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 Footballoutsiders.com 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 1500espn.com Ponder was pressured on 50% of his dropbacks. Now, Suh,Fairley & co. are no slouches. Nevertheless,
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.
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.
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.