Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings
December, 29, 2010
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
After the Minnesota Vikings' 24-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, here are three issues that merit further examination:
Kevin SeifertFollowing their win over the Eagles, the Vikings make a stop in the examination room.
- The Vikings won the opening coin toss but deferred to the second half, an interesting choice considering how well the Eagles' offense typically starts. (Three times this season, the Eagles have opened a game with a 60-yard play.) But the Vikings thought they had a smart game plan for slowing down quarterback Michael Vick and wanted to jump right into it. Cornerback Antoine Winfield blitzed twice in the Eagles' opening series, sacking Vick once and altering his throw on a third-down incompletion. Overall, the Vikings blitzed at least one defensive back on 29 percent of Vick's dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Vikings collected four of their six sacks on those blitzes, and Vick completed only four of the 10 passes he threw against it.
- Tailback Adrian Peterson's fumble Tuesday night made me realize we've done a poor job acknowledging the improvements he made in that area this season. We discussed his ball security issues extensively in the offseason and questioned whether his solution -- to be more mindful of it -- would make any impact. I'm not sure what to attribute it to, but the fact remains that Tuesday night brought Peterson's first lost fumble of the season. (He was also involved in a botched handoff with quarterback Brett Favre earlier in the year.) After watching the replay, I think the ball was dislodged before either of Peterson's knees hit the grass. But overall, he deserves credit for fixing this problem and, pointedly, passing on opportunities to gloat about it.
- The easy conclusion after Tuesday night's game would be for owner Zygi Wilf to hire interim coach Leslie Frazier as the permanent replacement to Brad Childress. Frazier is 3-2 during a tumultuous stretch for the franchise, and the Vikings' performance Tuesday night was exceptional. But as we discussed in Wednesday's Stock Watch, you would get no argument from me if Wilf took his time, conducted a thorough search and made a fully informed decision based on all available candidates. If he then decides on Frazier, so be it. But there is no need to rush into anything.
It's almost inevitable for people to get disproportionately excited when a rookie quarterback performs well on national television, and it seems that some people are hailing Joe Webb as a future combination of Vick, John Elway and Steve Young. I freely acknowledge that Webb showed more poise, and better downfield accuracy, than I expected from him. But for those of you who think Webb made a case to be the Vikings' 2011 starter, I don't see it. I don't think the Vikings' next coach, whether it's Frazier or anyone else, would enter a season with an otherwise unknown second-year starter based on one really nice game.