Week 1: Vikings 19, Packers 24 (Recap, Box Score)
I have to say I was a little surprised by a few things… both in good ways and in bad ways.
THE PACKERS AND AARON ROGERS PLAYED BETTER THAN I THOUGHT THEY WOULD
I’ve grown up with an NFL where the mentality was to throw rookie QBs out onto the field in their first or second year. (Leinart, Russell, Cutler, Young, Alex Smith, David Carr, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Brody Croyle) Some of these guys have (or will) turn out to be good QBs, and some of them even played okay when they were first thrown out there, but most of the time their first few games are a little shaky. There haven’t been too many teams in the years that I’ve been old enough to REALLY be a fan that have sat their highly sought after young quarterback on the bench for 3 years behind a veteran (or in this case a legend) like Green Bay did with Aaron Rogers. I expected Rogers to come out and struggle in his first game, like most young QBs do these days. But the time they spent grooming Rogers was worth it, because he came out looking confident and ready to go. I think I was counting on Rogers having to battle some inexperience, and it just wasn’t there.
OUR DEFENSIVE LINE DIDN’T SHOW UP
This was a big let down to me. When Allen had 2 sacks in preseason week 2, and when his pressure let two of his teammates get sacks in week 3, I had very high hopes. When I found out that the Packers would have to shift around their offensive line due to injuries, those expectations went up. I was shocked when I watched the game last night. Very little pressure. No sacks. Rogers had a lot of time in the backfield. I didn’t expect that to happen at all.
ADRIAN PETERSON IS JUST FINE
I’ll admit in the back of my mind I was a little worried after last year. When Peterson came back from his injury, he just wasn’t the same man. A lot of people blamed it on teams stacking their line, but in a few of those games, Chester Taylor ran just fine. Others blamed it on the fact that he was held back by a knee brace, which I believe. Most of me was confident that he’d come out and be okay, but there was a nagging worry in the back of my mind that he was just a rookie sensation that was going to fizzle out. Peterson has us spoiled, because as I watched the game last night, I thought he played an average game, but when I looked at the stats I realized he ran for 103 yards on 14 carries, which is over 7 yards per carry. He had a long run of 34 yards. He had a touchdown. He also had a catch for 11 yards. That’s a pretty decent game. If you think about it, if this was an “average” game for him this year, he’d be on pace to run over 1600 yards for the season. But since he didn’t break a 50 yard TD run, it just seemed kinda “pretty ok” for him. 🙂 I think he’ll be just fine this year.
TARVARIS JACKSON STARTED BAD, BUT COLLECTED HIMSELF
I have to admit… there was part of me that was really worried about our season at halftime. Jackson was 2 for 7 passing (28%) for a grand total of 6 yards. He looked like the same Jackson from the first half of last year. He looked like he had taken a major step backwards. He looked confused on his passing reads, and hesitant to take the ball and run when he needed to. He was rushing the passes he did throw. His head wasn’t where it needed to be. He started like this last year, and it took him half of the season to calm down and get his game under control. Was that going to happen again this year?
Well, he made me feel better after half time. He threw 14 for 28 for 172 yards. He should’ve had several more completions if our tight ends knew how to hold onto passes. He ended up with 178 yards passing, which was better than all but 3 of last year’s games. His second half was the highest total of yards he’s ever thrown in a half. In fact, he’s only had four games in his career where he had more yards than he did in the second half last night. He was making quicker reads, and when he decided to tuck the ball and run, he knew exactly what he had in mind, and he was quick to make those decisions. He was a completely different man after half time. His 1 interception came at a horrible time in the game, but it was really the only terrible thing he did in the entire second half, after being practically non-existent in the first half.
I really credit the terrible 3rd and 1 play in the second half against the coaching staff much more than Jackson. 3rd and 1, and they call a play that requires Jackson to stand in the pocket and make a read on the defense?!? Why couldn’t Peterson take the ball for a yard? Why couldn’t Taylor? Why couldn’t Jackson sneak for a yard? How about letting Jackson bootleg then run for a yard? At the very least, why not call a pass that was a 3 step drop and throw to a short slant route? Terrible play call.
THE VIKINGS GAVE UP A LOT OF BIG PLAYS
As bad as that interception at the end of the game was, the three plays that killed the Vikings were the 56 yard pass to Jennings, the 56 yard run by Grant, and the 76 yard punt return for a touchdown. If the Vikings could’ve stopped one of those big plays, the game probably would’ve turned out differently, since all of them led to a touchdown. The 56 yard pass was single coverage, but to credit Gordon, he was in the right place. It was a spectacular catch, and had that ball been thrown a couple inches either direction, Gordon probably would’ve made the play. There’s really no excuse, though, for the 57 yard run or the 76 yard punt return.
ROGERS CAN SCRAMBLE
I was shocked by this. He ran for several first downs. He just doesn’t look like a scrambler, and I’m not used to watching a Green Bay quarterback run on the Vikings. We’ll have to watch for that in our rematch.
You know, all in all the Vikings didn’t play up to their potential, yet they were still in the game. That should be encouraging in it’s own way. But I can’t help to think that next week against the Colts is going to feel a little disappointing, too.