This Sunday, the Packers attempt to extend their lead in the NFC North against the 1-5 Minnesota Vikings. Ted Glover of Daily Norseman was kind enough to answer some questions about the Vikings and provide some insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: A week ago, the Vikings decided to start at quarterback the recently signed Josh Freeman over a pair of players, Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, with considerably more experience with the Minnesota offense. The results were less than ideal. Do you think Leslie Frazier regrets the decision, or was Freeman really the best option?
Not if they felt Freeman was the guy moving forward into 2014 and beyond. Good, bad, or otherwise, make the decision and don't look back. I thought it was a stupid move, as Freeman wasn't any more of an upgrade than Ponder was, but I digress. By benching Ponder in favor of Cassel the Vikings did two things: they signaled that the franchise does not believe Ponder is the guy going forward and that they would be in the market for a new quarterback, and that they had gone into full ‘talent evaluation' mode for the remainder of the season.
When they signed Freeman, the intent was to give him, essentially, a 10 game audition to see if he could be the answer. I don't think Josh Freeman gives the Vikings the best chance to win, but you've gone down this road. Hit the accelerator and either run the car into a tree or navigate the road. Now, by going back to Ponder, a guy the very publicly and very pointedly threw under the bus, the Vikings come off as not knowing what the Hell they're doing. And that's really the mystifying part to me, as Rick Spielman has done a pretty good job up until now since he became the GM.
APC: Adrian Peterson is once again putting together a fine season, though not on par with his 2012 campaign. From an outsider's perspective, it seems that the main difference this year is the quality of the run blocking in front of him. How accurate is that depiction, and is there hope for improvement before season's end?
It's 100% accurate. And frankly, there's little room for improvement. Matt Kalil is slumping, a cone or turnstile would hold up blockers better than LG Charlie Johnson, and RT Phil Loadholt seems to be a poorer investment choice than a Bernie Madoff recommendation right now. There's no cavalry coming over the horizon, either.
APC: Heading into Sunday, opposing quarterbacks have a 93.5 passer rating against the Minnesota defense, 23rd highest in the NFL. What factors have contributed to these issues in pass coverage, and what are the Vikings doing to remedy them?
If you're Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay offensive unit, all you need to do is one thing, and one thing only-find who CB Josh Robinson is covering, and throw to that guy. Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy, the guy in the third row with a beer guy and prosthetic leg, it doesn't matter. Josh Robinson can't cover any of those guys, and he might be the worst CB in the NFL. Yet there he is. Every week, with a big target on his back that says "THROW IT IN MY GENERAL DIRECTION". So as long as Josh Robinson is out there, there will be no improvement.
APC: The Vikings sit at 1-5 with four games against divisional opponents remaining on their schedule. If the Vikings are to make the playoffs, what needs to occur between now and January?
APC: Finally, it's prediction time. Who do you have winning Sunday night and why?
You know, this is weird. As much as I've vented about the Vikings in this piece, you'd think I was a Packers fan. I'm really frustrated and disappointed with the season, obviously, and this is nothing like I thought it would be six games in. Both the offense and defense are a mess, the coaching staff doesn't seem to have the first clue about the personnel, and the GM seems to be treating the roster like a science experiment at the QB position.
Which means I think the Vikings rally and play a great game. Seriously, I do. Christian Ponder has played Green Bay tough as nails in the Metrodome, and I expect him to be in full ‘eff you' mode on Sunday. What's the worst that can happen, getting benched? Green Bay will win, but it's going to be a nail biter and a shootout. Call it 35-31. And I want Ponder to have the game of his life, just so I can watch the rest of this season unfold like a Spanish soap opera on Telemundo, because we sure as Hell aren't going to the playoffs.
We'd like to thank Ted and Daily Norseman for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Vikings. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game day coverage of Packers vs. Vikings.