While watching the Vikings drop their third straight game (this time to the Atlanta Falcons) yesterday, I learned something. I learned what to be looking at for confirmation of a solid MN squad once again (however far into the future that may be).
It won't be when Ponder gets a little more experience under his belt.
It won't be when the secondary starts to cover receivers.
It won't be when the explosive plays happen more than just once a game (and by one player).
It won't be when Peterson breaks some rushing record.
It won't be when Aaron Rodgers retires.
It WILL BE when the Vikings can line up on a 3rd/4th-&-short and convert. Simple as that. I can't remember which coach it was who always said this (Tice?), but I remember one coach always talking about "exerting our will over the opponent". That happens "in the trenches" on the offensive line.
I began to see this last year (when we couldn't convert the close yardage to save our life) and it hasn't gotten much better. Do I think yesterday's Toby Gerhart plunge could have been a better call? No doubt. But the fact remains that we still couldn't get one yard.
When the Vikes start getting that "one yard" again, that's how I'll know their a true competitive team once again.
In other Falcons game-related news...
I understand now why Brett Favre took such a liking to Mr. Harvin in 2009. In terms of providing explosive plays, he is quite literally off the charts. I only hope that--as a team--we can get back to competitiveness before he gets too banged up.
Up next: Mr. Tebow Comes To Town.