Monday, October 09, 2006

Skol Vikings (and other nuggets of wonderment)

Viking WRs
The Vikings have a pretty strong history of great wide receivers. When I started watching them, Anthony Carter was teamed up with a rising Cris Carter. Cris Carter became an elite WR and was joined by Jake Reed. Later Carter was still elite and was joined by Randy Moss. From 1993-2004, the Vikes always had a 1,000 yard receiver and from 1994-2000, they had two each season. 2005 was the first time I watched the Vikings play without an elite WR. Before I started watching them, such players as Gene Washington , John Gilliam, Sammy White, and Ahmad Rashad played wideout for the purple.

It’s pretty clear the current Viking receiving group is pretty lousy right now. But is it the worst WR group the Vikings have had since the mid 80s? Early 60s? Ever?

Fan/Fantasy Dilemma
The Viking defense had, by my count, 5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recover, and 2 touchdowns. Their two fourth quarter TDs were intrical to beating the Lions. I was very excited to see these plays. Add to this that defensive TDs are my favorite plays in football. However, part of me was upset: I have the Viking defense on my fantasy team, and this week I finally decided to bench them, giving up 21 fantasy points.

This is a dilemma a lot of diehard fans of teams who participate in fantasy football experience. What happens when your fantasy team’s exploits taint what should be pure joy at your favorite team’s exploits?

When this happens, you have to be willing to try desperate measures to try right your football priorities. For the next few weeks, I will still follow the Experience, tally its scores, turn in lineups, make roster changes, and double-check to make sure the commissioner isn't making mistakes. But I won’t follow the league rankings. This is my punishment for allowing a fictional league to get in the way of what should be pure joy at the Vikings’ efforts at a W. My fantasy football team should never be allowed to cause me the same sort of anxiety the Vikings cause me, nor should it ever seem as important.

This did lead to a minor existential crisis that left me melancholy much of Sunday evening. After telling myself, "Don't take fantasy football so seriously; you have to enjoy watching the games, not stress about your fantasy decisions," which led to "but why put so much focus on watching the games? Is it really an authentic life to make football the center around which everything else evolved?" which led to "what should be the center of my existence?" and feeling empty much of the day.

Skol: Vikings 26, Lions 17
Robert Novak says that the only thing Republicans exist for is to lower taxes; they don’t do anything else well, and if they don’t do that, they may as well not exist. Let me borrow his language: the Vikings exist to beat the Lions. The Vikes have beat the Lions nine straight times and haven’t lost to them in the Metrodome since 1997. Even when the Vikes were down 17-3, it sort of felt like we had seen this before: the Lions start out winning, but somehow (often more because of Detroit ineptitude than Minnesota clutch) the Vikings win. Beating the Lions is one of the things the Vikes are good at, and if they would have lost, at home, to the Lions to fall to 2-3, they could have written this season off.

The Viking defense is doing a spectacular job. Nobody has been able to run on them, and while the pass defense has been inconsistent, it is tremendously improved over two years ago, and looks better every week.

The offense is a problem. It is unreasonable to call for Brad Johnson to be benched; however, this is because of the low quality of Johnson’s backups, not because of any merit on Johnson’s part. I don’t know that Brooks Bollinger would be better, and the future king of the Purple, rookie Tarvaris Jackson, probably shouldn’t get thrown in with this team as it stands. I think yards per attempt is a completely meaningless statistic, but I always look at the yards per completion for a quarterback. In the third quarter, Johnson was averaging less than 5 yards per completion; Chester Taylor (who had his best game as a Viking) was averaging more per rushing attempt than Johnson was per completion. That’s lousy (though he did improve in the late 3rd quarter and the 4th quarter). No, the Viking receiving group isn’t great, but Johnson has looked positively lousy for four weeks.

At least with many Viking fans booing Brad Johnson and calling for him to be benched, Patrick Reusse can withdraw his accusations that many Viking fans are racists. What, he's a columnist? Columnists never admit their inflammatory claims are wrong, they just willfully contradict them later? Oh, OK.

Last year after 5 games, the Vikings were 1-4, had been blown out of 3 road games, showed no pass defense, no running game, no pass protection, and the Minnetonka boat thing had just happened. I guess you could say I'm happier this year.

Viking defenders
While Antoine Winfield is my favorite Viking, I believe Pat Williams is the team’s best player. His mere presence makes the run defense dominant, and he’s a very good pass rusher from the inside too (he was incredible when he destroyed the play when Leber scored the TD). Without Pat Williams on the field, I think a great defense would become just above average. Other Viking defenders that are standing out: rookie DE Ray Edwards, who doesn’t play much but is frequently making big plays, and Napoleon Harris, who is making the Randy Moss trade seem palatable.

Randy Moss
Randy Moss caught his 100th regular season TD pass. He also has a regular season punt return for a TD and 9 postseason TD receptions. He is one of the all-time great WRs. This doesn’t stop everybody at CBS and FOX from scoring points on him, even at a moment where he should deserve some credit. In particular, I used to be indifferent to Joe Buck. Then he became very annoying when Randy Moss scored his second TD at Lambeau in the playoff game, faked a moon (to a crowd that is known to moon the opposing team’s bus) and acted with outrage. But Buck is becoming absolutely insufferable.

Whither updates?
FOX used to run occasional updates across the bottom of the screen with info on who scored for who. Now they have scores in the corner, but unless they show a game break, you have to wait until halftime or the end of the game to find out how the team scored. My theory: networks hate fantasy football.

Commercial Repor
I really like the Caveman at the airport commercial; something about it shows authentic intellectual outrage.

The FOX commercial with all the college teams climbing the ladders is pretty cool. It makes me wish that we had a sport in which people climbed 1,000 feet ladders and fought on the way up. Ladder matches work so well in professional wrestling, so it could probably work as it’s own sport.

You know the main lawyer in that FOX show Justice that is always being promoted during games? He played Jesus in Godspell. Whenever I see him, I think, “There’s Jesus.”

From seeing the commercial of The Grudge 2, it looks like they took all the scenes from Ju-on that they didn’t use in The Grudge and made a second movie out of it.

Favre Tally
With one TD pass and zero INTs, Favre moves to 17 TD passes away from a clearly seething Dan Marino, and remains 17 INTs away from George Blanda's INT record. But Favre has already thrown more INTs than Marino.

Throwback Jerseys
It's always fun when teams play a game or two a season in throwback jerseys. The Chargers were a joy to see last night. However, it sucks when teams decide to change their current jerseys to some variation of the throwback jerseys. I hope SD doesn't change their uniforms entirely to the throwbacks, just like I wish the Giants and Jets would switch to what they had in 1995. Actually, I wish every team would switch to the jerseys they wore in 1995.

(photo removed)


  1. Jake Reed was so money. He was my #2 WR on my fantasy team for a few years. Congrats on the Vikes win.

  2. I've decided to mellow myself out about the Viking defense decision by reminding myself of Antowain Smith, who stayed on my roster in order to play one week, on another RB's bye, against his former team. That week he had 111 yards rushing, 31 yards receiving, and 3 touchdowns. That decision keyed me to a championship; the Viking decision may key me to a number one pick. I'm starting to think Earl is onto something with that karma.

  3. I think *wink, wink* that the karma Gods are also punishing you for not trading for Chester Taylor. They are basically saying that you really don't care enough about the Vikings to acquire their best fantasy player for your team so they are killing you until you do.

    Solve the problem and trade me Tatum Bell.

  4. Anonymous2:18 PM

    You'll go anywhere and do anything to make a FFB trade won't you?

    The Vikings D is very fun to watch. I really like Napoleon Harris.

    The Vikings O makes me want to cry.