Thursday, September 30, 2010

National Friday League, Week Four

Two Updates Below

BYE WEEK! When the Vikes don't play on Sunday afternoons, you can allow yourself to be dragged away to other things. The Vikes play a lot of night games this season anyway, so it's not that weird. Still. BYE WEEK!

Intriguing Matchups
Week Four Schedule

That Steeler defense is breathtaking. I know I sound like that doctor on Seinfeld that refers to both Elaine and the “some snuggly baby” as “breathtaking." Let's all work together to totally devalue the word "breathtaking." But really, the Steeler defense is awesome, and I think there are only a handful of offenses that will be capable of scoring multiple TDs on them this year.

Interesting matchup containing major fantasy starters (Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall for sure, Ronnie Brown, Patriot Kicker probably, Aaron Hernandez, Patriot Kicker, Dolphin Defense maybe). Offenses that are anything but boring. Nice Monday night game.

When the Vikes play Julius Peppers, the man terrifies me. He’s capable of total domination during a game. He deserves a lot of credit for the Bears’ win over the Packers Monday night, and he’s arguably the Bears’ best player. Well, every Bear is "arguably" the Bears' best player. You could have an argument, anyway. How about I just say Peppers is the Bears' best player.

I have the feeling that this season, like last season, if Peyton Manning thought it was important to throw for 5,000 yards, he'd throw for 5,000 yards.

When a division appears awful, I like to see one team at least get to nine wins to make the whole thing seem less of a joke. This year, it appears Seattle has the best shot to get to nine.

Irrational Viking Fan
If the Vikings win the Super Bowl, I think I’ll be able to let go of the sports-hate. It’s all I really want (I’d take a T-Wolves title, but that’s like saying I’d take the ability to fly). And if I get that, I truly think I could stop loathing the Green Bay Packers. I mean, I despise the Packers in a deep, entirely irrational way. I hate them like crazy. And I really believe that if the Vikings win the title, I’ll mellow out and stop. I don’t want to waste so much negative energy on sports-hate. Granted, it makes games more exciting to watch than sports indifference.

Sometimes I think about things.
Since the Minnesota Vikings last made the Super Bowl (the 1976 season), the only other NFC team not to make it to the Super Bowl was the Detroit Lions. Do you want to get sillier? Since as recently as the 1991 season, 14 out of 16 teams have won the NFC. Only the woeful Lions and our beloved Vikings haven’t. Think. On. That.

Packers-Bears Monday Thoughts
If the Vikings ever relocate, if I decide not to stop watching football, I’ll probably adopt the Bears as my team. Why not? What else do I have going on? I might as well root for the Packers’ rival. I only hate the Bears when they’re able to affect the Vikings (in games or in division races).

During the game, I kept referring to the goddam Packers. My wife says this makes me sound 10% crotchetier, that I add 30 years to my age just by saying goddam. This is your vision of the future, I say: watching the Packers play the Bears and cursing out the detestable Packers. No, she says, it’s like looking at the present.

The Packers’ propensity for penalties is not just about lack of discipline; I think it’s a result of their serious weaknesses. The offensive line struggles in pass protection—and they end up with a game featuring holding calls, false starts, etc. There are some real weak links in the secondary—and they end up with a game featuring a lot of pass interference calls. The Packers are a good team because they have a good defensive front seven and a great passing attack. But those weaknesses are on display when they play a competent opponent.

If I had to cheer for Jay Cutler on a regular basis, I’m fairly certain I would a) have a nervous breakdown and b) hate him. The Chicago offensive line is pretty terrible: Cutler rarely seems to even have a pocket, merely an area to scramble around. It’s pretty amazing seeing him have to begin scrambling about within two seconds of the snap, and he's pretty good at it. But as far as I can tell, Cutler is just as likely to throw footballs directly at opposing defenders when he has time in the pocket as he is when he’s on the run. And he’s extremely likely to throw footballs directly at opposing defenders.

In defense of Jim Mora acting like an asshole
"How should they feel" is a really stupid question.

If' somebody asked me, "How should Jim Mora feel about being asked to declare what internal emotions are right and proper for people experiencing something he didn't experience and isn't directly involved with?" I'd say "I don't know: irritated?"

Basketball Box
I wish Larry David would buy a pro basketball team; I would just adopt that team as my favorite team. He’s exceedingly rich, right? If he buys a team, I’ll just say, “Whoop. This is now my favorite team. Everybody else can suck it: I’m rooting for Larry David’s team.” He and Jerry Seinfeld should team up and buy a team.

Fantasy Box: evolving your roster during the season
I think there is one critical question to ask concerning in-season roster moves: at what point do you consider this season’s stats as the primary criterion for evaluation, diminishing the significance of previous seasons’ performances and off-season expectations?

Even lousy players will have a few good games a year—and some lousy players will have their few good games early in the year. And sometimes good players have lousy games early in the year. You have to be able to sniff out individual situations: last season it took me one week to realize the Rams were going to stink and I didn’t want Steven Jackson (I traded him for Peyton Manning before week two). But you also need avoid overreacting to one or two bad games.

This week, I completed a massive ten player trade: essentially, I downgraded from Frank Gore to DeAngelo Williams (and Jonathan Stewart) in order to improve my #2 RB, #3 WR, and TE (all problems for me). If I evaluated the trade primarily on the performances of week one, two, and three, I just suffered a terribly downgrade. However, I know what DeAngelo Williams has done in the past, and I think his first three weeks aren’t indicative of the player he is or the year he’ll have. And I know what Gore has done in the past: he’s spectacular and will perform very well, but the terrible 49ers will struggle frequently and everything he does will feel really, really difficult. So I made the move.

After three weeks, I’m still using pre-season perspective to mitigate analysis of in-season performances. After, say, six weeks, I don’t think I would anymore. We'll see whether in this case, the "Yeah, but last year" approach is better than this "Only this year" approach after three weeks.

Have a good weekend, everybody. Except Packer and Bear fans.

Addendum (Baseball Box)
Are the Twins under the impression that when they got public money for their open air stadium, they were also granted rights to the public open air? Do they think that anything that can be viewed by people inside their corporate-named stadium should not be tainted by outsiders? The Twins aren't entitled to everything that can be seen from their #!&%ing building. You know, you wouldn't be able to see signs on the Target Center from inside the goddam Metrodome. Give up the sense of entitlement, and concentrate on not getting your ass kicked by the Yankees again.

Addendum 2
Bill Simmons today on Michael Vick and dogfighting, with some self-awareness:

"But dogfighting isn't much more abhorrent than some of the other ways we abuse animals. Ever watch what happens when a deer gets shot by a hunter but doesn't die right away? Ever watch a group of turkeys get slaughtered for Thanksgiving? Ever watch how a mink coat gets made? Ever research what happens to greyhounds once they stop racing? Hell, I plowed through a veal chop at dinner a few weeks ago. It was delicious. Does that mean I condone the creepy veal industry? Implicitly, yeah, it kinda does. Why didn't it bother me as I was putting salt on my chop and oooohing and ahhhhing about how tender the meat was? I don't know. I wish I knew. More of us are hypocrites about this stuff than we realize."


"Not everyone likes dogs or sees them as companions, guardians or family members. I have friends who regard dogs warily and act rattled around them. Certain religions believe dogs are unclean. (I once lived in a West Hollywood neighborhood heavy with Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, some of whom could barely conceal their disgust with the Dooze. A few even hissed at her. This drove my wife crazy, but hey, dogs mean different things to different people.)"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 24, Lions 10

Today, Pacifist Viking will be a place for positivity. Sure, the Vikings' problems were evident today, threatening to bust the seams of the game. But you'll be able to read plenty of writers focusing on those problems. The Vikings haven't won a game since the middle of January, so let us revel in the joy that comes from a Minnesota W.

There were a lot of positive things today. We saw another good defensive performance, which included some dynamic play from Kevin Williams and the return of cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook. The Vikes had their first two interceptions of the year, both in the end zone as they held off Detroit's attempted comeback. The offense was as mistake-prone as ever, yet certainly also displayed the awesome potential, as Adrian Peterson ripped off an 80 yard run on the way to 190 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Percy Harvin had his best game of the season and gave at least a little spark to the Viking WRs (he certainly made a great touchdown catch when he was wide open and Favre overthrew him just a tad).

We take these home wins against the Lions for granted, since they've been coming every year since 1998. But the Lion defensive line looked tough today: I'm not sure how good the team the Vikings beat today really is, but they do look competitive. The Vikes had to earn a win today. Sometimes they seemed on the verge of a blowout--but they also got bailed out when some penalties negated turnovers (penalties that may have directly caused the turnovers, but these were good breaks nonetheless, as they were also penalties that sometimes don't get called).

The Vikes have issues--and 15 days before their next game to try to work on some of those issues. After disappointing performances in their first two games, they showed today the offensive and defensive talent that makes them a good football team. Play crisper, sharper, more focused football, and they can become a great team.

It's been a while. Skol.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

National Friday League, Week Three

Viking Preview
If the Vikes lose this one, Brett Favre should retire immediately.

The 2010 Vikings are more like the ’08 Vikes than the ’09 Vikes (and that’s OK, if they realize it)
The ’09 Vikings were an offensive juggernaut, scoring loads of points primarily through the passing game. If the first couple of games of ’10 are any indication, this Viking team is not like that Viking team. But this team bears remarkable similarities to the ’08 Viking team that started the season 0-2 and rallied to win the division.

The ’08 Vikings leaned heavily on Adrian Peterson (1,760 yards), and played frequently dominant defense (in nine games after the bye, they allowed opposing offenses to score 13 touchdowns, going 7-2 in the process). And if the ’10 Vikings’ first two games are indicative, this Viking team can still win games like the ’08 Vikings did. The Viking defense has done a superb job, in my opinion. They went on the road and held the Saints to 14 points. At home against the Dolphins, they allowed zero points after the first drive, and in the fourth quarter repeatedly did exactly what they needed to do to stop the Dolphins and get the ball back for the offense as quickly as possible.

The ’10 Vikes have more potential than that team, because Brett Favre has more potential for success than ’08 Gus Frerotte or ’08 Tarvaris Jackson had. But they can win games if they lean on Adrian Peterson and dominate defensively. They just have to realize that’s the sort of team they are. That means sometimes taking early field goals because you know the game will be close.* That means sometimes playing for field position because you can trust the defense to get the ball back for you quickly. It means not taking too many risks in the passing game (but picking their spots, sure).

The Vikes can rally: the defense will keep them in games, they have talented offensive players including a workhorse running back, and Brett Favre will not suck that bad in every game this year.

*I'd almost always go for it on fourth down from inside the three: if you don't get it, you're probably getting the ball back soon, and it good field position. Outside the 20, when you'd still have to gain more yards to get a TD rather than FG? With a reliable offense, yes. Without? Take the points. That's why this year the Vikings are a take the points team.

Irrational Viking Fan
Don Draper and Pete Campbell
I’ve only seen season one of Mad Men, so don’t spoil anything for me. But ever since RK madethe comparison of Aaron Rodgers to Howard from Death of a Salesman, I keep seeing Aaron Rodgers as Pete Campbell from Mad Men. And I hate Pete Campbell. When I see the look on Aaron Rodgers’ face, I associate him with all the worst qualities of Pete Campbell.

(And so I bought a fedora hat today. What, do you really think I did that in a misbegotten attempt to look like Don Draper? What do you take me for? You don't know my motivations. You can't prove anything. And anyway, isn't Draper kind of a major douche, tormented nihilistic soul or not? I suppose you think I'm silly for buying a tie for the first time in my memory, too. Well, screw you for judging me).

The Wheel of Fortune
The wheel of fortune spins: whomever it brings to the top, it will swing back down to the bottom.

From the ’04 playoffs through 2005, the Vikings won three straight games against the Packers. From ’06 through the first game of ’08, the Packers won five straight over the Vikings. And from ’08 through ’09, the Vikings defeated the Packers three straight times and claimed two division titles.

As far as the Viking-Packer rivaly goes, 2009 was Minnesota’s year. But I think I can say honestly that I did not try to rub anything in to Packer fans. I’ve been through enough Viking seasons to live in terror anytime things seem to be going well—and living in terror means little time for gloating. And I know how the wheel of fortune spins: somebody gets brought to the top, sure, but that somebody gets crashed back to the bottom again. For sure. The wheel keeps spinning.

And now, with the Vikes 0-2 and the Packers 2-0, it appears that 2010 may, broadly speaking, be the Packers’ year. Packer fans may be riding high all of 2010, and they’ll have their chance to rub it in. Maybe the wheel has spun, and it is the Packers’ turn at the top.* Maybe this is your chance to roll, Packer fans. But the wheel of fortune spins.

*Let’s stick with “maybe.” The Vikes still have a chance to salvage the season, will play the Packers strong in their head-to-head matchups, and if nothing else, Go Bears!

Season Preferences
Here are my preferences for the season, in order:

#1: The Vikings right the proverbial ship, make their way to the playoffs, and make a deep playoff run.
#2: A complete, total, disastrous collapse of the season.
#3: Stumbling toward a .500 season and missing the playoffs.

The reasons I prefer 2. to 3. are plenty. For one thing, epic failures are more entertaining to watch than muddling mediocrity (though stumbling to .500 with a shot at the playoffs makes each game more exciting and engaging. I am such a wishy washy thinker that I need to undercut my own thoughts in the parentheses). But there are other reasons. I think, eventually, Brad Childress will discover for certain that Tarvaris Jackson can’t really be a consistent starting QB—if that were to somehow happen in 2010 rather than 2011, we take a healthy step toward the future a year early. The Vikes also have some young players that have shown sparks of stardom, some who haven’t had an opportunity to do so yet, and several that the Vikings need to decide about for long-term contracts. A collapse might mean leaning more on those players. If the Vikes aren’t going to win the Super Bowl this season, then I’d rather see them move toward a future where they can win the Super Bowl—whatever that takes, even if it means a brutal nadir to get there. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molineux," Robin goes through one miserable, confusing, awful night--but he comes out of it with a new, important insight into the world. If he never saw his tarred and feathered kinsman paraded down the streets, if he never joined into the mocking laughter, he might never have learned what he needed to learn.

But preferably, the future is now. The Vikes have a fairly high number of star veterans that might not have much left (Pat Williams, Antoine Winfield, Steve Hutchinson, Brett Favre). The Vikes also have a handful of Hall-of-Fame quality starters in their primes (Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Adrian Peterson). This is no time to waste. It’s just if it’s going to be wasted, I’d prefer disaster to mediocrity.

Other Intriguing Matchups
Week Three Schedule

Falcons-Saints. If you watched the 49ers-Saints Monday, you saw another game where the Saints did not outplay an opponent, but benefitted from that opponent making one disastrous mistake after another. That was an incredible display by San Francisco: they moved the ball, and they successfully stopped the Saints, but they repeatedly acted as if it might be more fun to lose the game than win. Snapping the ball over the QB’s head out of the back of the end zone for a safety on the first drive? Sure. Drive down the field before halftime but fumble inside the 15. Why not? Muff a punt late in the game? Of course. Start a drive with a delay of game penalty? Why would you be ready at the start of a drive? Just incredible. Anyway, I don’t think the Saints are that good, and the Falcons might be.

49ers-Chiefs. One of these teams will reveal itself. I don’t know which one.

Cowboys-Texans. One of these teams will reveal itself. I don’t know which one.

Colts-Broncos. Indianapolis sliced up the Giants last Sunday in ways I haven’t seen anybody sliced up in a long, long time.

Packers-Bears. When I was a kid, I had this Chicago Bears hooded sweatshirt that somehow got passed down to me—I don’t know how or from where. I would wear it outside to play basketball or shovel snow. I don’t know what happened to that hoodie (though we didn’t call them hoodies in the bad old days of the mid-90s, did we?). If I still had it, I’d be donning it Monday night. Go Bears.

The Quarterback Position
Matthew Yglesias argues that the Eagles keeping two starter-quality QBs is a bad idea:

“it’s also mighty inefficient. Whether or not Kevin Kolb is a better quarterback than Vick, I think it’s pretty clear that Vick is one of the top 30 QBs in the league. That means he’s worth more to someone else as a starter than he is to Philadelphia as a backup and the Eagles should trade him. It never really makes sense for a team to be carrying two different starter-quality quarterbacks.”

But here’s the problem with that argument: what if the Eagles accepted this argument before the season started? Then when their starter, Kevin Kolb, got injured, they would have been left with a low-quality starter to replace him. Instead of Michael Vick leading them to a three-point win, it’s quite likely a poor quarterback would have led them to a loss.

Quarterback is a critically important position. It may seem inefficient to keep two good quarterbacks, but I’m not entirely sure it’s a good idea to go into a season saying “Oh well, if our starting QB gets hurt, we’re just screwed anyway.” I’m also not sure it’s a good idea to go into a season saying “Oh well, our starting QB only has two career starts, but if we learn he sucks the whole team can just go down with him.”

Now, why am I bothering with the sports argument of a political blogger here (especially as the situation has changed, and Vick will start)? Because I’ve largely stopped reading most sportswriters’ commentary. Most sportswriters’ commentary provides little insight, and I no longer have the inclination (or time) to read bad sportswriters just to criticize them on this blog. So I’ve quit reading them. There are some sportswriters who do offer quality analysis—but I can’t bring myself to read much about football following a Viking loss (I also can’t bring myself to write much after a Viking loss—sorry. If you’d like me to write a lot after a Viking loss, find a way to get me paid to do this. Actually, don’t: I don’t need the added responsibility. I’m writing this after mental exhaustion from grading papers). I do, however, still occasionally read political blogs, and occasionally come across sports arguments, and occasionally find them flawed. So here we are.

Things to look forward to now the Vikes are 0-2
This might finally be the season that Ted meets his kids’ mother.

Fantasy Box
No, I did not try hard to trade away Frank Gore last week. That would be crazy. If anybody tries to tell you I tried to do that, they are lying. Don't be a liar. Frank Gore is awesome, and I've always known it--I wouldn't trade him for anybody. And fantasy football is not about luck.

Have a good weekend everybody. Except Lion fans. The Packers don’t play until Monday, so Packer fans, I don’t care about your weekend. Bears fans: I hope you enjoy Monday.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coming off the ledge

There was a familiar story for the Vikings in '06, '07, and '08: the Minnesota defense doing everything it takes to win a game, and getting let down by frustrating, mistake-prone, incompetent offensive performances. It happened again today. Superb, admirable, incredible defensive effort from the Vikes, giving the Vikings the ball back time and again, doing everything they could to win a game--and a total letdown at every level of the offensive game (with the exception of Adrian Peterson, who did all he could to try will the Viking offense to points).

Share your hurts, Viking fans. More in the comments.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

National Friday League, week two

I’m still on the Viking bandwagon. It’s just that now I’ve ambled my way to the back to sit with the older fans in the back drinking hard liquor and saying things like “Kids, I’ve seen some things. I know that hope is a mirage.” That’s how a lot of Viking fans are, I think: never able to bring themselves to actually jump off that bandwagon, but always expecting it to hit a pothole, so that all the people standing on the bandwagon get flung to the floor, and they bang into each other and there's a heap of bodies just lying on the wood as the wagon keeps on getting pulled by a horse that keeps stopping to poop or throw up. If we're going to use a cliche like bandwagon, shouldn't we flesh it out a bit?

Vikings-Dolphins Preview
There’s one big thing to like about this matchup: Chad Henne facing the Viking pass rush in Thunderdome. I think he’ll wilt. In the last two seasons, the Viking defensive line has been all over quarterbacks at home.

There’s one big thing to dislike about this matchup: Miami’s running game. The Vikings have the great run defense, sure, but they’ve frequently been vulnerable against runs off the edges. When the Dolphins get up to those misdirection shenanigoats, I worry our linebackers are going to be chasing around Dolphin running backs. When running backs get to the edges, teams can get this Viking defense.

Combine the big thing to like and the big thing to dislike, and an early lead becomes rather important. But when isn’t an early lead preferable? What, the team should try to play it close all game, or maybe try get down big in order to come back? No great insight and no great strategy there: of course the Vikings should try to score points and prevent the Dolphins from scoring points whenever possible, including the bloody first quarter. I guess I’m really just saying in this game, I don’t see the Dolphins coming back if they get down by a lot, but I could see the Dolphins picking up frustrating Wildcat first downs if they’re milking a close fourth quarter lead.

In the end, I always trust Thunderdome.

Other Intriguing Matchups
Week Two Schedule

Bills-Packers. Sure, the Bills probably suck. But they sort of have a good defense. A Buffalo win here would please me. I dislike Aaron Rodgers.

Bears-Cowboys. No freaking idea whether one of these teams can go to the playoffs or whether one of these teams really sucks.

Steelers-Titans. Last week, the Steelers scored a tight win against a quality opponent thanks to great defense; meanwhile, the Titans scored a blowout win thanks to seeing the Raiders on their schedule. These two teams can bring out the best in each other: competitive, hard-hitting, well-played football.

Giants-Colts. I don’t care about Peyton and Eli facing each other; I care about Peyton and Eli being entertaining quarterbacks who often make football games fun to watch. The game will be entertaining not because announcers keep talking about quarterbacking brothers, but because those quarterbacking brothers, and their teams, are fun to watch.

49ers-Saints. I'm still curious about both teams--I'm not sure what they showed week one.

Irrational Viking Fan
The conversations that occur at the PV household are probably a lot like you’d expect. I lament to my wife, how did the same fanbase that endured the end of ’98 have to endure the end of ’09? She says it doesn’t seem fair. And then I mumble something about ’87 and ’75.

It’s like Stephen King’s It: at consistent intervals, a horrible monster comes to terrify the town. Every 11-12 years, Viking fans can expect to get their hopes up and then have our hearts shit-stomped in a desperately confusing close playoff loss.

But with all the predictions for the Packers in the Super Bowl this year,* it is worth
repeating: if the Packers win their 13th championship before the Vikings win their first, I will have a sports nervous breakdown that makes my reaction to last year’s NFC championship game look like a hiccup. You won’t hear me talk about football again for a long, long time. I will know the universe has no balance, and that karma is a happy story for losers to tell ourselves to make us feel a little warmer at night. I won’t be able to take it, and before long I’ll change this blog to “Pacifist Timberwolf” or something. I’ve got issues.

Of course I know there is actual injustice in the world, that leads to actual suffering, and that in the lives of the cosmos and the lives of families, what I’m talking about on this blog doesn’t really matter. Which is why this has been Irrational Viking Fan.

*I get it, I do. But when virtually EVERYBODY predicts the Packers are going to the Super Bowl, it makes me ask just what they’ve done to make them the consensus preseason NFC champion? Is the whole NFC just down?

Percy Harvin
Clearly, Harvin has what it takes to be a playmaking #1 WR. He’s fast and quick. He can go deep or he can catch passes at the sticks on third down. He’s agile to get away from defenders to run after the catch, and he’s strong, difficult to bring down. He’s got great football smarts (my favorite move: when he catches the ball facing the QB, he and the defender are moving in one direction, and immediately when catching it, Harvin cuts the opposite way as quick as can be, as the defender’s momentum takes him the other direction and Harvin can get extra yards).

Last season, Harvin shined as the Vikings used him as needed. They had so many viable targets last season, that they didn’t need Harvin to be a #1 WR. Well, maybe this season they do need that. They need Harvin to be a do-it-all receiving option that they can rely on for every down. And Harvin has the talent and the toughness to do it.

Of course, he sucked against the Saints. And maybe he only works as a slot receiver.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world
When you think about your life and how it changes over time, you might find yourself dumbstruck by how different your life is now than what it was then. Professional sports offers a clear reflection of the transitory nature of life. Think back to 2002 or 2003. Then tell yourself that one day, Mike Shanahan would be coaching in Washington, where he’d call a play and Donovan McNabb would hand off to Clinton Portis. Then tell yourself that the Ravens and Jets would play, and Anquan Boldin is on one team and Ladanian Tomlinson is on the other. It's like doing Franchise mode on Madden, where without really noticing a few years later a bunch of superstars are on different teams and you think "This is just weird." That’s how it goes: star players switching teams is commonplace, yet when I actually think about the changes, it’s jarring. So too with the changes of life.

Unsolicited Recommendation
I really enjoyed season one of The League, FX’s comedy about a fantasy football league. I laughed out loud a lot, and I found a lot of the show to ring true. Season two is starting up; I highly recommend it.

The Kansas City Chiefs
For a few minutes, my wife and I were watching the Chiefs and all the big, exciting plays they were making. At some point I immediately fell in love with Jamaal Charles, and asserted my wild desire to make a crazy fantasy trade offer involving giving up Frank Gore to get Charles. “Don’t go pissing away your whole team on magic beans,” she advised me. She should probably always stick around me, advising me before I do stupid things.

Low scoring? I don’t care.
On KFAN Tuesday morning, I heard Mike Florio complain to Paul Allen a bit about a low scoring week one. I don’t mind low-scoring games, actually. I like watching well-played games, and I like watching competitive games. A 13-10 game is usually more enjoyable to watch than a 35-0 game, and a 13-10 game that clearly features great defense simply outplaying competent offense is enjoyable.

Incompetent offense is, yes, terrible to watch, and there was some inept quarterbacking in week one. But a well-played, competitive low-scoring game is usually fine with me. And I like that there are some great defenses out there capable of shutting teams down and competing against some of the great offenses out there.

Greg Camarillo
Throw the ball to Camarillo: he’ll catch it! Get the man on the field!

A miniature sports book review
Over the summer I read Bill Simmons' The Basketball Book, and never got around to writing about it here.

The book might be the most entertaining sports book I've read: it's funny and insightful. If you're interested in basketball history, interested in arguments about the greatest players and the greatest teams, interested in looking at sports history for what matters most, and also interested in the fan experience of sports, the book is almost perfect.

If you don't know much about NBA history, you'll learn a lot (though perhaps in a chaotic, disorganized way), and if you do know a lot about NBA history, I think you'll find the perspectives fresh and still informative. Simmons' heavy focus on his favorite team, the Boston Celtics, is even justifiable because of the Celtics' prominent place in NBA history--it doesn't feel too heavy to me.

My one critique (it is a major or minor one depending on your perspective) is the sexism/misogyny that runs through it. When I read Simmons' columns, I wince at nearly every mention of women, because what he says is usually quite ugly (as some commenters here have pointed out). If you went through The Book of Basketball and highlighted every reference Simmons makes to women, I think you'd come up with a rather ugly picture of stereotypes and objectification.

Fantasy Box
I am a homer, and lord of the idiots.
If you use Yahoo! for your fantasy football, you may have noticed that 1% of all fantasy teams were starting Greg Camarillo week one (actually you probably didn't, because why would you be looking that up?). I was one of them. It didn’t go well.

The closer and then the deeper we get into the football season, the more ridiculous my fantasy homerism becomes. In the summer I usually convince myself “No no, not this time,” and draft a team by that standard. Then I start doing things like picking up Greg Camarillo. My fellow Hazelweirders know this and try exploit it, so I get the chance to turn down trade offers like Brett Favre for Peyton Manning straight up or Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin for Reggie Wayne.

The Indianapolis Colts lose
As my friend Kiah told me Sunday, the Colts losing is probably the best thing for fantasy owners of Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, etc. Let them lose some early season games (especially if Indy offensive players can put up big numbers in defeat), and then maybe they’ll actually be playing to win in Week 16 and Week 17. Suddenly, I smiled.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody. Except Packer, Bear, and Dolphin fans.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Coming off the ledge: Vikings 9, Saints 14

ESPN Box Score

After a vicious offseason of wondering what might have been, it was good for a real football game to start. A few plays into it, and it was just a football game, just a chance to watch the Vikings and root for them to win. It’s like it always was.

So what does this game tell us about the Vikings 2010 season? If the rest of the season is like this game, they’ll gurgle and sputter and play flat and generally underachieve to mediocrity (I can see it: there have been plenty of playoff teams that followed up the next year by losing close games early in the season and then not sucking, exactly, but just performing like an average team). Or does the fact that they went on the road with a depleted secondary and competed to within five points of the defending champion show that the Vikings are still going to be competitive and are still ready to push for a Super Bowl over the next 15 games? Well, who knows. It’s another nine days until the Vikings get the Miami Dolphins in Thunderdome (a matchup I like a lot, but we’ll wait for that). I would have read way too much into a win tonight, but I’m afraid we can’t read way too much into this loss. We saw a lot of problems, especially receivers failing to step up and the thin secondary looking vulnerable. Those problems are also fixable (I think the WRs will perform better, and certainly the eventual return of Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin will help the secondary).

This team needs to rush the passer.
There are holes in the secondary; the defensive backs occasionally did an admirable job, occasionally looked bad, and occasionally looked bad but were bailed out when Saint receivers couldn’t finish a play. Even when they do rush the passer, a smart mobile QB like Brees can make the necessary moves to throw the pass downfield. But right now, if the Vikes don't get to the QB, they don't have the DBs to cover.

Brett Favre looks off...
But let’s remember how 2009 started. The Vikings played against a terrible Cleveland Browns team, and Favre really only needed to make a couple of throws of note. Is Favre any different in early September 2010 than he was in early September 2009? I doubt it--he just had a tougher matchup and was asked to do more this year.

Greg Camarillo
Bernard Berrian…a very disappointing dud game. Percy Harvin…a very disappointing dud game. Visanthe Shiancoe made plays in the first half, and then was simply not a factor.

Greg Camarillo barely played, but I think he needs to. I think the Vikings will like what they get if he’s on the field more. The Vikings showed in their offensive formations and personnel tonight that protecting Favre was a priority—but they’re going to have to give more receivers a chance to make plays. Harvin and Berrian disappointed, but as Camarillo gets more acclimated to the team and playbook, he’s a guy that should make plays and be a reliable pass catcher on third down.

That Saint kicker
Yes, I shouted profane things at him when he missed those field goals about why he didn’t do that in January.

A few hours before the game, I went for a walk. I started thinking about all the negative predictions for the Vikes, the positive predictions for the Packers, about that game in January, about the upcoming game. Pretty soon I was walking really, really fast, and I had a vicious scowl on my face (I'm not sure, but I think people who saw me avoided me).

And I realized that I had spent the offseason in a fetal crouch, variously wincing, pouting, and avoiding. But to borrow a phrase from Jimmy McNulty, “What the fuck did I do?” Fear and trembling is no way to go through a season.

So screw the Saints, screw the Packers, screw the league, screw the national media, screw football karma. Viking fans have been coming back from disappointment for most of 49 years. We still come back donning purple with desperate hope. There’s no reason to sulk. We’ll stand behind this team. We’ll shout. We’ll leap with joy at their wins. We'll root. It’s football season.

The last line of the last song I heard on this walk? “It’s gonna happen (HAPPEN SOME TIME)…Maybe this time I’ll wiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn!!!!!”

Well, not tonight. 0-1 isn't fun. Waiting nine days to play again won't be fun. But I'm not sulking, and you shouldn't either. Come in off the ledge, everybody--it's a new day.

Share your thoughts, suckers.

Monday, September 06, 2010

National Friday League, Week One (update below)

What's that, you say? It's Monday? Well, National Friday League is meant to be discuss the NFL (and whatever else the parenthetical tangents take me to) right before the weekend (though I'll generally post it Thursday evening--busy working on Friday and all), but this week the Vikes play Thursday, so I'm popping out a massive National Friday League right away this week (includes some week one preview, some league preview stuff). If' I've got more to add throughout the week, I'll add updates.

During the actual football season, there will be two regular weekly posts at PV: National Friday League, which brings together stories from the week and preview of the weekend in a fun, wandering post, and a post commenting on the Viking game (usually posted on the same day as the game, with possible updates added later). So, enjoy?

Last year was the Favre year. I have a bad feeling this year will either be the "Last season was our year and we blew it; it's not happening" year or the "This Brett Favre thing went on just longer than it should have" year. Maybe I've become desperately pessimistic, though (about the fate of human life on this earth we're wrecking, mostly, but about football too). On that cheery parenthetical, welcome back, everybody!

Since the NFL started giving week one Thursday Night home games to the defending champion in ‘04, the home team defending champion has yet to lose that game. That hasn’t always been a harbinger for the season (the ’06 and ’09 Steelers missed the playoffs, for example), though the loser of this game has missed the playoffs for five straight seasons. But that’s the way this game has gone for six straight years: the defending champ wins its Thursday Night home opener. Emotional momentum wins, with a defending champ home team energized by celebration and cheering? Maybe. Scheduling, as an obviously good team is sometimes matched up against an intriguing but underwhelming opponent? Absolutely. Luck, as the first game is often too early for the random things (injuries, the bounces of an odd-shaped ball, etc.) that went right the previous season to go wrong in the followup season? Maybe.

I see this as a lose-lose situation. For one thing, all of the images we see are going to be so similar to the images we saw last January (white Viking uniforms, black Saint uniforms, the Superdome as backdrop, plus the network will show a lot of actual footage from that game) that it’s going to be hard not to scratch off old scabs. But if the Vikings win, while it will feel emotionally and psychologically wonderful, and the Vikes would start 1-0, there would still be that feeling that, well, this one doesn’t really matter (remember when the Vikes opened with a win against Atlanta in ’99?). Obviously a Viking win would bring joy, but bittersweet joy at that.

And if the Vikings lose, it means seeing the Vikings lose. It also means seeing the Saints win again, it means seeing the Vikes lose an important NFC game, it means seeing the Vikes start 0-1, and it means nine days of doubt before the Vikings play again.

I don’t have much confidence, but I also see the Viking pass rush being disruptive and the possibility of Adrian Peterson going for 150.

Other Intriguing Week One Matchups
Week One Schedule

In week one, isn’t every game at least mildly intriguing? I’d prefer some games, but I’d watch any. So here are some comments on either each game, or a team in each game.

Randy Moss looks like he’s ready to party again, and bring Tom Brady along for the fun of it.

For any new readers (or long-time readers that have forgotten): for a Viking blogger, I talk way too much about the Indianapolis Colts. Somewhere along the line Peyton Manning became my favorite non-Viking and I watch him whenever I can, and somewhere else along the line I started drafting Colts in fantasy football as if they were the only team in the league (and yes, every Week 17, that sucks).

I’ve always been pretty good at simply not paying attention to cultural things that I’m just not interested in. Maybe I’ve mellowed a lot, but I also have no interest in tearing down those things I don’t care about: if other people really enjoy something that I don’t, well, what do I care? I find Two and a Half Men wildly unfunny, but a lot of people seem to like it. I care precisely zero about soccer, but when everybody was talking about the World Cup this summer, I didn’t bother complaining or ranting about soccer sucking or anything like that. I don’t enjoy the sport, I recognize others do, so I just don’t pay attention and let others enjoy what they enjoy. I pay virtually no attention to popular music: the first and often only time I hear recent hits is on Glee. I really like the ‘80s version of The Twilight Zone: whatever, don’t bug me. Maybe I’m just comfortable being outside the mainstream on many things, but I just let the things I don’t care about go, becoming moderately aware of them when necessary.

Anyway: so this fellow named Tim Tebow used to play football at the University of Florida, and now he’s on the Denver Broncos? Or so I hear. He's left-handed, huh? So that's cool.

I will never stop believing in Vince Young. Every season I expect Young to go romp all over everybody. It starts here.

These are human beings who play football.

I find the Steelers without Roethlisberger all sorts of intriguing. I just hope either Leftwich or Dixon don’t screw up the supreme joy that is Mike Wallace.

Before the game, Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb can talk about how much pleasure they got/get from killing animals. Vick’s version of killing animals makes him a national pariah; Kolb’s version of killing animals makes him an outdoorsman. Social mores, everybody! Anyway, I hope the Eagles blitz the shit out of Rodgers.

I suspect Miami will not be good this year because offensively, they are relying on one RB (Ricky Williams) in his 30s with an historically anomalous career that seems difficult to count on, one RB (Ronnie Brown) that is good but has had some major injuries that may diminish his game, and a young unproven quarterback (Chad Henne) that for all we know will never be more than mediocre. That seems like a lot to worry about. Of course, that anomalous RB might produce again (he is a vegetarian, so I’ve got a soft spot and a rooting interest in him), that RB returning from injury might still have his burst and stay healthy all season, and that unproven quarterback might actually emerge (it happens). Not a team I'd rely on for 16 games, but not a team to be surprised by if they’re good, either.

Expect a lot from Jake Delhomme, and he’ll probably disappoint you. Stick him on a lousy team that’s mostly counted out, and he’ll probably make them competitive. My prediction: Delhomme leads the Browns to a respectably competitive season (7-9 wins, let’s say), going into 2011 (assuming there's football in 2011) you’ll read some “Hey, how about those Browns emerging” articles, and then Delhomme will not be able to get them above that mediocrity.

The '08 Giants had two 1,000 yard RBs; the ’09 Panthers had two 1,000 yard RBs. If any of you have ever had a video game football team with THREE 1,000 yard rushers in one season, you can actually describe it in detail in the comments section, and I will actually be legitimately interested.

I’m thinking career year for Frank Gore, a top-5 RB fantasy season.

The post-Warner Cards have so many offensive questions, yet they start the season with a game that probably won’t answer a single one of them. Of course, if they suck against the Rams, we can guess they probably suck.

Is it just the distortions of self-selective memory, or do we get to see NFC East teams play each other in Prime Time approximately a dozen times a season?

I don’t think the Jets will possibly live up to the hype, but defensively, they provide a good opening test and show for the Ravens’ offense. It’s weird: I’m really high on Joe Flacco as a fantasy QB, then recall that in last year’s playoffs he did precisely nothing. Does that mean anything? Probably not.

How many of you will watch this game closely because it’s week one and you love the chance to watch pro football, but when these teams play again in December, you’ll only notice for the fantasy stats?

Irrational Viking Fan
This is a new feature. While I’m obviously biased and emotional, at this blog I actually generally seek reason and evidence. Now, a weekly feature where I offer irrational feelings.

I believe the national media loves the Green Bay Packers. They love the city, the fans, the stadium, the tradition, the city ownership, the cold, even the bratwurst. This national love of the Packers has led many national media members to anoint Aaron Rodgers the new Jesus. Rodgers now gets the Favre treatment, where whatever he does broadcasters will spew words of wonderment. A decade from now, Rodgers will still be getting praised for the poise he showed taking over the team from Brett Favre. If there’s any sense, national fans will one day be as tired of the media salivation of Rodgers as they’ve become with the media salivation of Brett Favre.

This has been Irrational Viking Fan.

Adrian Peterson
In 2008, Peterson averaged 4.15 yards per attempt or better in 15 of 17 games.
In 2009, Peterson was held under 4.0 yards per attempt in 10 of 18 games.

That difference is huge. In ’08, Peterson was a consistently dominant running back, capable of carrying the Vikings (10 games with 100+ yards, three games of 160+ yards). In ’09, he was more of a conventionally good elite RB, and was frequently contained or shut down.*

Peterson needs to return to his ’07 and ’08 form, when he could bust out a dominant game at any moment, and when he could generally be relied on to be a productive offensive fource.

*Being under 4.0 yards per attempt is not always being contained. In Peterson’s game against a tough Cincinnati run defense (26-97-2, 3-40), he had 3.73 yards per attempt, but was really a force in beating the Bengals. His second Packer game (25-97-1, 1-44) was also effective, though he had 3.88 yards per attempt. Even so, I think it’s this difference between ’08 and ’09 that highlights the difference between all-timer Peterson and very-good Peterson.

Viking Defense
While I have a lot of questions about where the Viking offense is going right now, the defense seems very familiar. The strength of the team is still the defensive line, arguably the league’s best and dominant stopping the run and rushing the passer. The weakness of the team is the secondary, a unit that frequently gives up big plays and seems to lack enough playmakers (especially at safety), but also a unit that gets covered by the regular pass rush from the front.

Brett Favre and the Media
One strange column on Favre I’ve encountered recently was this one at Cold, Hard Football Facts. After a summer of regular criticism of Brett Favre on all sorts of football websites (including mainstream media sites), CHFF puts out this column complaining that the media doesn’t criticize Brett Favre enough for his problems. CHFF: if you don’t think the media criticizes Brett Favre, you’re really just not paying attention. Yes, game announcers slather him with adulation (as they do for most big-time quarterbacks--Dan Dierdorf is to Peyton Manning as John Madden was to Favre--though the effusive praise for Favre gets a bit much). And there was a time, yes, when Favre got a lot of free media passes. But things have changed. A few years ago I loved Dr. Z because he was one of the mainstream sportswriters that regularly criticized Brett Favre. Today, it is commonplace. I mean, so commonplace that as blinkered praise for Brett Favre was a cliché five years ago, blinkered criticism of Brett Favre is a cliché today. This CHFF column is really about the media situation of 2006 or earlier, not today.

My point here isn’t to defend Favre, or to claim that criticism of Favre is unjustified. In fact, if I weren’t a Viking fan, I would find the ubiquitous and overwhelming coverage of Favre in the national media annoying, too. My point is that to claim the media doesn’t criticize Favre enough is just not accurate. I’ve written this before: there was a time when Brett Favre got heaped with so much praise that even his mistakes were either blamed on teammates, or inspired even more praise (this time still exists for the game announcers, by the way). But then a backlash occurred: more writers (especially on the internet) criticized Favre, more fans found an outlet (especially on the internet) to express their opinions against Favre and the media, and more people shared their annoyance (especially on the internet) for the way the mainstream sports media covers Favre. Now, it’s commonplace. There are many, many people writing about sports who dislike Favre, root against Favre, and express negative opinions of Favre. Again, that’s fine (though a lot of the criticisms are now, in my opinion, as clichéd as a lot of the praise). But to pretend that criticism of Favre is rare is to distort or ignore reality.

And while I’m repeating myself, here’s an argument that I’ve been making since long before Brett Favre became a Viking:

Brett Favre has made more positive plays than any quarterback in NFL history (hence, the all-time TD record). Brett Favre has also made more negative plays than any quarterback in NFL history (hence, the all-time INT record). Thus, if you are in an argument about Favre and you’re in the “praise Favre” position, you can find plenty of arguments, based on statistics and observation, to make your case. And if you are in the “tear Favre down” position, you can find plenty of arguments, based on statistics and observation, to make your case.

I have been in countless arguments about Favre. I’ve now been on multiple sides of those arguments (as I loathe the Packers, I loathed Favre, and as I love the Vikings, I’ve loved Favre). I’ve observed many more arguments about Favre. In all these arguments, the pro-Favre or anti-Favre side is able to find plentiful “evidence” to support either position convincingly. It’s there: it’s there in the numbers, and it’s there in the games. You can write a masterful argument for or against Favre, supported with stats, observations, citations to specific games, whatever you want. It’s not even hard.

Now before you let any of this sink in too deeply, allow me to undermine my credibility.

When the Vikings are criticized, I feel like I’m being criticized.
It’s a problem. When people who aren’t Viking fans criticize the Vikings or players on the Vikings, I take it personally. I know, too, from talking to other Viking fans that I’m not the only one. It’s irrational and it’s nonsensical.

The only players eligible for the NFL MVP award are quarterbacks and running backs on playoff teams. More specifically, the MVP will be a playoff QB unless a playoff RB has a massive statistical season, and usually the MVP is on a conference #1 seed. Generally, the NFL MVP is a player that is already established as a superstar prior to the season. That's the criteria for the award (tell me I'm wrong).

This year, I'm limiting the serious candidates to the following:

Tony Romo
He'll deserve it if he leads the Cowboys to a #1 seed behind that line.

Aaron Rodgers
I'm telling you, pay attention: the national media loves Rodgers.

Drew Brees
Might win on the "this is the year after your year, and we didn't give you the award last year" principle that may have never actually been put into play for NFL MVP, but I'm inventing it now.

Adrian Peterson
I think he'd need a rushing title and a #1 seed from his team to get it.

Tom Brady
Established superstar with great WRs--he can put up wild numbers again, and he'll be in the playoffs.

Peyton Manning
I was surprised voters gave him the award last year--not because he wasn't deserving of contention (he usually is) but because he had already won three MVPs (well, two and a half), including the year before, and I thought voters were done giving him MVPs at that point. Plus, it was a legitimately competitive field in '09, including incredible seasons from Brett Favre (I thought he deserved it, but I'm biased) and Drew Brees (Chris Johnson too, if he had been a playoff RB). Now I really think voters are done giving Manning MVPs: even if he deserves it, will they give him three in a row for a total of five (well, four and a half)? I'd be surprised.

Chris Johnson
It will take a combination of three things: leading the league in yards from scrimmage, the Titans making the playoffs, and no standout statistical seasons from elite playoff QBs.

I'm leaving out some possibilities--I think the league MVP will be one of these players.

Fantasy Box: Fantasy Superstars.
No one player can be counted on to make your fantasy team a contender. But there are some players out there that can reliably lead your team to contention. You still need to catch a few breaks and manage your team well (not just good drafting and trading, but savvy free agent pickups), but right now I count on these two theories:

Peyton Manning + Elite RB = Contender
I think if you draft Peyton Manning and an elite RB, you will have to manage your team terribly to finish lower than fourth place.

Adrian Peterson = Contender
A team with Peterson can contend for a title; he's a great RB that consistently brings the points. For most of the ‘00s, Ladanian Tomlinson = Contender, and certainly last season Chris Johnson was the guy whose massive numbers made championship contenders last season, but I’ll take Peterson for the next 3-5 years.

Here are the fundamental bookmarks you should have for the NFL season.

Based on detailed statistics and close observation of the games: the commentators at FO don't just say things, but look for evidence. I rely on them regularly throughout the season.

I've never cared for Mike Florio's commentary; however, the site is a time saver by bringing together NFL news onto one easy-to-read site. Good for news, links, and Sunday morning injury updates.

A must: I can't write about football without constantly checking player and team stats (from a current season and seasons' past), and this site makes finding the needed stats incredibly easy. I've bookmarked the Viking page separately, since I go there so often. They have a good blog too.

Spectacular for two reasons. First, they put up a lot of highlight videos. My favorite part of being a football fan is, you know, actually watching the games, and I want to see plays from the games I couldn't watch. It's all there. Second, I've found to be a very smooth site to follow games that I can't watch on TV. I do find ESPN's box scores easier to read after the games are completed, however.

Why did I bother recommending a bunch of sites that you almost certainly already know about? As Doc Brown says in a wonderful deleted scene from Back to the Future, "beats the shit out of me." And there are other good football sites to read throughout the season (see the links on the side), but these are the bookmarks I absolutely have to have.

Last winter I bought a shirt that said "Up 'n' Autumn," and haven't felt like I can wear it out of season. Now I'm ready to rock! September also means the beginning of vegan chili season at the PV household. I love autumn: the return of football, return of school, return of cooler weather.

Have a good weekend, suckers. Except Packer, Bear, and Saint fans. Well, have a good week and all, but not too good a time during your team's game.

***UPDATE*** (Wednesday evening)
The Viking season starts tomorrow: the whole PV family will be donning Viking clothing. Our fandom is like good musical theater: knowingly over-the-top and full of outrageous spectacle.

Here are some links of interest to add. Normally when I see links I want to post I'll save them for the next week's National Friday League, but since we started early this week, and some of these links are timely, and next week there will be a full week of post-week-one links, blah blah blah, here is bonus coverage and here is a run-on sentence, just for you.

Adrian Peterson says he's better than Chris Johnson (Star Tribune). In sports commentary, whatever happened the year before becomes gospel: Chris Johnson had a better season in 2009 than Adrian Peterson had, so he's the best running back in the NFL. And very likely if somebody other than Chris Johnson has the best RB season in 2010, next offseason that new guy will be the best running back in the NFL. I think there is a legitimate debate about who is better, but I don't think when a guy outperforms another guy in a given year, he's therefore just better. He was better that year.

Percy Harvin: ready to play (Star Tribune). In one sense, the impact of Harvin's migraine issues is overblown. When he's not suffering from migraines, Harvin should be 100%. When he doesn't have the migraine, there should be no impact on his performance, right?

Linebacker issues for the Saints (Star Tribune). Vikes have a shot if they can run successfully on the Saints.

Doug Farrar on some NFL "strategies and schemes" that seem to be going out of vogue (Yahoo!).

Mike Tanier and Doug Farrar on what you don't see from TV angles (Football Outsiders). There are many reasons I love watching games live. I've seen games at the Metrodome from a lot of different angles, very rarely from a sideline type view that would be similar to TV. Even from a good distance, there's a better sense of pass coverage, routes, movement of the front seven, blocking, etc. Attending a game at the Metrodome is, for me, almost an experience of communal ecstasy. It's also great for seeing football.

The bard of the Vikings, Jim Klobuchar (MinnPost).

Terrell Owens, who once said that if the Eagles had Brett Favre instead of Donovan McNabb they'd be undefeated, has a point about Brett Favre and skipping camp (PFT). I've made it clear above that there are plenty of voices criticizing Favre, including for some of his offseason moves of recent years. But there would be many, many more voices criticizing such moves if it were Terrell Owens pulling them.

Regression toward the mean, if you want more football details on it (Football Outsiders).

Adrian Peterson and fumbling (National Football Post).

One more day, suckers!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A good pass

The Vikes evidently aren't too interested in T.J. Houshmandzadeh (PFT), and that's the right thinking, in my view. Houshmandzadeh is a possession receiver (last three seasons: 10.2, 9.8, and 11.5 yards per reception), and I'm honestly not sure he does anything that Greg Camarillo can't do. It's not that Housmandzadeh couldn't be useful, but I don't really see him filling a big need. The Vikes have people they can throw to for short passes (Camarillo, Visanthe Shiancoe, Percy Harvin, Adrian Peterson). Without Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Harvin need to be effective deep threats, but the Vikes have people they can throw short passes to, and don't really need Houshmandzadeh.

I continue to think the Vikings are fine with the pass catchers they have; their potential problem areas are the secondary and the offensive line.

Friday, September 03, 2010


It's bad to trade Sage Rosenfels, but expected. But why did the Vikings just trade their best punt returner? Darius Reynaud is good. Lousy move all around.

Joe Webb, at least.

Viking fans may have a different reaction

Bill Simmons on Aaron Rodgers:

"On a personal note, my affection for Rodgers increased exponentially at ESPN's Sundance party during the conference championships, when Rodgers and his buddies unabashedly rooted against nemesis Favre and the Vikings down the stretch and celebrated raucously when New Orleans pulled it out. Rodgers couldn't have been more delighted; he did everything but climb on the bar and start a "F--- YOU, FAVRE!" chant. I will always root for him after that. And yes, that story is 100 percent true."

I actually don't blame Rodgers at all for that. But I don't think you'll blame me that, when I got my copy of Sports Illustrated's NFL preview issue featuring Rodgers on the cover today, I gently tore the cover off and threw it away so I could try enjoy the rest of the magazine.