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Zulgad: Vikings followers should know better than to take these things for granted

The Vikings’ 9-2 record and stronghold on the NFC North makes it easy to begin taking certain things for granted.

That, of course, would be a mistake given the previous struggles we have seen when it comes to this franchise and certain areas of need that often haven’t been adequately addressed.

Here are three things the Vikings are doing well in 2017 that shouldn’t be overlooked. The offensive line’s play is not included because no one should take the success of that unit for granted considering the atrocious play we saw only a year ago. (Feel free to kick in any other suggestions in the comments section.)

Throwing on the move

Christian Ponder had the mobility to move out of the pocket and keep plays alive. The issue was he didn’t have the ability to keep his eyes down-the-field while doing this, meaning he couldn’t utilize what should have been one of his biggest strengths.

One thing that has made Case Keenum so successful in 10 games, and nine starts, is that the veteran not only has proven adept at scrambling but he also continues to look for potential receivers as he attempts to evade defenders.

While the offensive line has played very well, one reason Keenum has been sacked only seven times is because he can extend plays and throw on the move. Remember, Keenum was sacked twice in his first start against Pittsburgh when it was clear he wasn’t on the same page with his linemen. He has been sacked only five times since.

Just because Keenum makes it look easy to keep plays alive doesn’t mean it is.

Making the right call

How long have Vikings followers wondered what is going through the mind of the offensive play caller? Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell thrived with Brett Favre in 2009, but otherwise there were head-scratching moments from both the former Vikings coach and coordinator. Same with Bill Musgrave and Norv Turner.

Now, think about this. How many times have you been left screaming at your television this season after watching a series called by coordinator Pat Shurmur?

Those who have criticized the Vikings’ offensive play callers – like me – don’t necessarily think we could make the right calls, but we know when things don’t make sense and we also know when it’s clear a coach or coordinator has decided his way is the only way and adapting to the personnel would be a sign of weakness.

This is foolish but we’ve all seen it.

Shurmur’s play-calling makes sense because he marries his philosophy with what players do well. Keenum is having a very good season and deserves credit for that, but Shurmur also has put him in position to succeed on numerous occasions.

There’s a very good chance Shurmur could get a head coaching opportunity after this season, so enjoy play-calling that makes perfect sense while it exists in these parts.

Constant coverage

What’s wrong with Xavier Rhodes?

That was a question asked by a few Thursday after Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford went at the Vikings cornerback a few times, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr., in the final quarter. Rhodes also was called for a pass interference penalty late in the second quarter.

So what was going on?

First, Rhodes had injured his calf in the Vikings’ win over the Rams on Sunday. Second, we just aren’t used to anyone throwing at Rhodes and, thus, when it happens and he gives up a reception, we are reminded of the fact he’s human.

Rhodes, a first-round pick by the Vikings in 2013, has turned into one of the top corners in the NFL and considering some of the feeble play we’ve seen from cornerbacks in the past (remember Asher Allen, Josh Robinson and Marcus McCauley?) we should appreciate great corner play when we see it.

Even playing with an injury, Rhodes finished Thursday’s win at Detroit by picking off Stafford on fourth-and-10 with three minutes remaining.

That was the Xavier Rhodes we have come to expect. Just don’t take his play for granted.

  • Scott Myhre

    The biggest thing we shouldn’t take for granted? You writing a positive article about the Vikings!

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  • Drediock

    Been a fan of this team too long to take anything for granted on any given week

  • Gordon Guffey

    Wow Judd ~ You are getting better as the season has gone on ~ I want lie I didn’t think there was any hope for a closet Packer fan ~ But you have been doing a better job of late ~

    And good reads like this makes coming here to this site even more enjoyable ~

    I have had my fun with the Teddy Fan club and Coller and you as well ~ But of late you have been getting the job done with your reports ~ Thank you Sir. for stepping up ~ I tip my hat to you for a job well done once again ~ Please keep up the good work ~ !!!!!

  • David Prestin

    Captain obvious…..Viking fans already know all too well not to take anything for granted. None the less, not a bad write-up to remind the unseasoned Viking fans.

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  • cka2nd

    I couldn’t watch the game on Thanksgiving, but in a live thread I was popping into from time to time, I did see a lot of shotting and hair-pulling over Shurmer calling for first down running plays time after time even after the Lions were continually stuffing them. It certainly brought back memories of 2015, and lots older ones, for that matter. There may have been a reason for it, but I haven’t heard that Zimmer was asked about it, so maybe the press is giving Shurmer the benefit of the doubt for a week or two.

    • Gordon Guffey

      JMHO here ~ Vikings got up early and Zimmer wanted to run the ball to eat up the clock by keeping the ball in bounds ~ That being said I dont believe in his wildest of he thought the refs would suck so badly ~ The running game is one of the reasons why Diggs was so wide open deep again IMHO because the DB’s were being sucked in by coming up to support the run defense ~ The Lions were in run blitz defense and on their way to the QB for most of the day ~ Thats why the DB run into and through Diggs on that play and it happened elsewhere also ~ Its just that Diggs was the worst of them ~

      The Vikings made enough plays in both the run and the passing game to have blown the Loins out but the refs keep putting the Lions back in the game with PI calls in favor of the Lions or calling a none catch and catch ~ The score should have been more like 34~10 than 30~23

      I understand running the clock out so I’m not fussing ~ Its what the Vikings have been doing all year from my view of the games ~ They have Case use as much of the play clock as he can on any given play ~ Doesn’t matter if its a pass or a run ~ They play clock is down to 4 or less seconds when Case gets the ball ~ Again this is JMHO ~ There was a lot of 1st down run and for little gain to be fair ~ However this was the first really bad game by the OL ~ However I’m not sure if it was their fault or the fact that more than once a defensive linemen was moving before the snap but wasn’t called offsides ~ The Loins got away with a few faults starts as well ~

      Hope that spread some light on the subject from a Viking fans who rarely calls out the refs for any reason ~ Be it for bad plays or costing my team a lose ~ Yeah the refs sucked that bad on Thanks Giving Day ~

  • Gordon Guffey

    Some people still haven’t gotten over just how bad the refs were in this games ~

    No momentum to make pass interference reviewable
    Posted by Mike Florio on November 26, 2017, 6:24 PM EST

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/11/26/no-momentum-to-make-pass-interference-reviewable/

  • Andre Esters

    Zulgad is right, and he’s putting it nicer than ever… Vikings followers should be on emotional high alert until this entire season comes to a close. From the hot start with Bradford and the rookie RB, to the surprising success of Keenum and the offense as a whole… this dramatic show is very enjoyable, but there are a lot of pieces hanging by a thread. Hopefully health continues to favor the purple people and nobody gets complacent reading their feel-good articles. Still a long way to go before the football masses give a shred of respect to the NFC North not associated with A.Rodgers.





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