Pros and Cons
Soldier Field has been a house of horrors for the Vikings for the last decade and a half, if not longer. The Vikings have won three games in Illinois since the start of the millenium. Those three wins are out of 16 possibilities. Not surprisingly because of those statistics, they haven't won consecutive games there since the 90's. But they won there last year and the Vikings are much improved, while the Bears may be worse then they were last season. That's the recent history of the match up, but let's get onto tonight's match up.
I guess we'll have to wait at least two more years to go back to back in the Windy city. For those who didn't see it, the Vikings just got run over by the Bears. The offense again looked futile, the special teams were mostly ineffective and even the defense seemed disinterested in the game. Giving credit where it's due, Chicago looked far better then a team that will be drafting in the top 5 - 10 come April.
Before I tip my hand too much more, let's get into it.
Losing. I think this one speaks for itself, but I'm going to pile on a bit anyway. The team was outmatched for all four quarters by a team that had only won once prior, with a quarterback they don't want and with practically everything going in favor of the Purple. I thought last weeks loss was San Francisco like but this one definitely fit the billing more accurately.
Offensive line. I thought about lumping this in with the offense as a whole but the line was worse then the rest of the offense, so it deserves a worse rating. For reasons I don't understand it seemed like they performed better once Alex Boone went out. Even with that, Bradford was under fire the entire game.
The defense. This may be a bit of a function of the high bar that they'd set so far in the season but I think an imperfect ten would be warranted regardless, after last night. Jordan Howard is a fine running back but last night he looked like a guy bound for perennial pro bowls. That doesn't happen against this defense...or at least hadn't until he came to play.
Alshon Jeffery didn't post gaudy receiving numbers but did have some very tough catches and also got his first touchdown of the year. Heck, Jay Cutler even looked the part. Coming off of a thumb injury that was going to keep him out all year, until Hoyer's arm was broken, there was no rust on his game last night.
The offense. If not for a little bit of late game efficiency this would have been a sure fire ten. The new standard of running ie no holes, only short gains and general ineffectiveness, lived on last night. In addition to that, there were several inopportune passing miss cues and that was when Bradford was actually able to make a read before throwing the ball, which was not every time.
Norv. Still very hesitant to rip on him because of the chasm of knowledge between myself and him. I also can't imagine it's easy to choose plays that work with the offense operating from behind this line. But if he is the offensive genius that many have conveyed then he should be able to figure out a trick or three that work. Maybe throw the ball from the wild cat?
I'm sure there are many other things which I could use as negative bullets but it was such a bad night that going lower then nine stars feels inappropriate. Rip away in the comments though!
Xavier's evening. He should have closed on an interception or two but that's par for the course of Rhodes' career so far. He was singled up on another one of the NFL's best receivers and did a fine job. Not to turn this into Alshon Jeffery love line but he made a great catch over Rhodes' great coverage. Then on the touchdown he made, one of a possible three, Rhodes wasn't in coverage on him, which I take as a partial credit to Xavier.
Special teams units overall. Both Locke and Walsh make it into the pros section this week but the other ten are why I'm putting it in here. No big returns on kickoffs or punts but no good returns by either group either. Get back soon Marcus!
Feels a little desperate to give a punter eight stars but that's where we're at right now. Jeff Locke. He pinned the Bears deep many times and the 70 yard punt that he had, albeit with the error by the Bears player, was a thing of beauty. I was as adamant as anyway that I wanted him gone but it seems that my opinion was wrong.
The Receivers. This one has to be taken with consideration of the pressure that Bradford was under. No receiver can have 100+ yard games with the lack of time that was available last night but Diggs, Thielen & Rudolph all showed up again last night. It would have been much better if Diggs would have been able to close on the deep pass that went off his fingertips. That was the one big miss that I remember from last night. Big miss. There were other, smaller misses through out the contest.
Blair Walsh. Continuing the special teams theme. He didn't get many opportunities to put the ball through the pipes but the chances that he had were taken advantage of. That's three games in a row where he's gone 100% on field goals and extra points. In a world where kicks keep being missed, teams keep tying and we have so many more significant issues, this one being resolved is a welcome bit of light! I really hope that's not a jinx!
Well that's the end of this one. I've already put this one in a bottle and thrown it into the sea. If the team isn't able to find a way to perform they way they did prior to the break then the playoffs won't happen. "Easy" games are now a thing of fantasy and none can be assumed to be a win. I'm honestly just hoping for a .500% record over the rest of the season! So yeah that's the gloom.
What say you Vikings faithful? Was it worse then I expressed? What do you think of the Vikings for the rest of the season?