Points on the Purple: Let's leave the bad passing in the past
FELDMAN: So, Limbeck, does your Helmet Hair still hurt, thinking about last week's abysmal passing performance by the Vikings' newest old quarterback? In Monday's P-B, I made my feelings about it as clear as the path Shaun Phillips had to Donovan McNabb. So, have at it, Helmet Hair. What do you think of McNabb's epic debut in purple?
LIMBECK:Before we get all gloom and doom, maybe you, Captain Purple, should stop sobbing into your cape for a minute. I'm not going to say it will turn out this way, but remember two seasons ago when Brett Favre debuted with the Vikings? Favre put up less-than-average numbers in his first two games with the Vikings. The difference was the Vikings won both of those games. Favre then started to get on a passing roll. I'm willing to give McNabb another game or so before I turn on him. The bad news is, the NFC North Division is stacked.
FELDMAN: It is, but the strength of the division shouldn't even be a concern right now. If we're concerned about how strong the division is, that means we think we have a shot at winning it. Let's try to pass for triple digits, then let's try to get one win before we worry about the rest of the NFC North. But let's get back to some positives before your Helmet Hair explodes. The defense played about as well as we could've hoped last week. Can guys like Brian Robison and Remi Ayodele continue to play that well?
LIMBECK:I like Ayodele and believe he is a solid player, like when he played for the Saints. He will also get a boost when Kevin Williams returns next week from his suspension. Let's not forget that factor; Williams was out against San Diego and he might be the Vikings' best defensive player. Robison can play well in spurts, but I don't think he's built to be a full-time player. I'm more worried about E.J. Henderson's injury. The Vikings are woefully thin at linebacker and call not afford to lose the best half of the Henderson brothers. I think we can both agree the defense was solid for most of last week's game. What does the offense have to do to turn things around Sunday at home against Tampa Bay?
FELDMAN: It starts with the coaches and the line. All of the creativity we thought coordinator Bill Musgrave was showing us in the preseason never made it on the flight to San Diego. And Musgrave did nothing to adjust in the second half when the Chargers kept stacking the box with eight or nine guys. The tight ends need to be involved in the passing game this week. Tampa has two of the better cornerbacks in the league, Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib, who will be licking their chops if McNabb tries to force passes in to his wide receivers. Back to the defense, if E.J. is out, how do the Vikes contain LeGarrette Blount?
LIMBECK:To contain Blount the interior defensive lineman need to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. That's where Ayodele, Letroy Guion and Fred Evans come into play. I think the Vikings can control the line. Hopefully Guion doesn't continue to jump offsides this week. This is the home opener. How do you think the crowd is going to be, fired up and loud or more of a meek, wait-and-see attitude?
FELDMAN: The "sold out" crowd will, I'm sure, be happy to have a true home game again (playing at TCF Bank Stadium or Ford Field don't really count). If the crowd gets into like it has in the past, it could cause some problems for the Bucs' offensive line. One matchup to watch: Jared Allen against Tampa's left tackle, Donald Penn. Penn gave up six sacks and more than 30 QB pressures last season. If Allen gets off to a good start, it could be a long day for Tampa's offense. If the Bucs can block the Vikings' ends, it could be a long day for the Purple. For now, we'll give home-field advantage to the Vikes: Vikings 20, Bucs 17.
LIMBECK:I like your positive attitude. I think both teams will try to run the ball and you have to give the edge there to Adrian Peterson. McNabb will play better this week and get the tight ends more involved. Look for a Kyle Rudolph sighting, maybe at a key moment: Vikings 24, Bucs 16.