The story from last night’s Saints 14, Vikings 9 season opener was Brett Favre’s absolute inability to connect with his wide receivers – primarily Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian – with Sidney Rice out injured. The basic stats tell enough of the story, with Harvin at one catch for 12 yards and Berrian at one catch for 3 yards.
I went back and charted Favre’s passes, and he was only 4-for-12 on targets to all wide receivers, with the pass to Camarillo that went exactly 20 yards in the air being the longest completion to a wide receiver. His two longest completions (in terms of air yards traveled) were the back-to-back strikes down the seam to Shiancoe that created the Vikings’ only touchdown. He was 5-for-6 in passes that were in the air less than 3 yards from the line of scrimmage, but completed less than half is passes beyond 3 yards. He spoiled everyone with how he played right away last year after barely participating in camp, but this year, he looked uncomfortable throwing to the receivers not named Rice.
I have some concerns about this passing offense early, and its going to be a slow start for Minnesota if they don’t get the downfield passing to improve.
Other notes from last night’s game:
- Early in the game, NBC ran a graphic in regard to Adrian Peterson’s fumbles. I suppose the purpose was to say that Adrian Peterson will improve his fumbling. It was a classic case of selective multiple endpoints and cherry picking. Eric Dickerson had 49 fumbles in his first four years, and only 29 in his last seven. Thurman Thomas fumbled 39 times in his first six seasons, but only 11 times in his last seven years. Tiki Barber had 44 fumbles in his first seven seasons, and it went down to nine over his last three. The problem, of course, is that NBC selectively picked three different cutoffs for three different specifically selected players to make the best case. You pick the first six seasons for Thomas for because he had only one fumble in his 7th season. Both Dickerson and Thomas also hung around for four years each as part-time players, so part of the fumble decline had to do with them playing less. Dickerson did improve his fumbling, but had 10 fumbles in his final season as a starter. I wrote about the overall decline in fumbling rates for running backs a few years ago, and I don’t know if running backs get better at ball security as they age. I’ll put it on the to do list, but graphics like these that do not have consistency drive me crazy.
- Ryan Longwell missed an extra point following the Vikings touchdown. Misses like that always come back to haunt the team, right? As it turns out, it had no impact on the outcome of this particular game, as the Vikings would have still needed a touchdown to win. You may be surprised to know that teams missing at least 1 extra point in a game from 2002-2009 went 59-32-1. Only 4 times (4%) did a team missing an extra point in the last 8 years actually lose the game by a single point; the last one was, incidentally, when the Packers lost 17-16 against Tampa Bay in 2005 when Ryan Longwell missed an extra point.