Friday, March 10, 2006

What do you say about a 29 year old QB who has won 2 playoff games?

In 2004, after watching the Vikings lose to the Packers 34-31, in what felt like the millionth 34-31ish loss I'd witnessed as a Viking fan, I wrote the following email to Viking fan friend Justin and Packer fan friend Rob:

I have finally been converted--defense wins
Unless the young defenders come around, the Vikings
will not win a Super Bowl for years.
With very few exceptions, teams that win the Super
Bowl are great defensive teams. Rarely does a
juggernaut offense win a Super Bowl with a mediocre
defense (Denver in '97 is probably the exception).
Rams in '99? Actually a solid D. 49ers? Great
defenses--the '94 team was the best team I ever saw
because of an unstoppable offense and a defense that
had brought every aging defensive star in the league
together for one last run. Dallas? Defense. Even
Shitdick won the Super Bowl he won when Green Bay had
the #1 defense in the league (and also had the best
special teams). Not to take anything away from
Shitdick--to win the Super Bowl, you also need clutch
offensive players who make plays when you need to.
People think Shitdick is God's gift to quarterbacking,
but he can't lead a team to a championship with an
average defense. Great offenses with mediocre
defenses just do not win the Super Bowl. Rarely do
they even get there. They might go 15-1, but they
won't stop Chris Chandler in the playoffs.
It doesn't necessarily need to be a great defense, but
it has to be the focus. An above-average offense with
clutch players can get you a championship with a great
defense. A great quarterback helps, but a great QB
won't win a title without a good/solid defense.
They talk about teams with a culture of losing, and
when a new coach takes over, the coach has to change
that. The Vikings have a culture of terrible defense,
and it won't work to keep incredible offensive stars
and spend each off-season saying "do we finally have
the pieces for a decent defense?" You need to change
the culture so it's about defense, not just improving
awfulness in order to be semi-decent so the offense
can win for you.
We have a culture of awful defense. On the radio,
Mike Morris was trying to say that the defense really
stepped up on Sunday because they made stops in the
4th quarter. Well, that was good. But when your
defense gives up 140+ rushing yards, 4 passing TDs,
and 34 points, you don't get good and excited because
they forced a 3 and out so the Vikes could get the
ball and tie it. That's nothing to write home about.
Especially when in the last 3 weeks your team has
given up 34, 31, and 34 (don't get too excited, GB
fans--everybody scores on the Vikings, and your
defense sucks too).
So, I've been converted. I've always loved great
offense. I've been blessed as a MN fan to watch one
of the greatest offenses ever, and to have been able
to watch the greatest WR ever to play. I love
watching that high-scoring offense. But it is
atrocious to continually watch a terrible, terrible
defense. When your defense sucks and you watch them,
you just sit in worry. You expect every pass to be
completed, every run to break outside and long. Every
time you get a 3rd down stop you want to jump with
joy. It sucks. I would more than happily give up
watching great offense to see a championship team. I
would watch an average offense that makes plays when
needed and a great defense any day. I can't stomach
watching the Vikings play defense anymore. Why are
WRs that open? Why can't the linebackers ever catch
the RBs? It is painful watching a super offense and
a terrible, terrible defense. If I were running the
team, I would sign NO extentions, NO long-term
contracts to any offensive players besides Culpepper
and Moss. Try and get the O-lineman signed up for a
while so the line is good. Then try to make due with
what you've got. Don't worry about putting all sorts
of pieces together to have a dominant, high-scoring,
unstoppable offense. Use the focus to put together a
real big league defense. Let your two playmakers play
behind a solid line and make plays. What could we
have used the Marcus Robinson money for? A linebacker
who can tackle? A safety who can catch easy
interceptions? Who cares. Put solid pieces in place
for a decent offense--it's really not that hard, esp.
when you already have Cully and Moss. Then spend the
energy, time, and money on defense. Antoine Winfield
is great. But he's one man. We need Udeze to step
up, KW to be consistent, Chavous and Russell to
actually catch the ball, Brian Williams to cover
consistently, and the linebackers to ACTUALLY TACKLE
SOMEBODY. The linebackers suck. There's no pass
rush. And the secondary is vulnerable. If there's
not big improvement soon, no Super Bowl there.
By the way, the NFL should forbid the Wisconsin band
from every coming near a stadium again. "Where You At
MOCKING INJURED PLAYERS? Where is the outrage?
I respect fans of no team that has won a Super Bowl.
None. They can't know this sort of agony. Teams that
haven't won a title since before they started playing
Super Bowls, them I'll still respect. And the teams
that have never won a Super Bowl.
I'll never feel bad at all for any fan of any team
that has ever won the Super Bowl. I will always root
for the fans of teams that have never seen their
favorite team win one. Because as long as the Vikings
are playing awful defense, somebody else's fans may as
well get the chance to experience the joy I only dream
about. Rob, I wish you could actually describe it to
me. I wish I could actually understand. But I can't
and I fear I never will.
As you can see, I was quite bitter. And almost everything I wrote there, I still believe. The Vikings traded away Randy Moss, and now Daunte Culpepper (a 29 yr. old QB with 2 playoff wins) is writing his ticket out of town. I can deal with that. Bring back the Black and Blue Division. Bring back the Purple People Eaters. Bring us some DEFENSE.

As our beloved Vikings prepare for Free Agency and the Draft, its clear the team has needs at Running Back, Quarterback, and Offensive Line. Those are important positions and must be dealt with. But there is a HUGE need at linebacker. There's no reason Will Witherspoon shouldn't don purple next season. Keep the focus on the defense. With a secondary including Sharper and Winfield (and Smoot and Williams, I guess), and a young d-line featuring Udeze, KW, PW, James, and others, some good linebackers could really turn this defense into a contender.

It's a new era for Viking fans. I trust Childress. My wife is mildly depressed because the Vikings no longer feature Daunte and Randy. She's upset that she won't go into every year thinking we're going to win the Super Bowl. Well, we never were going to win a Super Bowl with a juggernaut offense and no defense. So if she'll just give me a chance, I'll happily convince her that the Lombardi Trophy is in our near future.

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