As I stated in the Game Thread leading up to Sunday's match-up between the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers, I spent my Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. I want to preface this by saying that the Charger fans I encountered on Sunday were great. . .they were every bit as hospitable after the game was finished as they were when they were losing by 10 points at halftime. It's refreshing to see that from a group of opposing fans that could have rubbed it in, but chose not to.
Now, then. . .I, like most of you, have some pretty serious issues with Sunday's contest. As usual, this is not designed to override Ted's Stock Market Report or anything like that. This is just me expressing my viewpoint on what I saw on the field.
So, follow me after the jump, and we'll get this all started.37 passing yards? This team played four quarters of meaningful football with all of their starters, and they couldn't even average 10 yards passing per quarter? I thought this team brought Donovan McNabb to run the offense and to keep defenses off of Adrian Peterson. We spent a sixth-round draft choice on him to make that happen.
Seriously, you're telling me that even without the benefit of a full training camp and all that other good stuff that Christian Ponder couldn't have managed 37 yards passing on Sunday afternoon? You're telling me that Joe Webb couldn't have managed 37 yards passing on Sunday afternoon? Particularly with a running back that averaged over six yards per carry on the afternoon?
Seriously, Donovan McNabb and Bill Musgrave. . .you're better than this. You've got to be better than this. Quite frankly, if you're not better than this, it's going to be a long freaking season in Minnesota.
Speaking of Webb. . .I'm not a huge fan of when we decided to introduce the Webb-cat (or whatever we're calling it now) into the game. On the previous two plays, the Vikings handed the ball to Adrian Peterson twice, with him gaining five and seven yards on those two carries. So, approaching midfield and with Adrian Peterson on a roll. . .we decide to line up in the Webb-cat formation and start trying to get cute? The Vikings had the momentum following Jared Allen's impressive interception of Philip Rivers, and they threw it away with that sequence, in my opinion.
Also, as far as offensive personnel, I am sick to death of Bernard Berrian. Leslie Frazier can talk #87 up all he wants, he's a "speed receiver" that hasn't gotten decent separation from a defensive back since 2008. I know that McNabb underthrew the deep ball that bounced off of Berrian late in the game, but that's a ball that Berrian has to catch. (Also, it might help if we took more than one shot deep per game.)
As far as the defense, they were actually playing really well until the offense showed that they had no desire to stay on the field and actually complete drives in the second half. Heck, in the first half, any time the Chargers had to move the ball farther than six yards, they didn't put any points on the board. They were handling Rivers and company, and actually appeared to be pacing the upset effort for this team. But they could only do so much, particularly when an opponent nearly doubles your team's time of possession (the Chargers held the ball for 37:17, compared to just 22:43 for Minnesota), triples your team in first downs (31 for the Chargers to 10 for Minnesota), and puts up a goose egg after halftime.
Before the game, I predicted a Minnesota loss in this one. . .the Chargers are an incredibly talented football team, and beating them in their house with a new coach, a new offensive coordinator, and a new quarterback was going to be a tall order regardless. But after watching this one up close and personal, this was a pretty bad way to lose this ball game. To borrow the old line from one of our favorite former Viking head coaches, the Chargers were who we thought they were. . .and we let them off the hook.
And it's not as though there were a ton of bad calls by the officials in this one or anything like that. I can only think of one really egregious call that went against Minnesota, and that's the 15-yard late hit penalty against Cedric Griffin on Ryan Mathews on the drive that led to the winning touchdown. (Griffin already had Mathews wrapped up and was bringing him to the ground. . .what the heck else was he supposed to do?) No, after playing an outstanding first half of football, the Minnesota Vikings didn't lose the game in the second half. . .the Chargers came along and straight-up took it from them. They whipped the Minnesota offense in pretty much every facet of the game, and the defense just got too worn down to stop the Chargers from completing a second half comeback.
There were a couple of positives to come out of this one, particularly the fact that Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson are still both ridiculously talented, but they're almost completely overshadowed by the way the Vikings lost this ball game. Whatever problems the offense has, Leslie Frazier and Bill Musgrave need to get them corrected in short order, particularly with a young, hungry Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense coming to town next week for the home opener. It would be really, really hard for the Vikings to look as inept in the passing game as they looked on Sunday. . .but if last season taught us anything, it's that we shouldn't always assume that we've hit bottom.
With that. . .good night. And stay classy, San Diego.