Of all the things that are great about sports, one thing that I particularly like is being able to say “there’s always next year”. I had to remind myself of that about a dozen times since the Minnesota Vikings fell in over time to the New Orleans Saints. I’ve been a career Brett Favre fan and for obvious reasons this loss stung hard. So instead of deciding to take out my anger on my drywall, I tried to set back and reflect on this NFL season for the Vikings and look ahead to the next. A lot has already been said by every analyst in the country, so I’m not going to bother going too much into the stats and numbers of the game. It’s pretty obvious that the Vikings outplayed the Saints except for the return game and obviously the turnover margin, which was the season killer. I’m going to put my thoughts in a sort of bullet point format because my attempt to streamline them into a fluid article was a bigger failure than Trent Dilfer’s analysis.
– The Vikings lost the game more than the Saints won it. Like I said before, I don’t need to regurgitate the stats. The Saints did cause a few of those turnovers, but the goal line fumble before half time was all Vikings as well as a few of the other fumbles as well as the last interception.
– More teams need to do what the Saints did to Bernard Berrian when he fumbled. Punch the ball. I’ll give the Saints credit there, they targeted the ball and punched it out. I think that a lot of teams could try this more and have some success at doing so.
– The game plan of the Saint’s was simple and public: get after the quarterback, hit the quarterback, knock him out of the game. They did this against Kurt Warner and the Cardinals and won. They did this to Brett Favre and the Vikings and won. That being said, in my opinion some of the shots they took against both quarterbacks were cheap shots. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were out to hurt either quarterback, but they wanted each to feel it. Now, there is nothing against the rules in that strategy (unless of course it’s a late hit, hit below the knees, etc). But I’m a believer in what goes around comes around. It probably won’t happen this year, might not happen the next, but I guarantee that at some point the Saints quarterback or some other player will take a few retribution shots for the shots they took the last few games.
– There were bad calls in the NCF Championship game, that was obvious. But both teams got breaks, and the Vikings players who complained about the officiating after the game had no right to do so. It would have been one thing if they had played a great game but got screwed by the refs. They didn’t play a great game and lost. Deal with it.
– If the Saints hope the same game plan of blitzing the quarterback with the goal of hitting him early and often (and sacrificing coverage to do so) will work against Peyton Manning and the Colts, I think they’ll be sorely disappointed. Peyton is too smart to let that get to him and the Saints will run shotgun and hit the quick passes all day. Despite the outcome of the game, Favre spent most of the game torching the coverage of the Saints while facing the blitz. Peyton is even better at it. It will be interesting to see the approach New Orleans takes on defense.
– Reggie Bush is STILL overrated and always has been. People called his game against the Cardinals great. It was a great game as far as Reggie Bush goes, but there are other players in the league who have that kind of game frequently and get much less press. Bush was back to his true form against the Vikings. People complimented the Vikings for stopping Reggie Bush. I thanked Reggie Bush for playing like Reggie Bush does 90 percent of the time.
– The Vikings, in order to be a Super Bowl contender again next year, need to figure out what they are going to do at quarterback sooner than later. I honestly think their best option is if Favre comes back. The team is young overall and should improve from having this year’s playoff experience. Landing a little more help in the secondary would be great, perhaps in the draft. I don’t think any other quarterback we currently have can get us back to this stage, especially considering how many games we relied on the pass.
– I don’t think Donovan McNabb is the answer if Favre does go. Michael Vick isn’t either.
– Adrian Peterson will be the best running back in the league if he can keep the fumbles in check. If he doesn’t he’s probably still in the top five, but it’s a big time liability. You want to be able to trust the run game, to go to it in many situations, but as the NFC Championship game showed, the Vikings had to sit him during a crucial stretch of the game.
– Trent Dilfer has rapidly jumped up to near the top of my list of “analysts” who I can’t stand. It isn’t that he is batting about .150 when it comes to his pre-game thoughts, everybody is wrong more often than they’d like to admit. What bothers me the most is his smug, condescending attitude he takes towards certain players and teams. I believe that you do not have to have played a sport professionally to be able to cover it well and provide insight, but if your comments are going to be full of personal attacks on the play of others, please be at least good at the sport yourself before you take it to that level. Guys like Troy Aikman and Dan Marino are allowed to pick apart any quarterback’s decision making and play. Trent Dilfer is not. Speaking of Trent Dilfer is not, make sure you follow @nottrentdilfer on twitter today.
– Somebody needs to remind Steve Hutchinson this: tails never fails.
– The NFL overtime setup is a horrible way to finish a game. I thought for a long time the college way was better, but I’ve changed my mind on that as like the NFL overtime, the college overtime doesn’t replicate the first four quarters of the game any better. I personally would like to see something along the lines of an extra 10 minute period or ensuring that both teams get to have possession of the ball at least once. Peter King had some interesting ideas that you can check out here.
Those were a handful of many thoughts I had after the NFC championship game. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts as well!