Yawn. What a boring week in Vikings Country. A ho-hum trade, a little scandal that barely anyone is interested in, and a prime time match-up with a team that nobody has been talking about this year...it was really tough to come up with Five Good Questions to ask our neighbors over at Gang Green Nation.
Let's get right to the Q&A with GGN writer David Wyatt. (I promise to you that the following post will be a Favre-dong-free zone. You have my word.)
1. It sounds like the world's geography is changing on Monday. Revis Island can be found on the map again after a brief disappearance due to a hamstring injury--is he back to 100% or is it too soon to tell?
I think it's too soon to tell but we'll find out pretty quickly on Monday. It would be pure stupidity for us to play him if he was not 100% as a hamstring injury is not one that you play around with. It seems like he will be a go for the game, hopefully for us he is fine but our other corners like Drew Coleman have stepped up and that's strange to say because Coleman has been everyone's favorite whipping boy for the last 3-4 years. Revis Island is back taking prisoners, but for the time being, it may be sharing the job with Alcrotraz.
2. As you may have heard, the Vikings have reacquired one Randy Moss this week. The Jets are will be facing Randy for the second time in five games. Moss scored on a long touchdown in Week 2 while with the Patriots but didn't do much else. How do you think the Jets will game plan for him now that he's on the Vikings? Will he see coverage from Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, or both?
The Randy Moss of 2010 NE doesn't scare me. He scored a TD on a busted coverage while the Patriots were in a hurry up offense and he scored it over a lagging Revis who as you know has been out ever since that play. However as I wrote on GGN, a revitalized Randy Moss like the one we saw in New England in 2007 can be dangerous, he went for nearly 200 yards and a score in his first game against us. I think Revis will probably take him for the majority of the game, but I think Cromartie matches up quite well with him. He blanked him the 2nd half of the New England game. However the key to keeping Moss quiet as it always is with receivers is to get pressure on the QB. We have Pace coming back (91.5% likely) this week along with Bryan Thomas and Jason Taylor. Also the pressure from the inside with Bart and Harris (one of the most underrated LB's in the league).
3. Much has been made about the maturation of Mark Sanchez in 2010. Even after a shaky first week, he has flourished with a 105.3 QB rating with zero turnovers thus far. What has been the biggest difference between the 2009 "game manager" and the 2010 success?
I think his recognition of the game and game situations have been the big improvement. His decision making is vastly better than it was in 2009. He is just growing up; we're not asking him to do everything but we are letting him take some shots. He progresses through his reads better and he finally has an outlet from the backfield in LT to check it down to. Last year he would have tried to squeeze a ball into the smallest gap and he would throw a pick. This year he recognizes the coverage and instead of trying the dangerous 20 yard pass, he checks it down for a safe 5 yard pick-up. Realizing where he needs to go with the football is the big difference I see. He won't play mistake free football all year; that just doesn't happen. However, he's made an excellent start to his second year. His timing is still not great and he's been helped out by a couple of his receivers but that's what they are there for.
4. LaDanian Tomlinson--no way you saw this coming, right? I, like most people, thought he was cooked, yet he has flourished with his new team. Is the Jets' offensive line that good, or is LT just finally healthy for the first time in a couple years? And since inquiring fantasy minds want to know, how do you see the carries being split between Tomlinson and Shonn Greene on Monday?
I was in the portion of fans that were for the move for LT. San Diego's line was nowhere near as competent in run blocking as the Jets' is. I think things went stale for LT in San Diego, they moved to an air attack and once LT started picking up a couple of nagging injuries he kind of got lost. I think he has got a new lease of life and it's a combination of all the things you mentioned. I think he still has life, he's running behind an offense that is committed to the run and he is finally healthy and enjoying his football. Our receivers throw blocks like their careers depended on it, on several big runs for LT you'll see either Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery or Dustin Keller throwing a big block. It's that kind of commitment to the run game that is prevalent here and missing in action in San Diego. I thought he would be good, but I didn't think he would be this good. 341 yards and 6.1 yards a carry through 4 games is something nobody even the most optimistic expected. I think we'll see a similar split as we did against Buffalo, if we run the football 35 times, it'll be 17 carries to 18, LT to Shonn.
5. The Jets are a team with Super Bowl aspirations and a lot of big name players on both sides of the ball. Name one Jets player that most people haven't heard of that will have a big impact on the game. (If that's possible after "Hard Knocks".) And of course, give us a prediction on how you think it will go on Monday night.
One player people haven't heard of that may have a big impact. Going to go with a less obvious one than most and after watching last weeks MNF game, that's the inspiration. So Eric Smith is my guy this week, he's a bit of a do it all player. He'll be in on defensive packages, but he'd likely to do most of his damage on special teams. He's already had a blocked punt this year and our special teams guys are playing hungry. He could potentially cause some problems and as I like both defenses in this game I think there will be a bit of punting so it could hang on a special team moment. So Eric Smith is my guy. As for Monday I think it'll be a close, low scoring affair. I can't bet against my boys the way they are playing, I have a ton of respect for the Vikings, they play tough and we like that. If we get the pressure on Favre and can force a couple turnovers I think we'll win by 6, so going to go with the clean score of Jets 20-14 Vikings.
Thanks again to David for his insight--it should be a helluva game on Monday Night. We're only two days away--stay tuned for more!