Childress remains optimistic
Despite the team’s 1-3 start, head coach Brad Childress sees reasons for optimism. He doesn’t make any excuses and doesn’t use bad luck or officiating as a crutch.
Instead he pins his hopes on the positives he’s seen:
1. A physical, productive running game.
Despite the inconsistency of the passing game, one cannot dispute the effectiveness of the Vikings running game to this point. Adrian Peterson currently leads the NFC in rushing yards (383) and total yards from scrimmage (549). He’s on pace for more than 1,500 rushing yards as a rookie and could push the single-season rushing mark by Robert Smith. And as good as he’s been, he may actually be getting better as he adapts to the nuances of the pro game in terms of the pace, reading blocks and refining both his pass-receiving and blocking skills.
Childress credits the offensive line for being physical. Peterson also credits the lunch-pail guys up front.
“I owe it all to the guys up front,” he said. “They’ve done a great job creating opportunities for big plays in the run game and in the pass game. I’m proud because of the hard work I’ve put in during the offseason and hope if I continue to put God first that there will be more and bigger team goals we can accomplish the rest of the year.”
Chester Taylor is also averaging 5.3-yards per carry, and Mewelde Moore has averaged 7.1 on 11 carries. It’s the quarterbacks, fullbacks and receivers who drag the team’s overall average down to a still-impressive 4.9-yards per carry.
So whatever criticism there has been of the offensive line, including left tackle Bryant McKinnie, but especially the right side of Ryan Cook and Artis Hicks, the run blocking has been solid.
2. The emergence of rookies.
On offense, Childress calls out Peterson and wide receiver Sidney Rice, who also appears on the verge of stardom. But defensive end Brian Robison has also emerged and looks to be more than just a situational pass rusher. Through the season’s first quarter, he leads the team with 3 sacks, but he’s also made plays against the run, proving as Childress said during training camp that he’s not just a one-trick pony.
3. The development and contributions from key offseason free agents.
Both Bobby Wade and Visanthe Shiancoe have fit in nicely and begun to contribute more or less exactly as expected. Wade currently leads the team in receptions with 15 catches for 173 yards. Shiancoe has 9 catches for 107 yards, but he’s been much more involved the past couple weeks. Both will likely exceed their current statistical pace as the season continues.
4. The defense.
Childress feels the defense has picked up where it left off last year. While many experts worried about regressing after losing Mike Tomlin to the head coaching ranks, the defense has indeed shown modest improvement under Leslie Frazier.
Their run defense has been outstanding – even better than it was a year ago – as opponents have averaged a mere 2.5 yards per carry on the ground so far this season and they lead the league in tackles-for-losses.
There is still room for improvement against the pass, but it is at least modestly improved over a year ago. The pass rush is somewhat improved and the coverage overall has been better than it was a year ago. Plus, they’ve scored three touchdowns.
5. Continued confidence in Tarvaris Jackson.
Childress identifies the young quarterback’s physical tools, his mental capacity and his work ethic. He remains convinced that all T-Jack needs is the real-life experience that he cannot get any other way than playing.
There are still plenty of rough spots overall to work out, but they are close – closer than you might think.
Motivation for the Vikings to improve? So they can draw a better announcing team than Ron Pitts and J.C. Pearson .
The Patriots probably wish they hadn’t tried to sneak tight end Garrett Mills through waivers earlier this season. One of their backup tight ends behind Benjamin Watson, David Thomas, was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, Oct. 3 with a foot injury. Mills was claimed by the Vikings but has yet to be active.
Tight end Stephen Spach, who went to training camp with the Vikings this summer and was released on the final roster cut, had a workout with the Denver Broncos recently.
Wide receiver Maurice Mann, who was with the Vikings last season and was released prior to training camp this summer, has signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL .
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