I'm back to being a soft-spoken person. This is largely because I don't have much of a voice left after screaming like a banshee at the television Monday night during the Minnesota Vikings 29-20 loss to the New York Jets-I'm really going to have to start warming up my voice before games. Despite my vocal efforts to encourage my soggy team in far off New Jersey, it didn't do me, or the Vikings, any good and now we're both questioning what's next. For me it's probably going to involve drinking lots of tea and not talking, but it's going to take more than a warm beverage to get the Vikings' offense back on track.
While I tried to keep my expectations low for Randy Moss' first game with the Vikings it was hard not to hope for those legendary one-handed catches on a long bombs from Brett Favre. And, eventually, that hope was rewarded with a picture-perfect touchdown pass that made it look like quarterback and receiver had some kind of telepathic connection. Even better, this was touchdown pass number 500 for Brett Favre. However, that much-anticipated touchdown came well into the third quarter of Monday night's game.
Maybe some of you brilliant football minds out there can tell me what the heck the Vikings offense was doing through the first half of Monday night's game. Maybe it was the blahs, maybe it was the yips, maybe they melt in the rain, maybe it was distraction from Favre's scandal. But whatever it was, it certainly wasn't efficient football.
And, in the midst of all the 3-and-outs, Adrian Peterson, the workhorse who's been carrying the flagging offense through the last three games, was conspicuous by his absence. But it wasn't his fault.
Adrian Peterson has been solid this season. His patience in waiting for blocks to materialize has resulted in improved rushing yards and he has yet to fumble the ball AT ALL this season. And yet, despite all that, the Vikings chose to try to work the passing game first. First. I guess they were going for the unexpected (like the Spanish Inquisition!) but the result was a strange parody of what happened last season when the play callers tried to force the run even though it wasn't working and the passing game was working. Now they're trying to force a passing game when it's the running game that's working.
I can understand that coaches and offensive coordinators develop a game strategy and want to give it a chance to work rather than allowing an opposing defense to dictate how the offense will approach the game, but when does patience cross the line and become self-sabotaging stubbornness? When do you give up on an ineffective plan and adjust to the opposing defense so your team can win?
While the trick play the Vikings used to start off the game on offense seemed interesting, it set the tone for the game because it was full of interest and promise, but it yielded nothing-completely nullified by a penalty. Pounding the run might not be as flashy, but it has been effective and winning games is much more flashy than losing. Not only that, but using an effective part of the offense to open up opportunities for a struggling part of the offense can pay off.
While the Vikings offense did discover some magic in the second half (Percy Harvin's second touchdown was so pretty I could watch it for hours), waiting half a game to put points on the board is not going to get the Vikings into the play-offs let alone to the Super Bowl. What it will do is create a hole for the offense to try to dig out of rather than allow them to build momentum and spell the defense.
The Vikings offense is loaded with talent and, even though reporters everywhere are ready to write the Vikings' season off, I'm not. They will find a balance. They will gel. They will score points. They will even win games.
They have to find a way to win and they have to find it much earlier in the game. Considering the three touchdown strikes they had in the second half of Monday's game, I have hope they can do it.