[ Editors Note: The Jazzy One is in my opinion runs one of the best Viking blogs out there in the internet.He does a great job covering so many aspects of the Vikings football team.I encourage you all to enjoy this Guest Post about the what the Viking need to improve on in 2010, and then hop on over to The Viking Ship and let him know what you thought of it.]
TOP 5 THINGS THE VIKINGS NEED TO IMPROVE ON IN 2010
Hey Vikings Fans!
I'm The Jazzy One (my mother calls me Jason, though). I write for a blog called The Viking Ship (http://www.thevikingship.net). GBNordic has given me the opportunity to write a post here at Viking Nation, which I really appreciate.
I wanted to take a minute and discuss what I think are the top 5 things that the Vikings need to improve on in the 2010 season.
5. Preparing for Night Games
I don't know what the deal was with the Vikings, but down the stretch last year they couldn't play at night. They did fine in their first night game against Green Bay in Week 4, but by the time Week 11 rolled around, they looked like they were lost if their game was later than noon. In Week 13 they were crushed by the Cardinals in a night game. They played fine in a day time game the next week against the Bengals, but in Week 15 they had to play a night game again, getting embarrassed by the Carolina Panthers. In Week 16 they had another night game, making a HUGE second half comeback to avoid embarrassment, but ultimately losing in overtime to the Chicago Bears. Week 17 they played a day game and won, their first playoff game against the Cowboys was a day game, and they won... then the NFC Championship game was again at night... and we all know what happened there.
The only afternoon game that the Vikings lost all was in Pittsburgh in week 7. The only night game they won was a Monday Night Football game hosting the Packers in week 4.
I know players like routine, and a lot of players have expressed not liking games that aren't at the times they are accustomed to, but the Vikings staff needs to make sure we don't have a repeat performance of last year's night-game-crumbles.
4. Adjusting and Adapting to Blitzes and Pass Rushes
A couple times last year, notably in the Carolina game in week 15 and the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints, Favre took a beating for the entire game, and the coaches didn't seem to do anything to adjust.
Well, I take that back. In the Panthers game, the Vikings benched Bryant McKinnie. That was their idea of adjusting.
I'm not a huge Bryant McKinnie fan by any means, but Julius Peppers was having a great night. If McKinnie couldn't block him 1 on 1, Hicks or any of the guys on the bench were going to struggle, too. Childress and Bevell should've recognized that and given McKinnie some help... moved a tight end to that side, had a running back ready to chip him. But they didn't do any of that. Instead they let Peppers have his way, and the Vikings ended up losing the game.
This year we'll be playing Peppers, who is with the Bears, TWO times. We'll be playing the Saints again. We'll be playing the Eagles who like to throw a lot of blitzes at their opponents. We'll be playing the Giants, who although the Vikings have beaten them a lot recently, like to stock pile defensive linemen. If a protection scheme isn't working on a particular week, the Vikings need to adjust much better than they did last year.
3. Creative offensive formations
Last year it drove me nuts that the Vikings rarely put Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson on the field at the same time.
I loved it when they did creative things to keep the other team guessing, liking motioning their running backs out wide, motioning Shiancoe out wide, motioning Harvin INTO the backfield, etc. This year Harvin will have another year of experience, and the Vikings are adding another versatile player in Toby Gerhart.
The Vikings need to take advantage of athletic players and move them around the field more to create mismatches.
To their credit, the Vikings coaching staff DID get a lot better in 2009 at being creative compared to the previous 3 years, but I still think they could improve. There were still too many times that a hack like me could sit on the couch and read what the offense was doing. If I can do it, then most NFL defensive players could do it with one eye tied behind their back (or something like that).
2. Open field tackling
For a good portion of the year the Vikings were decent at open field tackling, but when Antoine Winfield got hurt, it seemed like a lot of the defensive players who had been good all year long suddenly forgot how to wrap a player up.
I understand the concept of Winfield being a leader out there on the defense, but these guys are professionals. The lack of one player, no matter how much of a leader, should not lead to them getting less aggressive and forgetting the fundamentals of tackling.
This season the Vikings could be seeing several backups having to cover some starting roles early, specifically at corner and linebacker. Everyone needs to make sure that they're making good solid tackles and hitting hard.
1. Run blocking
When Matt Birk left, the Vikings run blocking took a big hit. They were not creating the same kinds of holes for Peterson and Taylor last year that they were in the previous couple of years. With a passing threat like Favre playing quarterback for the Vikings, the running game should have gotten easier, but Peterson was stuck behind the line more often than any other running back in the NFL in 2009. What that means: no holes. The offensive line wasn't creating any space for Adrian Peterson to do his thing.
I personally believe that the main problem lies in John Sullivan. There were only two changes on the offensive line... Sullivan taking over for Birk and Loadholt taking over for Cook. I KNOW that Loadholt is an improvement over Ryan Cook, so that leaves Sullivan.
The weak spots on the offensive going into 2010 are Sullivan and Herrera (at Right Guard). If those two can step up and make an improvement (or be replaced by someone else who can), it would go a long way in making the Vikings unstoppable in the coming season!
What do you guys think are the areas that the Vikings need to improve?