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Chewing the Cud Week 1.5

Instead of explaining the purpose and name of this column myself, I shall provide a somewhat graphic link that will be useful for those of you not too familiar with the bovine digestive system. So let’s begin.



Not Overreacting, Just Fan-ing it up

The numbers people over at call Week 1 National Overreaction Sunday. That is because the First Commandment of the advanced-stats community is sample size. On any given sunday, randomness can disguise inferiority by cloaking it in victory.  Elegantly simple premise.

As a fan, part of the problem is that the NFL season is not a 162 game slugfest. This makes it hard to dismiss a 3 interception performance from our starting Quarterback, or the spine of our defense simply laying down. Such a predicament is best explained by this wise wizard:

All this is to say that while I appreciate the awesome 4th down calculator and other such fruit of the analytics world, I will try and draw something from that smackdown at Ford Field.

Dude, Where’s my O-line?

Per Ponder was pressured on 50% of his dropbacks. Now, Suh,Fairley & co. are no slouches. Nevertheless,

A slouch

A slouch

with a quarterback like Christian Ponder, this line cannot afford to concede so much, especially up the middle. As we saw on Sunday, number 7, for all the hullabaloo  about graduating early and overall smarts, makes bad decisions when mobile groin-kicking mountains are coming his way. If we can’t expect to repeat last year’s performance in one score games (5-1), surely we ought to have been able to hang our hats on an unspectacularly solid offensive line.

To be frank, I have always thought Brandon Fusco to be a front office vanity project, while Charlie Johnson and a hobbled John Sullivan can be expected to have some struggles against the best set of DTs in the NFL. The hope I draw from this, however, is tempered by Matt Kalil’s shocker. Now, I didn’t put too much stock in his so-so preseason just like I didn’t put too much stock in this. On Sunday though, I could count at least four instances where his man got heat on the Quarterback in about two seconds. I am now starting to put a good amount of stock in that iffy preseason. Hopefully, the whole first-game-of-the-season-in-a-rowdy-venue line can help explain this away. Hopefully, 16 sterling performances by last year’s 4th pick overall is more predictive than 1 shoddy performance. Hopefully, Musgrave can still feel comfortable leaving number 75 on an island in pass protection. If not, I fear that Vikings fans are in for a long season and Christian Ponder may be in for a short one.

Manufacturing Touches

Anyone who watched one Vikings game in the first half of the 2012 season was inundated with talk of Musgrave trying to “manufacture touches for Percy”. While the jaded among us might have rolled their eyes at such coach-speak, these extended handoff type plays made Harvin an MVP candidate before anyone was even thinking about 2000 yards.

Upon watching and then re-watching that loss against the Lions, it seems Musgrave must be an amnesiac. Cordarrelle Patterson only got 1 touch!!! Obviously “ceeflashpee” is not quite Percy Harvin (at least not yet), who has been the best athlete at just about every level he has played at. Nevertheless, the team employed valuable resources to move up and grab Patterson precisely to play the Percy role. The one hitch he did catch went for a first down. He may not be the finest route runner, but neither was Harvin, hence the “manufacturing”. Look, I am not suggesting we go back to the future with some ceeflashpee ratio (I bet Randy Moss would find that really disrespectful). I am simply suggesting that the team try and use one of, if not the most explosive open-field runner on the roster just a little bit more than once.

Fullback Platoon

Adrian Peterson did not have a good game. He had a great run. The one or so odd yards he averaged on every carry, excluding that magnificent prance to the end zone, was abysmal. By no means should AD shoulder all the blame. A running game is more than just a running back.

Of course, the absence of suspended All Pro fullback Jerome Felton hurt. I  did not expect the suspension to hurt that much. Rhett Ellison is probably the most capable second string fullback in the league. While that doesn’t seem to be saying much I urge you to check out the number 5 ranked fullback here. Just why Zach Line got as many snaps as he did is very confusing. The confusing figure is 17 to Ellison’s 10. I am not in the habit of prematurely cutting down young players, and Line may turn out to be a fine fullback. Yet, he didn’t show any such signs at Ford Field, while the second year former USC Trojan Ellison has been nothing short of consistent. Guess who was the lead blocker on Peterson’s 78 yard touchdown scamper?

Sending It Down

Next week the Vikes travel to a place they have struggled. As for the problem areas against the Lions, it will be hard to say how things play out against the Bears. Henry Melton is an excellent defensive tackle, while Stephen Paea can bench press a lot, if nothing else. Regardless, they do not seem to have the same combination of explosiveness as Suh and Fairley. On the outside, Kalil will be facing the defender he cited as his hardest matchup ever. Julius Peppers  was surprisingly kept quiet by a career backup (Anthony Collins) against Cincinnati last week, so either the movable object or resistible force will have to wake up from their doldrums. Like Detroit’s offensive line, Chicago’s big uglies are a shuffled pack compared to last year. They had an admirable performance against one of the top units in the league, but it is still hard to say whether the Bear’s can flatten the center of the Vikings’ defense in the same way the Lions did. Or perhaps Detroit still has a middling offensive line, while the absence of Kevin Williams (injured), Antoine Winfield (cut/retired) and/or the new linebacking corps simply meant Alan Williams’ unit is not up to snuff. Here’s to hoping for the best.





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10 Responses to “Chewing the Cud Week 1.5”

  1. SouthernVikesFan says:

    Another loss coming with Ponder at the helm and Musgrave calling plays. Not excited about this game at all

  2. Fisher says:

    While Ponder didn’t look at all where he needs to have gotten to on Sunday, and though I’ve been defending Ponder for a long time and am feeling ready to begin to change my tune as far as his spot on the Vikings in the future, Musgrave’s offensive scheme did very little of what it should have in Detroit. The Vikes set up for more that 30 pass plays and fewer than 20 run plays. Patterson caught one pass on a flat play running a predictable route. Line saw far more playing time than he should have. The problem is that those and other offensive problems were the case throughout the game, and continued without corrective adjustment on into and through the fourth quarter.

    If people are going to call for Ponder to be benched or fired, they should be calling for Musgrave’s job too.

    • SouthernVikesFan says:

      Bears 34-3 with Ponder playing on Sunday

      • Fisher says:

        How dare you don the moniker “VikesFan” and espouse pessimism like that?

        Alright, I’m a die-hard purple-bleeder, but I’m also a realist. I think this one turns out eerily similar to an amalgamation of last week in Detroit and last year in Chicago. I’m going to say that the Vikes defensive secondary does a better job, but the O-line still has its problems, though not as much as facing the Lions. The Bears defensive backfield is of a higher calibre, so I’m going to say the Vikings fall to the Bears 17-24 after putting up a low-scoring first half with most of the possession time via running the ball, though the second half will be where Cutler manages to turn it on and the Vikings only keep pace with a single touchdown and a field goal. Ponder turns in 250 yards with a single touchdown pass and two interceptions, Peterson gets only one in the endzone but racks up 170 yards. Walsh puts in a pair of field goals. Cutler passes for two TDs with one INT and 340 yards, Forte gets a smash-it-in for half a yard and a TD after repeated attempts to cap off a drawn out redzone sequence, and the Bears put in a field goal in the second quarter. Ponder will complete 22 of 35 pass attempts, most of which will come in the second half after Musgrave has gotten desperate and started to revert back to the plays he wants to call from his routine rather than what works for the Vikings and should be implemented based on the game and opponent at hand. Peterson finishes with 21 carries, most of which will have come in the first half.

        There, that’s far more appropriate and likely for a true yet realistically honest Vikings fan than “Bears 34-3 with Ponder playing on Sunday,” don’t you think? Of course, I’d love to see the Vikings run all over the Bears 30 times for 350 yards (with Patterson getting some carries in addition to catches) and nail about 17 or 18 out of 23 or 24 passes for that 250 yards I predicted, and come home with a 37-13 win with the Vikings’ defense having put up a hell of a front and held the Bears to a single first half touchdown and nothing but a field goal or two in their fizzle of a second half marked by an offensive collapse due to interceptions (maybe a pick-6 in there) and forced fumbles. Wouldn’t you?

        • SouthernVikesFan says:

          No, that does not sound more realistic. Go back and look at Ponders play at FSU. Nothing has changed, actually he did better in college. Ponder has to go. He may have a good game here and there, but he is not consistent, nor will he ever be.

          • Fisher says:

            I’ll be happy to check back in here Sunday afternoon compare numbers to the events that will by then have unfolded and see which of us was more realist with their predictions.

            With fans like you, who needs rivals?

  3. SouthernVikesFan says:

    Sounds good! I will be golfing, just cant watch Ponder anymore

  4. Fisher says:

    Good luck on the links. I’ll be (hopefully not cringing) in front of my TV.


  5. purplereign57 says:

    I’ve been a purple bleeder for many, many years also. I’ve seen quite a few QB’s come and go. I came to the realization long ago that Minnesota’s people just CANNOT DRAFT, TRADE FOR, NOR GROOM A POTENTIAL #1 STARTING QB THAT’S WORTH A DAMN TO SAVE THEIR SOULS OUT OF HELL…PERIOD. They’re are 2 exceptions in the 50+ years they’ve been in existence…Fran Tarkenton and Brett Favre. That’s it. No one else. Not for any length of time, anyway.
    I continue to LOVE my Vikings, win or lose…but the ONE PLAYER on the football team that is supposed to overcome ALL ODDS, AND be the most skilled on the ENTIRE team, has been the BIGGEST THORN in the side of this football teams’ history.
    As I post this comment, it is kickoff time. My prediction is that Ponder will again play like “headlights in the deer’s eyes”, and Minnesota will lose again…31-17…and that is giving the Vikings the benefit of the doubt that they accidentally score THAT MANY POINTS! Well, SKOL VIKINGS anyway.

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