Alrighty, then. . .the grass has been cut, I have the Red Zone Channel on, and I'm getting constant reminders from Kevin Seifert's FaceBook page of why I would rather lose as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings than win as a "fan" of any other team.
But how in the heck has this team looked so solid for the first 30 minutes of each of their first two games, then gone out after halftime and looked so awful in the second half? It really is baffling.
The weirder part is this. . .for all the fear and trepidation we had about the secondary coming into this season, when one considers the receivers this team has faced so far this season, the secondary really hasn't been awful.
In the first two weeks of this season, the starting receivers for the Chargers and the Buccaneers. . .Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Arrelious Benn, and Mike Williams. . .have combined for six catches, 101 yards, and one score. Today, the only catch that Benn and Williams combined for was Benn's 25-yard touchdown that pulled Tampa to within three. The Vikings aren't getting killed by big names.
No. . .this team is getting killed by guys like Mike Tolbert. . .guys like Ryan Mathews. . .guys like Preston Parker. Seriously, I don't know what the heck a Preston Parker is, but it had six catches for 96 yards this afternoon for the Buccaneers, including a 51-yard catch and run after what could have been a huge turnover was nullified by an offsides penalty on Brian Robison.
The point I'm making here is that the guys on the outside are not getting open against this Vikings' defense. When you're holding a quartet like Jackson, Floyd, Benn, and Williams to those sorts of numbers, guys like Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin are doing something right (although Griffin did get beaten for Benn's TD catch today). All of this stuff is taking place in the middle of the field with slot receivers, tight ends, and backs out of the backfield.
At this point, I'm not sure how much of this goes to Leslie Frazier and company. It's almost as though teams come into every game expecting to just pound on our secondary, and are unable to make that happen during the first half. Then they say to themselves, "Okay, the receivers are pretty well covered, but the middle of the field is completely wide open," and start hitting checkdowns left and right. Don't get me wrong. . .we all knew that the concept of a halftime adjustment was completely foreign to Brad Childress, but the hope was that the change to Leslie Frazier would correct that. To this point, it doesn't appear as though it has.
And we can't even pin the loss to Tampa on the offense like we could with the loss to San Diego. The Vikings had the edge in the time of possession battle (33:30 for the Vikings, 26:30 for the Buccaneers, though the first half was very one-sided in Minnesota's favor), and the Vikings had a balanced attack. . .186 yards rushing, and 212 net passing yards, a far cry from the disparity of Week One.
I'm just not sure what, exactly, this team needs to do in the second half of ball games to keep this from happening. I mean, you can see every week that this team has talent. . .they've taken two very talented teams and outscored them 34-7 in the first half of their first two games. However, in the second half in those two games, Minnesota has been outscored 41-3.
Is it halftime adjustments? Is it conditioning? Is it the scheme? I, for one, don't know what it is. . .and I'm not sure if it's going to get corrected this season. But if this team wants this to not be a completely lost season, they're going to have to do something, particularly with as strong as the rest of this division looks thus far.
What are you folks seeing through the first two games? Is there something obvious that I'm missing?