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The first pre-season game is in the books, and overall the Minnesota Vikings looked pretty good against the St. Louis Rams. Yes, I know, say it along with me. . .it was only the Rams. . .but this is pre-season, and the talent on each sideline isn't always reflected in the final score. However, for a Vikings team that went into the Edward Jones down without Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe. . .or, if you prefer, Pro Bowler, Pro Bowler, Pro Bowler, Pro Bowler, and more TD catches than any TE in football over the last two years. . .things went almost as well as could be expected.
So, what were some of the things that we learned last night? Let's have a look.
The Minnesota Vikings are ridiculously deep along the defensive line - Take a look at the defensive linemen on our roster right now. Not just the starting front four, but the guys that are behind them. Right now, the #2 and #3 guys on the Vikings' defensive line depth chart are guys like Brian Robison, Jimmy Kennedy, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion, Everson Griffen, and Jayme Mitchell. And depending on how the depth chart shakes out, at least one of those guys. . .and possibly two. . .aren't going to make the final cut for this team. There are probably quite a few teams that those players could go to and make an impact, but in Minnesota there just isn't going to be room for them.
Guion, Evans, and Mitchell, in my opinion, are playing for roster spots. At least one of them will stay, maybe two. And the one (or two) that get cut will probably immediately sign with other teams and be no worse than solid rotation players, and perhaps more. I've touted Karl Dunbar as the best defensive line coach in the NFL in this space for some time, and the job he's done with guys like Robison, Kennedy, and Ray Edwards really speaks to that, in my opinion.
Brad Childress' confidence in Tarvaris Jackson is borderline ridiculous - Yes, I get that you don't want people to have a ton of film on T-Jack or something. And I get that you don't want anything to happen to him in the event that Brett Favre doesn't return. And I know that exactly none of the skill position starters, save Bernard Berrian (if we count him as a starter), played on Saturday night.
But, seriously, dude needs more than one series of work in the first pre-season game of the year. Particularly if circumstances at some point dictate that he is going to be "the guy" behind center this season.
Jackson went 2-for-4 for 11 yards for the Vikings against the Rams for the one drive he was in.
The run blocking needs to get better, and it needs to get there in a hurry - Granted, we had a lot of top-shelf guys that didn't play on the O-line for more than a series, but for the better part of the evening the run blocking was atrocious. Viking rushers carried the ball 31 times on Saturday night, and gained a total of 78 yards (2.6 yards/carry). Take out Joe Webb's 3 scrambles for 24 yards, and that goes down to 54 yards on 28 carries (1.9 yards/carry). Albert Young, who started at running back in place of Adrian Peterson carried six times, and amassed a total of -7 yards (that's minus-7, which means the average Young carry moved us a yard in the wrong direction). Toby Gerhart led the Vikings in rushing with 24 yards, but it took him eight carries to get there.
Regardless of who is quarterbacking this team this season, the running game absolutely has to be better than this. Hopefully, as we get closer to the start of the season, it will get better. . .I'm not sure if it can get much worse than 1.9 yards/carry, but I've been shocked before.
The battle at the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart is going to be interesting - In my opinion, only three wide receivers are mortal locks to make this roster. . .Rice, Harvin, and Berrian. Mike Mayock said last night that he thought Greg Lewis was pretty much a shoo-in, too, and hey. . .who am I to question that guy? So, if you figure those four guys are in, the battle for the fifth WR spot is shaping up to be an interesting one. Jaymar Johnson, from some accounts, appears to be the favorite right now, but a guy that asserted himself fairly well last night and could be making a strong case for himself is former Gopher standout Logan Payne. Payne led the Vikings in receptions last night with seven, good for 52 yards and a two-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of play. If Payne can make a significant contribution on special teams, he and Jaymar should have an interesting battle for the last wide receiver spot on the big club.
And that's what I saw last night. . .what did you folks see? Discuss it all below, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday, ladies and gentlemen.
Oh. . .damn, is it great to have football back or what?
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