into the bye at 1-2. While that's certainly not what any of us fans wanted to see, at this point that's a best case scenario. I hope Favre can play better, and if he can eliminate the silly mistakes he'll be back to playing the way he did last year. That's a major if though, and after Packers' fans saw Favre make poor decisions for years, they have to be smiling right now. But before we anoint anyone Super Bowl champs, let's remember the Vikings are still the defending NFC North Champs, and I'm not ready to concede the division this early in the season.

Skol Vikes.