Today, for the third consecutive week, the Minnesota Vikings took their fans on a roller coaster ride. Ups and downs, twists and turns, agony and ecstacy. . .all jammed into the space of about three hours or so. Unfortunately, the reaction the last two weeks was to get off of the roller coaster and immediately yell, "Hell yeah, let's do that again!"
On the other hand, the reaction today was to get off the coaster, stumble around the platform for a bit, and throw up all over our date.
For those of you that are familiar with Erik Kuselias, one of the hosts on ESPN Radio, you know that he, on very rare occasions, would do a segment called "High Road/Low Road." The premise of this segment is that he would take a particular topic and look at it from two different perspectives. He'd generally start out on the "High Road," which looked at this particular issue/team/event from a more optimistic perspective, generally with a quieter, more relaxed voice. Then, on cue from the voice over guy, he'd go to the "Low Road". . .which generally involved a lot of anger, screaming, and the occasional "bleeping" of certain words.
Think of tonight as "High Road."
And don't worry. . .we'll get to "Low Road" as the week goes by.
Okay. . .while they may seem few and far between, there have been some positive things about the Minnesota Vikings' season to this point. We'll take a look at them here in no particular order.
Adrian Peterson? Still Really, Really Good
With his performance today against the Bears, Adrian Peterson again sits atop the league in rushing yardage with 684 yards through the first 7 games. That puts him on pace for over 1500 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's still, for my money, the best running back in the National Football League, and he puts more distance between himself and the rest of the field every time he touches the football. He's still the biggest threat on the Vikings' offense, by far, and teams are still keying on him every single week. Despite that, he can still put up the numbers he has.
And, according to NFL.com, when Adrian Peterson reached the milestone of 2,000 rushing yards for his career, he did so faster than any player in NFL history. It took him just 21 career games to hit the mark. (I'm not sure of that, and I can't verify it at this point, but I'll take NFL.com's word for it for now.)
No matter how dark things get in Minnesota, we can take some solace in the fact that we still have this guy on our roster. This division of the NFL has had a dominant back in every decade of my lifetime. . .the 80's had Walter Payton, the 90's had Barry Sanders. . .and now the 00's (and probably the 10's) have Adrian Peterson. We can only hope that #28's career turns out to be more like Payton's career than Sanders'.
Bernard Berrian? Worth the Money
People snickered when the Vikings gave Bernard Berrian a contract that made him one of the five highest-paid receivers in the National Football League. After watching him work over the course of the last 3-4 weeks, the only people that should be laughing are Minnesota fans, because Berrian's contract is going to look like a bargain in a season or two.
Since the Vikings made the quarterback switch to Gus Frerotte, Berrian hasn't had less than 78 receiving yards in a game, and has gone over 100 yards twice. He has a touchdown catch in three consecutive games, and his 18.5 yard/catch average has him in a tie for third place in that category among receivers with at least 20 catches (trailing only Buffalo's Lee Evans and Detroit's Calvin Johnson). He's on pace to set personal bests for yardage (on pace for around 1,200 yards, which would be his first season ever above 1,000 yards) and touchdowns. He's got three scoring catches already, and he's never had more than six in a season prior to this year.
The guy's doing what we brought him in here to do. He's stretching the field, he's making big catches, and he's establishing himself as a threat. Yeah, he's had some drops and yeah, he basically did nothing for the first two games of the year, but he appears to be the receiver we've seen over the past five weeks rather than the guy we saw over the first two.
Kevin Williams? Still the Best Defensive Tackle In Football
Keep your Tommie "Can't Stay Healthy" Harris. Keep your Albert "Gutless Face Stomper" Haynesworth. When you make a list of the best all-around defensive tackles in the National Football League, the name Kevin Williams should be on the top of the list, because there's nobody that's better than he is.
Not only is he a part of the Vikings having the best run defense in the National Football League (sure, they're only #4 in that category right now, but we all know they'll be at #1 when the season ends), but with the added attention that Jared Allen has been getting at defensive end, #93 has re-discovered his pass rush skills as well, as he leads the Vikings with six sacks.
I don't know how much longer we'll have the "Williams Wall" in Minnesota, but with Williams and Allen signed for the long-term, we certainly know that we have two spots that are take care of for at least the next 5-6 years.
Brad Childress? Likely Gone After This Year
Yep. Can't emphasize that enough.
The Vikings' Season? Not Over Yet
Yep, we currently sit at 3-4, and we have a 1-2 record in the division. Those two losses came on the road, in close games, by a touchdown or less. (Yes, I know that Packer and Bear fans will tell you that they not only won those games, but destroyed the Vikings and took them in dominating fashion. We're smart enough to know that that's a load of crap.) We get this bye week, and then what should be a winnable game against the Houston Texans at home before the rematch with the Packers. After the Vikings win that game, they'll be at 5-4, and things will be looking up.
The NFC's Super Bowl Representative? Not Coming from the NFC North
Not from Chicago, not from Green Bay, and not from Minnesota. As of now, Chicago's the best team in this division, and they'll be a beast when they get completely healthy, but it's quite likely that whoever wins this division will be one-and-out in the post-season.
Most importantly, in the end, we'll still be Viking fans, which makes us the greatest damn fans in the National Football League. And if anyone disagrees with that assessment. . .well, screw them. Because they're wrong, and they're probably stupid.
That's all for tonight, folks. Enjoy Game 7 of the ALCS (go Rays!), and we'll see you back here tomorrow for more righteous indignation and such.