Friday, December 30, 2005

First Charles Barkley, Now Mike Tice?

Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune is a genius. Mike Tice might not become the Charles Barkley of the NFL, but he would definately be great as a studio host. He's stupid enough so that the average NFL fan would relate with him, smart enough where he can add some insight, and as, Zulgad says, "Tice is a character and seems to enjoy playing the role." So Zygi, I beg of you, for the good of Mike Tice and, more importantly, for the good of NFL Fans everywhere, don't extend Tice's contract. Let him go to where he can truly shine: NBC's NFL studio show.

[Editor's Note: A Username and Password for the Star Tribune can be found in the links on the right]

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The New 3 Deep?

Let me tell you--it's really hard to analyze a game that no one, (including myself) cares about. The Vikings are going to try hard to win. Da Bears are not. Game, set, match Minnesota. Though, at least the Vikings are planning on working in some of their younger players. Troy Williamson playing up to his draft spot next year is the only way for the Randy Moss trade to not end up a bust. And, if the Vikings are able to resign Koren Robinson (and he avoids trouble this offseason) and Nate Burleson avoids the injury bug, they would have their best group of wide recievers since Chris Carter, Randy Moss and Jake Reed were 3-Deep. Plus they would probably have the deepest recieving core in the NFL, with Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor as their fourth and fifth wideouts.

That talent, of course, would be wasted with an offensive coordinator that doesn't know how to use them (like this year) and a quarterback that can't get them the ball. The talent for the return of the Vikings' high flying passing attack next year is there, it's just a matter of whether a good offensive coordinator can be found and if Daunte returns to his 2004 form.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

When a Win Hurts

"With a victory on Sunday, we can go 5-1 in the division. With a victory on Sunday, when things were bleak and it was 2-5, the team rallied together and finished 7-2. With a victory on Sunday, we can finish 6-2 in front of our home fans."~Mike Tice

Now, I know that Tice is fighting for his job. I know that the Vikings are actually going to try to win on Sunday. And, I know Da Bears are going to go all out...until they pull their starters midway through the second quarter. To put it simply, the Vikings are going to win on Sunday, not because they out play Da Bears, but because Da Bears aren't even going to try. And that win could drop their draft position from 15th to 20th. And that's all I care about, now that the Vikings are out of the playoffs. 5-1 against a 3-12 squad, a 5-10 squad and a team that only tried once just isn't that big of an accomplishment. 4-2 and a higher draft pick would be a lot better for the Vikings' chances of making the playoffs next year. While it's not like it's the difference between getting Reggie Bush or Mr. Irrelevant, it could still prevent the Vikings' from getting someone like DeAngelo Williams (RB-Memphis), Chad Greenway (OLB-Iowa), or LenDale White (RB-USC), all of whom are projected to go somewhere between 10 and 20 in the draft by

Then again, the Vikings' could wind up with the 18th pick in the draft, take a player with top 5 talent and 2nd day baggage and have him lead them to a 15-1 season. Too bad things like that never happen in the real world...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Vikings Corollary

As you all know (and likely don't care) Monday Night Football is moving to ESPN from its sister station ABC. Naturally, Sportscenter had to feature MNF in its Top Ten, since the move is such a huge story. The top two plays? Tony Dorsett's 99 yard run against the Vikings in 1983, and Antonio Freeman's catch on his back against the Vikings in 2000. It's just another piece of evidence that supports my Viking Corollary: whenever the offensive highlights of a player (or, it seems, a television broadcast) are being shown, they will prominently feature the Vikings' defense getting torched by said player.

MNF? Yup.
Brett Farve? Yup.
Emmitt Smith? Yup..
Walter Payton? Yup.
Michael Vick? Yup.
Any member of the Greatest Show On Turf? Yup.
Steve Young? Yup.
Tony Dorsett? Yup.
Terry Bradshaw? Yup.

Sadly, I could continue. Obviously, players who didn't play against the Vikings are exempt, but to my knowledge, there are no other exceptions to the Vikings' Corollary since the Vikings' inception in 1961. I wish I were wrong, but, well, I'm not. It's something that Vikings' fans are just going to have to live with.

Monday, December 26, 2005

More Thoughts on the Night the Season Died

Somehow, despite the fact that I knew that the Vikings were going to lose to the Ravens, I'm still having a hard time getting over the Vikings' loss. This was the third year in a row that they needed to beat a team with a losing record on the road in order to make the playoffs (or stay in the hunt) and it was also the third year in a row that they failed. That fact alone should be enough to convince Zygi to fire Tice. Some other thoughts from the night the season died:

  • The Vikings need a running back who can they can rely on to convert in short yardage situations. Near the end of the first half, they pounded Ciatrick Fason into the line twice from the Ravens' one yard line, once for no gain and once for a loss of four yards. In the third quarter, facing third and 2, they threw the ball. On fourth and 1, with the game on the line, they punted. A Super Bowl team needs a back they can give the ball to in those situations, like Jerome Bettis, Corey Dillon or Shawn Alexander. The Vikings, however, have Fason. Finding a back for situations like these should be a priority for the Vikings' brain trust, whether they find him in free agency or by converting Jim Kleinsasser back into a fullback. If they start next season with Fason, they are going to regret it the next time they face a third or fourth and short in a critical situation.
  • One surefire way to create turnovers is to put pressure on a shaky quarterback. "Shaky" is one of the kinder words used to describe Kyle Boller during his career. The Vikings' didn't apply any pressure, however, even when they started to blitz in the second half. One of the keys to the six game winning streak was the pressure from the defensive line. It led to sacks, fumbles, incompletions and interceptions. Without it, the secondary was picked apart by a shaky quarterback.
  • The Vikings ran the ball 14 times. They ran pass plays 40 times. Their quarterback is Brad "Game Manager" Johnson. Does anyone else see the problem with that?
  • What does the number 61 mean to you? Roger Maris? The year the Twins and Vikings came to Minnesota? How about the average number of yards the Vikings had in the second half of the last two games. Those 61 yards per game yielded nine total points, three of which came after a fumble recovery in field goal range (The Vikings failed to get a first down after the turnover) and three of them came in the final minute of Sunday's game, after the Ravens had pushed their lead to ten points. Kind of makes you think that the Ravens and Steelers were able to make effective adjustments defensively at half time, while the Vikings' offense were not, doesn't it?

A Gutless Call Leads to The End

I didn't expect them to win, but I can't say that I saw them going out like this. I'm too disappointed in the way this game ended to get angry, or even to be sarcastic. There were other important mistakes and other opportunities, both before and after Chris Kluwe trotted out to punt the ball on 4th and 1 after Darren Sharper's interception. I knew that, and it didn't matter--the game was over as soon as Tice lost his nerve. It didn't matter that the Vikings' defense had been playing well over the last 7 games, it only mattered that the Ravens' offense had looked like the Colts tonight. Once Kluwe punted that ball, the Ravens were going to score and they were going to chew up the clock while doing so.

I know that the Vikings aren't a good running team, don't have a bruising back (remember when Kleinsasser was?), etc. I know the reasons why Tice chose not to go for it. And I know that the only way the Vikings were going to win that game was by getting a first down on that play and then finishing the drive with a touchdown. Tice, however, didn't realize that and so, like every other bad coach would do, he punted. It was a gutless call by Tice and his lack of courage guaranteed that the Ravens would end the Vikings' season.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Will the Vikings Get Some Help?

Are the Vikings going to get the help they need to make the playoffs? Well, kind of. So, without further ado, my picks for the games that matter to Vikings' fans (Home team in Bold and the team the Vikings want to win is first).

Tampa v. Atlanta:
I'm picking the Bucs to win this one. They're at home, and they own the Falcons (6-2 under Jon Gruden) and Mike Vick. Also, the Falcons are reeling, having lost 4 of the 6 games since they dropped their game against the Packers in Atlanta. Their two wins are against the Lions and Saints. And the Falcons have had problems against the run, giving up an average of 114 yards a game in their last six games (and if you take out the Lions game, they've given up an average of 122 yards a game). The Bucs strength is their running game. Odds are Cadillac Williams is going to have a big day. And so should the Bucs, which will help the Vikings out by adding one more loss to the Falcons' record.

NY Giants v. Washington:
Despite the fact the Racists are at home, I think that the Giants are going to win. They slaughtered the Racists earlier this season and they are playing for the Division title. If they win, they clinch. The Racists reentered the playoff picture by winning two games against crappy teams prior to demolishing the Cowboys, the first team with a winning record they've beaten since the Seahawks in Week 4. The Giants, however, have won 7 of their last 9, and their two losses have both been flukes: the loss to the Vikings and a loss to the Seahawks, where their kicker missed three game winning kicks. The Giants might be the best team in the NFC and I just can't see them dropping a division clinching game, unless something crazy happens. And that's good for the Vikings.

Carolina v. Dallas:
The Cowboys are reeling. They just lost a must win game to their rivals, the Racists and it wasn't even close. Now, they are on the road in another must win game. And once again, their opponent is equally as motivated, since the Panthers can pretty much put away the division with a victory. Most teams would roll over in this one. The Cowboys, however, have one of the best coaches in the NFL. Bill Parcells will have them ready to play. The head coach they will be facing, however, is no Tice either and that's why I'm picking John Fox's Panthers to win--they are more talented then the Cowboys and just as well coached. So the Panthers' should atone for taking Daunte away by beating the Cowboys.

Green Bay v. Chicago:
Some might see one last opportunity for Brett Farve to work his magic. Those people, however, are stupid and have bought into the "Farve as God" crap that almost every announcer still pushes. Since I've managed to avoid falling into that trap, I'm able to look at this game much more clearly. And I see the Bears chasing Farve around the field, forcing him into poor decisions and walking away with a victory. Also, as a rule, I never pick a team that just lost their last game 48-3, like the Packers did to the Ravens. A victory on Sunday clinches the division for the Bears and the Packers have Q-U-I-T, which adds up to the Vikings having to settle for the last Wild Card spot, if they are able to make the playoffs at all.

So, in conclusion, the Bears will win, and by doing so clinch the NFC North. The Vikings, however, will still be playing a meaningful game on New Year's Day, since their competition for the last Wild Card spots will all lose on Saturday, leaving them a game up if they beat the Ravens, or if they drop the game, they'll still be tied.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Who To Root For this Weekend...

while waiting for the Vikings lay an egg on Sunday Night:

Saturday at Noon:

Tampa Bay (9-5) v. Atlanta (8-6) at Tampa. The Falcons are essentially tied with the Vikings for the last wild card spot. A loss to the Bucs would drop them a game behind, which is important, since they hold the tiebreaker, because they demolished the Vikings earlier this year. The Vikings aren't going to catch the Bucs for the first Wild Card, since the Bucs also hold the tiebreaker, so they better hope that Tampa wins.

NY Giants (10-4) v. Washington (8-6) at Washington. The team with the racist nickname would get the final wild card spot if the season ended today. The Giants are likely going to win the NFC East (and will clinch by beating the racists), that and a two game lead over the Vikings means what they do in the last two weeks only matters when they are playing teams the Vikings are actually competeing with.

Carolina (10-4) v. Dallas (8-6) at Carolina. The Panthers are basically three games up on the Vikings, since they "ended" the Vikings season in October. The Cowboys are tied with the Vikings, Redskins and Falcons for the last wildcard spot. You do the math.

Sunday at 4pm:

Green Bay (3-11) v. Chicago (10-4) at Green Bay. This one is obvious. If the Packers can pull of the upset (riiiiiigght) and the Vikings beat Baltimore, then the Metrodome is going to be the place to be on New Year's Day. If not, then the Vikings are going to be fighting for that Wild Card spot.

[Picks for these four games coming tomorrow morning]

[Here's a complete look at the Playoff Picture. It's complicated, to say the least]

Just What the Doctor Ordered?

Nothing like a nice, solid 5-9 team with a shaky quarterback to come along and right the Vikings' ship (hahaha, ship, like the boat scandal, get it? HAHA). Then again, the game is going to be outside, in the cold, at night. And the Ravens' defense is nothing to scoff at, which makes them a lot different then most of the teams the Vikings have beaten. And, after their offense put up 435 yards of total offense and 48 points on the Packers on Monday night, it seems that the defense might actually have something to worry about besides just scoring points.

Here's the thing though: Kyle Boller turns the ball over. He has thrown nine picks in seven starts and his passer rating is 71.9, which is a career high. Basically, he's Joey Harrington with a bird on his helmet instead of a lion. He's exactly the kind of quarterback that the Vikings have faced in everyone of their wins so far this year. The Ravens try and compensate for his inadaquecy by running the ball. Jamal Lewis, however, after spending most of the offseason in jail, hasn't been anywhere near as effective as he was in the past. And you know that Big Pat is going to have a huge game after getting passed over for the Pro Bowl.

So the Vikings' defense looks like it's going to be able to do its job. The offense, however, is going to run into some problems, especially since Melvin Fowler and Marques Johnson are out with injuries. A shaky offensive line is always fun, that's for sure. And the Ravens are pretty good at defensive (when are they not?). They have held teams to only 3.8 yds a carry, which is the eighth best in the league. When you consider that the AFC North is probably the premier rushing conference, that says a lot. It's very likely that the Vikings will struggle to run the ball on Sunday (which seems to be a recurring theme). Even less comforting is that they are even better at stopping their opponents passing game. They are seventh in the NFL in passing yards against, and eleventh in sacks. And, once again, they are facing an immobile quarterback who is being protected by guys who were benched earlier this year. At least we know that Brad Johnson never makes bad decisions when faced with pressure, right?

And so, once again, it's going to fall on the defense to win the game on Sunday. And like last week, just getting turnovers may not be enough. If the Vikings don't score on defense or special teams, then odds are they aren't going to score enough (or even at all). To be honest, I just don't see it happening on Sunday. And if they lose, you can kiss a playoff berth goodbye (and, hopefully, Mike Tice as well).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vikings Notes

I know its been awhile since my last post, but travel knocked me off my schedule. Here's some thoughts on the eventful last few days.
  • First off, congratulations to Darren Sharper and Koren Robinson for being named to the Pro Bowl. If the Vikings can add some more free agents like them next offseason, we won't have to rely on a dead Packers team to make the playoffs. I think that both Antoine Winfield and Pat Williams have turned in Pro Bowl caliber seasons as well, but they faced some pretty strong competition and I don't think that the players named were undeserving.
  • The Vikings are a much different team this year, if you haven't already figured it out. And the confidence the defensive is exuding really makes me excited for next year. If they add another blue chip defender or two in free agency (and they definitely have the cap room), they'll be a force to be reckoned with. So while Sharper may have been a year ahead of himself, it's pretty cool that it was believable when he said "you have to try to win the game on defense. That's the type of attitude I want us to have as a defense. Not rely on anyone else. Try to win the game by ourselves."
  • Patrick Reusse is hands down the best Vikings columnist. He was dead on when he called Pat Williams the Vikings' MVP, he smartly pointed out that just because a rookie doesn't put up a Randy Moss type season doesn't mean he is a bust and he was right again in calling out Vikings' fans on Monday. He wasn't the only one that has noticed fans' refusal to embrace Daunte, either. The big man himself doesn't want to play where he isn't wanted. I wouldn't want to play here either, since it seems that despite Daunte's success, whenever he hits a rough spot, whether it's poor play or injury, fans immediately embrace the white guy that steps in.
  • Finally, I leave you with another classic Mike Tice move: he tried to put some of the blame for the loss on the fans and replay operators. And while he tried to make it not look like that was what he was doing, it was exactly what he was doing. There's no other reason to bring up the replay thing, since it is something that could be handled internally. And there' s no other reason to suggest that Vikings' fans, after years and years of making the Metrodome one of the loudest place to play in the NFL, are not diehards. Let me just reiterate that I cannot wait until the Vikings have a real coach.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Reality Bites

We found out yesterday the difference between a team that beats the bad teams on its schedule and a good team. Sadly, the Vikings are the former, the Steelers the latter. The Steelers came in, followed the Vikings Victory Equation and went back to Pittsburgh in control of their playoff destiny, ending the "Brad Johnson for MVP" and "Mike Tice for Coach of the Year" talk in the process.

Throwing two interceptions in the red zone pretty much guarantees a loss. Luckily we have Brad "Game Manager" Johnson under center, so that we don't have to worry about things like that. Wait. You mean "The Efficient One" was the guy who throw those picks? You mean he wasn't able to produce a single touchdown in three opportunities in the red zone (two of which were 1st and Goal at the 3 yard line)? Well, I guess we can curb the "Trade Daunte" talk now that we know that Brad Johnson's "pedestrian, yet effective" performances had as much to do with his opponents as anything else.

And after that performance by the entire team, I think we can stop pretending that Mike Tice is a good coach. Let's see here, 185 yards of offense? Check. 13 penalties for 95 yards? Check. Blocked field goal? Check. Safety? Check. Failure to score, not once, but twice, when it's First and Goal from the 3 yard line? Check. 25 total yards in the second half? Check. I could go on, but I think that's enough evidence so that we can all agree that Mike Tice is not a good coach.

And the Vikings are not that good of a team. They are a mediocre one for the third straight year. They've beaten the bad teams on their schedule (which there are a lot of) and they've been manhandled by every .500 or better team, including the Giants. They can, and probably should, beat the Ravens next week. They aren't, however, likely to beat da NFC North leading Bears on New Year's Day. And then another promising season is going to end in mediocrity. And it's not going to be any different next year, unless Zygi replaces Tice with a real coach.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

No Way

I just don't see the Vikings winning this game. And that's a problem, because they need to. These last three games are all must win games if the Vikings are going to make the playoffs. The Steelers, however, aren't patsies like most of the teams on the Vikings' schedule. Let's go to the equation:


The Vikings need turnovers to win. The Steelers (with Roethlisberger under center) don't turn the ball over. Roethlisberger has only thrown seven interceptions this season, which is only two more then Ryan Fitzpatrick threw last week. The Steelers also have a great running game, which means that they're going to be less balls in the air for the secondary to have a shot at. And the Steelers are a quality team--they're 8-5 and that's in a much tougher AFC. In terms of the equation, the Vikings aren't going to get many turnovers (T is low), and the quality of their opponent is high (which means a lower number). That's not good for the Vikings.

If we look at the other half of the equation, we also see a bleak picture. The Steelers are holding opposing teams to 89 rushing yards a game. They aren't as strong in their pass defense, but they're still a middle of the pack team. I can't say that the Vikings having to rely on Brad Johnson to win a game makes me very confident either.

In conclusion, the Vikings aren't likely to create turnovers against the Steelers. The Steelers are going to shut down the Vikings' running game, and their pass defense isn't bad either. So when you plug the numbers in, unlike in previous weeks, the Vikings Victory Equation returns a pretty low number, which means it's likely to be a long weekend.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Mad props to Nick Coleman, who was the first columnist who managed to make it to the moral high ground. It's even more impressive when you consider his Bad Joke to word ratio. My favorite part goes thusly:

"Instead, [Hennipen County Sheriff Pat McGowan] found himself talking about some of the most recognized and highest-paid athletes in Minnesota in the same sentences with words that were not in his (or my) high school biology book."

"Smoot, the sheriff stammered, was observed using a sex toy on 'the vagina of two women'".

I don't know about you, but the word "vagina" was in my sex ed book. If that's not a common practice, it would definately explain some things. Also, it's important to note that McGowan's statements were made live on the 5 o'clock news. That, my friends, is unitentional comedy.

[In site news, I'll be posting my thoughts on the big game some time later tonight/tomorrow morning]

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Boat Charges

The good news? Mewelde Moore isn't going to be in his wife's doghouse. The bad? Daunte, Moe Williams, Bryant McKinnie and Fred Smoot got charged with misdemeanors that alleged lewd or indecent behavior.

The Vikings didn't really need this right now, since they can't afford to be distracted when they are facing the Steelers (otherwise known as a real team). But you reap what you sow, and now the boat party has reared its ugly head again. From the Star Tribune's description (which is really graphic--thank you, Monicagate) it sounds like the only Vikings they could identify were these four. I think that part of it is who these guys are. Daunte and Mount McKinnie tend to stand out in crowds, whereas most people don't have a clue what the other players look like.

That being said, I don't think this is much more then a frat party getting out of hand on somebody else's boat. A.K.A., it was more stupid then it was wrong. Obviously, this is not proper conduct for anyone, but I can't find it within myself to summon any moral outrage--it's not like they killed anyone. If they'd had it at somebody's house, or a strip club, instead of renting out boats, they probably would have gotten away with it, just like pretty much every frat or college sports team in the country. And I think that the sooner it gets resolved the better, because it looks bad for the Vikings, it looks bad for the players (deservedly, I think, but that's for a court of law to decide) and it's a boring story. This just isn't front page news, but the media is too busy trying to out moral high ground their competitors (or making really, really bad jokes) to notice that most fans don't really want to hear about it anymore.

The only good thing that could come from this story hanging around is if Zygi decides to clean house to get rid of it. That, however, is only going to happen if the Vikings miss the playoffs. Football Gods help us all if we actually make them.

Who Needs a Neck?

The MVP of the Vikings season is up to his old tricks again. The problem is, that for the first time, his confidence in himself is likely misplaced. When Pat Williams (You thought I was talking about Brad Johnson? You obviously don't know me) told the press on Monday that he's "run through [Bettis] plenty of times" and that "[Bettis] ain't really no problem", he seems to have forgotten exactly what happened the last time the two matched up. In that game in 2001, Bettis ran for 114 yards on the Bills.

2001 you say? Wasn't that four years ago? While that's "technically" true, it's not like the wheels have fallen off the Bus (puns are fun!). He just pounded his way through the Bears' top rated, Brian Urlacher led defense, even carrying Urlacher into the endzone on one play. Bettis dominated the Bears' defense so completely that Peter King led with the story in his Monday Morning Quarterback column this week. That performance does not bode well for Big Pat and the Vikings. Especially since Napolean "I Hope Troy Williamson is Good" Harris will be starting at linebacker for the injured Keith Newman. And I think we can all agree the Harris is no Urlacher.

"I shall fall on you Jerome"

"Nay Big Pat, I shall instead run over you, just like our previous encounter"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The National Media Catches On

There's something comforting in knowing that the people who write for the national sports websites are no smarter then the average Viking fan. Or maybe I meant to write disturbing. I'm not really sure.

Roy Johnson wrote on that he thinks the Vikings should trade Daunte. It's an argument that can be made intelligently (Vikes Geek did) but he failed to do so. Instead, he wrote sentences like this one:

"They've won six straight games, the latest, an almost routine 27-13 victory over the Rams on Sunday, featured five interceptions by a revived defense and, most important, another pedestrian but effective performance by Culpepper's replacement, Brad Johnson."

Obviously, a pedestrian performance is more important then a rookie quarterback throwing FIVE interceptions. Any one who knows their football would agree. Anyone think Roy Johnson actually pays attention to what he writes? Because I sure don't.

To be fair ran this piece by Andrew Perloff to go along with Roy Johnson's. Perloff's is a lot more realistic and...intelligent. Yup, Intelligent was the word I wanted there.

[Edit: When I was looking up the Vikings' Power Rankings, I found a story about the Vikings' quarterback "controversy" at cbssportsline. Theirs is actually intelligent, but you'd think that the national websites would be able to come up with different angles, what with the NFL being a 32 team league and all, but I guess not.]

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Loki

I was going to give this to Ryan Fitzpatrick. If any single player contributed to the Vikings win on Sunday, it was definitely him. I don't really like Harvard though. Or the Rams (I'm still bitter about 1999). And so I'm going to give it to a Viking instead. And, surprise, surprise, the winner isn't Brad Johnson. And, well, I'm not giving it to just one Viking. I'm going to give it to the Vikings secondary: Brian Williams, Antoine Winfield, Corey Chavous, Darren Sharper and Fred Smoot. I'm sure that they'll be haunting Fitzpatrick's arrogant Ivy League nightmares for a long time.

"Thanks Ryan!"

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Vikings' Fans are Idiots

[I got these comments from an article in the Pioneer Press about who should be the Vikings QB next year]

"As a longtime Vikings fan, my vote is for Brad Johnson.

Reason: Culpepper is worthless under pressure. If the opponents have a good defense, they can fluster Culpepper to where he is unable to function mentally and physically.

When things are going well, Culpepper shines. When things are not going well, Culpepper stinks. The Vikings need a QB who is cool under pressure like Brad Johnson."

Like when Brad Johnson led the Vikings to under 20 total yards in the 1st half against the Giants? He didn't look like he was functioning mentally or physically the entire game, except for the last drive, when the Giants WERE NOT PRESSURING HIM because they were too busy trying to lose with their prevent defense.

"Are you serious? What a question!

My understanding of competitive sports is that you try to win your game.

Lose with overrated and overpaid Culpepper or win with Brad Johnson.

Obvious choice... Brad Johnson"

-Jan, White Bear Lake

Before Daunte got hurt, the Vikings lost to the Bucs (8-4), the Panthers (9-3), the Bengals (9-3), the Bears (9-3) and the Falcons (7-5). All 5 are ahead of the Vikings in the standings right now. They beat the Packers (2-10) and the Saints (3-9). Since BJ took over, the Vikings have beaten the Lions twice (4-8), Packers (2-10) and the Browns (4-8). Also, the Defense and the Special Teams beat the Giants (8-4). So is BJ a winner because of he's good, or because of the schedule? I'll let you draw your own conclusions. I'm not even going to go into the difference in the play of the defense.

"The choice is clearly Brad Johnson. He's led the Vikings to five consecutive victories and has shown more leadership than Daunte. Brad's more efficient and knows when to take the sack. And, oh, by the way, Brad knows how to slide."
-Giles, Vadnais Heights

Unnecessary cheap shot by Giles there--though I'm not sure I've ever seen BJ slide, since he usually gets caught from behind instead. Also, Daunte has a better completion percentage then BJ (and more attempts) for the season. He also had one of the best years ever for a QB last year, but obviously, that is in no way relevent, since Daunte's a loser, who's never won anything.

In conclusion, Vikings' fans are idiots. Instead of hoping that Daunte will get healthy and regain the discipline he had last year when he would win games by himself, they want to get replace him with a 37 year old stiff who at best is not going to lose games by himself.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Football Gods Hate the Vikings

The Football Gods must have decided to help the Vikings after the Carolina game. There' s really no other way to explain why the Vikings are getting every break possible when it comes to their opponents' quarterback. Last week, they played the Lions right after they switched coaches and quarterbacks. The week before, they got to play the Browns at home, with a quarterback angry that his rookie backup was getting snaps and a rookie backup who managed a 100% completion the Vikings. They've also gotten to face Joey, "The Two Turnover Guarantee" and Brett "Force the Throw" Favre. And the only legitimate signal caller they've faced, Eli Manning, had a bad case of the sucks that weekend.

And now, instead of having to face Mark Bulger, they instead get to face rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick, from Harvard. And I have to say, the Greatest Show on Turf definitely loses a little bit of it's luster when it has a Division 1-AA player under center.

So why do the Vikings keep getting these breaks? Personally, I think it's because the Football Gods want Mike Tice to coach the Vikings next year. They know that if he makes the playoffs, he has a good shot at getting a new contract. They also know that the only way this Vikings team is going to win is if they create turnovers. And since the Football Gods want the Vikings to win, they are ensuring that their opponents quarterbacks are always on the wrong side of crap.

Now, you may ask, why would the Football Gods want Mike Tice to keep his job? The short answer is that they hate the Vikings. The long answer is that they want the Vikings to remain the most star crossed team in the NFL and having Mike Tice as the head coach is a great way to do that. And that's why the Vikings have only faced bad quarterbacks since the Football Gods have gotten involved.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Not Very Satisfying

A win is a win. That being said, barely hanging on against a Lions team that is in disarray is not exactly one to get excited about. The thing is, the Vikings should have won easily. When they went up 21-6 on their opening drive of the second half, the game was basically over. Despite continually shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and sacks, that should have been the back breaker. The defense was dominating the Lions' offense and everyone at Ford Field was more interested in watching the fans with "Fire Millen" signs try and dodge security then the game itself.

Then, after forcing the Lions to punt on their opening drive, the Vikings inexplicably went into the prevent defense with 5:25 left in the 3rd quarter and a 15 point lead. Even the Lions can move the ball against a prevent, and promptly drove 71 yards for a field goal. All of a sudden, they were starting to get back into the game. It didn't help that the Vikings kept stalling their own drives with penalties and by getting stuffed for losses on running plays. (Obviously, penalties and going to the prevent with 20 minutes left in a game where you're only up by two scores are signs that a team is well coached.) After another drive that ended in a punt (one that squandered a roughing the punter penalty that knocked Chris Kluwe out of the game), the Vikings inexplicably stayed in the prevent. They didn't go back to the aggressive, ball hawking defense that had won them the last four games, but continued to let Jeff Garcia and something called Artose Pinner get huge chunks of yardage on every play. And after Artose Pinner scored a touchdown to make it 21-16, it was suddenly a game again. Of course, the roughing the passer penalty on Pat Williams that negated a 75 yard interception return for a TD by Brian Williams didn't help.

What the Vikings needed at that point was a nice long drive that ended in a touchdown, similar to the one that they had started out the half with. They almost got it. In keeping with the theme, however, it stalled after another penalty (You'd think that a team with a head coach who was a good offensive line coach would have a well disciplined line, wouldn't you?). And despite the fact that the Lions had 2:46 and two timeouts, the Vikings stayed in the prevent. And, of course, the Lions moved the ball. And they probably would have scored had Garcia not tried to force the issue with about a minute left and thrown a jump ball that Chavous intercepted.

I'm sorry, but a good, well coached team does not allow the Lions to stay in that game. They don't need a stupid decision by Jeff Garcia and a nice interception by Chavous to hang on, because they would put the Lions away by the end of the 3rd Quarter. The Vikings are neither that good nor well coached. Sunday's game against the Lions reemphasized that the Vikings' five game winning streak is largely an artifact of their easy schedule (and one fluke victory). Luckily for their playoff chances, their next three opponents are not exactly having seasons their fans are going to treasure forever.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Piling On

I'm going to talk about the game tomorrow, but I had to say something about Tice taking pot shots at his injured punter.

"Punters: They don't know about pain, He was out there yelling and whistling and every other thing. He could have had a concert out there with all the noises he was making."

For the love of God, give the punter a break. He was already out there punting on a sprained knee. Then he had some jackass illegally barrel into him while he's vulnerable. That's his career that Vernon Fox almost ruined with that cheapshot. And yes, he's a punter. He's not a big, tough meathead like Tice is. Whatever. Here's the other thing: he's probably going to play against the Rams. It's not like he's going to milk the injury. He'll be back out there on Sunday doing his job, and doing it better then Tice is doing his.

I might understand this if he was trying to motivate Kluwe to play the next week (which wouldn't be necessary until midweek), but he started in on him immediately after the game, before he even knew how serious it was. What was the point? All he did was antagonize Kluwe. A good coach wouldn't have called out his injured punter there, because he'd understand that he shouldn't get his players mad at him unless necessary. Making fun of Kluwe, however, just wasn't necessary.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Loki Winner

Once again, Jim Souhan was wrong. Aside from Big Pat Williams, the best signing by the Vikings this offseason was a troubled wide reciever from NC State.

Today, he was the catalyst for all three of the Vikings touchdowns. He pitched an in 80 yard touchdown reception on the Vikings first play from scrimmage, another 45 yard reception that set up a Michael Bennett score and he set up the last touchdown with a 36 yard kickoff return, and also chipped in a 15 yard reception and drew an illegal contact penalty.

And he returned the deep ball to the Vikings arsenal. And there really isn't anything better then a deep pass that goes for a touchdown.

And that's why Koren Robinson gets the Loki for today's victory over the Lions.

Run Koren, Run!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Victory Equation, part Deux

Ok class, we're going to be doing some more work with the VVE. Everyone remembers the Vikings Victory Equation, right?

(Success Running the Ball + creating turnovers + Big Plays=Vikings Victory)

Well, Vikings Victory is a relatively new science, and it's constantly evolving. After last week, we learned a few new things:
1) Running the ball isn't as important as we thought; what is important is that the Vikings have success in one of the two parts of the offense.
2) Turnovers are the most important part of the equation. The equation at its core is turnovers=victory.
3) Big plays, like running the ball, aren't that important. In fact Big Plays aren't necessary at all if the offense is clicking.
4) Quality of opponent matters. Crappy teams turn the ball over more often.

So, after using complicated methods known only to those who understand non-linear algebra, the VVE looks like this:


The more turnovers the Vikings force (which is raised to the power of the quality of the opponent, with lower numbers meaning better opponents) multiplied by their success at running or passing (offensive success) plus the number of big plays is equal to the likelihood
of Vikings Victory.

So what's the probability the Vikings will win? I would have to say it's pretty good. The Lions suck (High Q), though their T under Jeff Garcia isn't as high as it is under the Two Turnover Guarantee. They should be able to run the ball successfully, since the Lions are the 7th worth rushing defense, and they allowed 164 rushing yards, including 106 by Bennett the last time the they played the Vikings.

The Vikings should win tomorrow, despite the fact the game is in Detroit. The coaching change is an X-Factor that can't be mathematically computed. The Lions could come out firing, or they could come out flat. It worries me enough that, once again, I'm going to cop out and not pick the winner. If they follow the equation, they'll win. If not, well, I have a feeling no one will be talking about playoffs anymore.

Friday, December 02, 2005

What If?

Darren Sharper was out for his daily afternoon constitutional when he spotted an old woman looking forlornly up at a tree in her front yard.

"Excuse me, miss, do you need some help?"

"Oh, yes, thank you. My cat, Marty, is stuck in the tree. Do you think you could get him down?"

"Not a problem."

And up Darren went. The cat wasn't too far up, but he clearly wasn't happy about where he was. Right as reached over to pick the feline up and carry it down, Marty let out a shriek, and jumped, shocking Darren and sending them both tumbling to the ground.

He opened his eyes a few seconds later to see the woman standing concernedly over him, holding her cat.

"Are you alright? I'm so sorry for Marty's behavior. Usually he's sooo good."

Darren gingerly sat up, took a deep breath then stood up. After declining the woman's invitation for cookies and milk, he started his trek back home, stopping only to look at the old Delorean that someone had parked on his block. That was odd--he didn't know people still drove those things.

*The Next Day*

He was still a little sore the next morning, so he stopped by the trainer's office to get checked out. Turned out it was nothing more then a few small bruises. That wasn't the only thing that was bothering him though. He'd been on edge since he'd fallen. Something just felt wrong. And ever since he'd arrived at Winter Park, he'd felt a weird vibe. The other players looked tense, depressed even. It was all so weird; they were on a four game winning streak. They'd been upbeat all week in practice. Just yesterday, the team had cracked when Brad had pantsed Kluwe. And then the chase afterward? Even the coaches had been laughing at the punter trying to chase Brad with his shorts around his ankles.

Something told Darren that wasn't going to be happening again today.
"Where's Coach Tice? He's got to do something to loosen this team up. Maybe we can put a fan at guard again. I bet he'd do better then what's his name. The guy with the pulled groin."

The trainer just looked at him funny, put his head down, and walked away. Well, if the trainers were going to act weird, he'd go find Corey. Corey'd help him loosen the team up.

"Yo, CC! We got to lighten things up around here! Where's Tice? I bet he'd help out. I have a sick plan--you know the dance to Thriller?"

"What is wrong with you man? Where's Tice?
Why'd you have to bring that up? Darren, you know he got fired last week. The Z-Dawg wasn't going to put up with him anymore, not with the scandals, the blowout losses. I'd have fired him too--3-8 just ain't good enough man. And they said we were going to the Super Bowl."

"WHAA!!! 3-8? But...But...We're 6-5. I'm the Defensive Player of the Month! What are you talking about?"

"Defensive Player of the Month? Man, maybe if you hadn't dropped that pick on Eli. I bet you'd have housed it, if you'd watched it in to your hands. You got to step it up man. You could probably have had like 6-7 picks this month."

"But I did! I punked Eli! Remember? Punt, kickoff, pick, all for TDs? I started that man."

"No, you didn't. Stop clowning around. Coach Cottrell's gonna be mad if we're late. Especially after we blew that game to the Browns. It's too bad Big Pat got hurt--he'd have shut the Droughns guy down."

Darren whirled around--could it be true? Were they really 3-8? How? Why? And then, something caught his eye. And he knew. There was a picture of a Delorean hanging above his locker.

"Man, this is some crazy Twilight Zone, Back to the Future type stuff", he muttered. "What's happened since I dropped that pick?"

"Giants scored next play. And like a billion times after. Kinda depressing really. Big Pat got hit in the side of the knee and went down, Daunte like. Favre and the Pack put a hurt on us on national TV. We were still reeling from the embarrassment from the week before. And then, well, Zygi lost it. He cleaned house--Tice and Loney. The consultants. All of 'em gone. Cottrell got promoted, but he knows as well as we do that he's gone after the season. We weren't even there for the Browns game. Droughns ran over us like he was Barry frickin Sanders. Man, it's embarrassing. Nobody wants to be here anymore. I can't even take it."

Darren didn't respond. His mind was racing. This was ridiculous. He hadn't dropped that pass. What happened? Why? Things were starting to close in on him now. Everything was wrong. Why? Why? What did he do to deserve this? He had to get out of there. He had to escape. He turned to start running...

He felt something cold and wet hit his face. He looked up--the old lady was holding her cat.

"Oh, good, you're awake. I was worried there for a second. You took a nasty fall there."

Darren abruptly sat up, practically yelling at the lady, "Are you a Vikings fan? What's the Vikings' record? Did we beat the Giants? I have to know!"

"Calm down, son. Take a breath. I'm a huge Vikings fan. Have been since they started back in '61. They're 6-5. They beat the Giants a few weeks ago. I really think you might need to go the hospital, though. Sounds like you might have hit your head."

Darren jumped up, smiling and enveloped her in a huge bear hug. It had only been a dream. He'd intercepted Eli. He'd housed it. Everything was right in the world. It was only a dream....

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Lions' Edition

The Good: The Lions right now are a team in turmoil. After getting embarrassed by Atlanta on Thanksgiving (which, of course, is nothing new for the Lions), Matt Millen cleaned house. Head Coach Steve Mariucci, Offensive Line Coach Pat Morris and Tight Ends Coach Andy Sugarman were all fired. To top it all off, they neglected to notify the players prior to canning Mariucci. Nothing like finding out your boss got fired from the media, rather then the organization. And then, just because no one thought it could get any worse, Dre' Bly publicly blamed Joey Harrington for Mariucci's firing. (Ok, I know that this should probably go under the ugly, but I think the fact that the Lions have to deal with all this crap is a good thing for the Vikings--honestly, can you see the Lions playing well this week after this fiasco? A real franchise, maybe, but the Lions?).

The Bad: Jeff Garcia is going to be the starting QB on Sunday. Normally, that wouldn't be that big of a deal, except for the fact that the Vikings don't get to face Joey "2 turnovers guaranteed" Harrington. Garcia isn't going to be reminding people of Dan Marino any time soon, but he is a smart, veteran quarterback that isn't likely to make as many mistakes as Joey. Since the Vikings are dependent on turnovers to score points, that could be a problem for the offense on Sunday.

The Ugly: I think Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press did a better job of summing up the ugliness that is the Lions Franchise then I could hope to:

"Joey Harrington didn't get Mariucci fired. No more than Roy Williams did by falling down on that Thanksgiving Day interception. No more than Shawn Bryson did fumbling a few minutes later. No more than Kevin Jones did with his disappointing season. No more than Charles Rogers did by flunking his drug test. No more than the offensive line did in collapsing or the defensive line did by racking up penalties. No more than the defensive backs -- including Dre' Bly -- did by allowing nobodies like Chicago's Kyle Orton and Carolina's Chris Weinke to have big moments."

The really sad part is that's the Sparknotes version of the ugly parts of the Lions' season.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Return of the Defense

As all you loyal readers know, I pronounced this season over after Daunte got hurt, Steve Smith paddled his canoe in the endzone and the Panthers destroyed the Vikings. Well, it looks like I was wrong. The Vikings have a legitimate shot at the playoffs now. Like the world beginning anew after Ragnarok, the Vikings have resurrected their season.

It didn't happen today. Today was just the final step in their return to "playoff contender" status. It started with the victory over Detroit, which, while nice, wasn't really all that impressive, as they haven't beaten a Mike Tice led team ever (that should be all you need to know about how good a football team they are). Then the fluke win over the Giants (fluke: n. 1. a chance occurrence; an accident 2. returning a punt, a kickoff and an interception for a touchdown). After that, I still wasn't ready to accept the Vikings as a legitimate playoff contender. I expected a let down at Lambeau. Instead, they beat the Packers and now, they've beaten the Browns to climb over .500 for the first time this year.

I realize now why I was wrong to pronounce the season over. It was a simple mistake, really--I forgot to take into account the strength of schedule, and, more importantly, I forgot to heed Ted Cottrell's warning that defenses take time to gel. And gel this defense has. The Vikings haven't had a defense like this since I started following the team in 1997. The line is constantly in the quarterback's face, Pat Williams is falling on running backs left and right, Darren Sharper is making quarterbacks think twice about where they are throwing the ball (time they no longer have thanks to Erasmus James et al.), the linebackers, led by Keith Newman, are actually making plays and Antoine Winfield is playing Pro Bowl caliber corner again. It seems they have some depth too--Dovonte Edwards and C.J. Mosley have both been game changers while filling in for injured starters. It took a while, but this defense is living up to its preseason hype and should continue to do so.

Now, of course, this defense hasn't really had to face any of the NFL's upper echelon offenses(except, maybe for the Giants--but Eli is still only in his second season). Joey, Senile Brett and Trent are not exactly Peyton, Brett in his Prime and Dan from Pittsburgh. That being said, how many times in the past few years have crappy offenses looked like the '98 Vikings against our defense? I know I don't have enough fingers to count the times, that's for sure.

Secondly, it's not like any of the teams the Vikings have left on their schedule have exceptional offenses (remember, expectations have been revised to have "making the playoffs" as the goal). The Steelers and the Rams are both in the upper half of the league in scoring, but the Steelers will have to go through Pat Williams and the Rams are, to put it kindly, turnover prone.

I can't tell you for sure whether the Vikings' defensive success is a product of their schedule, or if its because they've come together as a unit (like all either/or debates, it's probably both). I do know that it's fun to watch the defense play again and that if they continue to play like this, they are going to get their shot at a NFC North Championship game against Da Bears on New Year's Day at the Metrodome.

Loki Winner

It was tough picking who got the< Loki today, what with Darren Sharper's two picks and a great pass break up in the end zone, Pat Williams' domination of the line (and his 7 tackles), Marcus Robinson's one to one touchdown to reception ratio and BJ's solid day in the pocket. In the end, however, it was pretty clear who had created the most mischief on the field today. And that's why the Loki for today's victory goes to Calvin Michael Mosley, otherwise known as defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, #96 (I'm going to be honest-I don't have a clue where the "J" comes from either).
C.J. led the Vikings with 7 tackles, five of them solo, had 2 sacks and forced a fumble that led to one of BJ's three touchdown passes. Haven't heard of him before today? Don't feel bad-neither had I. And there's a reason for that. C.J. has racked up eight "Did Not Play"s so far this year, and had a grand total of three tackles before today. Past performance, however, is not factored into this award, and so, congratulations to C.J.--you just won the Loki for wreaking havoc on the Browns' offense (retroactive Loki's were also awarded for the Vikings previous wins)

The Victory Equation

So what do the Vikings need to do today to beat Cleveland? The answer is simple: the same things they've done in all of their other victories: run the ball well, get turnovers and create big plays, whether by offense (not happening with BJ at quarterback), defense or special teams.
Pretty simple equation, isn't it?

Running the ball well + Getting a few turnovers + a few big plays=Victory (Huzzah! Huzzah!)

So can the Vikings do it today against the Browns?
Survey says.....yes.

The Browns have the 5th worst rushing defense in the NFL, allowing their opponents to run over them to the tune of 133 yards a game. Even while shutting out the Dolphins last week, they gave up 139 yards on 25 carries, for an average of 5.6 yards a carry. So I'm guessing that the Vikings can run on them, especially now that all of our linemen know the offense (I don't think I'm going to get over Tice starting an offensive lineman that didn't know the offense--a high school JV coach wouldn't do that).

Turnovers, however, might be a bit of a problem for the Vikings defense. The Browns have 18 turnovers, 11 of which are interceptions. That puts them in the lower half of the NFL, but is also better then Green Bay, New Orleans and Detroit (and the Vikings, but who's counting?). Trent Dilfer has thrown 10 picks, which is the 7th highest total, behind (say it with me now) Brett Favre, Aaron Brooks and Joey Harrington (and Daunte, but again, who's counting?) but is worse then Eli Manning. Basically, the Browns have a tendency to turn the ball over. They're not the Packers, Saints or Lions (or Vikings) but they haven't developed that healthy respect for holding on to the ball that they every good team needs.

In terms of kick coverages, the Browns are both good and bad. They haven't given up a touchdown on a punt or kick return (which means they're due, right?) and are in the top ten units at covering kickoff returns. Their punting unit, however, leaves something to be desired, since it's giving up a 12.9 yards a punt, putting them within shouting distance (1/10 of a yard) of the Rams, who are the only team worse. So Mewelde Moore has a shot to have a big day, both rushing and returning punts.

Will the Vikings win tomorrow? The stats seem to say so. Am I going to pick the Vikings? Hell no. That'd be crazy. One thing I will predict, however, is that tomorrow will be an interesting game--that's something the Vikings have delivered everytime this year.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Defense BABY!

"We're not worried about their back. We're not worried about Droughns. They've got to worry about us. So I'm not worried. I don't care what they do the week before. It's just like we didn't worry about that back they had down in Green Bay. What's his name? I don't know. I didn't worry about him, either. It doesn't matter. We're not the Falcons. We're not the Dolphins, either. We're a whole different front." ~Big Pat Williams

My favorite free agent signing this offseason was Fred Smoot, mainly because he was [supposed to be] a shut down corner, but also because he talked a whole lot of smack. And, most importantly, he backed it up. His signing was so big that my friend left me a message that consisted solely of him yelling "WE GOT SMOOTY SMOOT SMOOT" for two minutes. Well, we were wrong about Smooty Smoot Smoot. We weren't wrong about the Vikings getting a trash talking stud free agent for their defense. We were just misguided in not realizing it was the man beast Pat Williams.
First of all, just look at his head. It's so gigantic his face mask is skin tight. Seriously, next time they do a close up of his face after he punishes a running back by falling on him, just sit back and marvel at the fact that he can stick his tongue out and touch his face mask with it.

Secondly, he talks shit. Lots and lots of it. Big Pat (which, amazingly, is his real nickname) rarely knows who the guys blocking him are. He just doesn't care. He's 317 lbs of fury and he's going to fall on that running back. It doesn't matter who it is, or how successful the guy has been in the past. He's going to shut him down. And that's what the Vikings have been missing since Crazy John Randle got old and bad--a stud defender who fills up an opponents bulletin board and then goes out and dominates them anyway. And while Smooty Smoot Smoot wasn't that guy, thankfully, Big Pat is, and I'm definately thankful for that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BJ is Not the Reason

Will someone please tell Jim Souhan and Don Banks to slow their roll? BJ is not the reason that the Vikings are all of a sudden winning. A man throwing for under 200 yards a game (if he's lucky) cannot be given all of the credit for the Vikings offensive "turnaround". And yes, I meant to use those quotes.
The Vikings offense has not improved significantly under BJ, except in one category-turnovers by the defense. Yup, that's right-the defense causing turnovers is the reason why the offense has "righted" itself.
The defense is now responsible for 14 of the Vikings points in the last two games. If you factor in that 14 of the Vikings points against the Lions were scored after Joey Harrington turned it over deep in Lions' territory, 28 of the Vikings 71 points over the last three games can be attributed to the defense. Then there's the 14 points scored by the special teams against the Giants. So this new, revamped offense has generated 29 points while BJ has been starting. That's 9 2/3 points a game.
So please, please, please stop acting like BJ is the reason why the Vikings have won the three games--the credit should go to the defense and special teams.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Knowing the Offense is Overrated

"Does he know the offense? No." ~ Mike Tice about starting Toniu Fonoti

I don't really know what to say about this. What does it say about Liwienski's play so far this year that Tice is willing to start Toniu Fonoti over him? And, let me repeat this, Fonoti does. not. know. the. offense.

I'm sure that we're going to be able to run the ball with a starting left guard who's first full practice with the offense was yesterday and who is 35 pounds overweight. Is Tice actually trying to get BJ killed? He remembers that offensive lines are only good when they function as a unit, right? Or does he expect our special teams to score two touchdowns a game from now on? Does he even want to win? Or does he just hate Liwienski?

That little nagging voice I hear sometimes that's been saying the Vikings are going to get blown out on Monday? It just got a lot louder.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Everyone needs to calm down a little bit. I know I said that Vikings now have a decent shot at the playoffs. And that's true. But they are by no means a lock. They're still two games back. They are still playing like crap on offense (WOW! Brad Johnson is sooo good at running our offense! Remember when Daunte would routinely throw for more then 200 yards? Who needs 200 passing yards? All we need is 137 total yards because our special teams and defense will score!!)

The Vikings are playing better. That is a fact. But, much more importantly, their opponents are playing really, really badly. The Vikings aren't making the playoffs unless two things happen: their opponents continue to play like drunken monkeys, flinging the ball around like their own feces, and two, the Vikings need to beat the Bears in the season finale. And is there anyone stupid enough to actually bet on a Mike Tice led team in a playoffs or bust season finale?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tricky Vikings

"Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in"
~Michael Corleone

The Vikings are getting to me. I'm trying to hold them off, but after yesterday's win, I can feel it. I can feel the hope starting to grow inside again. The hope I thought I had locked away safely prior to the season (I was wrong--I bought into the Super Bowl hype). The hope that had been squashed by horrible performance after horrible performance so far this year.

But now it's back. I can feel it. I've caught myself looking at other possible playoff teams. I've looked at Da Beahorrible team. rs' schedule to see if we have a shot to catch them. I've started to look at all the crappy teams the Vikes have left as a good thing. I even asked my friend (a Steelers fan) if Big Ben was going to still be injured when the Steelers came to Minnesota because I was hoping that the Vikings defense could go to work on Chaz Batch or Tommy Maddox (and not because I was hoping that Big Ben would be picking apart the secondary, like I would have last week).

Basically, after that win yesterday, the win that the Vikings didn't deserve, the win they manufactured out of thin air, I can feel myself hopping back on the bandwagon. I'm trying not to, but it isn't realistic to hope for the high draft pick necessary for the Reverse Herschel Walker. And mediocrity isn't worth rooting for. In my book it's only a top pick or the playoffs are worth rooting for.
So I'm starting to look towards the playoffs. Maybe even a playoff win. And I'm starting to think that it's possible, because a horrible team doesn't win that game yesterday. Before yesterday, I would have called the Vikings a horrible team. Now I don't think they are. Now I see that they may have something to build with. If they add a few good free agents and draft picks, a good coach and return a healthy Daunte, the Vikings might actually have a shot at the Super Bowl next year. I'm not a big enough rube to think they have a shot this year (Ok, I'll be honest, visions of the Pats 31-0 loss to the Bills two years ago keep dancing through my head, but then I remember that the Vikings head coach is a mental midget, whereas Billichek is a genius), but I can see how they might be only one year away. This might be 1997 all over again (Of course, I thought that about last year.)

Which means I've started caring again. Which means they're going to rip my heart out again (Anyone else feeling a blowout loss to the Packers this week? And just because I can feel it coming doesn't mean it won't ruin my week when it happens). Bastards pulled me back in again.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Vikings Loss

As I was watching the game, one thought kept running through my head: "Normally, the Vikings are the team that'd be losing here".
I mean, wasn't today's game the type that the Vikings would normally lose? They'd normally be the ones that had a ton of turnovers, horrible special teams play and was dropping passes left and right. Except that for once, it was the opponent that was throwing passes into double and triple coverage (One of the Giants' fans I was watching the game with kept asking if Eli Manning had a concussion--that would have at least explained the younger Manning's play), letting the opening kick of the second half get returned for a touchdown and dropping pass after pass.
Instead, the Vikings returned an interception, kickoff and punt for a touchdown, had one more point at the half than they had offensive yards and managed to drive into field goal range with a little more than 50 seconds left and 1 timeout (nice use of a timeout by Tice before the 2 point conversion). And it looks like Edinger, while not consistent, is at least clutch.

And while there were a lot of worthy candidates, the play of the game today goes to Laroni Gallishaw. On a punt in the second quarter, Gallishaw forced the Giants' Jamaar Taylor out of bounds, directly into Tice, taking him out. Sadly, Tice was able to shake off the hit and continue coaching.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Quick Thoughts

Some quick thoughts:

The Vikings are returning to th 3-4 on Defense. Which is awesome, since it worked so well against Carolina.

The Vikings MVP this year is either Chris Kluwe or Antoine Winfield. And if I had a vote, I'd probably give it to Kluwe. I've always thought that the best job in the world is a punter in the NFL. You get six digits, get to be a football player without getting hit very often and you get to go to sex parties on boats. Honestly, what else could you ask for?

Finally, Mike Tice is going to be the honorary commissioner at the Special Olympics Draft Party. It'll be good for those kids to see that they too could one day coach the Vikings.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


"Playoffs?! Don't talk about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs?! I'm just hoping we can win a game, another game!"~Jim Mora

After the win last week, the experts have come to the conclusion that the Vikings are back in the playoff hunt in the NFC North. They base this conclusion on the assumption that 1) The NFC North is horrible and 2) the Vikings can play well enough to make up the two game deficit on Da Bears..

My guess is all this playoff talk will be silenced after the Giants get through with the Vikings on Sunday. Let's look at the reasons why the game is likely to be another
20+ point loss on the road.
  • It's at the Meadowlands. The Vikings have lost 32 of 41 on the road since 2000 and 24 of 27 on grass
  • The Giants are playing well: they've won their last three, including a blowout 36-0 victory against the playoff contending Redskins that wasn't even that close.
  • The Giants have won the last three times they've played the Vikings
  • 41-0 (need I say more?)
  • The Giants' have the players to exploit the Vikings weak linebacking core: Jeremy Shockey is averaging 4 catches and 66 yards a game receiving, while Tiki Barber is always a threat receiving out of the backfield.
  • The Giants are averaging 125 yards rushing a game, while the Vikings are giving up 127.
  • On the other side of the ball, the Giants are only allowing 98 yards a game rushing, while the Vikings are averaging 94 yards a game, and have only broken 100 yards rushing in two games so far, both at home. (I have a feeling we're going to see why BJ was backing Daunte up this week)
  • Eli and Plaxico v. Brian Williams (Do you really think Ted Cottrell will put Antoine Winfield on Plaxico Burress? Or even double team him with Darren Sharper or Corey Chavous? But that'd be what the Giants are EXPECTING!)
I could probably go on for awhile longer, but I'm starting to get depressed. And to top it all off, the place where I watch the games is usually full of New York Giants fans from New Jersey. Ugh. This game is going to be uglier than the Giants fans. And to think that people are using the word "playoffs" in conjunction with the Vikings without laughing until they cry.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Welcome Home J.T.

Our long national nightmare is over. No longer do we have to ponder how Koren Robinson would do under center. No longer do we have to wonder if he would wear his recieving gloves while dropping back, or if he would instead go with the Tom Brady-esque one glove style. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a third string quarterback.

I would like to introduce you to J.T. Sullivan.

He's a 26 year old out of UC-Davis, with 4 years of NFL "experience". In his time in the NFL, he's been with three other teams, starting out with the 'Aints in 2002, seeing actual playing time with the Packers in 2004, where, the one time they let him onto the field, he rushed the ball twice, for -2 yards. After his glory years with the Pack, he caught on with Da Bears practice squad, which is where the Vikings picked him up.

If you're an avid follower of NFL Europe (who isn't?) you'll remember him as a key contributor to the Frankfurt Galaxy's failed attempt to win their fourth World Bowl. He threw two costly interceptions in the second half of World Bowl XII in a game the Galaxy would lose by six, 30-24.

Also, it seems he's had a few run ins with the law.

So, in conclusion, he's never thrown a pass in the NFL, he's a choker and he's had legal problems.

Welcome J.T.--I think you'll fit in great here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Pyrrhic Victory

So the Vikings won today. The defense looked good, the offense was clicking and they put away a bad team at home in the second quarter by scoring three touchdowns, two of them coming after horrible turnovers by Joey Harrington. So why am I unhappy?

Well, they went from only needing some help to get the #1 pick to needing a LOT of help. I highly doubt the Texans are going to win more than one more game. Same with the Saints. The Packers have to win two more games to tie the Vikings. There isn't a lot of room for victories if the Vikings want that top pick. And, I know, the draft is really deep--a top 10 pick will likely net a quality player. The Vikings need more help then that though, they need all the draft picks they can steal from some sucker who thinks Leinhart is worth mortgaging their franchise on.

Secondly, I'm unhappy because people are going to use this game as an indictment on Daunte Culpepper's ability to play quarterback. Brad Johnson threw for 136 yards today. That's it. He completed one pass for more than twenty yards. Yes, he threw two touchdowns--one was a 5 yard screen where Bennet dragged a defender into the endzone, and one was a jump ball where Burleson did his best Moss impersonation and tipped it to himself (and then followed it with a shout out to Daunte by getting his roll on). The real reason the Vikings were successful on offense today was because they had164 rushing yards for the game and more than 100 yards in the first half. Those 100 yards rushing were more than the Vikings have had in every game except the Saints game. Brad Johnson didn't jump start the offense--the rushing game (and the turnovers by Joey) jump started the offense.

In the end, the Vikings will still need a lot of luck to make the playoffs, even with half of their remaining games against teams with records equal to or worse than theirs. And even if they sneak out enough victories to win the crappiest division in the NFL, they don't have a shot at winning in the playoffs. Which is why I want the Vikings to lose. Getting the highest pick possible means that when the Vikings get a real coaching staff, they can provide them with the talent to win the NFC. Making the playoffs means that Tice might survive (horrors!) and that some lucky team will get to see if they beat the Vikings worse than the Giants did in 2001. I think I'd rather have the top pick.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Immovable Object v. The Irresistable Force

Well, it looks like all our problems on defense are behind us--Tice is going to make it allllll better. Right. Ok. Sure. We have faith in you Tice. No, no, we're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you. We honestly believe you're the reason if the Vikings' Defense shuts down Joey Harrington. Really, really we do.

Joey v. Tice's Defense
(The Immovable Object v. the Irresistable Force)
Garcia's injury was a godsend for the Vikings (or an unlucky break, depending on if you believe in Operation Reverse Herschel Walker). Few QBs are as bad as Joey Harrington. I'll put it this way: Despite Daunte's horrible performance this year, almost every Lions' fan would be happy to have Bizarro Daunte instead of Harrington even if he continued to play like crap. The Daunte that has thrown 12 picks and has a 72 QB rating is still light years better than Joey Harrington, who has a 55.6 QB rating.
That being said, the Vikings defense is a sieve. After Jake Delholmme and Steve Smith had their way with Fred Smoot and crew, they dropped the Vikings to 23rd in Passing Yards allowed (223.6yds/game), 25th in QB Rating against (95.1) and 27th in Passing Touchdowns against (14TDs). Can Mike Tice fix this problem? To put it bluntly, no. He's an offensive line coach masquerading as a Head Coach. There's not a thing on his resume that leads me to believe he has a shot of improving the defense and there are a many, many, many things that make me think that his attention won't make a difference.
So, who's likely to win this epic battle between the Immovable Object and the irresistible Force? Me, that's who. That's only because I enjoy watching XFL level incompetence. I'm kinda weird that way.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Shaun Hill Era

The Vikings aren't going to add a third QB to their roster. Meaning it's only a matter of time until the Shaun Hill era begins. Our line couldn't keep Daunte, who can actually go faster than a brisk walk, from getting sacked 33 times. You have to give Steve Loney credit: he's gotten our linemen to master the "Lookout" block. So unless BJ's able to confuse the defenses by passing the ball off them to himself, he is going to get destroyed. If he survives this week, then I'm sure he'll spend a week having nightmares about this guy:

And if Strahan doesn't get him, then the Soviet Spy will get a chance to drive him into the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field:

And for good measure, BJ has to survive Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed on Christmas.

Heck, if the Vikings' luck continues, BJ AND Hill will get hurt in the same game. Wonder what would happen then? Smoot under center? [edit--turns out the answer is Koren Robinson. I'd rather see Smoot, or maybe Big Pat Williams under center though.]

I'll leave you with one last question to ponder: which period of quarterbacking excellence will Vikings' fans look back at more fondly, The Spergon Wynn Era, or The Shaun Hill Era?

Antoine Winfield Thinks His Coaches Are Dumb

And he's right.
First of all, Winfield agrees with me that Steve Smith should have been doubled teamed.

"We were supposed to double 89," Winfield said of Panthers receiver Steve Smith. "That's all we practiced last week. Then when the calls came in Sunday, we didn't do that, except for two out of 70 plays. That's why he had 11 catches for 200-plus yards."

Also, it seems Ted Cottrell is n
ot only a horrible coach, but a filthy liar.

"We did do what we game-planned," Cottrell said. "We rolled up, we doubled and we changed our looks. There are some things going on. But we'll be all right."

If they doubled Smith on Sunday, then Mike Tice is a member of Mensa. Surprisingly enough (Ha!) none of the other coaches know what they're doing either.

"That's a problem," [Winfield] said, "It's like we go out there blind. Nothing happens on the sidelines, and they run the same plays over and over again."

It's only a matter of time before the team quits on the coaching staff (or it already happened--it's hard to tell, since blowouts are usually the tip off, and blowouts are what the Vikings do). That's not a bad thing, seeing as how we need to lose out to properly implement Operation: Reverse Herschel Walker. Winfield has also just confirmed what I already suspected: its not the players, so much as it is the coaches. Next year, when the Vikings have a real coach, there'll be some talent for him to work with.

Great Sports Quotes of the Past

"75 percent of the world is covered by water. The rest is covered by Smoot." -Fred Smoot

Either Smooty Smoot Smoot is a liar, or the boat Steve Smith was paddling in the endzone on Sunday was actually afloat.

I wonder if this guy is planning on hitting the water on Sunday?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Reverse Herschel Walker

If I'm the Vikings, after finding out the news that Daunte is CL-less, I'd stop worrying about the playoffs and implement Operation: Reverse Herschel Walker. It's a complex plan, but if Zygi has half a brain, he'll be able to pull it off.

Operation Reverse Herschel Walker
Step 1: Lose out and get the #1 overall pick in the draft.
Step 2: Fire Tice et all.
Step 3: Hire an intelligent GM *cough* Scott Pioli *cough* and have him hire a good coach.
Step 4: Trade the #1 pick to the team with the 5th or 6th pick for their first rounder and every other draft pick they have. Draft Vince Young/Laurence Maroney with the first rounder (depending on the state of Daunte's CLs)
Step 5:
Rebuild the team with draft picks and smart free agent signings.
Step 6: Go 16-0 and win the NFC.
Step 7:
Lose in the Super Bowl (I'm being realistic here) but establish yourself as a perennial Super Bowl contender.

Obviously, the key to this plan is finding a sucker, I mean a trading partner to give the Vikings all of their draft picks. It should be doable, for two reasons: Leinhart and Bush are big name "franchise" players and there's a reason these teams have the 5th/6th pick--they're run about as well as the Vikings are right now.
The other key to the strategy is obtaining the #1 overall pick. That means they have to lose to the 2-5 Browns, the 1-6 Packers and the 2-5 Ravens. This is doable. The games against the Packers and Ravens are outdoors, so they're guaranteed losses. The game against the Browns might be at the Metrodome, but I'm confident in Romeo Crennel's ability to coach circles around Mike Tice. The Vikings also need the Titans, Niners, Jets, Texans, Cardinals and Saints to win at least one more game (and in the Texans case, two more games). Also, I just realized that there a lot of teams that only have one or two wins after 8 weeks of the season. Kinda sad, really.
Anyway, once the Vikings finish up at 2-14, they'll get the #1 overall pick and be able to carry out Operation: Reverse Herschel Walker. Hopefully, it will lead to a dynasty similar to the one the Cowboys had in the early 1990s.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Pray for Daunte!

Get well soon Daunte--we can't set the record for most losses in the Super Bowl without you!

[Edit-the Star Tribune is reporting that Daunte is done for the season and might not even be ready for next year. This blows. I miss Daunte getting his roll on already.]

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Stick a Fork in the Vikings

Well that was fun.

77 yards and a 24-0 deficit at that half. A 38-13 final score. And that score doesn't even come close to describing how badly the Panthers dominated the Vikings.

First factor in Daunte going out with a knee injury, possibly for the season And for those of you who are happy with that, well, did you see Brad Johnson throw the ball? His passes were higher than Onterrio Smith if he had Glaucoma. (With metaphors like that, the Star Tribune should give me my own column)

And don't forget about Tice and Cottrell allowing Steve Smith to embarrass Smooty Smoot Smoot all over the field. Seriously, you'd think at some point that the coaches would realize Smoot didn't have a chance of covering Smith. I mean, Smith had 153 receiving yards and a touchdown at the half--the only times he didn't catch the ball was when Delhomme wanted to involve other people or when Smoot tackled him prior to the play. I hear other head coaches make adjustments to their game plan during the game. I wonder if Zygi can get us one of those coaches for next year.

And to cap it all off, our vaunted 3-4 defense was so dominate, the Panthers didn't have to punt until the third quarter was almost over and even then, it was only because they weren't trying anymore.

If this were college football, the student section would have been chanting "Season's Over" at the Vikings as they left the field. And they'd have been right.

Let's look at the bright side for a second now--at least we aren't in last place. Thanks to Brett Favre's implosion and a wacko fan running onto the field and taking the ball away from ol' number four as he dropped back, the Packers lost in Cincinnati. And watching Favre's bizarre fake snap, QB draw and underhand pass at the first down marker to end the game was high comedy. I'm thinking it might be time for Favre to hang up his spikes, since he seems to have lost his grasp of the basic rules of football.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Another case of Serwangavitis?

Steve Smith is a really good wide receiver.

The Vikings secondary is confident in their abilities, however, as personified by Antoine Winfield "want[s] teams to challenge [him].

If you read the headline, however, you'll notice that the Pioneer Press is not as confident, however. Remember when signing Smooty Smoot Smoot was the answer to Serwangavitis? Remember when people were saying that Winfield and Smooty Smoot Smoot made up the best tandem of corners in the NFL?

Me too. *sigh*.

Keys to Beating Carolina

The keys to victory at Carolina according to the Vikings:

  • "[We] can't turn the ball over on the road,"- "Coach" Mike Tice
  • “[We] can’t turn the ball over, and when [we] have a chance to make plays, [we’ve] got to make plays”- Jermaine Wiggens
  • "Defensively, I think we've got to get off to a better start than what we have, I think we've got to go out there and set the tone early in the game."- Keith Newman

To sum it up, the Vikings think that in order to win at Carolina, they can’t turn the ball over, they have to set the tone defensively and make plays offensively. That sounds doable, right?

In three road games this year, the Vikings have 12 turnovers, allowed 95 points and only scored 21 points. Also, the Panthers are ridiculously good at creating turnovers, especially fumbles, which Mike Rucker, one of the Panthers’ TWO ridiculously good defensive ends, has said “comes naturally” to them. Which, is, you know, great, because even when Daunte isn’t playing like Bizarro Daunte from the world where Black Quarterbacks are always bad because, they’re, you know, black and blacks can’t play quarterback, and instead, he’s playing like MVP Daunte, the real Daunte, he STILL fumbles like it’s his job. Oh, and the Vikings have lost 31 of their last 40 road games.

We are so f***** on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Greatest Season EVAR!!!

Honestly, is there anything not to like about this season? I mean aside from the 2-5 record and the thrashings that the Vikings have taken from the Bengals, Bucs and well, every other team they've lost to? Ok, fine, that part sucks a lot.

Once you get past that though, the Vikes have given us a lot so far. There's "the whole sex on a boat in Lake Minnetonka" thing. That was a lot of fun. Especially once my friends connected it with the time I was plastered and told a girl from Panama that I would sail her canal (I can't actually verify that, because I wasn't there, but I'm told her reaction was priceless. Mainly because she didn't get it). That was good times.

There's also Mike Tice. Not Mike Tice the coach [he's not so much a positive as a negative], but Mike Tice the speaker. Would you rather have to listen to bland, boring quotes or beauties like this one: "vice presidents should vice president their departments and let us do our jobs on the field". First off, I'm not sure how you can "vice president" something. Secondly, well, I was going to make a comment about him being insecure about his job, but well, if I were Mike Tice, I'd be insecure about my job too. Also, if I were Mike Tice, I'd have no hair. I would also be a kiss ass who is unable to control a football team. I would also be unable to form coherent sentences. Hmmmm....I seem to have found myself on a tangent, but, well, I think we can all agree that Mike Tice's life sucks. Unless his wife is hot. That would probably make it better. [Also, I found this while looking for a picture of Tice's wife. I must have missed the memo where Tice brought discipline to the Vikings.]

The Vikings also gave us hope this year. Though that didn't last long. But we had it for awhile, right? And after thinking about it, I realized that you can't count this against them. If you got suckered in by the Vikings, it's your own fault, so quit complaining. It's not like they've never broken our hearts before. [And....bitterness off.]

Finally, the Vikings have given us a victory over the Packers. And really, isn't that enough? No? You think the Vikings should be a Super Bowl Contender? Or at least .500? Or at least be able to avoid embarrassing scandals? Well, that's just crazy talk.