Dan Zinski, a Minnesota Vikings blogger at The Viking Age, and I spent a couple days this week emailing back and forth in preparation of the Lions game against the Minnesota Vikings. Give our discussion a read and be part of the banter by using the comment section.
Zac Snyder: The Lions have a strong defensive line and have shown an ability to get to the quarterback. Brett Favre has not looked very mobile following his ankle surgery. Is there cause for concern in the Twin Cities?
Dan Zinski: Favre wasn’t very mobile last year either and it didn’t hamper his ability to make plays. Of course, last year, he actually had receivers to throw to. Now the issue is, with Sidney Rice and Chester Taylor gone, and Percy Harvin in and out of the line-up, is Favre getting frustrated and starting to force things? Maybe it’s just lack of training camp or maybe it’s him not being as into it as last year, but some of his decisions have been questionable, and overall his accuracy has not been there. And you can’t blame the pass protection because, for the most part, that has not been bad. So, I don’t really worry about the Lions getting to him, because he still gets the ball out fast and like I said, they’ve protected him decently. I worry that, even when he has time, is he going to do the smart thing, or is he going to continue playing like the Favre all the bashers warned us he would become?
The Lions have held their own against two pretty solid teams so far this year, and would actually be 1-1 if not for Calvin Johnson’s knuckleheadness. Do you feel like they’ve finally turned the corner or is it too early to get excited?
ZS: I wouldn’t say they have turned the corner but I think it is fair to say they are turning the corner rather than pacing back-and-forth in the dark alley they’ve been in for the last decade. Certain parts of the team like the offense and defensive line are much improved with and influx of young talent mixed with strong veterans while the back end of the defense remains sub-par. I am excited about the direction the team is going, even if it doesn’t mean a drastic improvement in the number of wins this year.
The Lions 0-2 start isn’t very surprising yet the fact that they are joined at the bottom of the division by the Vikings is. Are Vikes fans starting to panic or are you just waiting for Favre settle back in and Sidney Rice to return from injury?
DZ: Some are panicking. I think that’s mostly related to Favre’s age and the fear – which I do not share, by the way – that he’s going to use his ankle as an excuse to pack it in early. I’m not ready to write the team off quite yet, however. They started slow last year, but had the benefit of a soft schedule, so the offensive shakiness didn’t hurt them as much. Obviously, they do not have Sidney Rice and Chester Taylor this year, but I still think there’s enough there that, as Favre gets in more practice time and improves his accuracy, they’ll be able to move the ball. They still have Adrian Peterson and he doesn’t exactly stink. The only big worry for me is the red zone where they have been brutal so far.
Jahvid Best looks like a stud. What’s your assessment of him after two games?
ZS: Even after a disappointing opener at Chicago (which did include two rushing touchdowns, by the way) Jahvid Best’s numbers through two games defy expectations. The offensive line has still been too inconsistent to produce a quality running game from start to finish but Jahvid Best has the ability to make more out of just about any play than most other running backs in the NFL today. We got an immediate glimpse of his special abilities from the beginning of the preseason and it is nice to see that carry through to a big week 2. There are times he can be more decisive but that is part of the learning curve, the sky is the limit for him. A lot of fantasy players pegged Best as a sleeper and it was nice to see a Lion come through in a big way.
What do you think needs to happen for the Vikings to win and what do you think needs to happen for the Lions to pull out an upset? I say the Vikes win this one 30-20, what is your prediction?
DZ: For the Vikings to win? Keep Percy Harvin on the field, because he’s the only thing they’ve got going for them at receiver right now. And run Adrian Peterson about 30 times. It would also help to find some red zone plays that actually work. For the Lions, I think just play loose and free. Definitely throw the ball to Jahvid Best some more, over the middle if possible, because that’s where the Vikings’ defense tends to be softest. Clearly, if they can frustrate Favre, he will start making dumb mistakes, possibly even faster than normal because he has no trust in most of his receivers. I’ll predict a 21-17 win for the Vikings but that’s only because I’m trying really hard to keep things optimistic. The Lions are a scrappy bunch and right now I’m not sure where Favre’s head is at.
Check back on Sunday afternoon to take part in our live blog during the game.