1. In "the Skinny" this week, I touched down on our resounding success at run defense up the middle. An encouraging thing to note? Only four teams run a higher percentage of run plays up the middle more than the Vikings. 70% of Minnesota's runs this year have been A-gap runs, which bodes well for our chances. I've said our scheme weakness was exploited against KC, but Minnesota plays an entirely different style of ZBS run game and simply does not have the change-of-pace backs that KC does.
2. By the end of the year, Cam Newton may wind up having the greatest QB season in history that leads to a top ten pick in the draft. I was sold on Cam as an NFL caliber QB before the season started, and he has even me shocked. Carolina is letting him down terribly, but watch out for that team in the future.
3. Many power rankings have three NFC North teams in their top ten. The argument between us seems to be over early on in the season, but who knows.
4. We may well see Fairley supplant Corey Williams earlier than we expect him to. Now, you all know how big of a fan I am of Corey Williams's, but let me say this. Last year we had our pass-rushing, raw, inconsistent-in-the-run-game monster known as Ndamukong Suh lining up next to composed, pile-pushing mountain-of-a-man Corey Williams and it worked out pretty amazingly, am I right? With Suh's improved presence in the run game and his ability to consistently take double blocks and regularly beat them, I'm salivating at the possibility of Suh being Fairley's Corey Williams this year, if that makes sense. Having Suh next to him to eat double blocks (as Corey Williams did more than a few times for Suh last year) will allow Fairley to shine and refine his technique a lot faster than standing pat on Corey Williams.
5. If Jesus can walk on water, and humans are 78% water, does that mean if I walk on someone that I'm 78% Jesus?
7. My last random thought will be a long one. I'm really starting to rethink this whole "we haven't been tested yet" theory. In both games we faced adversity early on. Both games highlighted a core weakness of the team, perimeter run defense and an inability to run the ball when we need to. Both teams may look bad and our strength of victory isn't overly impressive, but it's the second week of the season. Every victory we have has accounted for an entire half of our opponent's schedule. I understand what people are saying about how we haven't been tested yet, but I think it's complete hogwash. This is a team that has had learning experiences in both games, pivotal moments that could have lost us either game, and a couple bad breaks.
Teams are going to attack our weaknesses on defense, and our weaknesses will threaten to beat ourselves. If we get a lead, our inability to run the ball consistently will lead to some heart attacks similar to week 1. But until we find an opponent that will beat our strengths, not our weaknesses, the Detroit Lions are unstoppable. Look at our schedule and find me the team on there with the defense to beat our passing attack, or the offense to beat our defense. Now look at our schedule and find the team that has both. Don't see that team? It doesn't exist.
I'm not saying we'll go 16-0. We'll lose, alright. We'll lose because one team's A-game will be better than our A-game on a given Sunday. It won't be because some team found some mortal flaw in our makeup, and it most certainly will not be because we've finally been "tested." No team on our schedule will test us any more than we've been tested in weeks 1 and 2. Opponents will fight us hard, and we'll fight hard, because that's football. We'll face adversity. We'll face good receivers, elite QBs, strong defensive fronts, scary secondaries. We'll face teams that will scout us and notice our weakness against perimeter runs on the left end, and they'll exploit us. We'll face teams that think Matthew Stafford still hasn't been "tested" because he's refused to take a sack, teams that will gladly help us out in testing him. But until that one team that stops worrying about trying to play to our weaknesses and starts worrying about trying to play our strengths in combination with committing to their own, there will be no victories against us.
We'll be the ones administering the test this year. Can you stop Matthew Stafford and his umpteen receiving weapons? Is your offense built to handle LBs that can run, a front four that is strong on all downs, and an aggressive secondary that refuses to give up? Well, Minnesota, can you? Dallas? Chicago? Denver, Atlanta?
How about you, Green Bay?