So, as I mentioned in the introduction to the Open Thread for this afternoon's contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, I was on the road today during the game itself. However, I was able to listen to the game thanks to the wonder that is XM Satellite Radio. I was stuck with the Bengals announcers, who were pretty entertaining. . .and probably would have been more so if their team hadn't been kicking my favorite team's asses from pillar to post all afternoon.
I'll go back and watch the game here at some point, but I did get a grasp of a few things just from listening to the play-by-play. Let me go through them here.
1) Jump up and down and complain all you want about Christian Ponder and/or Josh Freeman, but Matt Cassel pretty much stinks, too.
Let me make this abundantly clear. Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder aren't the answer at quarterback for this team. But, after getting caught up in a bit of Cassel-mania last week, Cassel came back down to earth against a good defense. How bad was it? Well, here's where the Vikings' first-half drives started from, and the results of those drives.
-Cincinnati 49-yard line - Fumble by Cassel on strip/sack
-Minnesota 20-yard line - Three-and-out
-Minnesota 46-yard line - Touchdown pass from Cassel to Jarius Wright
-Minnesota 42-yard line - Punt after one first down
-Minnesota 44-yard line - Three-and-out
-Minnesota 12-yard line - Pick-6 by Vincent Rey
-Minnesota 25-yard line - Interception by George Iloka
-Minnesota 31-yard line - Three-and-out
-Minnesota 28-yard line - Three-and-out
The Vikings had 100 yards of offense in the first half en route to going down 28-7, and Cassel played some pretty awful football. So let's make something clear. Matt Cassel is not the answer at quarterback in the long term. Matt Cassel is not the answer at quarterback in the short term. Matt Cassel is not the answer for any question beyond "who's starting at quarterback for the Vikings next week?" I know, I bought into it, too. I should have known better.
This team needs to go a completely new direction at the quarterback position. I don't know what direction that's going to be, but I do know that the answer is nowhere to be found on the current roster.
2) This defense, from left to right, top to bottom, and everywhere in-between, is pretty much junk
Outside of Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Brian Robison, and a few others, this team is certainly earning its title as quite possibly the worst defense in Minnesota Vikings history. Unless they can hold the Detroit Lions to less than 18 points in the season finale. . .and what do you reckon the odds of that happening are. . .they will allow more points than any Vikings' team in history. The current mark stands at 485, and with the 42 points they gave up today, this year's team has allowed 467. There's a chance that they'll be just the third team since the advent of the 16-game schedule (joining the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 1981 Baltimore Colts) to give up 500 or more points in a season.
I know that some of it is the scheme and there are a lot of other excuses that could be made, but this defense just isn't very good. While the quarterback position is going to get a lot of the ink this off-season, the new regime. . .and there will be a new regime in Minnesota next season. . .is going to have to take a long, hard look at this defense and fix a lot of things.
3) Cordarrelle Patterson is a superstar waiting to happen, if he's not already there
With his four returns for 143 yards today, Patterson is now just three yards away from tying the Vikings' record for kick return yardage in a season. He was the Vikings' leading rusher on Sunday with three carries for 51 yards, including his second rushing touchdown of 2013. Sure, he didn't do much in the receiving game today. . .hey, who from the Vikings did? But he's already being seen as one of the most dynamic players in the NFL with the ball in his hands, and is only going to get better as a receiver from here on out. If the Vikings can get the quarterback position figured out, Patterson is going to be a superstar in this league, and he'll make it there in short order.
I know that a lot of this is probably stating the obvious, but as I said, this is just what I've picked up from listening to the broadcast this afternoon. I'll probably have something later on in the week after I get a chance to watch the game back, but I wanted to get some reaction to today's game up here. My apologies for missing out on today's festivities, folks. Things will be back to normal for next week's Metrodome finale against the just-eliminated-from-the-playoff-picture Detroit Lions.