Will any Viking fan ever forget Steve Smith's 2005 game, when he tore up the Vikings with 11 catches for 201 yards? The Vikings went in with the intent of letting Fred Smoot cover Smith one-on-one, and they stuck to that strategy for a long, long time. Oh, guess who's back for the Panthers this weekend. Should I just crush my spirit now?
Gus Frerotte's Sack Rate
Last season, Tarvaris Jackson was sacked half as often as the other Viking QBs; Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger were each sacked over 12% of the time, while Jackson was only sacked 6.1% of the time. So with the Vikings benching Jackson, I worry that the team is going to take more sacks, which basically end drives for this team.
But Gus Frerotte has a career sack percentage of 6.0, better than Tarvaris Jackson's career percentage of 6.7. Maybe Frerotte will throw the ball quickly and avoid sacks. It will be tough this weekend: the Vikings are still without Bryant McKinnie, and they'll be facing Julius Pepper.
The Viking Defensive Line
Even in defeat, it was a pleasure to watch the Viking defensive line against the Colts. They got strong performances from their stars and from the lesser names. They harrassed Peyton Manning, often forcing him into bad throws, and they crushed the Colt running game.
This defensive line is capable of dominating every week, and they should be particularly strong at home. I'm frightened about this weekend's game, but the defensive line should give us a chance to win.
There Will Be Blackouts
The Vikes are again struggling to sell out the Metrodome (Pioneer Press). It's not hard to understand why: the team has been mediocre for almost a decade, the team often disappoints when there are high expectations, the Metrodome isn't a draw in itself, and in a tight economy, tickets are spendy.
There's a silly sort of moralism that says "true" or "real" fans will continue to fill out a stadium no matter how good or bad a team is doing. You only need to compare sports to other forms of entertainment to understand that's stupid. If a theater often does a bad job putting on a play, would you continue to buy tickets just because you think you should support that theater?
It just seems like every game this week has some intrigue to it. Every game I look at, I'm intensely curious about the outcome. It should be a fun weekend of football.
Kurt Warner Lives!
There are enigmas in sports. For me, one of the greatest mysteries is how the man who put up those terrifyingly good numbers for the three year period from 1999 through 2001 could just entirely disappear from relevance so quickly. Just look at Kurt Warner's numbers and all the bold font you see in '99, '00, and '01. If Kurt Warner is back to that sort of business (and with Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, he just might be), well, to me that's a lot of fun.
For the record, I like Zygi Wilf: I think he's sort of like a fan. I've seen him simply gleeful after Viking wins. Seeing him in a gas station after the game last week, I saw him looking terribly upset after a Viking loss. And I put that into perspective. Here I am, a die-hard Viking fan, saddened and frustrated with a Viking loss. And here he is, the freaking owner. He must watch the game something like a fan (since during the game, he has no control over events)--how hard must he take these losses? Evidently hard enough to be getting out of Thunderdome pretty quickly after the game to go to a gas station by himself.
Zygi Wilf: I like you.
Fantasy Narcissism: The Brandon Jacobs Experience (I guess)
Here were my position starters for week two; in parentheses are the starters I thought I had drafted.
QB: Kurt Warner (Matt Hasselbeck)
RB: Adrian Peterson (Marion Barber)
RB: Brandon Jacobs (Brandon Jacobs)
WR: Calvin Johnson (Reggie Wayne)
WR: Anthony Gonzalez (Torry Holt)
TE: Vernon Davis (Dallas Clark)
I wish I could even understand how, in week two, my fantasy team was so transformed. I guess I'm also a typical Viking fan, because I've given up on struggling players just two weeks into the season (I traded away Torry Holt and Matt Hasselbeck this week for...wait for it...Laurence Maroney and Lee Evans).
Really, honestly, I don't think they're that good. But this weekend they play the Raiders at home: they'll be 3-0!
Apparently Tarvaris Jackson isn't really talking to Gus Frerotte (Pioneer Press). Montana/Young this is not.
The Vikings discuss covering Steve Smith with Antoine Winfield (Star Tribune). How about Antoine Winfield plus somebody else. The front seven can handle stopping the Panther running game, and there is one--ONE--receiver that can consistently hurt the Vikes.
Back to Thunderdome to buy tickets on the street. Last weekend I got $25 nosebleed seats, and I expect to get the same again. Good veggie burgers at the Dome, too.
Have a good weekend everybody. Except Packer fans.