I’m not too confident they can do it, despite Adrian Peterson, but if the Vikings are to have any chance at seeing post-season action, today is the day they need to begin to turn their season around.
Adrian Peterson kicked serious Chargers ass last week, but let’s be real; Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers had an awful game, the team was without starting linebacker Shaun Phillips; and standout Luis Castillo was knocked out early in the second half. It’s not coincidental that Peterson ran for 253 yards and two touchdowns during the second half.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t a phenomenal performance by Peterson, it was a thing of beauty (watch the highlights). It’s no surprise, too, that the offensive line put in their best performance of the year and Peterson got a lot of help from outstanding blocking by the receivers down field.
Here’s something else that’s not a coincidence: The offense suddenly looked a lot better after Tarvaris Jackson was knocked out of the game and we got a signal caller with a semblance of passing accuracy in Brooks Bollinger.
Before he was knocked out, Jackson threw directly to the defensive back who was positioned in front of Sidney Rice on a five yard slant route. How did Jackson not see that Rice was covered? Later, Jackson missed an open Aundrae Allison on a deep route.
During the third Vikings’ series of the second half, after five straight running plays, on first and ten, Bollinger hits Sidney Rice for a forty yard touchdown on a stop and go route.
Those plays have been there all year but neither Jackson nor Kelly Holcomb have been able to hit open receivers. This is how inaccurate our starter and primary backup have been: Tarvaris Jackson has an abysmal 46.4% completion percentage and Holcomb is not much better with 50.6%. Bollinger boasts a 70.8% completion percentage.
Indeed, Bollinger leads the team in every significant statistical category: Yards per Attempt (9), Touchdown Percentage (4.2%), Interceptions (0 verses 5 for Jackson and 1 for Holcomb), sacks (4 versus 5 for Jackson and 12 for Holcomb), and quarterback rating at 112.3. Is it time to stop grooming Jackson and put in the guy who gives us the best chance to win?
Which brings us to today’s game.
Running Against The Packers
The Vikings face the league’s 7th ranked defense today against the Packers but then they faced the same challenge last week against the Chargers’ 7th ranked run defense.
Boasting the league’s best running back coming off a historic performance, it is no secret what the Vikings will do on offense today. Run to daylight.
The difference this week may very well be Brooks Bollinger, who is expected to start behind center. The Pack will stack eight or nine players in the box in order to stop Peterson and the Vikings need to–as they have all year long–take advantage of that defense.
Passing Against The Packers
Bolliger’s accuracy gives the Vikings the best chance to exploit the crowding of the box. Starting free safety Nick Collins is out, so rookie Aaron Rouse will be starting in his stead. Throw in the fact that starting strong safety Atari Bigby (great name!) has been playing miserably lately, we may see some deep passes actually completed today.
And that would help open up the running game, as well.
Defending The Packers
The Packers’ offense is last in the league in rushing and second in the league in passing; the Vikes are second in the league against the run but 31st in the league against the pass, so we know what’s gonna happen.
The best defense for the Vikings must be a good offense. Just keep Brett Farve off the field for as much of the game as possible.
When the Vikings D is on the field, they should ignore the run, especially the play-action because it’s unlikely to be a run anyway. We need to get in Farve’s grill with a strong pass rush to keep him from getting comfortable and we need to jam the receivers to disrupt their short, West Coast routes.
The Vikings defense will need to bring the game they played against the Chargers if the team is going to have a chance to win.
It wouldn’t hurt at all if Darren Sharper picked off his old mate.