This was pretty much the worst week ever if you're a Vikings fan, and on Sunday, it didn't get much better. What started out promising enough spiraled into a game of mistakes, mis steps---
"PASS INTERFERENCE, DEFENSE. NUMBER 29"
--and miscues. And when you turn over the ball at a faster rate than the spread of Ebola in Africa, you're going to get your ass kicked. That's pretty much exactly what happened at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, and as soon as it started raining Matt Cassel interceptions, it felt like the Vikings were in for a long day.
And after the high of last week's beat down of the Rams, it was a change in latitudes, and change in attitudes, wasn't it Mr. Buffet?
I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year.
All of the faces and all of the places,
wonderin' where they all disappeared.
I didn't ponder the question too long;
I was hungry and went out for a bite.
Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum,
and we wound up drinkin' all night.
It's those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.
After what's happened to this organization since Friday, this SMR should be read in Margaritaville. With margaritas. Lots of margaritas.
Blue Chip Stocks:
No one. So last week, I didn't give anyone a junk bond, and my reasoning was that with a team effort like that, it would have been almost criminal to give one out. So if the script is reversed, and your team is on the wrong end of a 30-7 beatdown...yeah, same rule applies. Only in, like, reverse, and stuff.
Kyle Rudolph, TE: On the Vikings first couple of drives, Rudolph looked like he was going to have a career day. He was wide open in the middle, and you got the feeling that Rudolph was going to have a coming out game in the Norv Turner offense. Yeah, not so much. He was virtually invisible after that, and the Vikings offense went into hibernation.
Matt Asiata, RB: When news broke that Adrian Peterson had his legal issues, and Matt Asiata was going to be the short notice starter, I was pretty bummed. Then the Vikings marched down the field and Asiata looked pretty good running and catching the ball. He even scored the Vikings only touchdown, taking a short Cassel pass and rumbling 25 yards for a TD. That was it, though.
Matt Kalil, T: Yeah, he was terrible and slow and disinterested and slow and bad and awful and OH MY GOD HE WAS SO SLOW HIS FEET WERE IN CEMENT CLEATS OR SOMETHING AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT, along with the rest of the line. But Kalil's performance stood out. Seriously, he was beat worse than the Polish Cavalry in WWII, and consistently got beat on the edge. I'm not sure what the deal is with him, but it's alarming that he has seemingly the same issues week in and week out, and they don't get corrected. This is quickly going from worrisome to problematic. Another month of this, and the Vikings might be looking for a new left tackle, and that would blow chunks, man. He's supposed to be the future and anchor this line for a decade.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: Rhodes was called for approximately 377 pass interference penalties, and it just seems like he's regressing after an impressive late 2013 season. Like Kalil, I think Rhodes can still be good, but the uneven performances are becoming worrisome. The thing that is the most worrisome, at least for me, is that Kalil and Rhodes are the future, and if they don't pan out...yeah, let's not think about that right now.
Matt Cassel, QB: If Kalil and Rhodes are the future, Cassel is the bridge to the future. That bridge might be on shaky ground after a four interception day, though. Cassel looked flawless on his first drive, but after that, he looked confused, hurried, and made one bad decision after another. And you know something? These last two games are Matt Cassel's career in a nutshell. One good game, one terrible game. Next week, it's a 50/50 crapshoot as to which Matt Cassel we'll see, and he could just as easily throw three TD's as opposed to three picks. Mike Zimmer has said he's starting against New Orleans, so those of you in the Teddy Bridgewater Underground need to kep it in check for at least another week. That said, you might want to get your short wave radio out and stat listening for some messages.
Norv Turner, OC: I kind of figured that with Peterson out, the Vikings might look to utilize Cordarrelle Patterson a little bit more and try and get the ball in his hands a lot more than they did. Patterson was virtually ignored, the offense sputtered, and Patterson was never a factor in the game. I'm not giving up on Turner, mind you, as I think he's still a great OC for this offense. I just don't understand why the one main playmaker on offense was virtually ignored (4 catches, 56 yards, none while the game was in doubt).
Special Teams: Yeah, when you give up a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, you get a junk bond. Don't know that much more needs to be said on that.
Buy: Using the receivers in a jet sweep type play to attack the perimeter. It's a great concept, and it worked to perfection last week against a Rams defense that is seemingly quicker on the edge than the Patriots are. Patterson had a lot of room to run, and you kind of thought there would be more opportunities for that again today.
Sell: Using Jarius Wright as that designated receiver. Only, the Vikings tried using Jarius Wright on a tricky kind of Statue of Liberty play in the first quarter, and it got blown up by the Patriots, losing five yards. The Vikings never went back to attacking the perimeter with a receiver, the Patriots shut down the Matt Asiata train (which really didn't take much, let's be honest), and the Vikings were pretty much one dimensional after the first quarter.
Buy: The Peterson situation affecting the team. Of course, something like that took everyone by surprise, and that late in the week, it altered the game plan, probably substantially. Every time I saw Asiata get past the line of scrimmage for like five or six yards, I silently thought to myself that AP would've busted that for double digits. After the first drive. Asiata is no Peterson, and that was painfully obvious for about three and a half quarters today.
Sell: The Peterson situation causing the beat down we saw. All that said, you're a professional football team, and you're paid to deal with, among other things, adversity. I get this was shocking and unexpected, but the Vikings have the personnel to at least compete with New England. I'm not saying they should've won, but a 30-7 beating? No. Last I checked, Adrian Peterson doesn't play defense, and isn't responsible for putting pressure on the quarterback, for example.
Seriously, Tom Brady had all day to set up in the pocket, survey the field, and make a throw. It was usually effective and equally deadly. When you let a first ballot hall of famer do that to you, without applying any pressure at all, you kind of deserve having 30 points hung on you.
But this isn't all on the defense's fault. 24 of New England's 30 points came directly following a Vikings interception or blocked field goal, which gave the Vikings defense the unenviable position of defending the Patriots on a short field. The NFL is a brutally simple game, in some respects--if you do as much in your power to shoot yourself in the foot, the opponents will keep giving you ammunition and get out of your way. The Vikings did that all day, and you aren't going to win a lot of football games when you are minus four in turnover margin to one of the best teams in football, and allow a field goal to be blocked and returned for a touchdown.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
Dad: Is that pretty boy still the QB for them?
Dad: Yeah, him.
Me: Yep, he's still there.
Dad: He's gonna kill us.
Look, this was a bad loss, but I'm not going to get all bent out of shape over this loss. It was a bad, bad loss, but sometimes you're the hammer, and sometimes you're the nail. Last week the Vikings were the hammer. Today they were the nail. I will say I was struck with Zimmer's tone in the post game press conference--it was a reserved kind of pissed off that makes me think the upcoming week for the Vikings are going to be ugly. There wasn't any of this 'we saw some good things and we'll look at the the tape' stuff. It was a lot more pointed, a lot more matter of fact in the assessment of the team, and I get the feeling that the issues that were surfaced will be addressed in a fairly forceful way.
Hopefully, the team will respond.