Saturday, March 28, 2009

On a Quiet Offseason

It should neither surprise nor dismay that in the 2009 offseason, the Vikings have acquired no significant veteran starter other than Sage Rosenfels (and as a career backup, many would consider him a marginal acquisition; given the position he plays, I believe he'll be significant).  Last offseason, the Vikings acquired a starting veteran defensive end (currently 26 years old), a starting veteran wide receiver (currently 28 years old), and a veteran starting safety (currently 28 years old).  A team probably shouldn't add veteran starters offseason after offseason, especially if it is successful and prudent with its acquisitions (if a team does repeatedly acquire new veteran starters, it may be because those acquisitions frequently bust and sputter and there are more needs to be filled the next year).  Last season the Vikings went 10-6 with struggling quarterbacks and a difficult schedule.  They have solid, good, and great starters at many positions.  They have a plethora of young talent.  They don't need to fill a whole lot of needs with veteran starters.

Though I don't think the Vikings need to sign significant veteran starters this offseason, I'm not trying to be a management apologist here.  The treatment of the quarterback position during the Childress era is borderline obscene.  In three seasons, Brad Johnson, Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, and Gus Frerotte have started games.  This is a team with an actual good defense, and it keeps sending out marginal to bad quarterbacks.  Unless Sage Rosenfels is a competent starter (I think it is possible he will be), then Rosenfels will get added to the list of atrocious quarterback decisions during the Childress era.  It is the most important position on the team, and it has been managed terribly.

The Vikings should retain the players they want to (and extend Antoine Winfield's contract) and add starters and depth through the draft.  But they should also keep all options open at the quarterback position.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's always about the Viking quarterback situation

Masochistic Viking fans may enjoy this Star Tribune article, or this Yahoo! article.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The Star Tribune reports that the NFL is paying attention to the Vikings' stadium issue. I want to highlight one quote from Roger Goodell:

"But also the Gophers have a new stadium. The Twins have a new stadium. It's obvious the Vikings need a new stadium."

While the Twin stadium is a relevant precedent, the Gopher football stadium should be irrelevant to the question of public financing for a Viking stadium. The University of Minnesota is a public, state-supported institution--the state is supposed to provide public financing for this institution. The Vikings are a privately owned business. There should be legitimate discussion about whether public financing for a Viking stadium would be a good thing for the state. However, that the state funded a stadium for its own public university offers no relevant parallel.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cedric Griffin: good or bad?

The Vikings have extended the contract of cornerback Cedric Griffin (Sports Illustrated). I have mixed feelings about whether this is a good or bad thing, as I have mixed feelings about whether Cedric Griffin is a good player, and mixed feelings about whether he will become a good cornerback.

Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Is Cedric Griffin a good player or a bad player? And is he a good cornerback or a bad cornerback (which is a different question from whether he's a good or bad player)?

Blizzard: on the NCAA Tournament

On those bogus "lost productivity" numbers (Jack Shafer in Slate).

On who profits and who doesn't (Dave Zirin in The Nation).

On the cost of basketball programs to the schools (Andrew Zimbalist in The Wall Street Journal, via The Edge of the American West).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The Vikings signed defensive back Karl Paymah, who "likely will compete with Benny Sapp for a job in the nickel defense and will be counted on to help a special-teams unit that gave up an NFL-record seven touchdowns last season" (Star Tribune).

The Pioneer Press is mocking me by referring to Jay Cutler as "potential Vikings QB" in headlines (here and here). Hello newspaper--there's "potential" that you won't disappear within a decade.

Don Banks' mock draft: Percy Harvin.

Chad Reuter's mock draft
: Brandon Pettigrew.

Rob Rang's mock draft: Percy Harvin.

Pete Prisco's mock draft: Alex Mack (this is the sort of thing a writer can justify printing and sound intelligent: "Team A lost a starter at Position B, so they could fill that with a draft pick at Position B." If the Vikings draft a center in the first round, I will take whatever beverage I am drinking at the moment and pour it directly over my head).

Clark Judge's mock draft: Percy Harvin

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tarvaris Jackson

When I think about the possibility of the Vikings entering a third consecutive season with Tarvaris Jackson as starting quarterback, I have an alphabetic plethora of reactions to choose from:

a) Hasn't this gone on long enough?
b) Maybe I should watch hockey
c) Why do the gods hate me?
d) Well, we still have a great defense....(stifling sobs)
e) A 58% passer in a West Coast offense? And he's starting a third season? Really?
f) Brad Childress is an outrageous prankster.
g) Brad Childress is a nihilistic demon.
h) Brad Childress is a fool that shouldn't be making decisions about the quarterback position.
i) But we still have AP and Chester Taylor...(rubbing tear-drenched cheeks on sleeve)
j) Well, he's still probably be better than the special teams...(biting down on a shoe)
k) Well, Sage will win the job, right? Right? This won't really happen, right?... (imagining Brad Childress's voice and knowing that yes, this really can happen).
l) But we'll still beat the Lions twice, right?... (Remembering that Tarvaris Jackson was the starter for the Vikings only loss to the Lions from 2002-2008).
m) Maybe I should watch baseball.
n) Bernard Berrian is a significantly less intriguing fantasy football prospect
o) Are you there, God? It's me, wwtb?.
p) But there are other things to live for other than the Vikings, right? Right?...(turning off all the lights so I can sit silently in the darkness)
q) Let's see what this John David Booty character can do.
r) When Jackson throws an off-target pass, and it scrapes hard against the turf, does the ball get scuffed, or does the turf?
s) Maybe I should watch basketball.
t) The football season is already too long; I don't want to have to watch playoff games, too.
u) A third year? Really? Why? Why, Brad Childress? Why?
v) Well, maybe Childress will run some funky Wildcat stuff. He's a creative offensive mind, right? Right? Oh.
w) But Visanthe Shiancoe really developed!
x) If the team could go 8-3 with Gus Frerotte at quarterback, how important can quarterback be?
y) Well, the Brad Childress era will end someday.
z) Maybe I should watch golf.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NFC North

Judd Zulgad at the Star Tribune points out that like the Vikings, the Packers and Bears have added few new players in the early stages of the offseason.

One might assume that such a strategy situation benefits the defending division winner most, but I actually think it is the Packers that could benefit.  They are a young team (meaning they're more likely to improve internally), they lost a lot of close games last year (showing they're not terrible, and the close games could swing the other way this season), and they have the best quarterback in the division by far, heading a potent offense (meaning their primary "need" for improvement is the defensive front seven--the offensive passing game is good, and the defensive secondary is good).

But as a Viking fan, I'm hoping the addition of Sage Rosenfels significantly affects the team.  He should be better than either Tarvaris Jackson or Gus Frerotte, and the team went 10-7 with them at QB.  With an easier schedule (the Vikes play the NFC West rather than the NFC South), this Viking team is capable of improving its record.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Viking fans just fell on the floor

From Peter King:

"I think Sage Rosenfels beats out Tarvaris Jackson in Minnesota. That's no surprise, really, but the Vikings realized they had to have a better alternative than Gus Frerotte starting every Sunday to contend for a Super Bowl. Rosenfels has the occasional brain freeze, but he's a strong-armed, semi-mobile guy who will be a kindred spirit for Brad Childress."

I liked what I was reading until the last five words.  Our quarterback a "kindred spirit for Brad Childress"?  This is what we want?  Childress to have a "kindred spirit," and said spirit to be throwing passes for the Vikings?  I'm going to go curl up fetal-style in the corner and cry.  

I'll get up when I remember that tonight I'm going to go watch a terrible pro basketball team without its best player play against another terrible pro basketball team without its best player, and that I've been looking forward to it for days.  Minnesota sports does strange things to a fan.

Life is Odd

Eventually professional sports becomes entirely surreal.  Nothing could prepare me for seeing Terrell Owens in a red Buffalo Bills hat, and now I'm looking forward to the 2009 season.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Terrell Owens: Quarterback Maker

Terrell Owens has a habit of getting contentious with his quarterbacks and ex-quarterbacks.  But on the field, he helps QBs to their best seasons.  He's aided four different quarterbacks to 30+ TD seasons: Steve Young (1998), Jeff Garcia (2000 & 2001), Donovan McNabb (2004), and Tony Romo (2007).  Only Young ever had a 30+ season without him.

I'd be wary of Terrell Owens, and I'd expect him to eventually say bad things about his quarterback.  But on the field, he helps quarterbacks to career years.

Viking Stadium Ideas

I think it's good to try ideas for a Viking stadium other than using taxpayer/public money. Be creative: propose other ideas. To wit: a bill for a casino to fund the Viking stadium (Star Tribune).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Matt Birk: Raven

Matt Birk is no longer a Viking (SI, Strib).

Five years ago Matt Birk was an incredible center. When I would watch replays of successful running plays, very frequently there was Matt Birk pulling and leading with terrific blocking. In recent years I've found him much less noticeable. That may not be because Birk's skills diminished, but that perhaps Brad Childress' version of the West Coast offense doesn't call for a center to be out in the open field making noticeable plays. Either way, I don't know that the Vikes will miss Birk's blocking that much at this point.

What they will miss, however, is his intelligence and leadership. When Matt Birk was injured in 2005, the Viking offensive line became...well, terrible, at least for the first half of the season. He seemed at the time to be the mind holding the Viking offensive line together. Whoever replaces him at center (Ryan Cook?) may make the blocks, but I doubt he'll be able to do all the things Matt Birk does.

Birk will be 33 in the fall; he should have good football games left to play. It's not entirely unreasonable that the Vikings decided to let him go, but it wouldn't have been entirely unreasonable for them to resign him either.

UPDATE: read about potential replacement centers John Sullivan and Anthony Herrera at the Star Tribune.


Some AP MVP history at

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Jay Cutler and the Vikings

Kevin Seifert makes the argument the Vikings should pursue Jay Cutler. That's an easy argument--under what circumstances shouldn't a quarterback-weak team acquire a 25 year old that just threw for 4,500 yards and 25 touchdowns? The question is can they get him.

Last night I dreamed that the Vikings were in the NFC Championship game, and for some reason I wasn't watching. When I checked the score, it said 44-0, and I started dancing around saying "The Vikings are going to the Super Bowl!" Then I saw that it was the Denver Broncos that had just won the AFC Championship game, and the NFC Championship game was still going on ("I guess we aren't going to get Cutler," I thought). The Vikings were down in the fourth to the 49ers but had just scored a touchdown and two-point conversion. Then for some reason they were getting the ball on a kickoff, down by two, and kick returner Chester Taylor got a terrific block from Teri Hatcher and scored a touchdown. I worried that the Vikings had left too much time on the clock...then my wife woke me up.

Monday, March 02, 2009

How I long for Jay Cutler

Do we really need to be offered hope?  Do we really need people making me believe that the Vikings could acquire a Pro Bowl quarterback that will be 26 next season?  Do we really need people making me believe a quarterback that threw for 4,500 yards and 25 TDs last season could be coming to a Viking team that has averaged 2,992.5 yards and 16.25 TDs passing over the past four seasons?  Is it possible to hope that the Vikings could solve the quarterback problem they've had since Daunte Culpepper* flamed out?  Are we being offered hope just so we can be thwarted once again?  As flies to wanton boys, so are Viking fans to the gods.

*It's easy to forget that Daunte Culpepper had legitimately spectacular seasons at the ages of 23, 26, and 27, and that it seemed like he would be the franchise quarterback for another decade.  I still don't understand what happened.  In 2007 this same man came back to the Metrodome as an Oakland Raider and threw for 344 yards, and I was in the Metrodome watching, and I felt nothing special.  What happened?  We need Jay Cutler.

Houshmandzadeh to Seattle

T.J. chooses the Seahawks (ESPN).  Admit it: you didn't want to learn how to spell his name anyway (don't forget the "d," and it's "--zadeh," not --"zedah).

Houshmandzadeh joining the Seahawks roughly triples the chances that Matt Hasselbeck ends up quarterbacking my fantasy team once again.

Be still my heart

Even I haven't allowed myself to dream this big.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sage Rosenfels and the Vikings

Some good looks at Sage Rosenfels at The Ragnarok and Defensive Indifference.

Whoever wins the starting job, let's say this: IF* the Vikings do sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh, we're going to find out if Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell really are lousy offensive minds. The Viking offense would be loaded, featuring a RB that led the league in rushing and averages 5.2 yards per attempt, a deep-threat WR that averaged 20.1 yards per catch (on 48 total receptions, 14 went for 20+ yards and seven went for 40+), and a possession WR that has caught 90+ passes in each of the past three seasons. That would be loaded--with talent like that, what excuse would Childress/Bevell have if the offense fails to consistently move the ball and score points? And incidently, there would be little excuse for either Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels to struggle, either.

*see that word "IF" in capital letters, italics, and bold font?

Things I don't understand

That a team with a 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterback that threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns in his third season would hire a coach that had any other ideas besides working with that 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterback.

That a team with a 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterback would try (or, if you prefer, seriously consider) trading that 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterback.

I also will not understand it if a team with perpetual quarterback issues doesn't try to swoop in and exploit the tensions between a team and its angry 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterback.

(see ESPN).