Last week we kicked off this new series by picking the brain of Joe Pinzone from Buffalo Wins. Joe gave us some insightful information, and it's always great to do a little back and forth with a division rival. But we were already kind of familiar with the Bills, their strengths, and their weaknesses. The Dolphins do play them twice a year, after all.
This week it's a different story. Yes, the Vikings get tons of national exposure and frequently play prime time games, but the Dolphins will be in unfamiliar territory on Sunday. They haven't played the Vikings since 2006. That's a year before Adrian Peterson exploded onto the scene. Jared Allen was still in Kansas City, and Brett Favre was still a Green Bay Packer.
The Vikings are now considered by many to be one of the top five teams in the league, and a win on Sunday would springboard the Dolphins some momentum heading into arguably the two biggest games of the season. So let's get this underway. Please welcome in Purple Jesus Diaries, your one stop for Vikings coverage here at the Bloguin network. As always, check PJD for the five questions I answered for them about the Dolphins.
1) From an outsider's prospective, Brett Favre looked a little rusty against the Saints. Do you fear that he's finally about to fall off, or do you think his struggles had more to do with the Saints' blitz happy defense, or Sydney Rice being out of the lineup? Do you see Favre and company bouncing back in a big way against the Dolphins' secondary?
PJD: Do the Dolphins have a secondary? Didn't they draft Vontae Davis who may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability because of his IQ? Regardless, yes, Favre looked like garbage. I don't think it had anything to do with Sidney Rice, though. Favre apparently always starts off slow over the first two weeks then picks things up. That's not an excuse though. If he knew this, and knew the Vikings offense was in flux, he should have shown up earlier if he was SERIOUS about winning a Super Bowl this year. I think they'll try to get the passing offense rolling this week if the Dolphins pass D is weak, but I think with what we saw from Adrian Peterson that Childress would be smarter to run him all game long. Of course, Childress is an idiot too ...
2) This will be the Dolphins' first game against Adrian Peterson. They held Buffalo's trio of backs to a mere 50 yards last week, but AP is obviously a different animal. With the passing game struggling a little bit, do you expect the Vikings to try and get it going, or turn to increasing Peterson's workload? Do you believe his fumbling problems are a thing of the past, or something the Vikings will just have to deal with?
PJD: I don't put any stock into Peterson's fumbling. People make a big deal out of it, but it's something he'll correct. It's kind of like when you get with a hot chick for the first time and you're REAAALLLLY trying not to be premature ... the more you think about it, the more likely it'll happen, so I think Peterson is pretty nonchalant about it and doesn't worry about it. Nor will I. As said, the Vikes SHOULD run him more this week, but I bet they'll feel confident with Favre at home and be split pretty 50-50, which of course will make it a close game in the end.
3) Everybody knows that the Vikings have had one of the better run defenses in the league for years now. If you were the Dolphins, how exactly would you go about trying to get Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams going? We know the Williams brothers make up a brick wall in the middle. Do offenses ever have success testing the edge?
PJD:While the Vikes have been stout against the run in years past, I think they are starting to taper off. The Saints showed that with a hefty offensive line that you can run straight up the middle. A lot of this is Pat Williams getting older than Moses, and EJ Henderson still a bit timid at linebacker after his thigh got busted up last year. I think these are things the Vikings D coordinator, Leslie Frazier, will correct as time goes on, but defensive line is one of the Vikings deepest positions. If anything, they're more susceptible to counters, the WildCat and things like that, as the D ends like to rush the passer. Get them out of their assignments and the Dolphins could run effectively.
4) Many perceive that the only real weakness the Vikings have is their secondary. It's obviously hard to see much progress against an elite passing attack like the Saints, but do you think they will improve any this season? Would you abandon the run like the Saints did in the first-half Thursday night, if you were the Dolphins?
PJD:I wouldn't. I think things are starting to change a bit for the Vikings. The passing D is always so easy to piss on for the Vikings, but Winfield is healthy and a heavy hitter, Asher Allen is coming up, and they have a veteran in Lito Shepperd who isn't GREAT, but certainly serviceable. As the year goes on, they'll have 2010 2nd round pick Chris Cook come back (he was already practicing this week), who looks to be a tall, strong, stud ala Hugh Jackman (what?) as well as last year's starter Cedric Griffin. If people stay healthy, by year's end, the CBs may be the Vikings strength. The Safety position is another matter though, as all the team's safeties couldn't pass a standardized reading test. Strikes down the middle of the field could work.
5) Finally, who do you see winning this game and why?
PJD:I find it hard to imagine a Vikings team this talented, this ready for a Super Bowl, is going to lose back to back games, with one of them being a home opener. The Metrodome, aka, Zygi's Hood, is a tough place to play regardless (They didn't lose there last season), and I don't see them losing the opener. I predict a 27-17 win for the Vikings, largely because I don't know how great the Dolphins offense really can be against the Vikings, on the road, in the second week of the season. Maybe I just don't trust Henne that much. Of course, this all goes out the window if Childress starts calling plays like he was last week. It could end up being a nail biter real quick. Good luck!