Vikings vs. Packers: 6 Things We Learned from Minnesota's 33-27 Loss
The Packers beat the Vikings. This was expected. What wasn't expected was the score, 33-27, nor how it came down to the wire. The Packers, being the great team that they are, were able to ice the game with James Starks' fantastic runs on the last drive.
The Vikings led 17-13 at the half and played pretty consistently through the second half. Although the deep ball was still missing for the most part, Ponder showed excellent poise and moxie. He was able to, for most of the game, sidestep the rush of the Packers and get the ball down the field very accurately.
Aaron Rodgers impressed as usual. He missed very few balls all day and wasn't helped by multiple drops downfield.
1. McNabb Should Never Have Started
If what Minnesota was missing this year was good quarterback play, McNabb should be blamed. Inconsistency and poor clutch throws throughout the year led to poor statistics and poor games by the Vikings, as well as a generally stagnant offense.
As a quarterbacks coach, I can say that a great offense starts with great quarterback play. And when the Vikings made the switch to Ponder, I was....wary. Knowing the strength and grit of Green Bay's defense, I wasn't confident in Ponder's ability to move the ball or even to stay healthy.
He proved me wrong. Yes, he looked like a rookie at times, but that was expected. With some more experience, a full compliment of O-line starters and more deep balls, I think the Vikings could have won this game.
Ponder was clutch. He was poised, for the most part. And he was very, very accurate.
The Vikings Need a Reciever Threat over the Top
This is not news. Minnesota has been without a deep threat all year, but to be honest, they haven't needed one. McNabb was so bad down the field that he couldn't hit anyone in stride to save his own life.
Ponder looked great going down the field, and if he can be consistent, which looks to be so, he'll need a guy over the top better than Michael Jenkins or Devin Aromashodu. Jenkins really isn't a burner, and Aromashodu has problems getting past coverage.
I have no idea or suggestion as to who could fill that gap. But it's needed, and I think Ponder will look even better when he gets it.
Adrian Peterson Has Gotten Stronger
As I watched Peterson against the Packers, I was in awe. Adrian was pushing piles of fully-grown, huge men as far as five yards. Green Bay's defense is not small. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Raji and Pickett in the middle combine to be nearly 700 lbs. And that's just two of them!
Peterson was rumblin', bumblin' and stumblin' all over that blessed Packers D. He had 175 yards on the day and averaged 7.3 yards per carry. He pushed people all over and broke a few big runs. He's gotten bigger and looks to be crazy strong.
The Vikings Should Not Be 1-6
They are studded with talent. They may have just found their franchise quarterback. They have a future Hall of Famer at left guard. They have the best halfback in the NFL. Their defensive line has the NFL sack leader and a future Hall of Famer. Their linebackers are excellent, lurking behind that big line. Although he's hurt, they have a future Hall of Fame cornerback.
There is no reason a team this talented should be 1-6. They've blown leads. They've struggled offensively. They've had controversy, they've had off-field issues. But this team is too talented to have the record that they do.
With some offseason fixes—adding to the secondary, offensive line and receiver corps—the Minnesota Vikings will be in contention.
The Vikings Deserve to Stay in Minnesota
Minnesota is not known for its sports. This state is filled with lukewarm fans, pessimists and nay-sayers. But it is also filled with purple-bleeding, die-hard Vikings fans who want nothing more than the chance to go to a Vikings game with their kids and show them the passion of the game.
I went to my first Vikings game ever this year. Even though they lost, I got to experience that energy. That awesome passion and love that makes football so special.
That's the passion I try and instill in my high school players that I coach, and when they feel it, I feel it. It's infectious.
But it goes beyond football. The Vikings bring a buzz to this state. A tradition of love and passion that makes it fun to watch, fun to be a part of. If they leave this state, they will leave a giant hole in the hearts of Minnesota sports fans, and it was proven in a nail-biter today against Green Bay.
Christian Ponder vs. Aaron Rodgers Can Become the Next Great Quarterback Duel
Ponder went beyond expectations on Sunday. He kept it close with the world champions and showed poise and accuracy beyond his years.
I am looking forward to the day when Packers versus Vikings is overshadowed by two great franchise quarterbacks battling it out, similar to Manning vs. Brady in the 2000s. The Packers are there and they will be there for a long time. The Vikings are slowly building their talent to become a powerhouse in the NFL, and they will get there being built around Christian Ponder.
When that happens, the Packers versus the Vikings will be the two (maybe even three) most anticipated games in the NFL for at least a few years, and they could go either way.
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