On the bright side, Chris Kluwe continued to punt well. The Vikings actually downed two punts inside the twenty and Kluwe proved he could kick outdoors, consistently getting excellent hangtime.
And then on the other side…
Well, the offensive line was not absolutely abysmal. They opened up so holes for the ground game and provided Daunte Culpepper with some time to throw. Not great, but a hell of an improvement over the season opener against the Bucaneers.
Michael Bennett looked pretty good darting though lines, making some good cuts, gaining positive yards. Until he dropped an easy screen pass that would’ve gone for at least ten yards. Until he fumbled. Twice.
Though Daunte had more time to thow on Sunday, he looked antsy and anxious in the pocket. Flustered. He looked as though he didn’t trust his line, even though he had reasonable time to throw. He overthrew Nate Burleson: interception. He tossed what appeared to be a screen pass to…well, nobody knows: interception. Five in all. And I don’t think we can blame them on the offensive line this time. Daunte had two horrible games in a row.
Though Nate Burleson couldn’t have caught the high pass he tipped to a defender, he’s been troublingly inconsistent in making the catches he should catch. Travis Taylor, in fact, is the only receiver who has made all the catches he’s supposed to make.
It would hardly be surprising if coaching isn’t part of the problem; or, rather, coaches overloaded. Offensive coordinator Steve Loney has not only the responsiblities of a coordinator but also the burden of coaching the offensive line and calling the plays on gameday. That’s a lot to ask of anyone and it wouldn’t surprise me if some things were falling through the cracks as a result. So, perhaps its a good idea for head coach Mike Tice to take over the playcalling duties. But the team is stretched so thin coachwise, you gotta wonder if Tice adds to his responsibilities, something else will inevitably break. This is the cost of paying your coaches dirt.
I would never have thought that the defense would be so horrible after they had a decent day in the opener largely containing Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. Or after an interception return for a touchdown by Darren Sharper. Or Fred Smoot racing to the sideline to pick off a Griese pass that was intended to be thrown away. You can’t blame their performance against the Bengals on second-year middle linebacker Rod Davis starting for Sam Cowart or Carson Palmer picking on Brian Williams. When a team racks up more that 500 yards and scores 37 points against you, it’s a team-wide failure.
I’m absolutely mystified at the utter collapse because I don’t think the talent on the team is that bad.