First off, allow me to introduce Matt Infante and his site, The Phinsider, to the SBNation network.
Now, his site isn't active QUITE yet, but it should be (hopefully) in time for Sunday's game. However, in a very proactive move. . .and I don't mean the stuff that Jessica Simpson puts on her face to keep her acne away (which obviously makes her look horrific. . .end sarcasm), Matt has gone ahead and sent me five questions about this weekend's tilt in South Florida between the Vikings and the Dolphins. I'll be sending him 5 questions about the game as well, and they'll get posted on his blog.
Matt's questions will be in italics, while my responses will be in bold.
1. I noticed the countdown on the top of your blog counting down until the "Vikes find a new, exciting way to lose." Is that basically the current mood of Viking fans? Very negative?
I can't personally speak for all Vikings fans, but I'm certainly down on this team at this point. Frankly, I feel this team is too talented to be embarassing themselves the way they have the last couple of weeks.
This is a process that a lot of Vikings fans go through on an annual basis. . .we get hyped up about this team, we start believing that this year is going to be something special. . .and then it gets to be halfway through the season, and the team's sitting at 4-5 and on the verge of pretty much wasting a season.
2. This Vikings team got off to such a hot start, including a huge win in Seattle. They followed that win with 3 losses, 2 of which to teams who I feel aren't on the Vikings level. What has happened the last few weeks to this team?
The last few weeks have proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, something I thought all off-season. . .that Brad Johnson is the best backup quarterback in the National Football League. Unfortunately for us, he's the Vikings' starter.
The thing that a lot of people failed to notice last year while they were going ga-ga over Brad Johnson's "great" performance last season is the fact that the offense, to be honest, still wasn't playing all that well. The defense was forcing an unreal number of turnovers, the offense got a lot of short fields, and they took advantage of that. The turnovers were there over the first 5-6 games, haven't been there the last few weeks, and three straight losses are the result.
3. Now that you have gotten to see Chester Taylor as a feature back for 9 games, what do you think of him? Can he be team's running back for years to come?
Oh, he's certainly good enough. He's not overly shifty, but he hits the hole quickly and doesn't spend a lot of time going east to west. He also has very few carries where he goes down on the first hit. . .he's a lot tougher than I believe he was given credit for prior to coming to Minnesota. As far as being the guy for years to come, if the blocking doesn't get a whole lot better in a hurry, he might not be around for "years to come." But if the O-line comes together sooner rather than later, he could be a good back for a while.
4. The Vikings defense has really stepped up this year, being ranked 6th in the league overall and 1st against the rush. What have been the differences between this year's unit and last year's?
The three biggest reasons for the improvement of the defense, in my mind, are coaching, coaching, and coaching. Mike Tomlin has done a very good job with this unit, particularly with the linebackers. For years, we've had to watch every tight end in the league light the Vikings up because the LB's were completely lost in coverage. This season, we haven't had that. TE's still get a few catches here and there, should, but in past years, an opposing TE against the Vikings was usually good for at least a TD per game.
The one player that personifies that more than anyone, in my opinion, is E.J. Henderson. He got a lot of hype coming out of college, and spent the first few years of his career not playing up to his potential, but he's had a VERY good 2006, and think he could be a solid block to build around for the future as well.
5. How do you see this week's Dolphins/Vikings game playing out?
Sadly. . .for us, anyway. . .the Dolphins have played very good football over the past couple of weeks, while the Vikings have played anything but. I think Jason Taylor is going to get well acquainted with Brad Johnson, among other Dolphin defenders, and the Vikings' offense will struggle to move the ball against Miami.
The Vikings have a chance in this one if they can make Joey Harrington look the same way Joey Harrington look when he played for the Lions. . .unless my math is off, I don't believe Joey Harrington has EVER beaten the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, there's a first time for everything.
I see the Vikings losing a low-scoring, relatively ugly football game.