The View From The Barstool: Vikings Style Reality Check

The View From The Barstool: Vikings Style Reality Check

Welcome back to the Barroom!  It’s a somber scene here tonight as many are drinking their sorrows away after the Vikings’ first loss today.  And while I myself was wallowing in my sorrows, I’ve come around to realize that the undefeated dream was just that, a dream.  Get this ugly one out of the way, and we’re on to Chicago.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  But if I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve got some worries.  So grab yourself a drink and a spot here at the bar and let’s talk about what went wrong today in Philadelphia.

We were due.

Sure, I could be talking about the Vikings and their seemingly blessed season through the first five games and how it all came crashing down on a windy day at Lincoln Financial Field.  Somewhere Don Schula and Mercury Morris were cracking open a champagne bottle as the last undefeated team fell in a somewhat anticlimactic manner.  It was an ugly game from start to finish and the Vikings were embarrassed for the first time in the regular season really since week 13 of the 2015 season.

But no, I’m not talking about the Vikings…I’m talking about we Vikings fans.  We were due for an egg-on-our-face performance by our team.  I talked two weeks ago about the swagger we suddenly had.  We had confidence.  We were even cocky.  Going on the road to play Philly?  No. Big. Deal.  Already looking down the road to the Dallas game in early December when we were going to be 11-0 and facing a stiff test with the Cowboys.  We had it made in the shade with our Vikings, yes we did.

Bradford leaves Philly with his head down. But, we fans have to deal with out of control expectations.

Bradford leaves Philly with his head down. But, we fans have to deal with out of control expectations.

We, including myself, didn’t handle it well…and we probably deserved this a little bit today.  We turned on our team and we turned on ourselves almost immediately as the beautiful game that we had come to know and love this season turned into a street brawl and the Vikings were ill-equipped.

Now, a lot of us want to blame the offensive line and you’d be totally right to do so.  This unit has been a mess all season, but for the first time this season they came up against a defense who swarmed and swallowed them up on almost every play.  The signing of tackle Jake Long started with a thud as the former #1 pick looked more like a rusty turnstile than a gem of a free agent signing he had thought to be. TJ Clemmings continued his lackluster play, and Jeremiah Sirles found himself in the doghouse, not seeing the field for long exapanses of time.  The hardest contact Alex Boone made all day was against his quarterback, and Brandon Fusco continues to have inopportune penalties.  All in all, this offensive line is a damn sieve and it doesn’t look to get better any time soon.

 

Vikings

Sam Bradford was hit 19 times. Doesn’t the Geneva Convention Rules apply to the NFL?

Some of you want to blame Sam Bradford.  While I’m not in that camp as he got hit over 20 times today, I will grant you that he was….off(?) all day. He never looked comfortable, even when he had time in the pocket.  I don’t know if it was coming back to Philadelphia or the 20 mph gusts of wind, but this was not the same quarterback that had wowed us his first 4 games with the team.  The accuracy wasn’t there, the confidence wasn’t there, and when it was all said and done, he did little to help the team, regardless of the circumstances.

Others of you will point to the special teams and yeah, they had two HUGE blunders that put the Vikings on their heels with the kick return (including Blair Walsh’s matador-like attempt at a tackle) and Marcus Sherels with a muffed punt.  I’ll grant you it isn’t going to be a game film that special teams coach Mike Priefer is going to want to keep.

And some of you are blaming the defense.  Just kidding…no one is blaming the defense, nor should they be.  They gave up 15 points and created 4 turnovers.  Mike Zimmer’s defense did everything they could and then some.

As for me?  I agree there’s enough blame to go around, but there’s one person I’m looking at in particular.  Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner, I’m calling you out.

Now I can hear a lot of you already…”Hey dummy, they’ve lost just one game…you’re already complaining about the coaching staff?”  or “Good God, they’re 5-1 and you want to fire everyone already?”

Hear me out…

For all of you saying it’s just one game…well no, it’s not.  In fact, if you go back the past three years that Turner has been here, you’ll see a concerning trend:

 

turner-tats

 

Those are the average yards per game and rankings for the past three seasons of Norv’s offense here at Minnesota.  Sure you can blame injuries, suspensions, etc…but when it happens every year, those are just excuses.  The simple fact is that the 5-1 start this year is IN SPITE OF Norv Turner and his offensive game plan rather than because of it.  Sunday in Philadelphia was another crystal clear example how much Norv has lost touch. Protection issues? Norv decides to have Bradford take a 7-step drop much too often rather than quick passes to get the ball out of his hands.  Vicious pass rush?  No running back screens and limited draw plays called to get the Eagle defense to back off its rush.  Hey, I’m not saying I’m an offensive mastermind or anything like that, but even I know when your offensive line is in tatters, maybe TWO dives up the middle on 3rd and 4th downs aren’t the best play call??? I know he’s dealing with injury issues up and down that line, but a good offensive coordinator works with the personnel he has, not vice versa.

When Zimmer hired Pat Schurmer in the offseason, I said then that he was bringing him in not to coach Tight Ends, but to have someone to go to if Norv’s offense continued to struggle.  The question now becomes if and when Zimmer pulls the trigger on the play calling.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

It was an embarrassing performance today.  This section will be short.

Xavier Rhodes, CB – Another week, another team’s top receiver getting shutdown.  And now X is starting to catch those interceptions?  Scary.

Brian Robison, DE – B-Rob seemed to be everywhere on the field today making plays along the line of scrimmage and even in coverage.

Jeff Locke’s Acting Skills – And the award for most convincing dive from non-contact goes to…

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR – Another solid game, albeit much of it in a mop-up role.

The Bad

Anthony Barr, LB – I don’t know if it’s a 3rd year regression or if he’s hurt and not saying anything…but Barr got eaten up by the Eagles run game today.

Chad Greenway, LB – Judging by the few tackling attempts he tried today, putting him on the field is dangerous…it’s almost sad to see how far he’s fallen.

Blair Walsh’s Tackling – I’m not gonna rail against the kicker not making a tackle when the other 10 guys didn’t even come close enough to sniff Josh Huff on his kickoff return for a touchdown, but honestly Blair…you have to at least make an effort, man.

The Refs – Robison got held almost every play by rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. They somehow picked up a crucial defensive pass interference penalty flag early. One referee was caught on camera shoving Stefon Diggs. And, in fairness, they badly missed a defensive pass interference call against Rhodes later in the game.  Just a really terrible game for the men in stripes today.

Stefon Diggs, WR – I don’t know if his hamstring was still bothering him or what…but 2 receptions for 18 yards was not the return I’m sure he was hoping for.

Marcus Sherels, PR – Was the game already over when Sherels muffed the punt?  Yeah, probably.  Doesn’t make it any less embarrassing though.

The Ugly

Red Zone Offense – Turnovers, Loss on Downs, and consistently inconsistent.

The Offensive Line – Just because I’m focusing my hate on Turner doesn’t let the offensive line off the hook.  In a season where the mantra has become “Next Man Up”…the offensive line has officially run out of men to step up.  This is who they’ve got and who they’ve got ain’t that damn good.

Norv Turner Play Calling – When Troy “I’ve had too many hits to the head” Aikmen says you’re predictible on first down…that’s not good, Norv.  Those 3rd and 4th down calls deep in the red zone in the 2nd half?  Unforgiveable.  Might be time to give up the playsheet.

My Cheering Interests – I’m not gonna lie…I’m an NDSU fan and have been one all my life.  Seeing a Bison alumnus taking snaps under center in an NFL game was conflicting for me. I wanted Carson Wentz to have a good game but his team still lose…instead, he was really bad but his team won so that was pretty much the worst case scenario for me.

In the end, losing to Philadelphia on the road is understandable and forgivable.  The team will now have 8 days to prepare for a Monday Night Football tilt against Chicago, which means plenty of time to fix what’s wrong and get back on track.

Around the North

Drunken Sconnies 26, Smokin Jay Cutlers Brian Hoyers Matt Barkleys 10: The Packers beat a bad Bears team playing their 3rd string quarterback at home and had to rally to win.  But I’m sure we’ll hear all week how things are back to normal in Green Bay.  Sigh.

Motor City Kitties 20, Washington Redskins 17: Don’t look now, but the Lions have a winning record!  No, really!  You can look it up and everything!  Who needs Megatron???

The Exceptional Eight

  1. New England Patriots (6-1, previous ranking: 2) – With Ben Rothliesberger out for Pittsburgh, the glitzy matchup of the week was a bit of a letdown as the Patriots pulled out the victory on the road.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (5-1, previous ranking: 3) – Cowboys on the bye move up by default.  Hey, I don’t make the rules…oh wait, yes I do.
  3. Minnesota Vikings (5-1, previous ranking: 1) – Sunday in Philadelphia was a bad day, but this team still has sights set on the Super Bowl.
  4. Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1 previous ranking: 4) If you want to know why the NFL’s rankings are way down this year, the Seahawks were in overtime tied 6-6 against the Cardinals and the Arizona kicker just missed a chip shot to win it when this went to post. UPDATE: It ended in a tie.  Gross.
  5. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2, previous ranking: NR) When you have home wins over Pittsburgh and Minnesota, the Linc is officially a tough place to play in.
  6. Oakland Raiders (4-2, previous ranking: NR) The AFC West is officially a crapshoot.  Today’s flavor of the week is Oakland.
  7. Denver Broncos (4-2, previous ranking: 7) The bye week came at a good time for the Broncos who had been reeling after two straight losses.
  8. Green Bay Packers (4-2, previous ranking: NR) Fine….I guess I’ll rank them.

Polls of the Week

Last Week’s Poll:

This Week’s Poll:

Tweet of the Week

Sadly, I realized I misspelled Harry’s last name the moment I clicked ‘Send’

Well, that does it for me for another week.  Until next time, remember to keep your drink cold and always use a coaster.

CHECK OUT THESE GREAT VIKINGS TOYS FOR THE KIDS!

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