What is the deal with Christian Ponder? Is he going to be a franchise quarterback?
Oof. I don’t know. I’d like to think his ceiling is higher than Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson, but I have no idea. He shows flashes of quarterbacking brilliance every once in a while, even last year as a rookie, stepping into the pocket and throwing a ridiculous pass that has no reason to be thrown. It’s awesome when he does that.
The other side of it is when he doesn’t go through his progressions or leaves something to be desired on his deep ball. He sometimes just doesn’t LOOK like and franchise NFL QB, but I also think the eye test is the dumbest thing since dubstep, so what do I know. I think most fans are on board with giving him this year and at least half of next to show he can be that franchise guy, and if not, time to move on. He’s got a chance though.
Is Adrian Peterson back, and if so, for how long?
I’ll be first to admit that I was pretty sure the Purple Jesus would never take the field again after his knee was mangled last year. I thought it was over man, he was done, and my hopes and dreams were destroyed along with him. I’ll also be the first to admit that he looked pretty damn amazing coming back in week one.
Sure, he need to get his legs under him and trust his cuts some more, but he was powering through arm tackles, and the cuts he DID perform were beyond belief for a guy that snapped two ligaments in his knee 9 months ago. I think he’ll recover quite nicely from this and still be a relevant running back for another 4 years or so.
The Colts’ defensive backs were disappointing to say the least in Week. Are they in any danger of being carved up by Ponder and co.?
Absolutely not. I would say that this will be a game they can gain some confidence in if they play their assignments. The Vikings are embarrassingly thin at the receiver position. It’s a far cry from the Moss, Carter, Reed days, for sure. Percy Harvin may give someone fits, because he can line up and match up with anyone. The Vikings also targeted him a lot last week, which bodes well for him seeing an increased role in our offense this year.
But outside of him, the purple are trotting out guys like Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashadu, and Stephen Burton. We also have Jerome Simpson, who developed a nice chemistry with Ponder during the offseason, but with him suspended this game and next, you guys won’t have to worry about him. He’s going to be our saving grace in the passing game if we ever have one, though.
Of the 2012 draft picks, who looks to play an immediate role on this team, and will they have an impact on Sunday?
Our top two were Matt Kalil, left tackle, and Harrison Smith, safety, who has stepped right in to a starting spot because our remaining safeties were so atrocious. They both still have some learning to do, and the Colts can take advantage of this. Freeney going up against Kalil could get ugly. Kalil will be great for us, but this is the guys’ second game in the NFL. There’ll be some bumps.
Smith is very solid, but Andrew Luck isn’t your typical rookie QB either. Luck should be able to take advantage of some miscues. Other rookies litter our defensive backfield, most noticeably Josh Robinson, CB. He has the makings to be very nice for us too, but again, he’s still a rookie CB. We’ll see how he does.
The Vikings front seven is pretty good, but Jared Allen was stopped cold last week. Do you see him having a big game against the Colts?
He could. I don’t know much of the Colts offensive line, but historically you don’t keep Jared Allen down for long. He could have a nice day against a rookie QB and a young line. The rest of the line isn’t fantastic.
Stopping the run – which we use to be great at – will be our biggest challenge as we continue to look for someone who can plug the middle next to Kevin Williams. The other defensive end though, Brian Robison, had a really nice game last week and has progressed significantly this offseason. He may be well rounded enough to pull our line together into a formidable squad again.
In the defensive backfield, is anybody reliable outside of Antoine Winfield?
Not much, and with Winfield being 35 years old this season, we’ll continue to see less and less of him. He’s still a reliable, solid tackler though, and I love the guy.
The other starting corner is Chris Cook, who has had his ups and downs on the field, and is a real SOB off the field, after we learned he hit his girl friend last year. Makes it hard to cheer for him. Case in point, he screwed up last week and let the Jaguars score a touchdown in the waning seconds of the game, but then came back in overtime and made some nice stops to help us seal the win. He needs better consistency. Other than that, the aforementioned Josh Robinson has potential as well, but the others are guys with potential, no sure-name stars.
In the first week, the Vikings didn’t keep a man back to block that often, will the offensive line be able to hold back the Colts’ pass rush?
Probably not. That’s where I’d see one major change in their game plan this week, if our coaches were smart, which they usually aren’t. If it were me though, I’d keep our fullback, Jerome Felton, in the game more often and help him chip rushers on his way out in the flats, simultaneously acting as a security blanket for Ponder.
I’d also do more two tight end formations to help with blocking and chipping, and also act as a short yardage option in passing. With our team being young and this being their first game on the road, I see us hoping that we can run a more ball control, short passing game offense, put up just enough points to win, and get the hell out of there.
How much left does Kevin Williams have in the tank?
Some. I mean, he’s still pretty good, but he’s older. I also think the last couple of years have been tough on him because he lost a great defensive tackle partner in Pat Williams and the team really hasn’t been able to replace Fat Pat. That’s left Kevin to handle all those duties by himself, and offenses have adjusted to that.
He’s still one of the better tackles in the game, though, and if even one of our younger guys can step up and help out, he’ll be better. Our defensive coordinator has also talked with him about reducing his snaps, rotating guys more, to keep him fresher later in games, so we’ll see how much of an effect that has.
How is left tackle Matt Kalil doing, and how bad was Charlie Johnson last year?
He’s been alright. He’ll have a couple of blown assignments or lose his guy just enough that it creates a bit of pressure on Ponder, but he’s been world’s better than what Vikings fans have seen recently. Charlie Johnson was a nightmare come true last year for us. How you guys put up with him, I’ll never know. I guess we all understand why Peyton had to have surgery eventually.
But Kalil is athletic enough to hold his own against most speed guys, and strong too. The other benefit is that he constantly goes up against Jared Allen in practice. He held his own (after the first couple of days, at least) against Jared, so you know he’s got potential.
What do you predict for the final score?
I certainly don’t expect a Vikings win. I think the Colts coming back home to their stadium for a home opener with a rookie QB, coming off a loss where the team didn’t perform like they probably thought they would, will be a lot for a younger team like the Vikings to overcome. I’m anticipating the Colts striking once or twice early, which will screw with our game plan and get us in trouble, or behind to a point where we probably won’t be able to come back.
We’d like to keep it a low scoring game, but if Andrew Luck starts rolling and gains confidence early, this could get ugly for us. I could see a Colts win, 30-24 or something like that. A grip of touchdowns and lots of field goals from both teams. Hope I’m wrong though!