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Strong Up the Center
In woman's softball,
unlike in baseball, they have a saying ... Be strong up the middle (to be able
to win). For the uninitiated, woman's softball is just different from
baseball in so many ways that there simply isn't the time necessary to explain
it here however this statement holds true. You're strongest defensive
players are your pitcher, your centerfielder, your shortstop and your 2nd
Many put one of their weakest hitters at second base and 2nd in the line-up, due
in part to a short throw to first on an infield ground ball, and due to a first inning
bunt to move the lead off hitter to first base but this disregards the entirety
of the game. Tournament teams that win have one of their strongest
defensive arms at 2nd base to counter a hit to right field to execute a cut off
throw by that 2nd baseman to the plate. That gun is vital to prevent big
innings ... where big innings (lots of runs scored) lose games. In short
... a strong defensive center results in victories ... and we simply didn't have
that on Sunday.
The analogy of being strong up the middle is also true for this Vikings team and
it is key to Mike Zimmer's defense. If you don't understand this, the result
is the pounding of articles that have recently graced the Minnesota's sports
beat ... as they have been waiting for the other shoe to drop for some time
now. This might be due to the fact that no body knows why this team was
winning ball games as each week a different set of players appeared big upon
stage. What is of fact is that Seattle was given a gift, much like the Packers versus the Lions a few days
ago and things happen for a reason. To be direct, I don't like what I'm reading as it is both pestilent
and impatient and it isn't doing this crew any good to read this crap as they've
got to quickly regroup and move on. There is a tomorrow.
When Sharrif Floyd went down, Tom Johnson took up the slack without missing a
beat resulting in four Viking victories. The reason for that success was
due to a vital center piece by the name of Linval Joseph. What Sunday indicated is that Sharrif was a #1 pick, and Linval is a All Pro Defensive
Tackle. Some thought that Sharrif would pick up the slack when Linval was
listed as out ... but we all now know that simply wasn't true. This might
help explain Mike Zimmer's comment in regard to Linval Joseph when he said that
he was the best defensive tackle he's ever been
Now take a look at the tape in regard to EXUM Whiff. How many times did
this safety miss the tackle ... many times a complete whiff on the play.
This might help explain why for so long Exum Whiff hasn't broken past either
Zendejo or Blanton. He may have a nose for the ball but he's woefully
inadequate when it comes to Zimmer's disciplined defensive scheme which is known
for tackling first and foremost. You'll catch the ball against this
defense underneath but that's all you're
going to get. That wasn't the case on Sunday but ... for the life of me ...
what was Exum doing covering Baldwin or in other words, where was Munnerlyn,
Newman or Rhodes.
With All Pro Harrison Smith, and Zendejo, plus All Pro defensive tackle Linval
Joseph out ... this had no chance of being ... what had been ... a great defense. Now exacerbate
the entire process at a whole new level by removing Anthony Barr ... what is undoubtedly our 3rd All Pro
at Linebacker. There is little wonder why Russell Wilson lit us up. In other words, we were once very strong up the middle.
On Sunday that was no longer the case but things happen for a reason ... don't
they? This is no different that what occurred in San Francisco where the
death of this franchise was highly publicized where the demise was in fact only
a figment of ones imagination.
There is good news however. Seattle is now overconfident in regard to this
Vikings squad as they see themselves as being unstoppable ... and they think
that this Vikings team is fully in their rear view mirror however this is still
very much a playoff team where the destinies of these two squad might appear
again on the horizon under the watchful eye of the true 12th man. In other
words, the Vikings have surrendered nothing and Seattle is destined for a road
playoff schedule due in part to the Arizona Cardinals.
The Vikings may have squandered an opportunity where that ugly head showed its
face last Sunday. It happened when we saw Terence Newman moving to safety
to shore up our depleted core. I say wasted as Trey Waynes is destined to
play corner where Josh Robinson, although proved to be substandard playing in
the slot, just might make a very good safety. He has the ability to tackle
and his corner skills might have prevented Baldwin from shredding the EXUM
Whiff. Robinson, in the corner role has been woefully inadequate as being labeled
a corner with hands of stone (very unimpressive interception record) ... a
change in orientation just might prove that he does have the ability to pick off
passes and solidify our center. As a corner, he was often beaten with his back to the ball with little time to react to intercept a pass. There is
no such problem for a safety as he's observing the entire field. As
someone that was burned often, he's definitely prepared to execute in a support
role. It is not clear if he's woefully unprepared to take on this role or
even if it is too late but the Vikings don't have allot of options ... the
mother of necessity. Playing safety might resurrect his career
options. What is clear is that Robinson has fresh legs and he
is eager to earn his way back onto that field. Zendejo going forward is a
part time option at best.
As for the Cardinals on Thursday ... they are not the Seattle Seahawks. To
exploit the center of our defense the Hawks needed a strong running game which
the Cardinals do not have. The Red Birdies are a pass first team where the Vikings
still match up well as long as they keep Newman, Rhodes and Munnerlyn exactly
where they were and they put the Exum Whiff in a place where he can't hurt this
team ... on the bench. Sure you've been beat up and things look dire
however Seattle isn't the prize ... the over confident Cardinals are ... as the
present #2 seed. If they falter down the stretch and the Vikings man up
versus the Pack, the #2 seed is still out there where an additional week off
during playoff week just might prove to be the miracle elixir for this squad.
The Red Birdies schedule down the stretch is brutal so this all just might fall
in line and it begins on Thursday.
As for Teddy, he's been woefully inadequate on executing both his down field
opportunities and on increasing his intermediate throws but on his behalf keep
in mind that he's still taking a pounding out there. The hope is that the
offensive line continues to improve each week ... gaining from its
experiences. To be direct, I'd rather have a healthy Teddy than no Teddy
at all ... but that doesn't exclude him from progressing and making plays.
Go get em Teddy and hear me chant your name from hundreds, if not thousands, of
miles away. You are not alone out there.
The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: December 7, 2015