Saturday's game was awesome for a lot of obvious reasons. A lot of the rookies looked good (Locker, Ayers, Casey, Klug, Clayton) and the ones that didn't (Harper...Harper.) had some issues that can either be fixed or chalked up to nerves. While I'm disappointed in myself for not sticking with it and watching the rest of the game after about halfway through the third quarter, what I saw from the two new coordinators who I questioned earlier in the year is certainly really encouraged me. Jerry Gray's schemes are making me a believer. His utilization of the personnel last night was picture perfect and it showed on the scoreboard. The Vikings were thoroughly dominated all night despite having a team that was similar in talent. Joe Webb's and Lorezo Booker's big nights running the ball was due more to the mostly crummy tackling that was provided from a lot of the players. Hopefully, that'll iron itself out with more practice, I have my doubts that side-tackling drills were a big part of the offseason workouts for a lot of our backup players.
As of this moment, my main concerns with this unit isn't the placement of these players. It's the thought that they're going to have to continue to step up and make plays all year long when it actually counts. Jordan Babineaux? Yes please. He's younger than Hope, he can't be worse than coverage, and for a man who didn't really have a spot in Seattle, he did alright for himself. More of this guy in 2011.
The defense forced turnovers, flew to the ball, and attacked the QB. Those are three things I really love to see out of a defense brimming with talent and potential. If (when) the tackling comes back, this is a unit that could mesh well. Despite all of these good things, I can't help but feel as though Myron Rolle's days as a professional football player and the Most Interesting Man In The World are coming to an end. Best of luck to him as a neurosurgeon, heaven knows we need more good doctors than football players.
The new-look defensive line is truly a sight to behold. These guys are huge. That's about all that needs to be said at this point. Shaun Smith is going to cause some trouble for centers and guards around the league this year due to his sheer girth alone. He is truly a mountain of a man.
Chris Palmer, whose hiring I didn't fully understand when it first happened, has really endeared himself to me. I don't know how much of Jake Locker's progress can be attributed to him, but you can't say he didn't put the young QB in a position to succeed. There were several plays which utilized Locker's greatest strength, throwing on the run, and enough of him in the pocket to give us an idea of where he is right now. The results, quite frankly, are a pleasant surprise. We all know the classic knock on Locker. The fact that he needs to be more accurate is important to note. His footwork looked pristine compared to what it was back in the early days. This guy is no joke when it comes to his dedication to the game. Lockermania has been unleashed, you're either with us or against us, pick a side and defend it vehemently.
Speaking of Palmer and the offense, for a large portion of last night's game, Palmer's offense had a great flow to it. Things just seemed to be clicking. That's an awesome sign, especially when our two best players aren't seeing a single snap.
Jared Cook continues to be as good as advertised and make Jeff Fisher look like the worst assessor of talent since Dusty Baker. Craig Stevens even showed us a little bit in the receiving game. Moving inwards, I'm pretty happy with the progress that the offensive line has made. There were surprisingly few complaints about the group as a whole which is beyond awesome. What's especially impressive about this is that offense and line play as a whole have been down due to the lack of execution brought on by less time spent with the playbook this offseason.
There are plenty more things to be said about Saturday's win, but I'm afraid of crossing into the dreaded "tl;dr" category and being redundant, so that's where I'll end it, but believe me, I'm really starting to come around on these guys.