When Brad Johnson bailed out the Vikings last year and led them to a 7-2 finish, he was hailed as a savior for a struggling franchise. When Daunte Culpepper opted to rehab his ailing knee at a strip mall, new coach Brad Childress decided that Johnson would be the answer to his new offense -- so much so that he made little to no effort to sign a veteran with starting experience as an ace in the hole.
The result? Despite playing awful much of the season, the Vikings have shown little to no inclination to bench Johnson. The one time they tried it, backup Brooks Bollinger was sacked on his first three snaps. But the bigger issue is whether change could do the Vikings good.
The problems surrounding the Vikings offense are plentiful, but they begin with Johnson. Defenses don't respect that he can throw a deep ball because he can't deliver a strike downfield. Fans in attendance could actually see a velocity difference in the passes being thrown by fellow graybeard Brett Favre to the soft tosses of Johnson. Chester Taylor has seen eight men in the box on almost every carry this season because, when the Vikings do run, it's also predictable.
The Vikings are on the verge of losing their 2006 season after a 4-2 start. Childress and his predictable, slow-moving offense have made it nearly impossible for the Vikings offense to succeed. After the game, he said that the blame shouldn't be thrown Johnson's way, but who else should be blamed? Johnson has his hands on the ball every snap, so what happens after the snap is on him. What happens before the snap is on Childress, whose "run on first, run on second, pray on third" offense isn't getting the job done.
The thinking has been that the team doesn't want to push rookie Tarvaris Jackson on the field too soon because he isn't ready for the NFL. What they may need to start asking themselves while the team still has a shot at the playoffs is whether what the team has now is going to be any better than what Jackson could bring to the table with the ability to scramble and throw the deep ball? One thing is certain. It can't get much worse than we've seen this year from Johnson and the no-offense huddle.
* A bizarre turn of events prior to the start of the game has turned into a mini-Watergate. As part of a tribute to the men and women of our armed forces, much of the crowd at the Metrodome stood and removed their hats for what they expected to be the National Anthem. Instead, they got the Toby Keith country anthem "Red, White and Blue." Even many in the media press box stood as the rendition of the song began, until some of them realized that the "Star Spangled Banner" doesn't include the line "we'll put a boot in your ass." But where the conspiracy theorists had a heyday was during the actual singing of the national anthem. When it was completed, the Jumbotron showed images of fighter jets doing a flyover. The irony of a flyover above a domed stadium was ludicrous enough, but it was learned later that the video footage was filmed on Thursday and the sound of the jets screaming over the stadium was simply piped in over the sound system. Why? Who knows, but it makes for good fodder to take fans' minds off the anemic Vikings offense.
* The Packers were nine of 19 converting third downs Sunday.
* Linebacker Jason Glenn suffered a knee injury and, while the Vikings don't discuss injuries with the media jackals, it is feared that Glenn may be placed on injured reserve after a re-examination today.
* The Vikings ended a second streak of 10 quarters of football without an offensive touchdown in the second quarter. They started a new streak after that second TD that extended through the second half.
* The Vikings offense had a first down in the first minute of the third quarter Sunday, but didn't have a second first down until the two-minute warning.
* NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be in town today to meet with Vikings officials and civic leaders in Anoka County and Minneapolis about a proposed new stadium.
Time For a Change?
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