Waiting for Tarvaris
The Viking offense is struggling for many reasons right now. They are being hurt by the new NFL rule which forbids offensive linemen from blocking linebackers. This means the Viking offensive linemen were only allowed to block the opposing defensive linemen, leaving opposing linebackers free to...
What? That's not an NFL rule? Oh. I guess the Vikings were not blocking the 49er linebackers for some other reason.
Another reason the Vikes are struggling offensively is because they used the #7 pick in the 2005 draft on a football player that cannot catch the ball; unfortunately, this player is also listed as a wide receiver. If the Vikings don't begin converting Troy Williamson to a cornerback soon, they may never get anything out of him (of course, as Dr. Farthing once said, "hindsight is 20/20." But what if the Vikings had used that #7 pick on one of the talented defensive players like Derrick Johnson, Shawne Merriman, or DeMarcus Ware, and then at #19 taken Mark Clayton or Matt Jones? Troy Williamson is beginning to look like the fastest waste of a draft pick ever; if your WR's biggest weakness is actually catching the ball, you might be in trouble).
I hate dropped passes more than anything else in sports. This stems from playing Super Tecmo Bowl as a kid; late in the season, the computer doesn't let everything go your way anymore, and sometimes you call a great play, execute it well, get receivers open, then throw the ball to a pixel man standing all by himself, only to see the ball sort of bounce right through him. Brad Johnson is in the bottom half of the league's quarterbacks right now (despite some commentators' claims that he needs a raise), but all he can do is try hit the WRs in the hands.
Another problem is that when the Vikings seem to be working toward points, they come up with penalties and turnovers. A 65 yard TD completion to Chester Taylor was negated by a block in the back by Travis Taylor. When the Vikes were down 3 and in field goal range, Johnson was sacked and fumbled. The Viking offense has the slimmest margin of error if they expect to score any points; when they do make those sorts of mistakes, they have no chance.
This one just sort of snuck up on me; next week, the Vikes and Packers meet in Thunderdome. I love and hate Packer week. As a Minnesotan who went to college and now works in Wisconsin, this week means something special and detestable to me. It doesn't have as much hype or magnitude as more famous rivalries, but the Packer-Viking rivalry is everything to me that something like Red Sox-Yankees, Ohio State-Michigan State, or Duke-North Carolina is. It's intense, fun, and heartbreaking. The joyful moments have been indescribably blissful; the losses have filled me with a hatred that constanty threatens to turn by heart black and make me hate sports. For some reason, I take these games personally--when the Vikings lose, I feel like I have been personally destroyed, and when they win...well, I don't feel any real personal pride. But do you feel a vague sense of pride that the U.S. was able to land on the moon, even though you had nothing to do with it? That's how I feel when the Vikes beat the Packers. But though the victories give me a sense of pure personal bliss (my wife can attest to a lot of running and jumping around), the losses fill me with as equally strong a sense of agony and futility. So while we're at it...
Brett Favre threw 1 TD and 2 INTs in leading the Packers to a 10-24 loss against the Buffalo Bills. Lest we think these interceptions were superfluous to the outcome of a 14 point game, let us examine them. One of them was returned for a Buffalo touchdown. The other occurred in the Buffalo endzone when down by 7.
The most insightful moment of a TV production's coverage of a game is when there is a penalty, and the camera zooms in and focuses on the yellow flag laying on the ground. It always allows you a deeper, inside understanding of how football works.
But in all seriousness, and I say this without any sarcasm, John Madden was on the top of his game Sunday night. He was everything that a colorman should be: he was providing real analysis and inside knowledge of the game of football. He was pointing out trap plays, talking about how the weak spots in a Cover-2 work, and criticquing game plans. He is still the best commentator to guide a viewer through a game in employment by the networks.
Patriot fans booing Adam Vinatieri
I get it, but I don't get it. This guy is one of the reasons Patriot fans watched their team win three Super Bowls; they have championships directly because of Vinatieri's actions. If there's a player who somehow leads the Vikings to a Super Bowl championship, I would NEVER boo him just because he left to another team. Seriously, if there was a guy that was directly responsible for the Vikings winning the Super Bowl, what would he have to do for me to boo him? If in his last game, he went to mid-field, urinated on the Viking logo, took the microphone and started saying all sorts of bad things about Minnesota and Minnesotans, I'd think, "Yeah, but he did bring a Lombardi Trophy here." But if he had a swastika tattooed onto his forehead, then I would definitely boo him.
Anyway, all I'm saying is that if fans are going to immediately abandon their appreciation for a player who led them to a championship (as Boston fans did with Johnny Damon, too), why cheer for a team at all? There's an extremely high chance that the players who brought you such bliss won't finish on the team, or will end up old and bad on the team, or may have a very ugly exit. If you're going to let what a player does later taint the appreciation you have for the championship the player helped bring, then why bother at all? As a fan who keeps waiting and waiting for either of the two teams I really care about to win a championship (the Vikings and Timberwolves: the Twins' titles were nice, but I was too young to fully appreciate them, and I don't follow baseball anymore and wouldn't take any joy from another World Series Title, and my love for UCLA basketball and football is still growing, but doesn't personally invest me as the Vikes and Wolves do), I can't understand the attitudes of fans who have seen their favorite teams win titles.
David Garrard = Steve Walsh
I'll never forget the mythical 1994 season: Erik Kramer always appeared to be the Bears' best QB, but whenever Walsh played, the gameplan got ultra-conservative and the Bears won. Garrard is the new Walsh.
He is the best player in the league. I feel the need to say this every week. I enjoy watching the Colts play because it allows me to reminisce about the time the Vikings had a good offense. Two years ago, they would have lost at San Francisco 30-24; it would have still been a loss, but it would have been a little bit fun. I hope for the best for the Colts; they are #2 on my list of teams I'd like to see win the Super Bowl this year (the Packers remain #32).
Saving the weekend
The Vikings were depressing, but Borat was all that it could be and more. And I think the Timberwolves might be better than anybody really expected.