Sep 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) catches a pass against New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) during the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
I recently teamed up with Adam Carlson, managing co-editor of The Viking Age, to exchange several questions around the upcoming matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. I’ve done my best to pick his brain around a few things related to this Sunday’s matchup. You can see my responses here: Minnesota Vikings vs Saints: 5 Questions With Who Dat Dish
New Orleans Saints’ Opposition Intel: Minnesota Vikings
1. There’s no question about it, but the Adrian Peterson situation is the focal point of the Minnesota Vikings right now. What’s your personal take on everything surrounding this? I mean, here’s a guy that was rallied around last season after the loss of one of his sons, and now he seems like the goat of the NFL with all of the recent events happening?
While this Vikings offense was built around Adrian Peterson, I don’t think they’re totally dependent on him. Minnesota has brought in a couple of pieces over the last several years to ensure that this can be a competitive team going into any game, but the loss of the home run carry isn’t there with backup (now starter) Matt Asiata in the backfield. But expect bigger roles from guys like Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph with a transition to more of a west coast style offense compared to a run heavy situation.
2. The Vikings found tremendous success in Week One on the road against the Rams, but didn’t perform well at home against the Patriots. How do you see the Vikings replicating more of the success from Week One, and what must they absolutely do to win on Sunday?
The biggest difference between the two games was turnovers. In the first game, the Vikings notched two interceptions and didn’t give the ball away. Then, against the Patriots in week 2, Cassel threw 4 interceptions and a blocked field goal was returned for a touchdown. In order to stay competitive, Minnesota will have to win the turnover battle. Four interceptions in one game is never acceptable and Cassel knows this, especially since he’s got a rookie breathing down his neck.
3. It’s been a long journey for the Vikings at head coach since Dennis Green exited the picture in 2001. You’ve had Mike Tice, Brad Childress, and Leslie Frazier before Mike Zimmer. What’s the mood like having Zimmer be the head coach in Minnesota, and what changes have you witnessed that might have been lacking with past coaches?
Vikings fans seem to really love new head coach Mike Zimmer. After a couple emotionless years with Leslie Frazier holding down fort, it’s nice to see a coach who isn’t afraid to get on his players in public and hold them accountable for their play. The change is so different that you can notice a huge change from the players on the field, too. Zimmer plays the guys who give the team the best chance to win, while Frazier was a guy that had a veteran-first mentality and would play an older, less effective player over a young one. The new head coach gives Vikings fans hope for the future in a year that most fans would like to forget.
4. The Vikings offense barely mustered 200 yards of total offense last week (217 actual), was the problem Matt Cassel? Does missing Adrian Peterson take away that much of the dynamics for the Vikings?
I firmly believe that this team can win without Adrian Peterson. The major problem last week was confidence. After an opening drive that saw the Vikings power down the field and get in the end zone, Cassel saw the left side of his offensive line crumble and he never seemed to get that confidence back that his offensive line could execute the game plan. Left tackle Matt Kalil was drafted #4 overall in 2012 and played well his first season. However, since then he has looked like more of a bust than a boom. He will need to get his act together for Minnesota to establish a passing game.
5. Recent trips to the Superdome and matchups against the Saints have been less than desirable for the Vikings, do they break the Saints’ three-game winning streak? Who is your impact player for the Vikings to win?
Sadly, I don’t think the Vikings walk out of New Orleans with a win on Sunday. Realistically, there are too many distractions going on with this team and New Orleans is a really tough place to try to win a game in the first place. But as I stated above, the success of the Vikings passing game doesn’t rest in the hands of quarterback Matt Cassel, but instead in the ability of Matt Kalil to keep a clean pocket for him. If the Saints can get pressure on Cassel from the left side of that line, it could be another long, long game for fans in Minnesota to watch.
Be sure to keep up with The Viking Age on Twitter for all things related to the Minnesota Vikings! Huge shoutout to Adam for your time! Enjoy the game Sunday!