Man. . .I need to come up with a catchier name for these posts. Maybe something risque. . .it would certainly up the search engine hits, if nothing else.
So, let's look back at this past week's game against Arizona. There was quite a bit of good to be had, as you would assume would be the case in a victory. Let's get to it.
WHAT WAS GOOD
The run def. . .yeah, you've heard it before - This is almost comical. Teams are officially to the point where they don't even bother trying to run against the Vikings. Arizona ran the ball a whopping 5 (yes, five) times against the Vikings this past Sunday. But it's not just the fact that teams are forsaking the run because the pass defense is so "bad" (and more on why I have that in quotes momentarily), but when teams ARE trying to run, they're not succeeding. The Vikes are only allowing 2.8 yards a carry, almost a half-yard better than the second-best team in that category (Baltimore at 3.2 ypc).
Oh, and Pat Williams is still really, REALLY good. Just in case you had forgotten.
Brad Johnson - Holy crap, did I really just write that?
Yes, I certainly did. . .ol' Methuselah pulled a heck of a game out of his arm this past Sunday. Three touchdown passes and, more importantly, NO turnovers. Yes, it was against Arizona, but #14 put up his best performance of the season against the Cardinals at the Metrodome. I'm not saying that one good game erases an entire bad month. . .far from it. . .but maybe this gives the Vikings' offense a glimmer of hope after all.
Chester Taylor - Yes, he had another fumble (which, in this writer's estimation, was complete and utter B.S.), but he pounded the rock pretty well against the Cardinals. #29 took this game over from the Vikings' first snap, and basically didn't let up the entire game. He's now sitting on exactly 999 yards through 11 games, and has proven that he can be one of the best backs in the league.
WHAT WAS ALLEGEDLY BAD, BUT REALLY WASN'T
The pass defense - Yes, the Vikings gave up 405 yards passing to Matt Leinart. However, with all those passing yards, Leinart only managed one TD pass, and if it wasn't for the special teams and the officials, the Vikings would have won this game going away instead of sweating it out at the end.
Here's the thing about the Vikings' pass defense. Yes, they currently rank 31st in the NFL (out of 32 teams) in passing yardage allowed (2,667 yards, just ahead of Cincinnati's 2,696). The other 4 pass defenses in the bottom 5 are Houston (28th), Green Bay (29th), Atlanta (30th), and the aforementioned Bengals (32nd). Here's how the Vikings compare to those truly bad pass defenses:
Passing attempts faced
Minnesota - #1 (417 attempts faced)
Cincinnati - #2 (386)
Green Bay - #7 (377)
Atlanta - #9 (368)
Houston - #24 (345)
Completion % allowed
Green Bay - #8 (57.0% completions allowed)
Minnesota - T-#15 (59.2%)
Cincinnati - #23 (62.2%)
Atlanta - #26 (63.0%)
Houston - #27 (63.5%)
Minnesota - 6.40
Green Bay - 6.79
Cincinnati - 6.98
Atlanta - 7.21
Houston - 7.38
* - No rankings there, as NFL.com doesn't have them (that I can see. . .someone can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), and I'm not going through each and every team.
So, in comparison to pass defenses that are ACTUALLY bad, the Vikings really aren't. The run defense has simply been SO good that teams don't even bother trying any more. Add in the fact that the Vikings are #10 in the NFL in total defense. . .while Atlanta, Green Bay, Houston, and Cincinnati are 22nd, 25th, 27th, and 31st in the NFL, respectively. . .and I don't think our defense is that much of a worry.
Also, Minnesota is currently #10 in the NFL in points allowed. . .and that's with the 4 return TDs the offense has given up in the last 2 weeks. Those other 4 teams?
Cincinnati - #17
Atlanta - #18
Houston - #27
Green Bay - #32
So, as soon as winners and losers are determined by passing yardage rather than points allowed, we're going to be in trouble. But, as long as the NFL continues to use the "point" system, we'll be okay. Heck, with the way Rex Grossman's been playing recently, I'd rather the Vikings take their chances with him putting the ball in the air 40 times. . .he's going to hit Viking defenders in the chest and/or hands on 3 or 4 of them, at least.
WHAT WAS BAD
The officiating - The bad calls went both ways in this one. . .however, the most egregious miscue came on the Cardinals 99-yard fumble return for a TD. The fact is that it wasn't a fumble at all. Memo to the referees. . .if a player is laying on the ground for a good 2-3 seconds before the ball comes out of his hands, he's down by contact. He doesn't fumble after being in the pile for that long.
Kick coverage - J.J. Arrington racked up nearly 200 return yards against the Vikings' special teams. Yes, one of them came on a 99-yard return to open the game, but that's still a whole lot of yardage.
That's all for this one, folks. Just a few more days until we meet up with the Bears for what should be a pretty damn good game. . .despite what the "experts" in Vegas are thinking. Bears by 9.5? Jeez. . .just kick us square in the groin, would you?