It’s hard to get too excited about things coming off an emotional loss to a division opponent. But while others mull over QB Brett Favre’s injured ankle and the game officials’ inability to get crucial calls correct (even with instant replay at their disposal), let’s take a look at the return of C John Sullivan to the starting lineup.
Sullivan has been dealing with a nagging calf injury all throughout training camp, the preseason and into the regular season. He was able to tough it out through the first 2 games of the season but then was injured again on the first play of the Lions game in Week 3. Sullivan was unable to return in that game and he missed the following 2 games – a bye week followed by games at the NY Jets and vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
After a few weeks off and then being active but not playing against the Cowboys, Sullivan returned on Sunday night to start against the Green Bay Packers. And from what I could tell, the offense benefited from his return. Green Bay sacked Favre just once and the Vikings offense generated 196 rushing yards. In the previous 3 games, when the Vikings were without Sullivan, the Lions got to Favre twice, the Jets sacked him 4 times and the Cowboys tallied 3 sacks. And the 196 rushing yards the Vikings gained against Green Bay is 101 better than they gained against Dallas, 100 better than against the Jets and 13 more than the Lions allowed.
On top of those stats, which can be quantified thanks to a box score, Sullivan’s impact on the offense also came in blitz pickup. There were several occasions were the Packers came with a blitz but the Vikings were able to communicate and pickup each blitzing defender to allow Favre time to find the open receiver.
Lastly, I also noticed it was Sullivan who cleared the path for Adrian Peterson’s 1-yard TD plunge in the 2nd quarter, which knotted the game at 14.
Although Sullivan’s return ultimately did not aide the Vikings to victory, it did aide the Vikings offense to improvement and another step forward for both Sullivan and the offense is just what the doctor ordered for this week’s contest against the New England Patriots.
Tags: John Sullivan
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 47 Comments »