Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

After the Minnesota Vikings' 24-10 victory Sunday to the Detroit Lions, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Over on Twitter, @easy_e_33 jumped on the headline of Sunday night's post ("Adrian Peterson bails out Vikings") and wrote: "What game did you watch. There was no bail out. The defense has just as much part in that win." Easy, I would argue that Peterson's two touchdowns were paramount for an offense that had scored a total of 24 points in its first two games. That said, the Vikings defense has really played much better than 1-2 football. It's allowed 31 points in three games, and ultimately that's what all defenses are judged on. (One opposing touchdown came after forcing a Brett Favre fumble.) "[T]his defense is back where we left off last year," said linebacker Ben Leber, who intercepted a fourth-quarter pass Sunday to end a Lions scoring threat. I'm especially impressed that the defense navigated a two-game stretch with only three cornerbacks. Reinforcements arrived Sunday, as both Cedric Griffin (knee) and Chris Cook (knee) made their 2010 debuts.

  2. Various media outlets have suggested an "All-In" theme for the Vikings this season, given their core of aging veterans and the likelihood this is Favre's final season. That moniker is closer than you might realize. According to ESPN's Bob Holtzman, Vikings coach Brad Childress called a meeting of all veterans last Friday. Essentially, Childress told the group that their window of opportunity was closing and that many of them might not return after a presumed 2011 lockout. They needed to win now, Childress said, or not at all as currently constituted. The message was more statement of reality than it was a threat, but the meaning should hit home regardless.

  3. I saw enough Sunday to nominate Greg Camarillo as the full-time punt returner. After rotating with Bernard Berrian for two weeks, Camarillo was back for all seven of the Lions' punts. He returned five for a 5.8-yard average but had a 28-yarder called back because of a penalty. Most importantly, Camarillo looked sure-handed and displayed none of the bobbles that plagued Berrian in Weeks 1 and 2. There are very few teams with punt returners who are both independently explosive and reliable. I'll settle for the latter most times.

And here is one issue I still don't get:

How are the Vikings going to arrange their receiving corps after the bye? Slot man Percy Harvin has been working at flanker because of the injury to Sidney Rice. Will they continue to push Harvin outside? Or will they focus him back on his playmaking position in the slot? Favre, who targeted Harvin eight times Sunday, was intrigued. "Once he gets down how to play receiver," Favre said, "he can be pretty unbelievable. If Harvin moves to flanker, even for the short term, it could open up more playing time for Camarillo in the slot. Another option on the outside is newcomer Hank Baskett, who caught an 18-yard pass but also dropped a potential 39-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.