Wooo!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!! Wow, that first win seemed as elusive as sobriety for Lindsay Lohan, didn't it? Hey, a win is a win is a win, so we'll take it. 1-2 isn't the best spot to be in, but it's a lot better than 0-3, to be sure. The Vikings didn't play their best game, and it seemed like they had about 307 penalties called against them, with 306 of those at the most inopportune times. Overall though, I think it's safe to say that the Stock Market Report looks a little better today after the Sunday Rally.
This week, the 'experts' will probably make the Vikings 2.5 point 'dogs on the road at the bye, followed by a trip to the Flying Sopranos. When the schedule first came out I thought the bye came way too early, but it's actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It will give the team a break to rest what ails them, and allow Favre an extra week with his receivers.
So we approach the bye week with relief, and anticipation. The passing game is getting there, the run game is money, and special teams looks better each week. At least collectively, our Beloved Purple aren't shooting themselves in the face with a watermelon anymore.
Ultimate. Slingshot Fail. Ever. Stock Market Report, after the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks
Adrian Peterson, RB. Can I just leave him up here every week? His fumbling problems seem to be behind him, as he has yet to so much as juggle the ball this season, much less put it on the ground. Oh, and defenses have been trying, no doubt. And his 80 yard back breaker was Adrian Peterson in a nutshell--vision, power, burst to daylight, and runaway speed, all in one spectacular play. Enjoy this kid and his talent, boys and girls, because it only comes around once in a generation.
Defense. Can I leave these guys up here, too? Once again the defense pitched a near shutout, and only gave up a touchdown after they were put on a short field by the offense due to a turnover. Speaking of turnovers, the defense got a couple of picks, both on the goal line to thwart Detroit scoring drives. Ben Leber is one of the most under rated linebackers in the NFL, and he's a smart veteran who is rarely out of position. Jahvid Best went off last week, but was brought back to earth this week, and although Calvin Johnson had 6 catches, they held him to under 10 yards a reception and kept him out of the end zone, a very impressive showing. The defense is tackling well, the run defense was back to it's usual dominance yesterday, and they got off the field on third down. A truly impressive performance so far this season, and they will need to pick it up in New Jersey next week.
Chris Kluwe, P. Kluwe routinely put the Lions inside the 20 all day, and when you do that, you really limit their ability to win the game, or anyone's ability, for that matter. Opposing offenses aren't routinely going to go 80+ yards on the Vikings defense, and if Kluwe can continue to flip the field position for the opponent, it gives the Vikes a better chance to win. But Kluwe is as only good as his punt coverage team, and they have been stellar so far this season.
Percy Harvin, WR. Percy seems to be coming out of his early season slump. His kickoff returns aren't back to the 'ooh' level they were last season, but he's making plays in space as a WR and had a beautiful TD catch yesterday. He made several defensive backs miss, getting some good YAC, and the Vikes finally went to the 'let's use Percy as a running back' page of the playbook. I think they did it twice, and both were called back on a penalty, but hey, it's a start. Most importantly, the hip injury didn't seem to limit him, and because of that he had a more expanded role in the offense. Very good signs indeed for an offense that needs his explosiveness as they enter a brutal part of the schedule.
Chad Greenway, LB. Greenway is just a fundamentally sound player. He can be overmatched in pass coverage against the better TE's in the league, but that seems to be the only weakness in his game. He's sound in gap assignments, pursues to the ball, and is as fundamentally sound a tackler on the team as Antoine Winfield. I really can't praise the LB corps enough, because I think they are way overlooked when it comes to the success of the defense. Yes, the defensive line gets a lot of press, but they wouldn't be nearly as good without quality linbackers filling the gaps and making the hits.
Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin, CB. Both Cook and Griffin saw a lot of playing time yesterday, and they both played well. Cook was squared up on Calvin Johnson and had one pass breakup that I can remember, and limited Johnson from a really big play. Their return was a much needed shot in the arm for a secondary that has been inconsistent up to this point. Their presence seemed to elevate the play of the safeties as well, as both Husain Abdullah and Madieu Williams had good games.
Toby Gerhart, RB. First, he injured his knee and missed the first game. Last week, he was pretty much meh, in my opinion. Yesterday, 3 carries for 12 yards and a fumble, which gave the Lions the ball and life in the fourth quarter. The offense was driving for a score that would have iced the game, but Gerhart coughed it up. The Lions were stopped by a Ben Leber interception on their ensuing drive, but not before they got inside the Vikes 5. I see glimpses of the tough runner that was advertised coming out of college, but so far, his pro career has been slow to get going. I see some power, but not a lot of speed, and average pass catching ability to this point.
Jared Allen, DE. At the risk of being vilified by the DN community, I feel it's time to say what we've all (well, some of us) have been thinking: Jared Allen hasn't been getting it done so far this year. Sacks aren't the only statistic for a defensive end; I also like to see what kind of pressure the ends are bringing. Ray Edwards has been doing a pretty good job, but Allen has, for long periods of time throughout the first three games, just disappeared. 8 tackles and one sack through three games is unacceptable for the best rushing DE in the business, and I'm sure he doesn't need a jackass like me to point that out. Bring the mullet back!
Buy: Ryan Cook, C. C'mon, admit it. When you saw John Sullivan go out after the first play and Cook come in to center you thought Ndamukong Suh would just dominate him all day. I did. Cook did very well for a guy that had never played the position in the NFL before. I didn't really hear Suh's name called all day, and I give credit where credit is due here. There was very little interior push by the Lions defensive line all day, pressure on Favre was sporadic, Adrian Peterson had running room, so that means the blocking audibles called at the line by Cook worked, at least for the most part.
Sell: Phil Loadholt, RT. For the second consecutive week, Loadholt got dominated by a speed rush from the outside which resulted in a turnover. Last week, the Dolphins recovered a Favre fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Yesterday, the defender was able to hit the ball just as Favre was releasing it, resulting in an easy interception.
Buy: Greg Camarillo, PR. It didn't really show in the stat line, but Camarillo had a very good day as a punt returner. The reason is didn't show up in the stats is because every good return he had was nullified by a penalty. Camarillo isn't going to run away from people, but he is a north-south guy that gets the ball and gets upfield as quickly as he can. I thought it was a vast improvement over the first two games, and it would seem that the Vikings have a permanent punt returner.
Sell: Penalties. Was it me, or were there about a hundred penalties called yesterday? And really, I think at this point, 'Holding' should be moved from a penalty to a theory. The way it's arbitrarily assessed is just plain ridiculous. The Vikings were penalized an astonishing 12 times for 100 yards, and the Lions had 8 flags thrown against them. There were ridiculous calls that went against both teams, and this is a screed not so much against the Vikings, but penalties in general. I watched a few other games yesterday, and the regularity of insanely stupid calls was staggering, regardless of the teams involved. Let 'em play, ref.
Buy: Improved Safety Play. I think that both Husain Abdullah and Madieu Williams had very good games. Both made some big hits in run support, and laid the wood on a couple of pass plays down the middle. There's still work to be done back there, but it was an encouraging sign after struggling through the first two games.
Sell: Brett Favre. He's getting better, but he's still not on the same page as the rest of the receivers. Percy Harvin bailed out his overthrow on the TD pass, and he made some good throws, but he still doesn't either trust himself or his receivers, as he was checking down all day. He threw another terrible interception that directly lead to Detroit's only TD, and it gave them the early lead. On the road, against a better team, and it might've been a bigger deal than it already was.
Buy: Offensive Line. This is probably going to be an unpopular call around here, but I thought the offensive line, with the exception of a couple notable breakdowns, played well. They gave Favre time to throw the ball and Peterson room to run, all while playing with a sub at center. I thought Detroit's defensive line was playing on their side of the line of scrimmage for most of the day yesterday, and the good guys were able to impose their will on them in the second half.
Sell: Visanthe Shiancoe's injury. Shiancoe, hopefully, will be ready to go against the Jets in two weeks. Whenever Jim Kleinsasser catches the ball, I give the guy a standing ovation. Not to mock him, but just becuase I love the dude. Every time he does catch it, though, the difference between him and Shiancoe is so obvious that it's not even funny. It brings to mind the days of Robert Smith and Leroy Hoard in the Vikings backfield, with Kleinsasser the TE version of Hoard. It was Hoard who famously said 'if you need four, I'll get you four. If you need seven, I'll get you four.' The offense is much better with Shiancoe, but I still love me some Jimmy K.
Game Ball Goes To: Adrian Peterson, RB. It's tough to top 163 yards, two TD's, and a game clinching 80 yard score.
So there's your Stock Market report for the week, boys and girls. It was an ugly win, no doubt, but we'll take it and look forward to Monday Night Football with the Jets in two weeks. Since we have a bye between now and that game, I leave it you you, the reader, to determine whether or not there is a Stock Market Report, NFL version, next week or not. Let me know in the comments, or email me.