The Minnesota Vikings have begun the 2013 season at a startling 0-2 at the hands of the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. The team lost in week two to the Bears 31-30 on a late touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Martellus Bennett.
It was a performance that may have been less embarrassing than the loss to Detroit was. The offense looked a little more in sync. Greg Jennings caught some passes, while Adrian Peterson had a solid performance on the ground.
Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson also made an impact, returning a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown. Patterson has proved to be an asset for the special teams so far. He has returned 5 kicks and averages 101.5 yards a game in kickoff returns. As a receiver he has only tallied 3 catches for 24 yards in the first two games of his young career.
Tackling has become the achillies heel of the defense and looks to be the main reason they’ve given up 59 points through two games. The big plays made against Minnesota have all been attributed to missed tackles by all members of the team.
The issue of coverage which arose in the first game against Detroit seems to be a bit better. The team came away with a fumble recovery for a touchdown and passes were intercepted by Kevin Williams and Harrison Smith.
Williams’ interception was of the touchdown saving variety. He grabbed the ball on a pass that was tipped multiple times before settling in his hands. Williams had just returned from injury in time for the game. The defense also came away with a fumble recovery for a touchdown on the legs of Brian Robison.
The defense was a fantasy football miracle with the interceptions and touchdowns. Unfortunately, fantasy points don’t win championships. 31 points allowed is just unacceptable.
Christian Ponder finished the game 16-of-30, for 227 yards with a TD and INT. He is starting to make Vikings fans nervous with four interceptions and a lost fumble in the first two games. However, Ponder proved his ability to get it together during a hot streak last season. I think it’s important for Vikings fans to realize that Ponder is working with a completely restocked receiving corps. It takes some time for the chemistry to be there between Ponder and each receiver.
Jennings seemed to be the focal point of the offense in week two, grabbing 5 passes for 84 yards. I think as the season progresses the relationship between Ponder and Jennings will only grow. If Ponder, Kyle Rudolph, Patterson, and Jennings can get in sync at the same time, the offense can be scary lethal with the focus on running the ball (with the best running back ever) and beating defenses in the play action game.
Fans may be quick to judge the first two performances as negative, but there has to be a notion that things can only get better. A stretch of two games on the road against divisional opponents is literally the worst thing for a team to start a season as far as scheduling is concerned. Even the best of teams would struggle. It is unfortunate that the team couldn’t at least get one win to keep themselves from digging a hole to the cellar of the NFC North, but we must remember the team was one point away from going 1-1 to start the season.
If the team drops to 0-3 against the Cleveland Browns then it’s time to hit the panic button for all to hear. Let’s all hope I won’t be writing an article on Matt Cassel taking over the offense in the future. I honestly have faith in Ponder and the offense; they will right the ship. On defense, the fundamentals should never be the thing holding them back as a unit. They are professional football players for heaven’s sake, get it together.