Remember last week, when I told you about the series of posts where Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk was going to send out questions to the SB Nation football blogs and we would answer them as part of our preview? Well, that's what this post is for this week, but this time. . .
MARSHALL FAULK IS TALKING DIRECTLY TO US!
Yes, this week we're one of the two SB Nation NFL blogs that gets our own specific question, and it's in video form. Here it is:
Hey, everyone. Minnesota has a great opportunity this week, with their matchup against New England. They can measure themselves and find out if they can beat one of the best. To be GMC Professional Grade, you must be driven and disciplined and decisive. If Minnesota can do this, can they handle New England?
Hmmmmmm. . .driven, disciplined, and decisive. That sounds like a theme or something. Let's roll with that.
As far as the first "D" in this equation, that of being driven, I'm pretty sure that's not going to be a problem for as long as Mike Zimmer is the coach of this football team. This team went out in Week 1, after not winning a game on the road in the entire 2013 season, and put a 28-point beatdown on one of the better defenses that they're going to see all season. Coach Zimmer's response?
Well, after watching the tape I thought we did some very good things. It was a good win for our program, the development of where we are. I think it was important for our team to try and build some confidence in what we're trying to accomplish. Clearly there were many, many things that we have to clean up in order to be a good football team or to where my expectation level is and hopefully the team's expectation level. But it was a good start and we look forward to trying to build upon what we've done and, like I told the team this morning, we have to keep grinding, we've got so many things that we have to work on, so many areas but we were, I think, we were a tough-minded, aggressive, tough, physical football team.
Yeah, this team's going to be driven. . .because Mike Zimmer isn't going to let them get complacent. Such a refreshing change from the last. . .how many years has it been since Bud Grant officially retired?
But speaking of things that need to be cleaned up. . .and this leads us to the second "D" of discipline. . .if the Vikings are going to beat a team the caliber of the New England Patriots, they have to clean up their sudden penchant for penalties. From false start penalties to unnecessary roughness and whatever else in-between, the Vikings had ten penalties called on them against the St. Louis Rams, seven of which were accepted for 60 yards. Matt Kalil was whistled for a couple of false starts, and that's something he's got to get corrected. Then again, he's not going to be staring Robert Quinn in the face every week, either, which will probably help.
The Patriots are coming off a loss to the Miami Dolphins in their opener, and losses in back-to-back game for the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era are a rarity. So, you know that Tom Brady and company are going to be ready on Sunday afternoon. The Minnesota Vikings certainly don't have to give them any assistance. Limiting the amount of yellow flags on the field on Sunday will go a long way towards getting the Vikings a second straight victory.
That brings us to the third "D," which is being decisive. And, in the face of an incredibly talented St. Louis front seven on Sunday, Matt Cassel was just that. Knowing that he had to get the ball out of his hands quickly, Cassel only threw three passes that traveled more than ten yards in the air. But, he was putting the ball in the right place and getting it to the right people, as he went 16-for-22 on passes that went less than ten yards.
Now, the New England defense is not without talent. . .however, I think we can reasonably state that their front seven doesn't stack up to the St. Louis front seven that Cassel saw last week. They also only managed one sack in their season-opening 33-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins. That might allow Norv Turner and company to develop a game plan that calls for a little bit more downfield passing. If that's the case, Cassel has to continue with the same solid decision making that he displayed on Sunday in St. Louis. That, along with the dynamic play of Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson, can help the Vikings control the clock and put them in position to win.
Can the Minnesota Vikings beat the New England Patriots on Sunday? I think it's certainly possible. But it's going to require the same driven, disciplined, and decisive effort that they displayed in their first road victory in 21 months this past Sunday. And that's something that I firmly believe that they're capable of.