Monday, October 03, 2011

A Problem with KFAN analysis

I'd like to detail something that I heard on my way in to work that bothered me all day long.  Listening to KFAN may be a fool's errand, and I resisted for a really really long time.  Football sucked me in, and the hilarious, continued collapse of the Vikings made me stay.

This morning, a whole bunch of people were calling for Christian Ponder to start over Donovan McNabb (to their credit, hardly anyone goes with the "he gives us a better chance to win"; almost everyone seems much more attuned to the "hell, this season is done--let's get ready for next year", which has got to chagrin the hell out of the Vikings Stadium Brain Trust.  Paul Allen (or as he refers to himself, PA) wasn't yet willing to throw in that towel, but he is clearly making noises along the lines of the key problem is McNabb's play. Reasons for losses have varied week to week--not enough passing from McNabb; an ancient looking offensive plan; not enough touches for Adrian Peterson; not enough touches for Percy Harvin--but the season-long focus of derision has been Donovan McNabb.

For weeks, I've been wondering if anyone was going to notice that maybe some of the blame could probably lie with the defense, particularly the secondary.  I mean, if you blow three first half leads, each one bigger than the last, at some point one has to assume that teams are passing on the Vikings defense pretty effectively.  And that's certainly borne out by the numbers*:

Week 1:  Chargers        First Half:  138 Yards   Second Half:  192 Yards
Week 2:  Buccaneers:   First Half:    53 Yards   Second Half:   190 Yards
Week 3:  Lions:             First Half:   44 Yards   Second Half:   277 Yards  (OT:  57 Yards)

So, in this context, a fella calls up the PA Monday Morning Vikings Moaning and Wailing show.  He is a typical Vikings fan, and is upset, but instead of Donovan McNabb, he wants to talk about the defense.  He is incensed at their play, and in a deft series of maneuvers that almost seems clinical, PA demolishes the guys points before he even gets going.

The caller is Matt in Moorhead.  I'm going to paraphrase below, but if you want to hear the whole thing, you can--it starts at the 27:02 mark here.

Matt the Caller:  Hey, PA, I just want to talk about how bad our defense was--I mean, Kansas City's Offense is just junk, garbage, and to give up points...
Paul Allen:  I'm not enjoy your phone call, and I'll like to tell you why...Would you say the Lions have an explosive offense?
MC:  Yes, they are.
PA:  And yeah, the Buccaneers aren't as explosive as the Lions, but they aren't the worst, right?
MC:  Okay, yeah.
PA: The only touchdown the Vikings gave up yesterday, was on one really bad play, with bad coverage, bad safety help, bad tackling. The whole thing was bad, but that was the only TD they scored.  And, hey, Matt, if you had been told that something called Ryan Succop was going to hit 5 FG's, would you have been OK with that?
Matt:  I guess, yeah.
PA:  Not the defense's fault, then.

So it all kind of makes sense, until you stop and think about it. The Buccaneers haven't just been not-super-explosive. They've been plodding most of this season.

But mainly, I want to focus on Kansas City, because Paul Allen, by talking about all this other shit, managed to obscure something that I think is pretty germane to the whole Vikings Defense is at least partially to blame.
1. That's a weird proviso he throws out there--"If you don't count the most glaringly egregious mistake the secondary made, they didn't have any really egregious mistakes."  And it was a humdinger, by the by...If you haven't seen it, take a look. It may have been the worst defended TD pass in the league this week.

2. Hey, look--holding a team to five field goals and one TD isn't bad, but let's put that in context--it's the KC Chiefs!  You want to complain about a passing game, Vikings fans, take a look at Matt Cassel's numbers. His game against the Vikings was the first time he went over 200 yards. A team could feel pretty good about only giving up 22 points on six scoring drives, until you realize that the Chiefs scored a total of 27 points on five scoring drives--in their previous three games combined.

So, yeah, Donovan McNabb hasn't set the world on fire, particularly in the second half of games.  But maybe he just needs to do what every QB in the league needs to do to put up big numbers in the second half--play against the Vikings defense.

*I put these numbers together myself using game logs, which may not be the most accurate.  I did the best I could, and the general tenor of the numbers are correct.

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