14-10, Dolphins. This was not the result that many fans expected. This was a brutal game that showed some holes in the Vikings and sets a bad precedent for the rest season.
However, Vikings fans shouldn't be completely disheartened by today's loss. The team showed several strengths, such as:
- The defense. While they gave up a few too many rushing yards for my taste, they were facing the Dolphins. I think many of us expected them to have some success running the ball. The defense only gave up seven points today, on the opening drive. This habit of letting the other team drive right down the field on the opening drive worries me, on the whole the defense squashed the Miami offense.
- Adrian Peterson. Wow. He almost willed his way into putting the Vikings on top without a single fumble, although to my eyes there were a few close calls.
However, more than anything we saw several major issues. First,
- Brad Childress. I've said it before and I'll say it again and again: he can't get this team in sync to start the season. Last season, the Vikings started with a couple cream puffs in Cleveland and Detroit, and in those games they had a very pedestrian offense powered almost entirely by Peterson. They won those games only on the strength of Peterson and the defense. This season, they started with more credible opponents, and those factors weren't enough to carry them. As for today's game, the decision to go for a fourth down on the first drive of the game was questionable, but understandable. The fourth down attempts later were not. Obviously they had to go for the last two, as time was running out, but going for fourth down halfway through the fourth quarter, only to end up kicking the field goal later was foolish and cost the team valuable time. I will give him credit for actually using Peterson in the fourth quarter today, and it almost saved the game for the Vikings.
- The offensive tackles. Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt got flat out-played by the Dolphins today. Loadholt had an especially bad time, as it seemed like Cameron Wake spent half of the game in the Viking's backfield. This put pressure on the passing game and limited the running game.
- Brett Favre. Hoo boy, where to begin...Not all of the offensive woes were Favre's fault. He never had a large amount of time to throw, due to the aforementioned pass rush trouble. The interception that bounced off of Harvin was little more than a fluke, but some of his decisions were just flat out awful. Favre had four turnovers today, and by my count two of those were directly his fault. The first was the interception in the red zone on the throw to Berrian. Allen had Berrian covered like a security blanket, and the result was the end of the drive. The second was the deep pass in the fourth quarter, also to Berrian. The decision to throw it was bad, and the throw was worse.
In my opinion, if Brett Favre has another game like this one (and I can't believe I'd ever say this) the Vikings will be forced to bench him for Tarvaris Jackson, if only to have the slightest chance of saving their season.