It seems like a long time ago that the Lions faced the Vikings in week three. I checked in with Dan Zinski, editor of The Viking Age, to get an up-close view of the Minnesota Vikings. My thanks to Dan for answering my questions for his take on the Vikings’ season and the upcoming game in Detroit.
Here we go…
Zac Snyder: How disappointed are you with how the Vikings season has gone so far?
Dan Zinski: I don’t know how disappointed I am because I didn’t expect much. I had them maxing out at 6-10 going into the season. Obviously they’ve been worse than that. The disappointing part was how they played early when they had some leads and couldn’t hold on. But that all seems a long time ago now. I think everyone’s into “look ahead” mode. In retrospect, we should’ve been in look ahead mode from the start, and that includes the organization. I hope we don’t look back on 2011 in a few years and realize we really screwed ourselves by not just cleaning house totally. Already a lot of people think Leslie Frazier should be canned for wanting to bring in Donovan McNabb.
ZS: What are you looking for or hoping to see from now until the end of the season?
DZ: I’m watching the young guys. I want to see Christian Ponder and Percy Harvin who are really developing some great chemistry. I want to see Kyle Rudolph continue to make sick catches. A few of the young guys on defense are intriguing. A couple weeks ago it looked like there might be some player milestones to watch, including Jared Allen chasing the sack record, but that’s out the window. I’m also hoping we get a shot to knock the Bears out of the playoffs. That would be fun.
ZS: What is your opinion on Christian Ponder and are you confident he can develop into the quarterback the Vikings need?
DZ: I like Ponder a lot. He’s a typical rookie in that he infuriates you with some of his bad throws, but he also has a great ability to forget his mistakes and stay aggressive. After years of watching Tarvaris Jackson wilt after any kind of mistake it’s good to see a rookie QB with the confidence to shrug off his struggles and keep plugging away. He seems to have the respect of his teammates, which comes partly from his performance and partly from the fact that he’s just a tough guy who takes lots of shots and gets back up. As to whether I think he can become a playoff-caliber QB…time will tell. I want to believe he’ll clean up the mental errors he’s been making, but then I think of guys like Rex Grossman who’ve been at it for years and still make the same dumb mistakes. Tarvaris Jackson comes to mind too. Some guys just never get it. Ponder may have the physical tools but the fact that he seems intelligent and well-spoken is no guarantee he’ll ever master the hard part of the game which is reading defenses.
ZS: The Vikings had success pressuring Matthew Stafford, do expect a similar game plan and can it work for all four quarters this time?
DZ: I’m sure the Vikings’ plan will be to get pressure on Stafford any way they can, I’m just not sure it will matter. They pressured Tim Tebow pretty good but Tebow still made plays because the secondary guys just kept messing up. I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill coverage breakdowns either, I’m talking massive mental mistakes, leaving guys wide open, guys not knowing where they were supposed to be, just inexcusable garbage. The Vikings have fielded some pretty bad defensive backfields in the years I’ve been watching but this one takes the cake. Their only shot is to keep the ball away from Detroit. Toby Gerhart may run it 30 times. He may run it 40 times.
ZS: How do you think this weekend’s game will play out? Give us a final score.
DZ: I’m seeing a final score of 35-10 Detroit. The Vikings are bottoming out. I doubt they’ll win a game the rest of this season. This one will be over by the half.