Most are in agreement that there needs to be better play from the quarterback position and more of the time than not; the coaching staff should be doing a lot better job in its decision making and preparation of this young team. Though outside of the coaches and Ponder, who should get most of the heat-who else needs to step up in order for this team to seal the deal?
Adrian Peterson has had a good year so far as compared to the average, or even good running back's statistics.Though we are spoiled, and want to see a lot more from him. There have been a few times where he acknowledged he left yards out there on the field. Though, in my humble opinion, as good as the o-line was in rushing downs last year with the help of Felton ans Ellison; they are stinking it up and the coaches are doing AP and the line no favors as well. They did it before though, and they can do it again. These are the same guys that were blocking when everybody on the planet watching the game knew exactly where the ball was going. Now, we do get Felton back this week end and Ellison has been hurt most of the year and will heal up, as he was also a factor last year in mostly all of his opportunities. This has to improve and I think it will, no matter how poorly the offensive plays are or not; the offensive line has got to block well and no just in run blocking. I think this is the week we will start to see improvements from the offensive line and the only thing that will slow down the running game will be the field itself.
If the O-line does improve; we will also see better performances from our passing game, even with Cassle in, instead of Ponder. This start for Cassle will likely fair well for the team and Cassle will likely start more than just this one game as well. I look for Cassle to take more advantage of Minnesota's underrated weapons at the wide receiver position from Jennings and Patterson to Wright and Webb, with Simpson as well; all more than capable with star potential and very dangerous with the ball in their hands and capable of making Cassle look the star he never was, but it come down to the o-line giving protection. This also gives Ponder exactly what he needs the most; a humbling, learning experience from the sidelines. And I do think this is the best thing for him and whenever he does come back, whether in a few weeks, or next year; Ponder will be a better quarterback for it.
A lot of expectations were put on Rudolph and we have got to see improvements from him Sunday. He has the talent, and I fully expect him to put himself in better positions to impact the game better than he has so far this season. In spite of what we have seen from the special teams and defense; I expect to see a lot more disciplined play from both, especially on the coverage units on ST and gap control, better angles and better tacking from the defense as a whole. The defense is playing a lot more opportunistic, and turning the ball over a lot more than we are used to. Rhodes is playing so exceptionally well for a young rookie that he is; that QBs rarely even throw his way and is arguably already the best CB on the team. The LBs took a very small step forward last week and have a long way to go. The line has got to generate a lot more pressure for this defense to work if they don't; it will get picked apart again.
Players I am looking to step up a lot more are Jared Allen, as far as pressure-he has done well in run support with runs to his side, Josh Robinson has been a big let down and must focus and just do his job much better, every one of our LBs must continue to improve, Greenway looked more like himself last week and must keep it up and do even better as well.
I think the coaching staff must give other players opportunities or more of them in guys like Bishop-he has got to be given a chance to play the majority of the game with our huge deficiencies at the LB position to see what he can do. I would also like to see more from Mauti and maybe Hodges as well as the season goes by. We have to see what our depth guys can do, as the LBs are the worst playing part of the defense and are the worst in the league; keep trying things until something works. Patterson has got to be given the ball more, plain and simple. I also think that Floyd should be out on the field at the same time as Williams regardless of natural position, as you put you best players on the field.
Griffen has been relatively quiet a needs to make more of an impact, the entire offensive line has got to get their act together, Allen has to turn it up a couple notches in putting pressure on the QB, Rudolph has to do better, all of our secondary outside of Smith and Rhodes need to step it up, all of our LBs at least get your basic fundamentals up to par and that will be an improvement in itself no matter who is in there, our rushing defense has got to stop the run, stay in their gaps, play more sound football and get those numbers down, forcing teams into a one dimensional offense.
I do think we will pull out a win against Pittsburgh Sunday and that will give the team the confidence it needs, because if they do not; that long, silent flight back to the U.S. will be be only the beginning of the end of this implosion. I do think Cassle starts more than just this one game, but we will see. We've got players not playing up to their potential. Saying we need better play from the QB position and better everything from our coaches is more then obvious, those things will be dealt with in the off season and the offensive coordinator very well may be replaced after this game even if we indeed do win, other coaches will likely be replaced in the off season as well as another quarterback brought in via early draft pick regardless how well Cassle and/or Ponder do. It is every other player's job to do the best they can, regardless of how poorly other players/coaches are doing. And if guys on the offensive line, defensive line, our tight ends and secondary, special teams do their job and at least play up to their potential most of the time; we will be alright and a least pull out a .500 season, if not more; maybe a 9-7 record and sneak in the playoffs. On any given Sunday, anything can happen and this team as far as its players are an overall better team than they were a year ago; it is long overdue we star seeing it from them on the field.