What an amazing week for the Vikings. Comming off that difficult loss to Andrew Luck and the Colts, it was a huge statement to beat the 49rs at home on Sunday. Not only did they win the game but they had control. The defense caused problems for San Francisco and the offense limited mistakes. Little more could have been asked of this team last week.
Much talk has been going around in the sports world about the Vikings statement win. Besting on both sides of the field the team that comfortably beat NFC North offensive powerhouses Green Bay and Detroit is certain to do this. The only thing that would have made this a bigger shocker was if this game was played on the west coast.
Of course what the Vikings players and coaches have been talking about early this week was the great execution of good game plans drawn up by Coordinators Bill Musgrave and Allan Williams, but what I was most impressed by the was the way that individuals won their match ups. It is possible to execute and still lose. The truth is that last sunday the front seven of the Vikings, both on offense and on defense beat 49rs on the other side of the line. The Vikings beat the Niners at their very own game; tough running & flawless tackling. More over, it is amazing that this came from a vikings team without leading tackler Erin Henderson and, for much of the game, much improved Mistral Raymond.
This is the base of "Ball Control Football". On offense use all of the play clock, run the ball down hill, complete high percentage passes, convert on third down and accurate field goal kicking. The vikings are not looking to light anybody up, maybe individual players are when the opportunity comes, but that's not the Vikings offensive personality. Ponder said it himself saying essentially: why should I throw the ball down field into coverage if I can dump it down to guys like Percy and Adrian and they can make plays. The vikings are building a ball control offense. On defense "Ball Control Football" requires active covering and tackling and pressure. When a ball control offense is humming the defense gets time to rest and it can come out and fly around and make plays.
Last year, Ponder was unable to prove anything throwing the ball. He made some plays but only completed 55% of his passes and was pretty much brutally ineffective on third downs. So far Ponder is proving that he can throw the ball. Many times last year, and whenever I watched his highlights from Florida State University, I was worried by the Christian Ponder touch pass. Last week he threw some amazing balls. Unfortunately I cannot help but note a couple of instances in every game where Ponder got away with some really bad throws that fell harmlessly incomplete. So far he is doing well and this last game was fantastic.
Hopefully with the addition of Jerome Simpson, this week the offense can get to the next level. The speed and rout running abilities of Simpson should be drastically more effective than the likes of Michael Jenkins and Stephen Burton. Then we still have one more weapon when Jarius Wright gets healthy.
One other thing to note was how impressive our offensive line was. "Ball Control" starts at the line of scrimmage. The Viking's run attack had the Niner's Nose Tackle playing a foot off the line for most of the game. That means that the Offensive line is getting really good push. It's amazing how much the trenches can effect a game. QB's and positions players, LBs and Tacklers make all the flashy plays that appear to win games but so much comes down to what happens right at that line of scrimmage. Alex Smith was never able to get comfortable because the Vike's front seven was constantly able to get pressure.
BRING IT ON LIONS! EAT TURF SHAUN HILL & MATTHEW STAFFORD!
SIDE QUESTIONS & COMMENTS for discussion:
Who gets cut to make room for Simpson? is it a wide out? or possibly a TE? Stephen Burton or Allen Reisner?
How did Alex Smith, Vernon Davis and crew not torch the Vikings Secondary? Did we cover THAT well? Did we really get THAT much pressure on Alex Smith? Did we REALLY dominate? or did the Niners Choke BIG time?