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Monday, September 20, 2010
Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

After the Minnesota Vikings' 14-10 loss Sunday to the Miami Dolphins, here are three issues that merit further examination:
    Head Exam
    The Minnesota Vikings take their turn in the examination room after losing to Miami.
  1. The Vikings are reported to be in pursuit of San Diego Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson mostly because of Sidney Rice's hip injury, but it should also be noted that fellow receiver Percy Harvin is nowhere close to 100 percent himself. Harvin strained and bruised his hip in the Sept. 9 game at the New Orleans Saints and was clearly limited in Sunday's game against the Dolphins. He limped to the sidelines on several occasions and said it was difficult to make a sudden stop on a pass he dropped in the second quarter, leading to an interception. Harvin had an MRI on Monday, and while coach Brad Childress said there is no structural damage, the reality is the Vikings only have three fully healthy receivers: Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis.
  2. Lost in all of the discussion about the Vikings' offense: The defense has been superb under difficult circumstances. Playing with only three cornerbacks and a new safety in Husain Abdullah, the defense has still limited opponents to 21 points and 30 first downs over the first two games. The Vikings haven't been great against the pass, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 70.6 percent of their passes, but ultimately points are the measure of any defense. Allowing opponents three offensive touchdowns in two games doesn't generally lead to an 0-2 record.
  3. The popular opinion through two weeks has been that quarterback Brett Favre has looked every day of his nearly 41 years. I don't agree. Childress pointed out the number of occasions when Favre escaped the pocket in ways he didn't last season, and I'm sure you noticed those as well. To the extent Favre is struggling, it's not his body that is failing him. If anything, I don't think he's made the decision-making adjustment from the end of last season to this season. Like some other quarterbacks, he doesn't have a big-time receiver who can turn jump balls into big plays. Unless Jackson arrives in the next few weeks, Favre will have to make that adjustment, or he'll keep throwing interceptions at his current rate.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
What's going on with Berrian? As we discussed Sunday, Favre and the Vikings put him in some tough situations against the Dolphins. I really don't fault Berrian for failing to catch either of the intercepted passes thrown in his direction. But why are the Vikings having a hard time getting him in position to make the plays he should make? It remains clear that Favre feels more comfortable throwing to Harvin and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, but he said he isn't ignoring anyone. "We go to bat with who we got, me included," Favre said. "And that's the way it is. I'm not going to look out to my left, look out to my right and say, 'I'm not going to throw it there.' I'm not going to play that way." Hmmmm.