The headline above should probably read “Very late moody Monday call outs” as I’m tardy with this post. Alas, such is life when you have a job and do this blogging stuff for fun.
Despite the 29-22 win over Oakland, Sunday’s game was another sloppy performance by a sloppy Vikings team. That means no fewer call outs than normal, although a couple on this list might surprise a few readers.
Marcus McCauley and the Vikings pass defence
McCauley may become a good NFL corner someday. But I’m concerned about today not someday. Now we know why he dropped to the third round in the 2007 draft. McCauley’s confidence looks shot at this point. The less he is on the field the better.
There was one particular play on Sunday (can’t remember when it happened exactly or who he was covering, although I think it was Jerry Porter) where Daunte Culpepper badly underthrew his receiver. McCauley was about two yards behind the receiver when he spotted Culpepper’s duck in the air. A play could have been easily made on Culpepper’s air ball, perhaps an interception even. Instead, McCauley kept backpedaling and allowed the Raiders receiver to catch the ball unmolested.
That completion summed up McCauley’s performance of late. He looks like he’s trying to become the next Mike Rumph. And that terrifies me because with Antoine Winfield still bothered by a hamstring injury, McCauley’s playing time isn’t likely to go down against a New York Giants team that likes to pass the ball and has the personnel to do it effectively.
Unfortunately, McCauley’s play didn’t look terribly out of place against the Raiders. The Vikings defence applied the most pressure on an opposing quarterback it has since the season opener. Culpepper – who looks like he’s running on one leg these days – still passed for 344 yards. That’s not strictly a McCauley thing and Sharper, Griffin, Smith, and (gasp) even Winfield were culpable as well. The pass defence is every bit the liability it was last year. There has been no improvement in it whatsoever and I don’t think we can expect any over the final six games.
Now that Adrian Peterson won’t be running back kick offs anymore, the Vikings are conducting their annual search for a decent kick returner. The past two games special teams coach Paul Ferraro has given Troy Williamson a crack at it. Let’s hope for all concerned that is about to end.
Williamson can run. But a good returner has to be more than just fast, although I don’t claim to know what those other qualities might be. But whatever they are, Williamson doesn’t have them. He tends to do these little stutter steps, ala Herschel Walker circa 1990, when he gets near a potential hole and looks like he’s bracing for a hit when things got crowded. I’d do the same thing if I were returning kicks. But I’m not a professional football player. Williamson is.
Maybe Ferraro will continue to give nickel back Charles Gordon a look. He certainly didn’t embarrass himself when given the job in the second half of the Raiders game. Please Paul, no more Williamson in this role – unless you want the offence starting on its 16-yard line all the time.
Lane Kiffin and Rob Ryan
You could argue Kiffin and Ryan had as much to do with the Vikings winning this game as anybody else.
On offence, Kiffin insisted on running Justin Fargas into the middle of the Vikings defensive line time after time even though the Packers showed that if you are going to run on Minnesota, it’s best to run outside. Apparently Kiffin did not get that memo
As for Ryan, besides sporting a bad mullet that would make the WWE proud, Ryan’s gameplan against the Vikings offence was just as bad. Even without Peterson in the lineup, I can’t understand why Ryan’s defence didn’t copy the Philadelphia Eagles strategy of putting eight defenders within five yards of the line of scrimmage and daring Tarvaris Jackson to beat them with his arm.
I also have no idea how the Raiders came into the game ranked in the top five in stopping the run. Birk, Hutchinson, Kleinsasser and company mauled its defensive lineman and linebackers. Even when a Raider defender did get off a block – which wasn’t often - terrible tackling allowed Chester Taylor to gallop for big gains.
I thought I’d save the worst for last.
There was just over a minute left in Sunday’s game and the Raiders were driving for a touchdown that would tie the game. At this point CBS cameras quickly scanned the stands of the Metrodome. Surprisingly, nearly half the seats were empty.
While a Raiders touchdown was a bit of long shot, it also wasn’t completely out of the question. After all, with less than two minutes left the Raiders had to pass to score and the Vikings have a really, really porous pass defence. So why were Vikings fans heading for the exits? Is the traffic so bad that they have to leave early even if it’s a close game? I’d run over my mom (okay, maybe not my mom but certainly my mother-in-law) to watch a Vikings home game at the Metrodome. And I wouldn’t be leaving early, even if the opposing team was up by 50.
Darren Sharper complained earlier this year about this, so it’s not a new development.It makes me wonder how diehard Vikings fans really are. From leaving games early, to needing local TV stations to buy 3,000-plus tickets to sell out three of the five home games this season, to Vikings fans selling so many of their tickets to Packers fans that every Green Bay/Minnesota game at the Metrodome now seems like it’s being played at a neutral site, Vikings fans aren’t striking me as very fanatical.
If you’re so worried about Zygi Wilf moving the team to Los Angeles, some of you have a strange way of showing it.
On Deck: Giant killers