I think the best we can hope for today from a competitive standpoint is…competitiveness.
The New Orleans Saints are in town and they have Drew Brees throwing to not just a deep and talented bench of wide receivers (Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem & Devery Henderson) but he’s also got a 6’6″, 260 lbs. tight end in Jimmy Graham that poses matchup nightmares and a running back in Darren Sproles who excels are a receiver. Brees hasn’t thrown an interception during the past four games; the Vikings haven’t picked off a pass since the Clinton Administration.
The only hope to remain competitive is to control the clock to keep Brees et. al. off the field for as long as possible. It’s good for the Vikings that Adrian Peterson will be back. Even if he’s not necessarily carrying the load, I’ll take an even combo of him and Toby Gerhart with some Percy Harvin sprinkled in to try and dominate on the ground.
Let’s hope Christian Ponder can come back with a strong game after his benching last week. And by strong, I mean making good decisions, getting the ball to his receivers on time, and not turning the ball over. It’s not surprising that a rookie quarterback would deliver the ball a tad late, which leads to incompletions as best and interceptions at worse. Getting your timing right is as much about experience as it is anything; Ponder’s holding the ball a bit too long because he’s thinking about what he’s seeing rather than reflexively recognizing what he’s seeing. That will come with tiem.
I have no illusions that it will be enough to walk away with a victory but, again, competitiveness is the best we can hope for today. But this Vikings team, despite being 2-11 and needing a whole lot of help next year, is sort of like the Minnesota Twins were before this year: You can’t count them out.
Former CFL receiving star Emmanuel Arceneaux will get his first taste of the NFL today and the Vikings will get their first taste of Manny Arceneaux during live action, so we’ll get to see whether or not we’ve got a diamond in the rough.
On defense, we just need to hang on and hope for the best. If Jared Allen and Kevin Williams and Brian Robison can get to Drew Brees early and often, they’ll be able to slow the Saints down but that’s one hell of a tall order, given how experienced and talented a quarterback he is and how quickly he can release the ball.
Manny Arceneaux wasn’t the only former CFLer at Winter Park this week. ProFootballTalk reports that the Vikings have worked out Canadian Football League Offensive Lineman of the Year finalist Jovan Olafioye. Olafioye was a member of this year’s CFL Grey Cup champion British Columbia Lions, where he’s played left and right tackle. The BC Lions’ website lists him at 6’6″ and 325 lbs.
He turned 24 last week yet he has two years of pro football under his belt.
The Dolphins have also given him a workout and he’s scheduled to visit the Browns, Steelers, and Jets, so he’s making the rounds.
Olafioye can obviously play up north and he’s got the size to compete in the NFL, so he could be a good pickup to hedge against the possibility of someone else taking USC tackle Matt Kalil in the draft and/or giving Phil Loadholt some competition to try and up his game.