Let’s get one thing out of the way to avoid confusion first: Purple Jesus = Adrian Peterson. I’m not sure if that’s a fanwide Viking Nation accepted term or if this site started it, but just wanted to clear up any confused souls out there. This week I have the honor of presenting a Q&A with a blogger who’s name I still don’t know to this day. He simply goes by “PJD”, or the name of his blog. “PJD”, I have to admit, always gives THE BEST interviews, always good for a laugh and he cracks me up. This is a must read as I think you’ll enjoy his answers too. Last time we chatted he was walking around with his chest out a bit more and this time around you’ll notice that self-deprication is at an all time high. Such is life in the NFL, up one minute down the next. That should serve as a reminder to all of us as fans to appreciate the Saints while they’re winning because it can all change in an instant. It’s been a brutal year for the Vikings, no doubt about it. Make sure you check out Purple Jesus Diaries on the Bloguin Network if you get a chance, it really is probably my favorite opponent blog on the Network. You can also check out “PJD” on twitter.
Enjoy the Q&A below:
Saints Nation: In your wildest dreams could you ever have imagined the Vikes sitting at 2-11 battling for the 2nd overall pick in the draft?
Purple Jesus Diaries: Tttttssssssssssssssss Kind of? When your team trades for Donovan McFat in an abbreviated off-season with a new head coach, things are bound to go sour. Honestly, no. I thought with the talent on this team we were good for anywhere from 6-10 wins in a worst and best case scenario. 2? Maybe 3 by seasons end if the Redskins roll over next weekend? This is a nightmare worse than sitting through a showing of “New Year’s Eve.
SN: So what happened this year? Why are they so bad?
PJD: It’s hard to pin point one thing. I do think a lot of it is new coordinators, which filter down to the players. The offense barely stood a chance this year with Donovan at the helm, despite Purple Jesus having a solid year before his injury. And that’s despite the offensive line being a horrible excuse for a group of professional football players. Just abysmal. The real trouble is the defensive backfield, but even with that being said, there’s been a handful of games where, on paper, they really haven’t done bad. It’s just one of those seasons where everything has snowballed terribly. I think if you were to ask a Vikings fan right now what their biggest issues are, they’d definitely say cornerback and safety. Good thing we don’t go up against Drew Brees this weekend or anything … *shoots self*
SN: Gotta give the Vikings credit, besides blowouts at Chicago and Green Bay, they’ve been in every game. Do you expect them to give the Saints their best effort?
PJD: Not really. They may play a bit better at home, I suppose, but this team is still a disaster. I also think the team has pretty much checked out at this point, so best effort? No, not at all. And even though they’ve kept games relatively close throughout most of this year, there’s never been a sense that they could win any of them. Even during the first four games of the year where they had huge halftime leads and lost them all, everyone knew it was going to happen. The team just doesn’t have that resolve and panache to close games out right. I think a LITTLE of that is coming around with Christian Ponder, but we won’t know until next year.
SN: Was cutting McNabb prior to the season ending the right move?
PJD: Eh. I don’t know what good he was doing on the bench, whether he was really helping coach Ponder up or not, so it’s hard to say. Once he was cut and they brought Sage Rosenfels back in, who’s been humbled with his bouncing around the past two years, it seems like he’s more amiable to the mentor role. McNabb wasn’t, but honestly, as soon as he was benched I think most Vikings fans totally forgot about him.
SN: What’s the general consensus on Ponder, is he or could he be the QB of the future?
PJD: If you had asked this before their last game against Detroit, I think most people would have whole heartily said yes. He’s shown some great zip on his passes, fine accuracy, brains to not make the dumb plays or turnover, athleticism to threaten with his legs, and an ability to fight through injuries to get on the field. But then he threw three TERRIBLE interceptions against the Lions, which were the exact same mistakes he made the week prior, and it’s got people nervous. Is he going to learn from his mistakes? Bets are yes, I mean, he’s still young and everything. As is, people are excited about his potential but, like any nut-so fans, they want to see results immediately. He should be fine and be here for the long term.
SN: Please tell me Adrian Peterson could be held out of this game, too. What’s his status for this week, and has he gotten better with ball security since last time we faced you guys?
PJD: Last week he practiced and said he was about 80% ready. I don’t see the reason to play him with our record if he’s still hurting even a little bit, but Coach Frazier may make an example of him as in, “He’ll play for this team, you better too!”, so if he heals up well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play. As for his carries, I think he only had one fumble last season, as opposed to the 8 or 9 he had when we played each other in the NFC Championship game. As far as I’m concerned, the fumble problem is a thing of the past.
SN: The Vikings seem to have been horrible all season defensively, especially against the pass. Is this the nightmare matchup I think it is for them?
PJD: Absolutely. But as I was saying, it’s been weird defensively for them. Yes, their cornerbacks and safeties are atrocious. That’s not even debatable. However, the defensive line has been surprisingly good this year – with Jared Allen leading the league in sacks, I think? – and the linebackers playing solid but not spectacular this year. Chad Greenway again is leading the team in tackles, and I honestly don’t know how he does it. The problem is that the defensive line pressure isn’t consistent, which allows receivers to find separation from our inexperienced cornerbacks, and the offense has been so bad that it’s left the defense on the field for three quarters of the game, essentially. So yes, start Drew Brees and Darren Sproles in your fantasy line-up.
SN: As a guy that watches a lot of NFC North games, can the Packers be touched this year? Do you see any team, Saints or otherwise, even capable of derailing this perfect 19-0 season?
PJD: Well, I wish you guys wouldn’t have handed it to Ingram during game one of this year and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation! Those bastards are getting lucky, a lot. Their defense is not nearly as good as it was last year and is being overrated on past success. A good team like the Saints or 49ers even could give them a run for their money. Really, any team that has a good offense, that can go toe-to-toe with their scoring, should be able to keep it close. I have you guys beating them in the NFC Championship Game, so don’t let me down.
SN: What do the Saints need to do to win this game? If you’re part of the Saints’ staff, what’s your gameplan?
PJD: If I’m the Saints staff, I’m taking a week off and resting for the playoffs. This game should be a cake walk. Offensively, screen passes and quick slants will beat the Vikings and keep Purple Jesus (if he plays) off the field. Defensively, pressure the young quarterbacks while mixing coverages and you’ll have his head spinning like a dradle. The only was I see the Vikings winning this game is if your defense gets lazy in the second half. For some reason, the Ponder-led Vikings have played spirited in the second half of the game.
SN: Score prediction?
PJD: Oh god. 45-24, Saints? And that’s if you allow us to squeeze out a garbage touchdown in the end. Thanks!