Hello again APC. It's been too long since I have gotten to write to you, mostly due to contracting the plague. But after fighting it off I return and I bring with me another round of Five Questions with Ted Glover over at the Daily Norseman. As Tex covered last week, Ted is pretty darn fun to e-mail with about our upcoming game with the Vikings. So without further ado, here are my five questions and their corresponding answers from Ted:
1. Christian Ponder put together his best performance as a Viking on Sunday at a crucial time. What do you attribute to his success this past Sunday and do you think his big game convinced Viking fans that he is the future QB of the Vikes?
I think it's a couple of things. One, I think he knows what he can and can't do at this stage of his career. The Vikings aren't asking him to go out and throw for 300 yards and three scores every game. Earlier in the year he was trying to do too much, and he forced the ball. When he did that, bad things happened. And secondly, all he needs to be is a game manager--throw generally safe passes to take pressure off the running game, move the chains, make a play with his arm once in awhile, and most importantly don't turn the ball over. When he does that, like he did to perfection last Sunday, the Vikings win. When he doesn't do that, the Vikings lose.
Couple reasons for that. Brian Robison is pretty good in his own right, but is dealing with shoulder injuries on both arms, and Griffen's game didn't really step up until the last month or so. Robison was having a really good season until his injuries, but Griff has stepped in and played at a very high level himself. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams likes to use a very rapid rotation on the defensive line to keep guys fresh, so with the exception of Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, the label 'starter' is just that, a label. Robison might start Sunday, but Griffen will see as much of the field as Robison if not more, especially considering Robison's injuries. And Robison's shoulders are really hurting, so he might only play sparingly.
Antoine Winfield, hands down...(Winfield, broken hand, hands down. What I did there, did you see it? DID YOU??). In all seriousness, the loss of Antoine Winfield on Sunday was huge. For about a quarter and a half, the Vikings did a pretty good job on Rodgers and the Packers offense. They were up 20-7, the Packers had failed to sustain any long drives, and they had forced Green Bay to punt on their first three possessions. Their TD drive started on the Vikings side of the field, and it was on that drive that Winfield went out. Greg Jennings was so alone in the end zone you thought he had leprosy, and on the Packers final drive of the half, Rodgers went 4/4 and went for 14, 16, 12, and 14 yards. In the second half, he picked on Winfield's de facto replacement Marcus Sherels so bad it bordered on felonious assault. Aaron Rodgers is going to get his yards, but Winfield is a guy that makes everyone in the secondary better, and if the Vikings pass rush can generate pressure with Winfield back there, I think Rodgers might have a tough night. If Winfield goes out, especially with Randall Cobb coming back, it could be a long night for the Vikings. As to the other injuries, they're not a concern at all. They are the 'it's the end of the year and everyone has some kind of injury' variety.
Ted did have one slight addendum to this particular answer though....
Some late breaking news via the Twitter on Ponder:
He was limited today, and according to Vikes beat guys did 'more mental reps' than physcial to try and get his elbow 'calmed down'. Apparently it's more serious than thought, but it still looks like he's going to play.
4. The Vikings seem to be built for outdoors and cold weather with their conservative offense and strong defense, but have struggled on the road this year with a 3-5 record, what do you attribute to their away game missteps this year?
The Metrodome, she be a blessing and a curse. It can be a great homefield advantage, as we saw last Sunday, but it keeps the Vikings from being prepared for the elements, which could be an even bigger advantage, and it really pisses me off. Here comes a 'get off my lawn' old guy rant. When I was a kid, the Vikes were in the heyday of the Purple People Eater era and they played outdoors at old Met Stadium. They dominated opponents, and they used the cold to their psychological advantage. Bud Grant wouldn't allow heaters on the sideline, and they embraced the elements. And I would argue they had a bigger homefield advantage then than the Metrodome gives the Vikings now. Dome teams in general struggle outside, and the Vikings are no different. Every year, they play 9 games right off the top of the schedule indoors (8 home games and Detroit), and this year 12 of their games were indoors. They practice indoors, so it's not something they deal with, and unless you play and/or practice outside, it's not something you can adequately prepare for.
So instead of embracing the elements, like a Northern plains team should do, they just try to survive them for four or maybe 5 games a year. It's a ridiculous strategy when you consider that the two main rivals to the Vikings getting to the playoffs every season (all things being equal, of course) are the Bears and Packers, teams that play outside, and two of those games are two of your most important ones every year. And if the Vikes play them late in the year, it almost never turns out well for Minnesota. The last time they beat you guys in your place was 2009, the last time they beat the Bears in Chicago was 2007. Sure, there are exceptions, and if there was a team built on paper for bad weather, it's this one. But I worry about how they will be mentally ready for the cold.
And of course, the new stadium that's going to be built will have a roof. But at least they're not moving, and that's the important thing. But I sure hope they leave the roof open for all home games. I don't see it happening, though. Sorry for the rant. I'm much better now.
5. Which team in the NFC gives you the most pause for the Vikings chance to make a Cinderella type run right now?
Let's worry about this game before we start worrying about someone else. As the great latter day philosopher and Crisis Management Expert Winston Wolf told Jules and Vincent Vega, 'let's not go plucking each other's chicks just yet, gentlemen'. Or something like that.
Thanks again to Ted for taking the time to correspond with me and put up with my mediocre questions. I also got a chance to answer some pretty darn good questions from Ted which will posted up at DN soon. Go by and check them out as well as a slightly different take on the upcoming game.
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