Well, the Vikings are still mathematically alive in the playoff race. . .but I've never liked math, so for now I'll just say they're a "long shot" to make it to the post-season. I'll detail this further in an upcoming post. But, let's look back on yesterday's debacle, shall we?
WHAT WAS GOOD
The run defense - The Jets tried to run the football, doing so 29 times. On those 29 carries, they gained only 68 yards (2.3 ypc) and scored one touchdown. Of course, as we'll get to momentarily, it didn't really matter how good the run defense was on this day.
Tarvaris Jackson - Yeah, the Jets were playing a "softer" defense. They still brought a decent amount of pressure while the rookie was in there, and the offense looked like it was actually functional for the first time in a long time. Jackson put up 197 yards of total offense (177 yards passing, 20 yards rushing) in about one quarter of play, including a TD pass to Mewelde Moore. He threw an INT as well, but that play wasn't so much a bad throw by #7 as it was a good defensive play by the Jets' David Barrett. Jackson was slinging the ball all over the field, and showing pretty good presence in doing so.
If the quarterback we start at Lambeau Field on Thursday night has a number on his jersey OTHER than the #7, I'm going to be pretty pissed off. At this point, there's absolutely, positively no reason for the Vikings to continue wasting snaps on Brad Johnson. None. At all.
Troy Williamson - Yeah, that's right. Let's hear it for Troy. He caught 6 passes for 74 yards on Sunday, and looked pretty good in doing it. Even made a couple of fairly tough catches. But the biggest thing that I noticed is that #82 looked like a totally different wide receiver with Tarvaris Jackson throwing him the ball than he did with Captain Checkdown running the offense.
It's possible that Troy is the second coming of Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham. . .but rather than "don't think, just pitch," the phrasing becomes "don't think, just catch the football." While you can measure the velocity on Brad Johnson's throws with a sundial, Jackson gets the ball where it's going in a hurry. Maybe that can play a role in Williamson catching the ball more readily.
A lot of people I've seen are ready to completely write Troy Williamson off already. Folks. . .the kid's been in the league for 2 years. TWO. . .YEARS! In 27 career games, he's caught 60 passes for 826 yards (13.8 ypc) and 2 touchdowns. That's not terrible or anything. There were a lot of people that were ready to give up on E.J. Henderson after two seasons, too. . .how stupid would the Vikings look now had they taken that course of action?
T-Jack to T-Will, in the future, is going to lead to plenty of TDs for the Minnesota Vikings.
WHAT WAS BAD
Brad Johnson - I'm not going to belabor this point any more. I know he's horrible, you know he's horrible, my wife knows he's horrible, my dogs know he's horrible. . .anyone that's watched the Vikings this year (and, frankly, when he was in the game last year, too) knows he's horrible.
Hopefully, this is the last time I mention this, because the Brad Johnson Error in Minnesota should be over as of Thursday night.
The pass defense - I don't know if the Vikings are SO focused on stopping the run that they've just totally forgotten how to stop the pass or what the deal is. . .but I don't think our secondary is that bad. They're simply asked to hold their coverage too long in most cases because the front 7, as great as they are against the run, generates ZERO pressure on the quarterback in the passing game.
I just don't get why our pass rush is so terrible. Kevin Williams is good, but he's (at least) double-teamed on every obvious passing down. Pat Williams has never really been known for his pass-rushing prowess. Sure, losing Erasmus James back in Week 3 hurt this team. . .it would be foolish to say that it didn't. But what the hell has happened to Kenechi Udeze? He was drafted to BE an edge rusher, and has been woefully lacking in that department this season. I believe he's the only starting DE in the NFL that hasn't registered a sack all season, and pretty much got pimp-slapped by the Jets' rookie LT, D'Brickshaw Ferguson.
This team needs to blitz more to get any pressure, and when that happens, they're going to have the tendency to get beaten. But, if this team is serious about attempting to make the post-season, they're going to have to start taking those sort of chances to try to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The coaching staff - Just a general gripe here. . .but this was the biggest game of the year for the Vikings, and after the first series for each team, they looked woefully underprepared on both sides of the ball. That is completely and totally unacceptable from a team that's fighting for a playoff spot.
That's pretty much all for now. We'll have some fun with numbers here either later today or tomorrow. . .and pretty much throughout the week. Short week this week, which is both good and bad. But, make sure you keep checking in for new stuff here at the DN.