Monday, September 10, 2012
Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings
By Kevin Seifert
After the Minnesota Vikings' 26-23 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, here are three issues that merit further examination:
And here's one issue I still don't get:
- We've noted several times that quarterback Christian Ponder had an efficient, if late-starting game. We should give some credit for his performance to receiver Percy Harvin, who was a hard-running multipurpose threat for the entire game. He turned some high-percentage plays into productive gainers, finishing with 104 total combined offensive yards on six receptions and five carries. He made most of those yards on his own. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), 77 of his 84 receiving yards came after the catch and 17 of his 20 rushing yards were after first contact. In a word, that's awesome. Harvin has slimmed down to his college weight of 190 pounds but is still running both through and around people.
- I watched the game while monitoring the other two early NFC North games in the Lambeau Field press box. Every time I glanced at the Vikings, it seemed defensive end Brian Robison was making a play. According to PFF, here was his final line: six pressures, three additional hits on Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, a batted pass and three tackles. There are plenty of things to pick at on the Vikings' defense, but know this much: The team continues to be rewarded by its decision to promote Robison and allow free agent Ray Edwards to depart two years ago.
- Very quietly, the Vikings' 14-year sellout streak ended Sunday. Attendance was announced at 56,607 at the Metrodome, enough to ensure a local television broadcast under new rules enacted for this season but not enough to fill a stadium that technically has capacity for 64,111. To be clear, there have been many games in recent years where far less than capacity showed up. The NFL's new rule simply alleviated the need for a corporate sponsor, or the Vikings, to buy leftover tickets to avoid a television blackout. From what I understand, fans were plenty loud in the second half Sunday. And I don't necessarily blame locals for not flocking to a home schedule that includes matchups against the AFC South in a building whose days are numbered.
Is there anything Adrian Peterson can't do? I'll be the first to admit I didn't think Peterson would be the Vikings' primary rusher in Week 1, just 260 days after he tore two knee ligaments. Sometimes possibilities are limited only by what can be conceived, and Peterson never wavered on his intent to be ready in time. Coach Leslie Frazier said he targeted Peterson for 10 to 15 carries. He finished with 17. To the naked eye, Peterson looked awfully spry. Said Frazier: "Some of those runs, I told him afterwards, 'I'm not sure you weren't just faking that ACL [injury].'" The Vikings will monitor Peterson carefully for soreness and swelling. But as we've discussed before, as long as the medical people have signed off on his physical recovery, coaches are confident in his ability to play and everyone trusts that Peterson will tell the truth and report any discomfort, there is no reason not to play him as early as possible.