I've never fully understood what it mean for a sports fan to "panic" about one's team. "Is it time to panic?" If it is, what do I do? Jump up and down limp wristed like my three-year-old nephew? Wet my pants? Take a dump in Ragnar's horn?
Whatever the correct choice may be, it's pretty clear that 2009 is over, and that relying on a soon-to-be 41 year old QB to not look old and out of it was a bad choice (not that there were much better out there.)
Still, I'm going to try and do my duty here and slice through the usual "GOD THE VIKINGS SUCK, SEASON OVER, WORST TEAM IN HISTORY" stuff -
- First, give Miami some credit. They're a Bill Parcells built team and it definitely shows, considering how the Vikings o- and d-lines got dominated. 4th and goal at the 1 with the game on the line, it was a battle of wills at that point, and Miami won out. Also, Jared Allen was a total non-factor (ignore the sack, Henne ran right in his direction and barely got tripped up), and I think I'd rather see Ryan Cook than Phil Loadholt at right tackle at this point. Loadholt's the definition of a turnstile on passing downs. Just terrible.
- As suspected, the Vikings had an easier time moving the ball at home. They managed to get in the red zone four times (only 1 drive inside the 20 in Week 1), but they led to a field goal, a pick, a gift TD after Ronnie Brown's fumble at the Miami 1 yard line, and stuffed on 4th and goal. THAT is where they miss 6'4" Sidney Rice the most. Without him, they're facing 9 in the box waiting for Peterson.
- I didn't like the Vikings going for it on 4th and 2 in the first quarter at the Miami 29, and here's why: you had tons of trouble scoring last week, don't get cute, don't "send a message", PUT SOME POINTS UP. You have a great kicker, use him.
- Here's the main reason it's silly to give up on the Vikings right now: they had similar issues to start the season last year - out of sync, Favre looking rusty, offensive line looks bad - but they had the luxury of starting the season against Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco at home, and St. Louis in Week 5. That's plenty of time against crappy teams to get your feet under you. They had no such luxury this year, in New Orleans and against a very good Miami team. But still, their defense gave up only 3 touchdowns in two games, and they lost by 5 and 4 points respectively.
- Who does this year's team remind me of so far? If I had to stay within football, I'd say the 2006 Vikings - old man Brad Johnson at the helm, zero big plays on offense, very good defense. But situationally, the Vikes remind me of the 2005 Timberwolves. The year previous, the Wolves finally broke the bank and brought in veterans Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell to help out KG, and it worked - for a season. The next year was a nightmare, with Cassell immediately getting hurt and Sprewell demanding more money and playing like the malcontent he is. They missed the playoffs for the first time in 8 years and made the disastrous decision of firing Flip Saunders midseason.
Those scenarios don't line up perfectly but you can see the similarities. What I'm getting at is it's much easier said than done to repeat the magic from a year before. I don't know what it means to "panic", but if the Vikings struggle again against Detroit, at home, then there's some REAL problems at hand. For right now though, it's just reality slapping us in the face.