Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Original Linkinator

One of the things I'm planning on this season is doing a midweek links post. I know that a lot of people don't have the kind of time and flexibility I have (or the procrastination skills) and thus aren't able to get around to all of the great newspaper stories and blog entries. My goal is to highlight blogs about that week's opponent as well as the stuff being said about the Vikings around the web, so that you can get a sense of what opposing fans and the National Media is thinking.

  • War Cry is one of the better football blogs around, and their look at Washington after Saturday's preseason game against the Patriots was not a happy one. One thing I've noticed living in D.C. is that Racists' fans aren't panicking yet, but that's only because they are physically unable to question Joe Gibbs. I mean, that man is a god to them.
  • The A.P. has the Vikings going 8-8 this year and, since they consider the NFC North to be Wisconsin Cheese bad, they think that will be good enough for first place in the division and a playoff berth. Obnoxiously, they don't allow you to link directly to a team's entry, so you'll have to scroll down from the top.
  • Sports Illustrated has their rankings out as well, though they're nowhere near as kind to the Vikes as the A.P. was. I think we know which beatwriter Dwight Smith would invite to party with him at the Electro Lounge. (And what is with these sites and not allowing direct links? Why are they making this hard for me? What did I ever do to them?)
  • The comments at Deadspin's post on the Vikings' fumigation efforts are both hilarious and so very sad. Then again, considering the chick Dwight Smith hooked up with was from Wisconsin, it's probably smart that the Vikings sprayed the locker room down.
  • Finally, it seems the Vikings are looking at both Deion Branch and A.J. Feeley. A trade for Branch would make me happy. Signing Feeley would make me, well,to be honest, I doubt I'd have much of a reaction.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

These Keys Three

The Vikings’ victory over the Ravens on Friday showed us what kind of team they are likely going to be this year and it looks like they are going to be a legitimate contender for the playoffs and division title this year. While the offense isn’t going to scare anyone (and I mean anyone) the defense is going to be good enough, and opportunistic enough to cover for it. One thing that has been obvious is that this team is remarkably similar to last year’s team, in that the offense doesn’t have the talent to win games, but the defense does. Whether or not the offense can have enough success and the defense can make enough plays to get the Vikings a playoff berth will depend on a few things, most of which went the Vikings’ way today. The Vikings success each game in the following three categories will go a long way toward determining

  1. Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

The difference between victories and losses last year was whether or not the defense put points on the board. And that was the difference in the first half, with Smoot housing a Steve McNair pass and the first team offense was unable to sustain a drive. The flip side to this is that the offense can’t turn it over. One of the arguments for keeping Brad Johnson over Daunte is that he’s better at not making game changing mistakes. If he does make those mistakes, the Vikings are going to be in trouble.

  1. Sustained Pressure

The Vikings’ defensive line shut down the Ravens’ offense on Friday, and their ability to do so will be a key to the season. The pressure that Kenechi Udeze and the Williams boys put on Steve McNair was the key to the Ravens inability to pass in the first half. And, while Jamal Lewis did not play, the D-line and the linebackers shut down the Ravens rushing game, swarming to the ball and holding the running backs to 11 yards in the first half.

  1. Success in the Running Game

This is the one aspect of their formula for winning that the Vikings have yet to have success with. Chester Taylor has been something less than a dominant back so far, averaging only 2.1 yard per carry, pretty much par for the course this preseason. The running game has to be successful for the offense to work. Brad Johnson is not carrying this team to the playoffs.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

It Never Ends, Does It?

The Vikings released Koren Robinson today, ridding themselves of a player whose off field conduct had made him a liablity to the team. By doing so, the Vikings finally freed themselves of players with off the field issues.

Actually no, they didn't. Of course they didn't. What was I thinking?

The same day they released Robinson, Dwight Smith managed to get in trouble for indecent conduct.

Seriously people, what is wrong with this organization? They can't go one week without some kind of humiliating off the field issue. As soon as one is resolved, another pops up, and so one ad infinitum.

And no, this isn't righteous anger--I'm just tired of all the crap. That, however, doesn't mean I won't be making indecent conduct jokes. You can mark my words--they are coming. Oh man, are they coming.

[I'll have a recap and analysis of the Vikings thrashing of the Ravens up on Sunday night/Monday morning, so make sure to stop by--I promise it'll be as much fun as celebrating a win with Dwight Smith. Wisconsin women for EVERYBODY!]

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Curious Case of Clinton's Shoulder

"The Falcons sent former first-round tailback T.J. Duckett to Washington. At worst, the Broncos will receive two draft choices from Washington -- third- and fourth-round picks -- and those picks could escalate based on a complicated formula."

"The Redskins sent a 2007 third-round draft pick to Denver as part of the deal, according to the Associated Press, and the Broncos sent disgruntled receiver Ashley Lelie to the Falcons as part of the deal."-The Washington Post

And so the plot thickens. Why are the Racists trading a high draft pick for T.J. Duckett? I mean, he's a decent change of pace back, but he's not worth a third round pick, let alone a third AND fourth round pick to a team starting Clinton Portis and with Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright as backups. Then again, Duckett is worth the picks if Clinton Portis isn't in the equation.

So does this trade imply that Portis' injury is worse than the Racists are letting on? Does it mean that he won't be playing in the opener against the Vikings? That would definately be nice, considering that he is their offense. T.J. Duckettcan't carry an offense like Portis can, and that's the way the Racists' offense is designed--Portis softens up the defense so their speedy wide recievers can get open enough for even Brunell to hit them. And it works. If you subtract Portis and replace him with a less dominant back, (i.e. the slower Duckett and 3.1 yards per carry average last year), it isn't going to work nearly as well, as we've seen this preseason.

[Editer's Note: You can find logins and passwords for at]

A Matter of Identity

The first jersey I ever purchased was a Randy Moss jersey. Like everyone else, I got swept up in the excitement of the 1998 season andwanted to show my Purple Pride. Despite my relative youth, I still knew that it was one of the most important decisions that a fan could make. I didn't want to buy a dud jersey and be stuck with a backup, or even worse, someone left after the season (You really don't want to be the guy with the outdated jersey). Not only that, as everyone knows, the name and number on your jersey says a lot about you as a fan. Many writers, most much better wordsmiths than I, have expounded on the topic, so I won't go into it here, but even at the tender age of 15, I knew that whether I bought a Randall Cunningham or a Randy Moss jersey would have ramifications for me as a fan. Luckily I managed to clear my hormone addled mind and made the right choice, purchasing a purple #84, which I wore proudly until the "Straight Cash, Homey" incident led to his trade.

So now, after a period of mourning, I'm finally ready to move on and don a new jersey (a white one this time). But I need help. I can't decide who's name and number I want to be sporting when I head into Fed Ex Field for my first Vikings game since the Randy trade. I've narrowed it down to eight candidates, so make sure you vote early and often.

Your Name Here
  1. Steve Hutchinson, #76: Hutchinson plays left guard, just like I did in high school. Of course, he's actually the proper size for the position, but that's not the point. The point is he's a beast, and one of the best guards in the NFL. He's also going to be around for awhile, since he just signed a this offseason. One problem is that I don't have a beer gut, and thus would likely be the skinniest person to be sporting his jersey.
  2. Tarvaris Jackson, #7: Tarvaris has looked like the quarterback of the future so far this preaseason. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that he's only played two preseason games as a backup, was widely considered a massive reach in the second round out of 1-AA Alabama St. and he's only played two preseason games. Then again, being the first on the bandwagon might be worth the risk, and the payoff could be the same as if I'd bought a Daunte jersey during his rookie year.
  3. Antoine Winfield, #26: Last year Antoine was one of the best defenders on the Vikes, and he's continued his solid play so far this preseason. He's a fundamentally sound cover corner, a great tackler and a leader both on and off the field. He should be around for awhile too, since he's relatively young and signed for 5 more years.
  4. Troy Williamson, #82: Randy's replacement hasn't yet lived up to his predecessor, but after Koren Robinson's alcohol problems, he's the best receiver the Vikings have. Sadly, that doesn't mean anything anymore.
  5. Kenechi Udeze, #95: "The Boy" has had some injuries problems in his short career, but when he's on the field, he's been a stud. He's fast as all hell too, and I like my defensive ends fast.
  6. Chris Kluwe, #5: If Mitch Berger taught me anything, it's that punters are P-I-M-P-S. Not surprisingly either, since they have the best job in the world, raking in six digits at a position where there's almost no pressure, and where there's also no contact. And Kluwe has a massive leg too. His offseason injury hasn't seemed to hamper him, so he's likely to return to form as one of the better punters in the NFL.
  7. Fred Smoot, #21: Smoot was signed last offseason to be the secondary's savior. He wasn't, but if he can put his offseason problems, he could return to lockdown corner status. Oh, who am I kidding. He's on the list because he pulled double duty on the boat, which was just damn impressive in my opinion.
  8. Bryant McKinnie, #74: Not only is he one of the best left tackles in the game, and a franchise cornerstone, he's also a giver.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Purple Pants!

I wasn't able to watch the entire game on Saturday night, but, through the Miracle of Tivo, I'll be able to go through it later this week. That being said, I still have a few thoughts on Coach Childress' "first victory":

  • Tarvaris Jackson is the truth. He's going to be the backup quarterback this year, and he's earned it (Also, Mike McMahon and J.T. O'Sullivan suck. There's no other way to describe their "play"). He's accurate, has a cannon, and he's mobile. So far this year he has a 95.8 QB rating and he's completed 16 of 24 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown. He should have another, but his pass was dropped at the goal line. More importantly, he's done this against semi-real and real defenses, not third and fourth stringers. And, unlike Brad Johnson last year, he was actually successful against a good defense.
  • Of course, railing on BJ isn't called for yet, since he's played so well this preseason. It seems the Brads were made for each other. BJ has been doing a great job with Childress' West Coast offense, finding the open man and getting it to him where he can do something with it. He even aired it out against the Steelers, connecting with Travis Taylor for 34 yards on the Vikings' second drive.
  • I like the Tampa 2. I liked it when Tony Dungy was running it for the Vikes, and I like it now that Mike Tomlin is wearing the headset. Aside from the first drive, which can be chalked up to not being prepared for a no huddle, the Vikings defense looked great. Of course, if they can't figure out how to adjust to a no huddle offense, it's going to get ugly. Tomlin, however, seems prepared to deal with the problem, judging by his post game quote, "We need all the situations we can get. We need all the adversity we can get. That's part of why we're here. We need these kinds of things. I can't wait to see what happens next week." It's kind of nice having a competent coaching staff.
  • I'll admit it--I thought the Vikings were going to look stupid in white jerseys and purple pants. And I was wrong. The combination works. I know I'm probably in the minority, but I like the new jerseys and, surprisingly, I like the purple pants. Hopefully the Vikings will have the same kind of success they had the last time they wore purple pants, in 1964, when they went 8-5-1.

"Now don't get me wrong Brad, I like this look on you. But you have GOT to get socks that go all the way up to your pants. You're setting a bad example for Tarvaris."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

When It Rains, It Pours

"Vikings wide receiver Koren Robinson is in the Nicollet County jail in southern Minnesota, and he is accused of a long list of crimes starting with driving drunk, the county sheriff said. Along with drunken driving, Robinson is accused of fleeing police, reckless driving, speeding and driving without a valid license, said Sheriff Dave Lange" -- Star Tribune

Right on the heels of the Vikings announcing that Chad Greenway was out for the season, it appears that Koren Robinson, the Vikings' best receiver and a recovering alcoholic has fallen off the wagon. This means that Koren is likely going to be suspended for the year. Definitely not what the team needed, not what the franchise needed and not what Koren's family needed. Alcoholism is not an easy thing to combat, and relapses occur, even in the strongest willed people that suffer from the disease. Whatever it was that caused Koren to relapse, it's a sad day for him, especially when it looked like he was working so hard to stay sober. So while it looks like Koren's career in purple is over, I hope that Vikings' fans will at least wish him well in his battle with Alcoholism.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Greenway Out For Season, Asks Birk How to Stay Entertained

The Minnesota Vikings announced today that linebacker Chad Greenway suffered a season ending left knee injury in last night's game vs. Oakland at the Metrodome.

"The toughest part in this business is dealing with the injuries and this is no different," said Vikings head coach Brad Childress. "It's unfortunate because Chad improved during our mini camps, OTA's and training camp. He did a pretty good job in the plays he was in there for last night and made a big tackle on special teams. Chad will evaluate his options in the upcoming weeks and we are confident he will be completely healthy for the 2007 season. Chad will have the full time to rehab."--The Minnesota Vikings Website
Well, now I know how Clinton Portis and Redskins' fans feel. This sucks--not only because the Vikings were counting on Greenway to be a force at outside linebacker, but because he was going to be one of those players that are a joy to watch. Greenway had everything you want in a linebacker--speed, size, quickness and the ability to punish the guy with the ball. And now, well, now he's sidelined with some kind of ACL tear. So instead of inspiring fear in opposing ball carriers, he's going to be stuck on the sideline watching, which, if he's anything like Matt Birk, will bore the hell out of him.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tarvaris, the Bringer of Hope

Well, I have to say that wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. I mean the Vikings lost, there are clearly still some problems to work out, (I'm looking at you, Troy Williamson) and Chad Greenway managed to get hurt. That being said, something special may have happened tonight. We might, and I do mean might, be able to say we saw the first NFL action of the true heir to Fran Tarkenton--Tarvaris Jackson.

Jackson, aside from having a bitchin’ first name, has some crazy potential. Now, normally I think Joe Theismann is an awful announcer. I mean, the man is clearly still trying to shake off the psychological damage from the most jarring hit ever. There’s a reason he’s on Monday Night Football—he’s still trying to come to grips with having his leg broken into little pieces on national television. That being said, when Theismann compared Tarvaris to Michael Vick (it was a compliment) after one of his Raider embarrassing jaunts, I found myself agreeing with him. Now, I understand this is the preseason and Tarvaris was up against the second string of a pretty bad defense, but did you see those pinpoint passes? Did you see him juke the Raiders out of their shoes? Did you think back to his profile in the Star Tribune and then allow yourself to remember that Steve McNair, who also worked his ass off day in and day out, was a product of Division 1-AA as well? Did you let yourself dream of having a quarterback that could lead us to the promised land? Did you? Did you let yourself have hope?

[And I would like to thank Brad Childress for being rational and making the correct decision to forgo an easy field goal opportunity and overtime so I could go to bed rather than stay up and watch the our fourth stringers battle the Raiders' fourth stringers in sudden death]