Across the fansided network each week during this season, we will be doing a quick Q&A with the Falcons’ opponents for that week. This week I had a chance to talk with Dan Zinski from The Viking Age about this Sundays match up between the Falcons and Vikings.
Jamie Kelly – The big move for the Vikings, this past offseason was to acquire QB Christian Ponder in the draft. How do you rate his performance so far? What do you expect from him in the future?
Dan Zinski – I’d give Ponder a B- so far. As his defenders never tire of pointing out, he has no pass protection or receivers so maybe it’s not fair to expect much right now. His problem the last couple of games has been dealing with the blitz. The Packers came after him relentlessly, daring the Vikings’ terrible receivers to beat one-on-one coverage, which they of course were unable to do. The Raiders were almost equally aggressive, zero-blitzing on multiple occasions. Until the Vikes find some good wide outs, teams will keep sending extra people at Ponder, and he will keep struggling. There have been plenty of positives with Ponder though. He bounces back from his mistakes without losing any confidence. He’s mobile. He seems to have inherent leadership qualities. His arm’s not super-strong but it appears to be strong enough. Now he has to refine his technique and just keep learning. I think he has a chance to be good but the Vikes need to surround him with better people.
JK – The Vikings obviously haven’t had the season, they would have wanted. Outline a few reasons why things haven’t panned out for the Vikings.
DZ – It’s all personnel issues. They’re just not very good. The offensive line is a mess, the defense is riddled with holes and the receiver corps is a joke (as evidenced by the fact that they kept Bernard Berrian around for weeks even though everyone knew he was worthless). The hope I think was that the few star players the Vikings do have would play out of their minds and a few of the younger guys would develop quickly, but there have just been too many issues at too many positions. Things weren’t helped when Donovan McNabb turned out to be garbage. I think the hope was that McNabb would recapture the magic in Favre-like fashion and raise up the level of the offense but it quickly became apparent that he just doesn’t have it anymore. They’ve also played pretty undisciplined football for much of the season. When you’re not that good to begin with you have to execute and they haven’t.
JK – Jared Allen has been a beast so far this season. How impressed have you been with him? How do the Falcons go about stopping him?
DZ – Jared’s been fun to watch this year. I think I was like a lot of people in being skeptical of him coming off his sub-par 2010 but he’s shut up all his doubters. He’s playing like a man possessed. The way to neutralize him is by having the QB step up in the pocket and get rid of the ball. The Vikings have struggled at getting pressure up the middle for most of the last two years (although Kevin Williams did wake up a little in the Raiders game and they’ve been getting better blitz action from their linebackers and safeties). Jared’s going to get his shots at the QB, you just have to live with that reality. But a good QB will also be able to step up and tear apart the miserable secondary. Jared’s great but it takes more than one man to make a defense.
JK – If Adrian Peterson is not able to play on Sunday. What has to happen for the Vikings to strike an upset?
DZ – Ponder has to find his tight ends a lot since they’re clearly his best receiving weapons. Both Shiancoe and Rudolph are banged up though so that could be an issue. And Toby Gerhart has to step into Peterson’s shoes and provide a consistent ground game. I’d also look for Percy Harvin to handle the ball a lot. Percy is not only their best wide-out, he’s also their second-best running back. I’d expect them to run some draws with him, a few end-arounds, crap like that. Just overall they have to play smarter. This team makes far too many dumb mistakes.
JK – Predictions for the game. Please give a score.
DZ – I’ve gotta take the Falcons 27-17. It’s hard for me to see this team going intoAtlantaand winning at this point. Too many problems.