I had a busy Friday night of dusting and rearranging my 'Star Wars: Rogue One' homemade action figures, so I almost forgot to post this. As has become a semi-annual tradition, I had a little Q & A session with Adam Warwas over at Vikings Territory. I feel we both remained calm and mostly rational during the exchange, and you should all follow our shining example of civil behavior Sunday Night.
You can read my answers to his questions here. My questions and his responses follow below.
1) Seems like a risky strategy to not score on offense and hold out until your defense can score. How do the Vikings plan to replicate scoring their only touchdowns on defense?
There are a lot of things that are less than ideal about the way the last few weeks have gone, no doubt. But as was collectively noted by those that follow closely when Bridgewater went down, our team has a championship caliber defense that can win us games, and you are correct in that we saw that in action in Tennessee. Mike Zimmer's aggressive calls on defense, the talent and speed and all through the defensive depth chart, and their ability to turn in some points on their own should continue to help the team overcome some adversity.
With Bridgewater missing, it is an easy offense to poke some fun at, for sure. Regardless of which quarterback plays on Sunday, the Vikings need to put something on tape that actually scares opposing defenses. That didn't happen on Sunday (although Shaun Hill had better efficiency numbers than Aaron Rodgers on Sunday) and the offseason question of whether or not our red zone offense has improved has changed to "can we make it to the red zone?"
With that being said, there were some positives displayed that the Vikings can build off of. Most notably, the Titans blitzed consistently which was effective against the run, but our improved pass protection was able to keep Hill upright and clean. No touchdowns, true. But drive killing sacks and turnovers, also true, and can go a long ways towards winning a football game.
2) What goes through your mind as a Vikings fan when Blair Walsh trots out on the field? Subquestion: can you actually hear the yips in his head when you’re at the game, or is it just the flop sweat on his forehead that indicates his internal terror?
I'll give you an assist and throw punter/holder Jeff Locke in there, too. Both need to get their act together as that Minnesota Nice is quickly turning to ice. No excuses, they are a liability until they prove otherwise... or until they are replaced. For now, however, I'd expect the Vikings to try and wait it out with Walsh much like Green Bay did with Crosby during his struggles.
3) 19 carries for 31 yards for Adrian Peterson against the Titans. Cause for concern about his play or just the way the game played out with Tennessee (and everyone else) not respecting Shaun Hill?
There was nothing that went right for the Vikings in the running game on Sunday. Peterson looked rusty like he did in Week One last year. The offensive line looked overwhelmed. The Titans talented defense stacked the box. Norv Turner stubbornly kept trying the same things over and over again. And, of course, Shaun Hill is a quarterback that will be able to make such a defense pay on a very limited basis.
The running game will continue to struggle until Minnesota can effectively set up the run with a legitimate passing attack. Will that happen? Can Sam Bradford make that happen? Does Norv Turner have some tricks up his sleeve to force that to happen? My guess is that those are questions that will take multiple weeks, not just seven days, to fully answer. Regardless of what happens this week, the hope is that you guys will be facing off against a much more potent and cohesive team come Christmas.
In the end, I don't think Peterson has regressed beyond the level that most of us already admit to, and I'm betting he gains some serious momentum as the season wears on.
4) On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being a Gary Anderson missed field goal and 10 being a Randy Moss touchdown and subsequent moon celebration), how excited are you to see a game at the new stadium? Was it really necessary to make it louder than the Metrodome?
Oh yeah, that's a 10, for sure. I'm not one that hated the Metrodome to the same level as many, as I'd enjoy watching Vikings football anywhere, but it sure is nice to have a stadium that brings even more pride to the organization and fan base. Most importantly, it means the team isn't going anywhere, which was something that loomed over the franchise like a dark cloud for far too long. With a new era comes new traditions and I am excited to see what the Viking chant looks like on Sunday, how loud the place actually gets, and just a general improvement of the overall experience. The hope is our home-field advantage will be that much more effective.
5) It was terrible what happened to Bridgewater. The response to it, trading for Bradford, is so foreign to me having Ted Thompson as a GM that I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. Agree with the move? Agree with reservations? Disagree? Is it a 'win now' move or is it hedging against a long recovery for Bridgewater?
My feelings are pretty simple: I agree with Rick Spielman's decision to be aggressive in finding a solution, but think he ignored the backup quarterback situation since drafting Bridgewater and got caught without an adequate Plan B. So it cost us. A lot. The best case scenario is that Bradford lights it up and is able to help keep an otherwise talented and deep roster in contention. The worst case scenario is that we end up with two "franchise" quarterbacks on injured reserve. History will judge this trade by what happens over the next 5 to 17 months, so I'm trying my hardest to just be patient and see how it all plays out.
I actually think Peterson's ship has sailed when it comes to Dallas. They drafted some kid that I hear they're plenty happy with. Peterson has an $18 million cap hit in 2017, but would cost them nothing in dead cap if they decided to part ways with him. That puts the Vikings at an advantage if renegotiation occurs, especially if Peterson is truthful when he says he wants to retire as a Viking, but I do think something will have to happen. I'm not sure that he gets the Jared Allen treatment (plays out his contract despite the cost) unless he really tears it up again in 2016. I've always thought that the NFL has it backwards when it comes to compensatory picks, and that teams should be rewarded for loyalty, not encouraged to let free agents walk. Peterson won't be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, but it would be nice if some sort of loyalty between the team and player actually did allow him to retire as a career-long Viking. The bottom line is that Peterson is just like any NFL running back in 2017 - he isn't worth $18 million in cap space - so we'll have to see how that plays out.
Thanks you for a glimpse into the mind of Vikings fan, Adam.