As the rush from watching Favre do it for the Vikes, instead of against the Vikes, starts to subside, my thoughts have been starting to drift towards what this portends for the remainder of the season.
It feels different from '98, when the Vikes appeared to be unstoppable and the emergence of Moss seemed limitless in its potential for future greatness and excitement. Different, but still exciting. With Peterson on the one hand and Favrin on the other, we have two hands to clap with.
But for the past 3 years, I have felt that what was really hurting the Vikes was play calling that appeared to me to be totally inappropriate throughout the course of a game -- often totally predictable, but even more often personnel groupings and plays that were just plain wrong for that particular point in a game. Eg, having both Kleinsasser and Tahi in the set on 3d and long in the red zone with less than 30 seconds to go and one timeout at the end of the 1st half against the 49ers, with a short dump by Favre to Tahi in the flat for little gain. The football gods agreed with me -- the Niners blocked the resulting FG attempt and returned it for their own TD to almost steal the game. WHY did Bevell put Tahi and Kleinssasser on the field to run pass routes in that situation???? It is just so darn frustrating!
Having got that rant off my chest, I am wondering if others are getting the sense that, even though it may be a maddingly slow process, the Chilly/Bevell brain trust is getting better at play calling? I was thrilled that in the 1st Q in 49ers territory with the Vikes on a roll, the vikes lined up with a standard pro set (2 RBs, 1 TE and 2 WRs) and the Niners -- as teams are known to do -- cheated by having the strong safety creep into the box to stuff an expected run by Peterson following Tahi plunging into the line. THE VIKES CALLED THE RIGHT PLAY: the cheating strong safety blitzed ( a run blitz, he probably thought), Favre dropped back and drilled a laser to Rice on a deep slant to the post that was over the head of the hopelessly out of position LB for the TD! It was wide open -- and an EASY throw -- because the Strong Safety was not where he should have been to defend that throw; he was blitzing and the right side of the Vikings line picked up the blitz long enough to allow Favre to get the throw off. It didn't take long to hit the route, so the Vikes just needed to chip the blitzers, and they did. Granted, Kelly Holcomb didn't overthrow it and T-Jack didn't overthrow it -- both of which have occurred in years past. But Chilly/Bevell finally called the right play against the 8-men in the box run blitz and it worked. I have been waiting so long for that!
Only 1 screen pass called. Only 1 incredibly annoying check down to Tahi for 2 yards. Only one play where AP bailed Chilly/Bevell out by turning a plung off tackle into a 35-yard open field sprint around the corner. This time, the Vikes' offense scored 20 points against the 49ers largely with well-executed passes, accented with a couple of 5-10 yard AP runs and one 32-yard laser for the ages. Sounds like a recipe for future success down the road no? Are Chilly/Bevell getting better at play calling?