At least, that’s my excuse for Jackson’s poor play. While other fans would have been willing to cut him on the spot, I let Jackson off the hook because of the poor playcalling. This week, with Frerotte leading the Vikings, Childress didn’t overhaul the playbook, but made most of the right changes.
He kept with the most basic principle of our offense: pound the Peterson/Taylor monster for as many yards as possible. Peterson played more than I anticipated him to, and him and Taylor combined for over 120 yards. The majority of their runs went either to the left or up the middle, completely opposite of what I said earlier. The loss of Bryant McKinnie wasn’t very noticeable today, as Hicks and Johnson were solid and didn’t allow the ever-dangerous Julius Peppers to make any more damage than necessary.
Peterson wasn’t 100 percent as his hamstring was obviously still giving him trouble. I fully expect him to be recovered by next week, when the Vikings travel to Tennessee.
Childress also actually opened some pages in his playbook that had yet to see daylight. He gave the entire offense way more options and freed up everybody to do what they should have been doing all along; advancing down the field.
Frerotte held his own. If you do nothing more than look at the box score you would ask the question, “why wasn’t this guy starting from day one?” Frerotte was good, but my unabashed support of Jackson continues. Frerotte held good composure in the pocket for the majority of the game, but sometimes seemed planted to the ground.
You won’t see very many scrambles from this guy, and that must be taken with the increase in sacks. Frerotte did provide great throws throughout the game, and I am now fine with him being our starting quarterback. I will always hold that seed of resentment against Childress, though, for the unfair benching of Jackson.
Berrian has yet to prove his worth to the Vikings. Big bucks were laid at his feet this past off-season and many expectations have been placed on his 6′1” body. He has had problems with his foot all season, and that could be reason for his less-than-stellar results. He did manage 79 yards today, though, but only caught three balls. If this is what he looks like playing injured I would love to see him play with full health.
Our defense was exceptional against the Panthers. E.J. Henderson proved that he is an obvious Pro-Bowler by racking up twelve tackles, including some very crucial plays. He seems to have a sense when the crowd is dying down and needs to be forced to their feet by another great defensive stop. Henderson was the primary provided of such plays today.
The defensive line was outstanding as well, but nothing less should be expected of them. Kevin Williams was superb, and his unit held the Panthers to a measly 47 yards. The only rushing touchdown they allowed was a little Jonathon Stewart punch in the second quarter. The longest running play they allowed was a nine-yard sprint.
The defense also did a great job of converting opportunities. Jake Delhomme fumbled the ball three times and Minnesota recovered twice.
One obvious concern of mine is the special teams coverage. Today we got away with it thanks to stellar defensive play, but good football teams simply do not allow their opposition to return kickoffs over 30 yards. If Minnesota isn’t careful, this Achilles heel will come back and bit during a crucial game in the future.
The bottom line is that the Vikings won. The ultimate goal when they took the field today was to find a way to win, by whatever means possible. Any fan will find any number of faults with the way their team played any given week. There is still a lot of football remaining, and we’ll take a ‘W’ any way they come.