Saturday, July 22, 2006

So much depends on a red Johnson

I have recurring nightmares. Sometimes I dream that I am supposed to be in a play, but I screw everything up because I'm late, or I don't know my lines, or I don't know the blocking, or I don't know what play it actually is (which makes sense, since I'm just dreaming and never went to any audition or rehearsals). And even though I haven't been on an organized basketball team in 8 years, I have frequent dreams about being on a basketball team and spending all my time at the end of the bench.

And now, and likely for several months, I'll have a recurring daydream-nightmare. I'll fear that Brad Johnson is going to get injured this season. Is Brad Johnson a make-or-break superstar QB that the Viking offense can't live without? Not on the surface, he's not. But there are three reasons that Brad Johnson is the most important player on the Vikings.

#1: Mike McMahon is the backup QB.

#2: The other QBs on the roster are J.T. O'Sullivan and Tavaris Jackson.

#3: See 1.

Johnson is a solid, saavy, smart, functional quarterback. If the Viking defense can perform (soon I'll write about how so much depends on Chad Greenway) and the running game performs (in 2006 a running play up the middle will involve Hutchinson, Birk, Hicks, Richardson, and Taylor, 5 players who didn't play a game for the Vikes in 2006), that should be just what the Vikings need.

But if Johnson goes down, it's like when Homer Simpson ordered the best item on the menu stuffed with the second best item on the menu, and got lobster stuffed with tacos. The qb cupboard is pretty bare. It's like spending a week eating nothing but mac & cheese just to get all the boxes out of the cupboard that you've hoarded for months, buying them because they were cheap, then discovering a dozen cans of generic pork and beans behind them. It's over.

I saw Mike McMahon play last year. I assume, too, did Brad Childress, considering he was McMahon's offensive coordinator. And yet Childress has decided that his best course of action in 2006 is to start the season with a 38 year old QB who has played 16 games in a season only three times, with Mike McMahon as the only thing between starting a QB with 0 NFL attempts.

This is why I have recurring daymares. The Vikes were 9-7 last season, improved immensely at offensive line (the biggest weakness last season), drafted a first-round linebacker (the team's second biggest weakness last season), and now seem to have a real pro head coach. And yet without Brad Johnson, it is just a team led by Mike McMahon (in other words a 5-11 team) or a team led by a QB with no attempts (in other words, who the flip knows?).

This is why in 2006, even though the Vikings certainly have better players on the roster, Brad Johnson will be the most important player on the team.

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