Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Monday, December 21, 2009
Third and one: Vikings

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

After Minnesota’s 26-7 loss at Carolina, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:

  1. As much as I want to dismiss the possibility that coach Brad Childress actually wanted to bench quarterback Brett Favre for performance reasons, I just can’t. During his four years in Minnesota, Childress has displayed an unpredictable touch with the position. In 2006, he pulled starter Brad Johnson from two games after throwing interceptions before finally benching him for the season. He alternated between Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte over the next three years before signing Favre. Childress has allowed Favre more leeway than any of those five quarterbacks combined. But all I’m saying is that Childress has surprised us before with the way he has handled quarterbacks. We should know more Monday afternoon.
  2. I, for one, noticed that backup tailback Chester Taylor got a carry on the Vikings’ first series. That’s been a relative rarity this season, and I wonder if it isn’t related to Adrian Peterson’s five-game “slump.” Peterson has averaged 3.18 yards per carry over that stretch, and Taylor has always been productive in a limited role. Taylor only got one more carry the rest of the way, and I’m not sure if using him more is the answer. But I do think it’s clear the Vikings need to do something to shake up their tendencies and habits.
  3. I’m guessing the Vikings would be happy if they never face Carolina receiver Steve Smith again. In his past four games against them, Smith has caught 29 passes for 509 yards and three touchdowns. It didn’t matter who defended him Sunday night. Not even Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield could slow down Smith, who had nine catches for 157 yards in this particular outing. On a side note, the Panthers did a pretty good job of rolling quarterback Matt Moore away from defensive end Jared Allen, which gave him enough time to target Smith on 14 of his 33 passes. That’s how you find ways to get the ball to your best receiver.
And here is one question I’m still asking:

What is truth and what is fiction when it comes to the condition of receiver Percy Harvin? Less than 24 hours after telling NBC that he was still suffering from the effects of migraines -- and that he had an appointment at the Mayo Clinic to have two bulging discs in his neck examined -- Harvin was active and played against the Panthers. Would the Vikings really play someone with symptoms as seemingly significant as those? Or did Harvin not fully represent his condition to NBC? It’s time for everyone to come clean in this increasingly cluttered landscape. Harvin also told NBC that he missed the Vikings’ rookie minicamps and the NFL’s rookie symposium because of migraines. In May, the Vikings attributed the former absence to a virus exacerbated by air travel. Let’s get these stories straight.