With the Vikings heading into their bye week this week with a 7-1 record. I think that it would be a good time to grade how each unit of the team has performed so far in the 2009 season.
QBs: The Vikings are better off this season with the acquisition of Brett Favre this past offseason. I feel if it was not for him under center the Vikes would not be on top of the divison right now. Favre has shown that he is a proven leader no matter what jersey he wears. With his performance so far this season has been magical, I cannot even account the last time Favre threw for 3 INTs in 8 games. That must be some kind of a personal best. Enter this week Favre in a three way tie for the most TDs in the NFL with Brees and Schaub with 16. Who would have thought the Vikes would have a passing offense in the Chilly era. Jackson and Sage have had very limited time on the field this season, but Jackkson has been getting the reps when called upon.
Overall Grade: A-
Running Backs: With the offense now at a balance, the running game does not need to win the games this season. So AD and Co. will not have to handle the ball as much so far this year. Last season Vikings running back averaged 32.4 attempted per game and this season it is 28.6 attempted per game. This means that Viking running backs will stay fresh throughout the season and will not burn out at seasons end. With less carries Peterson is still running with authority currently tied for 2nd in the NFL for total rushing yards. His average is the same as last season as well.Peterson has 9 rushing TDs this season considering the most in his career is 12 in a season. The Vikings are finding more ways to punished defenders catching the ball out the back field. He has been getting involved this season more so that the last couple of years. The Vikes other running back Chester Taylor has limited exposure to running the ball this season 45 carries for 123 yards and 1 TD. Sure his average is not that great, but when he does see the ball it is usually 3 and short or a goal line situation. Taylor is used as a receiving back in the Vikings offense. As a whole the Vikes running backs are a great balance with the passing game. In the upcoming games, I feel the running game is going to running over everyone.
Overall Grade: B+
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: Over the couple of years the VIkes have aquired a good corps of recievers. The Vikes have big play guys and guys that can caught the ball in the middle of the field, a place not many receivers like to do so. With the Favre under the helm these recievers do not have to worry about that many inaccurate throws as they had to deal with with Jackson last season. The receivers that has benefited the most has been Sidney Rice. Rice has has a great year in his third season. Right now it looks like Rice has Moss like talent.He has great hand something that former Gamecock Troy Williamson did not have in him. Bernard Berrian, the Vikes big play guy has been forgotten and slowed down in injuries this season. He is steady and reliable for the slant routes this season. The Vikes number draft pick this season Percy Harvin has exploded on the scene so far in his rookie season. He has been a monster on the special teams return kick-offs averaging over 30 yards per returns, sure does help the offense out. Harvin has been a good and steady reciever that Favre has taken under his wing. Right now I and many other Viking bloggers can see Harvin hoisting the NFL Rookie of the year at the end of the year. Greg Lewis has had limited exposure on field. Everyone is the sports world saw the video his reception with 2 secondsleft to beat the 49 ers.
This is a West Coast offense that Chilly runs after all. It does not shock me the relationship that Favre and his TE Visanthe Shiancoe have. Shanks is a nice target in the Red Zone for Favre. Shanks in second in NFL with 6 TDs.
Overall Grade: B
Offensive Line: The line has some question going into the season about the two new starters in John Sullivan and Phil Loadholdt(rookie). The left side of the line with McKinnie and Hutchinson have been one of the best NFL side for a couple of years now. The right side has been the issue, I think that it going well. With Phil Loadholdt claiming the starting right tackle spot back in training camp. Has been doing a good this season at the position. He is doing better than Ryan Cook would have. Sullivan had to fill the shoes of Pro Bowler center Matt Birk. Sullivan has picked up well without much of a drop off from last season. It looks that Vikings line is doing a good job protecting the QB and opening holes for the Viking running back. Thus far in the season the line has done its job. For the Vikings offense to continue their success, this group will need to keep winning the battles in the trenches.
Overall Grade: B+
Defensive Line: The face of the Vikes front four has been Jared Allen this season. Allen has been the on the edge for most of the season, he is currently on top of the list with sacks(10.5). Jared Allen does a great job breaking down the pocket and keeping the pressure on the QB or running backs trying the escape is grasp. The Williams Wall has not missed a beat this season even with all the distractions. Kevin and Pat have been ripping through the offensive line like a hot knife on butter. The running backs have not love in the middle either having tho deal with the Williams Wall either. Kevin is on pace to have double digit sacks for the season and Pat is coming around from the slow start he had in the beginning of the season. Ray Edwards had metal lapses at time, but is a solid DE mirrored by Jared Allen. He is reliable, but no Pro Bowler this season.
Overall Grade : A-
LBs: This corps is one of the best run stoppers in the NFL. They had issues with covering the TEs or running backs out of the backfield in the beginning of the season. Chad Greenway is the leader of this unit leading the team with tackles a couple of INTs as well. I think that he is the leader of this team and plays like Jared Allen 100 miles per hour every play.He is an exciting play the watch on Sunday especially how he started his NFL career off a couple of years back. Leber and Henderson have has a okay first part of the season. Sure both player play with intensity, but have been lacking in production thus far this season. Henderson has been getting more into his old self slowly over the course of the season.
Overall Grade: C+
Secondary: The Vikes secondary are constantly under attack in every game. Every teams knows that they have to pass to win the game, because of their rush defense. This group can be frustrating to watch at times.The Vikes have a solid group in place to stop the passing attack, but have struggled this season. When Antonie Winfield has been on the field he had done a good job taking away thereceiver on his side. The Vikes have done a decent job while he has been out. Cedric Griffin has great talent, but forget his coverage assignment or cannot tackle. He drives me crazy at time and other times he is shutdown.The weakest link are our safeties in Tyell Johnson and Madieu Williams. These safeties look like a couple of chicken with the head chopped off back in the secondary. Johnson is in his 1st season a starter ad still learning. Williams is vet and has been through this before, he needs to step and start playing some ball and cover the flipping receiver. The defense is going go as far as the pass defense takes them.
Overall Grade: C
Here is the mid season report for the Vikes. Hopefully that all phases of the team can mesh together more especially on the defense and start shutting more teams down.