Vikings Mid-Season Report Card
Here's how your 7-1 Vikings grade out via position as they makes the turn to the latter eight games:
Quarterback -- Grade: A
Running Backs -- Grade: A-
Adrian Peterson is tied for third in the NFL in rushing (784 yards) and his nine rushing TD's are second best in the conference. In addition, he also leads the NFC with eight runs of 20 yards or more. While A.P. is trending to rush for about 200 fewer yards than in 2008, that comes as no surprise given the presence of a quarterback that hold about 1,926 NFL records. Of further positive note: Peterson's 19 catches are just two shy of his career high and he's caught a pass in every game -- a long-lamented facet of his game that seems to be maturing with time.
Chester Taylor looks to see reduced carries for the third consecutive year and his bobble vs. Pitt is what most will remember thus far through the '09 campaign. In addition, his 2.7 yards per carry would be the lowest clip of his strong career. Still, Chet has nabbed 24 catches and I personally believe that his presence will be strongly felt through the air as we get to the grinding weeks of December.
Wide Receiver and Tight Ends -- Grade: A-
Visanthe Shiancoe has just 22 catches, yet a whopping 27 percent of those babies have been for a score. The six touchdowns are just one short of his career high, set last season.
O-Line-- Grade: B+
Given the 18 sacks (15th most in NFL) and 40 quarterback hits (10th most) suffered by Favre, it's temping to grade this unit out lower. But with essentially two rookies (Phil Loadholt, John Sullivan's "second year"), the point surge outweighs the blemishes. As beautifully-noted in the Trib, guard Steve Hutchinson's holding penalty vs. Pitt was dude's first since 2003. Crazy good; Canton awaits.
D-Line: Grade -- B+
Linebackers -- B
After being spurned by the Pro Bowl in '08, Chad Greenway has come back with another exceptional campaign. His 46 solo tackles are tied for 16th in the league, a mark well-buoyed by two forced fumbles and two interceptions. E.J. Henderson has also been sound, as evidenced by his 57 total tackles, good for 24th in the league. The unit looks strong sideline-to-sideline, but it would be encouraging to see more run-help in the middle.
D-Backs -- Grade C-
Antoine Winfield looks to return next week at the latest, which would readily behoove the Vikings' lone crud unit. The unit offers just four picks, and zero TD returns. While their performance against Pittsburgh was encouraging, the 278 passing yards allowed per are bad for 21st in the NFL. Hope should come in the stat offering no present top-12 passers in the remaining eight games. Of course, those are just numbers -- we'll soon gather how they measure-up versus the likes of Kurt Warner, Carson Palmer and Eli Manning.
Special Teams -- Grade -- A-
Coverage units have been strong, with kickoff's limited to 21.6 per and punts presently only a slight worry at 7.8 (with a score allowed). From the offensive vantage, unknown Jaymar Johnson has been an acceptable punt man, while Percy Harvin's nascent rep grows with his two kickoff returns for score.
Chris Kluwe continues to be a trustworthy leg, with a solid 15 punts pinned inside the opponent's 20 -- good for 7th (tied) in the league. Ryan Longwell's stellar 92.9 field goal percentage (13-for-14) is good for 3rd in the league, and would represent the highest mark in his impressive 13-year career.
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