It is fun to win. Defeating the Lions in Detroit was a joy. They are a dysfunctional franchise, and the fact that they fired a few offensive coaches immediately after Minnesota's 28-19 win should come as no surprise.
Minnesota battered quarterback Matthew Stafford like a bucket of fried chicken.
Considering the Vikings' defense had seven sacks along with 26 passing attempts from Stafford, about 27% of the time that they tried to throw, Minnesota sacked them. Detroit ran a total of 50 plays in the game. So 14% of their plays, or one in seven, ended with a sack.
"Mr. Stafford you are wanted in x-ray".
Linebacker Eric Kendricks was the catalyst. He had two sacks and made six definitive tackles. His quickness was apparent. His equal in intensity, safety Harrison Smith totaled nine tackles with his sack. Linebacker Chad Greenway also blitzed his way to a sack.
Four sacks from outside the front four. The blitz is back.
Defensive end Everson Griffen added another 1.5 to his team leading total of 4.5. But Kendricks is now only 0.5 back and coming on fast. The front office decision to draft and promote Kendricks (at the expense of Gerald Hodges) appears to be a good one. His ball hawking speed, combined with Anthony Barr, Smith, and a growing confident crew has catapulted the purple defense to a new respectability.
We can win with defense. But we may not always need to if..
Teddy Bridgewater threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. The team ran 39 pass plays (4 sacks) and 35 run plays (2 kneel downs and a running out of the end zone). They amassed over 400 yards in a balanced attack. The statistics tell a tale:
Our time of possession was 36:27 to their 23:33.
Minnesota converted 5 of 13 3rd downs, or near 40% .The Lions rate was 1-10, or 10%.
Minnesota had 25 first downs, 9 rushing. Detroit had 14 first downs, only 3 rushing.
Total plays were Minnesota 74, Detroit 50.
Total net yards were 425 for the Vikings, 274 for the Lions.
It was one-sided. And considering Detroit scored two touchdowns on long drives to start the game, it is clear that Minnesota's defense ate the Lions for lunch after that. The offense sprang Adrian Peterson for a 75 yard run, and had completions of 49 yards to Zach Line, 36 yard touchdown to new star Stefon Diggs, and 30 yards to local product Adam Thielen.
A big play offense?
The NFL Network produced a new power ranking after Week Seven's games and Minnesota was ranked 10th overall. I know we should not get excited about media rankings, hype, and the fact that it is not even at the half way point of the season yet...
But we are top ten! Respectability.
This week the Vikings will face the Chicago Bears. In Chicago. Minnesota won a road division game this last Sunday, so asking them to do it again does not seem too unimaginable. And the Lions just beat the Bears the previous week for their only win of the season.
Chicago started 0-3 on the season, and they looked rough. They opened with a decent game in which they lost by eight to the Packers. As good as Green Bay is, that is nothing to be ashamed about. But then they were trounced 48-23 by Arizona. Again, we could excuse them in that the Cardinals are playing really, really well. Still, it was two home losses.
In Seattle they were beaten 26-0. The Seahawks have struggled to win in most of their games this year, so that look even worse. Getting shutout in this era of hands off defense is abysmal.
It looked as if the Bears would drift off to the basement of the league and miss Brandon Marshall a lot for the rest of the 2015-16 season. But then they responded with two wins. Sure it was by a total of three points, but who is counting? They beat the Oakland Raiders 22-20 and then went to Kansas City and beat the Chiefs 18-17, the latter not an easy task even without Jamaal Charles.
And then they got beat by 0-5 Detroit.
Minnesota will more than likely go to 5-2 if they continue to play like they did last Sunday. Jay Cutler, Matt Forte and friends can be tough. The Bears always produce outstanding defensive players, and this year's candidates include: Pernell McPhee, Shea Mclellin and Christian Jones. Any division game in the North is a battle.
Looking past them would be a serious mistake. And knowing it is the Green and Gold around the corner, it is tempting to think about...
But I know this new team will keep a focus. The raw speed and hitting ability of our new defense makes watching football fun again. As the offensive line works on finding holes for AP and ways to protect Teddy, the team just keeps getting better. Stefon Diggs back-to-back big games...
And we just made the "Super-Sleeper" list for the upcoming Super Bowl according to one major network. If that is not a boost to the former fragile football ego, then I do not know what is...
Just don't get cocky, kid.