We had Vikings questions, and with my Norwegian heritage, I was simply not going to let them go unanswered. I packed some aquavit and a tin of salmon and rowed my way across the Atlantic to ask Ted Glover of Daily Norseman five such questions. His thoughtful Norse answers follow.
Dave Choate: So it's the Teddy Bridgewater show in Minnesota. What are your expectations for the rookie in this game, in this season and, if you're feeling bold, for his career?
Ted Glover: As a fan, wildly unrealistic. He really looks the part so far, which is kind of odd for teams that have a good QB to understand. The last time the Vikings had a really solid season from a QB was in 2009, and before that it was in 2004. So first off, anyone that can fog a mirror catches our attention. That said, the things that I think make a successful NFL QB--pocket awareness, coolness under pressure, and an ability to go through all your progressions and make a smart decision and a good throw--I think Bridgewater has. He looked pretty good in about as hostile environment you can put a rookie in last week, and he did well.
For this upcoming game, build on last week. Increase the completion percentage, and don't leave easy yards on the field. Last week, he missed a couple of simple throws to Jerick McKinnon on swing routes out of the backfield that looked like potentially big plays. But he's missing a big weapon in TE Kyle Rudolph, who will be out six weeks, and that's going to hurt.
This season? Give me reason to believe. Keep getting better, and become the franchise quarterback, and the leader we all want and expect by season's end. Career? I just want one Super Bowl win before I die, man. Just. One.
Dave Choate: Down Adrian Peterson, that ground game doesn't seem too scary. How are the Vikings going to attack the Falcons with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, and what would you expect the offensive philosophy to be in general?
Ted Glover: The Vikings running game sucks right now, so let's just put our cards on the table here. Neither Asiata or McKinnon are guys I consider top tier backs, but the Vikings can at least keep the Falcons defense honest, I think. Asiata is an okay between the tackles guy. Three yards here, three and a half (let's just call it four for argument's sake) yards there, and when the moon and the rest of the planets align, he'll rip one for about six, maybe seven yards if forward momentum can carry him that extra three feet. McKinnon, a rookie, has serious grown ass man speed, and if the Vikings can get him outside, attacking the edge, they might have something there. He's got really limited looks in the first few games of the season, but now that AP will be out for an extended period of time, I'd expect the Vikings to work McKinnon into the mix more and more.
Like I mentioned earlier, they tried to get him on the edge last week with a couple of swing passes out of the backfield but Bridgewater missed on the throws. I'd expect more of that, with a more dedicated running role to the edge for him this week.
Dave Choate: This looks like a tough defense. How much of that is due to Mike Zimmer, how much of it is raw talent and where can the Falcons look for weaknesses to take advantage of?
Ted Glover: It's quickly taking on the no bulls**t identity of their coach, and it's a sight to behold. I don't think they have all the guys they need yet, but they're light years away from the Leslie Frazier Tampa-2 shitshow we'd been forced to sit through for the last several years. They have some really young, talented guys like S Harrison Smith, and SLB Anthony Barr, the rookie from UCLA. The Vikings defense is demonstrably better against the run this year, so I think that might be tough going for the Falcons.
The secondary is still a weak link, and Matt Ryan should be able to make some money there. The safety opposite Harrison Smith is Robert Blanton, which is Irish for terrible (Blanton went to Notre Dame...Irish...GET IT???).Well, last week he was, anyway. Either way, he's below league average, and whoever your tight end is will use film of this upcoming game to parlay into a $45 million contract in the off-season. I like the starting corners in Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn, but I don't think either one of them matches up well with Julio Jones. The Vikes have had injury issues in the secondary as well, so the nickel/dime slots are kind of in flux as well. The bottom line is that if the Vikings can't get any pressure on Ryan and make him feel uncomfortable, he's going to pick the Vikings apart.
Dave Choate: Speaking of Zimmer, what are your impressions of him as a coach thus far? We'll always be fond of him in Atlanta for cussing out Bobby Petrino, but I've long thought he should have a head coaching gig, too.
Ted Glover: Love him. Love. Him. Last week, the Vikings lost to the Saints, but it was a different kind of loss, if that makes sense. New Orleans went up 13-0 after their first two drives (they had their second XP blocked) and you felt like the Vikes were going to get run right out of the Superdome by like a 34-7 type-score. But they didn't. The Vikings defense figured it out, adjusted on the fly, and quite frankly dominated the Saints offense for the second and third quarters. And if Munnerlyn doesn't get called for the BS roughing the passer penalty on the third down sack late in the third quarter...you could really feel the momentum start shifting in the Vikings favor. There's a ways to go, but you can see the change, and this defense, and this team's attitude, is the kind of attitude and fight I want to cheer for. I don't think I could say that at times with Leslie Frazier at the helm towards the end of last season.
Dave Choate: Prediction for this game, and for the rest of the Vikings' season?
Ted Glover: I honestly don't know. I'd like to think the Vikings can win, but AP's gone, Kyle Rudolph is out, and opposing teams have been doing a good job of neutralizing Cordarrelle Patterson. Still...Teddy, man. He just gives off this vibe like he can take this team on his back and do some great things. I think he will do that eventually, soon even, but I don't know that it'll be this week.
Atlanta will win, but they'll know they've been in a dogfight. For the season...I'm going to take a mulligan. I really thought this was a playoff team, but we'll see. The schedule eases up quite a bit after this game and Thursday's game with Green Bay, but if my prediction of them getting to the post season is to remain viable, they HAVE to win one of these two games. I just don't know that they will now with everything that's happened in the last two weeks.