Friday, March 30, 2007

Why so glum, Viking fans? Is it because you've got shit for brains?

The Pioneer Press and Star Tribune keep running the same stories and columns about the Vikings. KFAN has been singing the same tune. Viking fans are apathetic about the team right now. Nobody has confidence in the organization. People think the ownership, coaching staff, and front office are incompetent. Fan excitement and interest in the team is at a low point, maybe the lowest ever.

If this is true, I just want to ask: what the hell is wrong with you people?

Let me take you back to 2001 and 2002. The '01 Vikings spent a season under a spiritual cloud after Korey Stringer's death. The tacky thing to note is that Stringer's death also contributed to making the Viking offensive line awful for two years (In '02 Bryant McKinnie was drafted to help deal with these issues; he held out into the regular season). During the season, Randy Moss started talking openly about his lack of effort. The '01 and '02 Viking defenses were epically bad. Every opposing WR looked like Lance Alworth (sometimes you couldn't even tell which Viking DB got beat--he was beaten so bad that there were no Viking defenders on the TV screen). Shaun Alexander scored 5 TDs in the first half against the Vikes in '02. After Denny Green was run out in '01, Mike Tice, an offensive line coach with no coordinator experience, was promoted to head coach because he was cheap. And of course, the team was owned by Red McCombs, who was notoriously unwilling to spend money to make the team competitive, and who frequently discussed his desire to relocate the team.

How is that period better than this one? We've got an owner working hard to get a new stadium in Minnesota, who has stressed his firm intention to keep the Vikings in Minnesota, who has taken financial losses for the team in a clear commitment to devote financial resources to the team's competitiveness. The team features a strong, young offensive line and a crushing, dominating defense. The defense was wonderful against the run in '06, and was actually excellent overall (there were several games in which the Viking defense gave up one or zero touchdowns). Why in the world would the '07 offseason be a time to be more apathetic and pessimistic than the '01 or '02 offseasons?

Two words: Randy Moss. Randy Moss was an exciting offensive player. No matter how bad the organization, ownership, coaching staff, offensive line, defense, or special teams were, Randy Moss made the Vikings fun to watch. They were always going to have offensive fireworks. The rubes liked offense: it didn't matter that the Vikings were nowhere near fielding a championship (or even playoff) defense. Offense is fun; defense is not.

But you want my opinion? This Viking team is MUCH closer to championship material than those teams. It will be much easier to create a competent offense to compliment our great defense now than it was to try create a competent defense to compliment our great offense then. The entire defense sucked back then. There were issues at all 11 positions. There were also major issues on the offensive line. We had no kicker and no return game. Other than Randy Moss's excitement, it was a brutal time to be a Viking fan.

Right now, we've got a great defense (and for the most part, young, too). We've got very good offensive linemen and solid running backs. We're currently incompetent in the passing game. But it's going to be easier in the next one or two seasons to build a competent passing game to compliment good offensive line, good running, good special teams, and great defense, than it would be to find 11-25 defenders to support a great passing game.

This is NOT the time to be apathetic or pessimistic. Just because you found the '06 Vikings BORING because they featured dominating defense and poor offense does not mean the team is in worse shape than it was in '01 or '02. And if you think it was better then than now, just admit you're a rube for offense. Just admit it and move on. You like the exciting long-bombs, you want to see great offense, you don't appreciate great defense, and probably, you don't understand what it takes to win football games.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Viking "news"

As the Star Tribune reports (and AOL Fanhouse and Vikings War Cry comment on), Zygi Wilf is telling fans to be patient, as it will take years to build a championship team, and we should be patient. What the hell happened? From '03-'05, the team was 9-7, 9-9, and 9-7. That's mediocrity, but it was always mediocrity with potential. Now the team is coming off a 6-10 season and we're supposed to be patient during the years it takes to build a champion. What the hell happened?

Matt Birk is not getting a contract extention, according to the Pioneer Press (via Kansas Viking). He's 31, there are some signs his skills are eroding (due to several recent injuries), and he's signed through '08. Big whoop.

According to ESPN, the Minnesota Vikings are among the worst pro sports franchises in America. You can read more at Randball and the Star Tribune (well, Randball is part of the Star Tribune, of course). We root for an awful franchise. Good for us.

What does "on behalf of" mean?

According to Cyd Ziegler Jr. at Outsports, Tony Dungy accepted an award from the Indiana Family Institute "on behalf of the Colts organization."

This is problematic. Tony Dungy, private citizen, has every right to express his views on whatever he wants (and we're free to examine those views and disagree with him). Tony Dungy, in his position of head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, is still also private citizen Tony Dungy, and he still has the right to express his views on same-sex marriage.

But is Tony Dungy in a position to accept an award from a private organization "not only on behalf of our family, but on behalf of the Colts organization"? Unless the Colts organization told him he could, he probably is not in a position to do so. He is co-opting the entire Colts organization into his viewpoint.

In Minnesota, this was an issue a few years ago. Then Viking head coach Mike Tice introduced President (and presidential candidate) George W. Bush. He even gave him a Viking jersey. Of course nobody would take away Tice's right to his political views, nor expression of those political views. But as coach of the team, he represents the team in certain ways (if he hadn't given the Viking jersey, perhaps you could say that he wasn't representing the team in that case. But he did give the jersey, and so he was). And if he represents the team, the organization, and the owner, in some ways does he not represent the fans? Fans of a team associate and identify with the team, so it is possible to think so.

I assume there are gay Colts fans; how do they feel about Dungy accepting IFI's award "on behalf of the Colts organization"? Because Dungy is accepting an award from an anti-gay group, and he is getting it in part for his views and action. And so IF he is accepting it on behalf of the Colts, THEN the Colts are getting the credit for the anti-gay stance. If you're a gay Colts fan (or even just a Colts fan who believes in equal rights for gay people), how do you feel about rooting for an organization awarded for an anti-gay stance? In fact, the Colts have not taken an anti-gay stance, but when Tony Dungy accepts the award "on behalf of the Colts organization," he is attempting to place the Colts in an anti-gay stance. If I were running the Colts organization, this would upset me. I would not punish Dungy for being active in expressing his own views; however, I would want to make it very clear to Dungy that he is not to blanket the entire Colts organization around him while expressing those views. Because by expressing these views, being given an award for these views, and then accepting the award "on behalf of the Colts organization," he is placing those views onto the Colts organization. Dungy has now essentially forced the Colts to respond.

That's a problem for an organization, for an employer, and for fans.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Chronicle of Cliche: Peter King

Peter King's "Here Comes the Hammer," his MMQ for this morning, is typical of his hackneyed, unoriginal language.

"There will be sexier stories than commissioner Roger Goodell tweaking the player-conduct policy at the annual NFL meetings here this week."

Really? There could be something sexier than a middle-aged commissioner "tweaking" a rule?

"My, how Tony Romo's star continues to rise."

"Goodell, a workout-aholic"

Yes, I consider adding "aholic" to anything cliched.

"who've given the NFL such a black eye in the past year."

Worse, what if somebody gives the NFL a black "I"? iNFL, I guess. I hope that's not already trademarked.

"out of the earshot of the dawn patrol on the elliptical trainers and treadmills and bikes."

"the line-in-the-sand kind of policy"

"Upshaw has been rattling the same saber as Goodell"

Sometimes these cliches make me angry. I sit in my chair seething. Somebody gets paid to write like this! Somebody gets paid money to rehash well-worn metaphors that take no creativity!

"in the scrum of the family area outside"

"What a difference five years makes."

"I am saying the thought has crossed Carr's mind."

"Always fun to run into Steve Sabol, the NFL Films maestro who never met a story he didn't like."

"It is unanimous: The greatest hotel in the world is the Arizona Biltmore."

Unanimous? Let's make a rule: nobody should use the words "unanimous" or "literally" unless they are sure that they are referring to something that is "unanimous" or "literally."

"on ESPN, which owns much of the free world and is currently in negotiations to buy the rest."

rim shot!

"Giving teams at least one possession in overtime doesn't have a prayer here,"

"much to my chagrin."

I googled "much to my chagrin." 160,000 hits.

"he ever-present danger of Mike Vick getting hurt in September rears its unfortunate head,"

I love-hate when two worn-out metaphors appear in the same sentence.

"And don't think it's a lock Vick and Petrino are going to be a great marriage."

King includes a passage from an article he wrote during training camp. I decided to omit those potential cliches, even though they've now been published by him twice. Moving on...

"I think you should not count Brady Quinn out of silver and black. Remember where you heard that first."

OK, I will remember where I heard it first: FROM HUNDREDS OF PUNDITS MONTHS AGO! Yep, Peter King, arrogant prick, thinks HE'S the genius telling us Brady Quinn might be the first pick of the draft.

Peter King has worked hard to gain a lot of relationships and connections. He's a good NFL reporter. But he's a TERRIBLE writer. Awful. A hack among hacks.

(By the way, anybody who dislikes Peter King should check Football Outsiders every Monday for the Extra Points discussion of MMQB).

Mixed Weekend

UCLA is in the Final Four
UCLA is going to back-to-back Final Fours, bringing its total Final Four appearances to 17 (well, sort of).

The game against Kansas was unique. There were a lot of turnovers, but as Bob Ryan said on ESPN Sunday morning, they weren't unforced turnovers--the teams were playing such aggressive defense and were taking the ball away. Early on Kansas looked way too athletic for the Bruins, but the consistently smothering Bruin defense, and Arron Afflalo's masterful shooting performance, carried the Bruins to what eventually seemed like an easy win.

Now they're back in the Final Four to play Florida, who spanked the Bruins in last year's championship game. All I remember from that game is Gator guards consistently penetrating the lane and dishing to Gator posts for easy dunks and layups. But I think this year's Bruin team is better equipped to prevent such an explosion. This Bruin team seems less likely to get pasted than last year's team. It will be a fun Saturday night.

The Sound of Silence: the Vikings and David Carr
I've heard NOTHING about David Carr and Minnesota. My brother and father pointed out the absurdity of Brad Childress's claim that he doesn't want Carr because he can't make all the throws--Childress started Brad Johnson for 14 games in 2006. Either Childress is more willing to learn from his mistakes than fans and writers give him credit for, or he's full of inconsistent bullshit. IF the Vikings don't go after Carr, Childress has only himself to blame if the team loses 10 or more games in 2007 and he gets fired. He went most of a season with a QB that CLEARLY couldn't make MOST of the throws; now he wants to avoid David Carr. Bleh.

Day Job: Animal Research
I'm further along toward crystallizing my ideas on using animals for medical research. I don't eat meat because it is unnecessary--at this point in human history, if we eat meat it is for our pleasure, not our survival. But medical research on animals may not fit the category of unnecessary--it may save human lives. So I'm willing to accept animal research as ethical within certain conditions: that it is necessary (that the research is used to save or extend human lives), that there are no alternatives (that study on animals is the only feasible method of discovery in a particular area), and that animal suffering is limited as much as possible (that as few animals as possible are used, and that they are treated well--not only prevented from unnecessary pain, but given room and time for exercise, play, and companionship).

Still, I have qualms based on what Harold Herzog calls "the E.T. dilemma." To summarize, we claim that as the superior species, we have the right to use inferior species to advance ourselves. By that logic, superior alien species would be morally justified in capturing humans and doing whatever painful experiments they wish in order to advance their species. The logic is pretty flawless; we have to accept that our own ethic on animal research is based more on utilitarian pragmatism than consistent moral code.

It's a messy life we live, no matter how hard we try to clean it up. But rather than throw our hands up and say "Screw it, it's a mess," I think it worth our effort to attempt to clean.

Coming soon: a Peter King cliche chronicle!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Basketball in Minnesota

Everybody in Minnesota is excited about Tubby Smith. He's a big name coach that gives the U of M basketball program some legitimacy and relevance. Gopher basketball hasn't mattered since Clem Haskins, and now there's a chance it can be interesting again. Even as a UCLA fan, I'd rather have the local team be interesting, since that's the team I'll get the most news about. It's an exciting turn of events.

It's also the High School state basketball tournament time in Minnesota. When I was in junior high and high school, my dad and I would come to the Twin Cities and go to games Thursday afternoon and night, Friday afternoon and night, and Saturday afternoon. When we went back to the hotel, we'd turn on the TV to watch the NCAA tournament games. It was one of the highlights of the year; I watched sickly amounts of basketball in three days (it is partially the state tournament experience that makes me constantly remind the Beav that I've forgotten more about basketball than he'll ever know). Now I live in the Twin Cities but rarely make it to the games. Ce la vie, it's still a fun time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Links: the David Carr Edition

Brad Childress was on KFAN this morning disparaging David Carr: bad placement on delivery, can't make all the throws, too many issues that need fixing. But that won't stop our enthusiasm. Here is some of the David Carr discussion from arround the web.

JJ Cooper at AOL Fanhouse thinks the Vikes should now go get Carr cheaply. Tbird41 of The Ragnarok and Gonzo at The Daily Norseman also think the Vikes should aquire Carr.

Anthony at the Vikings War Cry doesn't think the Vikes should acquire Carr: he doesn't want the team to be giving up on Tarvaris Jackson. I've said it before: there's no reason a team shouldn't have more than one 20-something QB capable of starting, and Jackson is no sure thing. Acquiring Carr does not mean giving up on Jackson; it means having choices.

Signal to Noise thinks Carr has been screwed over by the Texans. At least he made tens of millions in the process. But yes, we're still captaining the David Carr tugboat.

And Cold, Hard Football Facts looks at some of David Carr's issues.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

WR tradition

Earlier this week, I praised the Vikings' WR tradition, and lamented their current WR situation.

I've been looking closer at's list of team leaders. The Vikings' top two receiving yardage leaders are Cris Carter (12,383) and Randy Moss (9,142). It's worth noting that Anthony Carter comes in at 3rd (7,636), Jake Reed 4th (6,433), and Sammy White 5th (6,400).

Here are the teams that do not even have one WR with as many receiving yards as the Vikings' #2 receiver: Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tennessee, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans, New York (Giants), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay.

That's 16 teams, half the league, that don't have a single WR with more team receiving yards than the Vikings' second best compiler. Actually, 6 of those teams don't have a single WR with as many yards as Anthony Carter has for the Vikings, and he's their #3 (Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Tampa Bay).

Only 5 teams have a WR with more team receiving yards than Cris Carter has with the Vikings: Andre Reed on the Bills, Marvin Harrison on the Colts, Jerry Rice with the 49ers, Steve Largent with the Seahawks, and Isaac Bruce with the Rams.

I think it's fair to say that the Vikings do have one of the great WR traditions in the NFL. It's a shame that it's nothing now.

Here are my some other franchises with great WR traditions:
Cowboys (Michael Irvin, Drew Pearson, Bob Hayes)
Packers (James Lofton, Sterling Sharpe, Don Hutson)
Colts (Marvin Harrison, Ray Berry)
Dolphins (Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Paul Warfield)
Raiders (Tim Brown, Fred Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch)
Steelers (John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Hines Ward)
49ers (Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Dwight Clark)
Rams (Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Elroy Hirsch, Henry Ellard, Tom Fears)
Redskins (Art Monk, Charlie Taylor, Gary Clark)

Of these teams, the Rams are clearly the most impressive. Tom Fears is a HOFer (for a long time, he held the record for receptions in a game with 18), as is Crazy Legs Hirsch. Bruce and Ellard are not HOF WRs, but they're still excellent, and Holt has been one of the top 2-5 WRs for almost a decade.

Links: Equinox Edition

Via the Kansas Viking, Eric Krupka of RealFootball 365 thinks Tarvaris Jackson is the solution, not the problem. now has all-time franchise leaders compiled.

Cold, Hard Football Facts praises some players they loved; ignore the praise for the Steelers, take in the praise for Ken Stabler. And yes, CHFF, "The Vegan Chick wouldn’t even eat cake if it had eggs in it." That's sort of what vegan means.

Outsports now knows where Tony Dungy stands and why he spoke for an anti-gay group's fundraiser. Says Dungy, "IFI is saying what the Lord says. You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be. I'm on the Lord's side." Here's what else the Lord says, according to Deuteronomy 22:11: "Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together." I'm sure that when Tony Dungy is shopping for slacks, he checks the tag to make sure he doesn't buy anything that's 50% cotton, 50% polyester, lest he sin against the Lord's Word.

Bruin Basketball Report gives us a preview of the upcoming UCLA-Pittsburgh game.

Next October, Ian McKellan will be starring in King Lear at the Guthrie.

Via 3quarksdaily, the NY Times has a bit on morality and biology.

Who has the worst WRs in the NFL?

Is there an NFL team with more problems at WR than the Vikings? The Vikings have one of the worst WR corps in the league, but do they have the worst WR corps in the league?

Off the top of my head, there are only two teams I can think of with less ability at the position. The Tennessee Titans have horrible WRs: with Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade signing elsewhere, the only Titan WR that I know is Courtney Roby. I only know that because I collect football cards, not because he's ever done anything to make me know his name. And I can't name a San Francisco 49er WR other than Ashlie Lelie, and I might have dreamt his signing.

There are other teams with issues. Jacksonville seems to have problems, but Matt Jones was coming on at the end of the year. The Chargers have no WRs worth mentioning anymore, but they do have young guys like Vincent Jackson, and then Antonio Gates is virtually a WR. The Chiefs don't have a competent WR beyond Eddie Kennison, but then, they have a great TE too, in Tony Gonzalez. I tend to think the Falcons have more competent WRs than Michael Vick lets on. Every other team in the league has either a competent and effective WR corp as a whole, or one or two superstar WRs that they can rely on. The Vikings have a slightly better WR corp than the Titans and 49ers, meaning there are 29 teams in the league with a better WR situation. If driven, I could try to look at rosters and give a 32 team ranking. But for now, suffice it to say that the Vikings rank 30th in the league in WR corps.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Day Job: Teaching Shakespeare

I'm incorporating the occasional non-sports post into this blog. If you're only interested in reading sports takes at this blog, of course you're free to skip these posts. They will usually start with "Day Job" in the title, and obviously this is one of those posts.

I'm a reader-response theorist, meaning in part that when I teach literature courses, I try to focus on student responses to the works. I believe students will learn more from literature by sharing ideas with each other than by listening to the teacher talk. Literature classes are best run as discussions, not lectures.

This can be a problem when teaching Shakespeare. What good does it do to focus on discussing student ideas when I have my doubts that the students understand the plot, the characters, and most importantly, the language? How are we supposed to get to the higher ideas Shakespeare is exploring if we simply discuss the ideas of people who admittedly struggle to understand the literal meaning?

This is not cynical snobbery--I generally respect the intelligence of students, but they have frequently confirmed, implicitly and explicitly, their difficulties reading Shakespeare. And yet I think it is important to teach Shakespeare; it is worth the efforts of the teachers and students. When teaching Shakespeare, I feel the most important concepts to focus on are the ideas and the language--even if these are the very concepts students find most difficult in his plays

Despite my reader-response, discussing-based tendencies, when I teach Shakespeare, I end up lecturing. I feel that if students do not understand the language nor the ideas, they are not well-served to sit around discussing their lack of understanding. They will learn more, will appreciate more, will understand more, by listening intently to somebody who does understand the language and ideas.

I used to teach Hamlet; I could do it in my sleep. I'm so familiar with the play, and have such enthusiasm for the play, that it was actually little effort to prepare to talk about it: bring up some of the big issues and themes, explicate a few of the famous passages, show a few excerpts from some film versions (with drama, it's important to note performance). Despite good intentions to get student responses, I always ended up lecturing. For various reasons, this year I switched to King Lear. As I read this seemingly nihilistic exploration of "nature," the cosmos and man, I struggled mightily to try and find a way to prompt useful student responses. Finally I decided to just read some important passages together (about 14-20) and use explication of these passages to explore the bigger ideas of the play. So for the first class period on Lear, I spent about an hour and twenty minutes talking, only occasionally getting students to raise their hands and share ideas. Normally, I would be disappointed in such a class period; I would have failed at my goals of encouraging students to share their own ideas with each other. But for King Lear, I actually think the class period was a success. I hope and think that my explication and exploration brought out the greater meaning of the play and allowed students to understand and appreciate the language of the greatest writer in the history of the English language.

Shakespeare is different; his work is something else altogether. For most of the literature I teach, I find ways to get students to interpret the works themselves and share and discuss their ideas. For Shakespeare, they are of course encouraged to read, interpret, and think about the play themselves; however, they might be better served in class listening to the teacher talk.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Great Traditions Must End Sometime (Viking Wide Receivers)

Between 1987 and 2003, there were only four players to lead the Minnesota Vikings in receiving yards for a season: Anthony Carter (highest output: 1,225), Cris Carter (1,371), Jake Reed (1,320), and Randy Moss (1,632). In the last two seasons, Travis Taylor led the team in receiving yards--with 604 and 651 yards. And there is no indication that in 2007 there will be anybody on the Viking roster to restore the franchise's great tradition of WRs (that could go further back to Ahmad Rashad, Sammy White, Gene Washington, and John Gilliam).

Right now, the Vikings suck royally at what may be the easiest position to fill in the NFL.

Around the Web in 80 seconds


Bucking conventional wisdom, or stating the obvious? Football Outsiders finds that QBs perform better against bad teams and bad defenses.

Outsports wants to know just why Tony Dungy is speaking at a fundraiser for a group opposed to any gay rights.


Having just read Tennyson's In Memoriam A.H.H., I was interesed to find (via Arts & Letters Daily) a Times Literary Supplement article on some myths concerning Darwin and the historical and social impact of the Theory of Evolution.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sports Lessons from Spring Break

Cliche and Sports
In my ongoing crusade to ridicule the overuse of cliches and worn out metaphors, I asked to preserve one common cliche used in sports: "It is what it is." I can't live without "It is what it is." And after reading and re-reading some of Tennyson's poetry, I now feel justified. Check out this line from "Ulysses": "that which we are, we are;" If this cliche is good enough for the poet laureate himself in perhaps his most famous poem, it's good enough for me.

One cliche I've heard far too often lately: "throwing the baby out with the bathwater." I recently saw a movie (I think it was "For Your Consideration", but I don't remember for sure, and at any rate I don't recommend it) where a guy says then all you end up with is a wet and injured baby. I laughed and laughed, as I always do when the absurdity of a well-worn cliche is made literal. We have to come up with something better than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. How about "throw the leaves out with the stems"? Too illegal? How about "spit the seeds out before the watermelon is even cut"? OK, that makes no sense (or means something else). But there are a lot of cases where we throw out something dirty or worthless or bad while keeping something related to it or within it which is good. Can't we show some creativity and come up with our own metaphors without using this overworn cliche?

Sports Movie Recommendation
If you're looking for a great sports movie, look no further than "Beer League." My life's quest is to find a movie that makes me laugh as hard as "Dirty Work" did and does. "Dirty Work" co-writer Frank Sebastiano teams up with "Dirty Work" co-star Artie Lange to create a movie that is 1/1,000th as funny as "Dirty Work," but believe it or not, that's intended to be a compliment. The movie will make you laugh. Watch it.

UCLA basketball

The Bruins play tremendous defense, but they have the uncanny ability to force opponents into great defensive performances of their own. Believe it or not, that is somehow true and not intended to disparage the Bruins' offensive abilities. UCLA turns the games into such intense, close-played defensive games that they somehow bring the best defense out of their opponents.

And here's another sports cliche I don't like. After a low scoring defensive game some pseudo wit of a commentator will say something like "they've set the game of basketball back X years" or "offensive football was set back a few decades" or some such snide cliche. This type of commentary is stupid. First, it assumes that sports are always on the path of "progress" toward more open offense, which is not necessarily the case (check out NBA stats from the 1960s) and when it is true need not be considered progress (how does this cliche jive with the nostalgia so many commentators have for bygone eras?). Second, it assumes that the only entertainment we could take from sports would be in high scoring affairs where defenses suck and everybody just makes incredibly offensive plays. But that's not the case: if you care who wins, a great defensive game is often more fun to watch than a great offensive game. Why? Because every basket just matters so much more. Third, this cliche implicitly assumes a team's primary goal is to entertain us (which of course it is on a certain existential level), when in fact the team's primary goal of winning a game is at best indifferent to the goals of entertaining pundits.

But here UCLA is, in the Sweet 16.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why the Vikings Scare me?

Sean Jensen has an interesting article about Troy Williamson's eyesight in the Pioneer Press. Why would this scare me? Because as Pacifist Viking can tell you I have been trumpeting the whole I think Troy Williamson has some vision problems for awhile now, but I figured it must not be the case because you would suspect the Vikings would look into something like that and solve it. Why are we 2 years down the road and finally realizing as a club that Troy Williamson had a vision problem. It took the Houston Texans hardly anytime to figure that out with Andre Johnson and they got corrective lenses for him before he played a single NFL game and it equated to great playing.

If the Vikings are missing things like this concerning guys who are supposed to be big offensive contributors what else are they overlooking? And now the issue of character must come into play again. The Vikings amidst all the past scandals have gone in the direction of only signing and drafting "character" guys, but my question is how many solid players that could help them are they missing out on because they are reading players in a once guilty always guilty attitude.

Just one view from one singular fan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We mossn't despair

When I heard on the radio that today the Packers are trying to acquire Randy Moss, I pulled on my belt, bent down, and vomited down the front of my pants. As I sat in the gristle of my own vomit, I was thinking of where to spend Sundays away from TV, phone, radio, and internet. I made a list of museums and parks when I realized something.

This could end badly. Very badly. Tragicomically badly.

I mean, why wouldn't it? This is RANDY MOSS. With Moss, everything always ends badly. I can't think of much of anything that has ended well with Randy Moss involved.

So now I'm ready to sit back, relax, and watch the fireworks. This will go horribly in ways we can't currently imagine. We can't even conceive of the types of things that will happen. But most of it will be bad. So enjoy, suckers. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Eagles and Vikings (i.e. The Vikings as the red-headed step child of the Eagles)

Maybe some fans might remember the trade at the beginning of the Childress Reign between the Eagles and Vikings. You know that one where we got our now #1 WR Billy McMullen for an undrafted free agent named Hank Baskett (who was being talked up like his was going to be big stuff). Well how about we reflect on how those guys did this year. Billy McMullen didn't have much competition this year for being a part of the offense (Robinson was injured every other game, Travis Taylor never caught on like I thought he would, Troy Williamson couldn't catch a cold, and Bethel Johnson was a return not much competition). Hank Baskett was stuck behind Stallworth and Reggie Brown (althought he did get some pt when injuries struck Stallworth) and Greg Lewis was still a part of the offense. So I am going to say that Billy had a better chance at success, but to be fair we will say they had the same opportunities. Here is the stat lines for each of them (I am not saying who is who at first).

16 games 23 receptions 307 yards 13.3 yds/rec 2 tds (4.3 yd after catch)
16 games 22 receptions 464 yards 21.1 yds/rec 2 tds (8.0 yd after catch)

On first glance it looks like a pretty even straight up trade, but lets take some other things into consideration. Oh, the first line of stats is for Billy the second is for Hank. First, Billy McMullen just played his 4th year so he is what he is, but Hank just played his first year as a contributor and well has nothing but room for growth. Second, remember how Troy Williamson was supposed to be our field stretcher but cant catch the ball, well it looks like Hank could be a field stretcher with his 21.1 yds/reception and a long on the year of 89 yards. Finally, when Hanks gets almost double the yards after the catch than Billy I say we just had our heads up our butts.

So there it is the Philladelphia Eagles took advantage of their little boy Childress and somehow his fascination over Billy so that they could get a WR who quite possibly will be their #2 WR behind Reggie Brown this year (that is if Philly cannot resign Stallworth). I would much rather have this WR corp (Baskett, Williamson, Wade) then the one we have currently with Billy McMullen as our #1 WR!!!!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Should the Vikings draft Adrian Peterson?

The Vikings have a severe shortage of playmakers on offense. The wide receiving corp just got a major upgrade from Bobby Wade, and while it's a good signing, when Bobby Wade gives you a major updgrade at WR, you know you are in trouble at the position. The top tight end is now Visanthe Shiancoe, who may be good but currently has 35 career receptions. Tarvaris Jackson still has potential, but I don't think we should count on superb performances from him if he's the starter in 2007.

If there are any gamebreakers on offense, they play running back.
Mewelde Moore has the ability to make big plays. Chester Taylor was a grinder last season (1,216 yards and 4.0 yards per carry), but he also had a franchise record 95 yard run. A RB duo of Moore and Taylor is a functional, quality duo that you can win with. The Vikes clearly have bigger needs than RB.

That said, if Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson slips to the Vikes at #7, I think the Vikings should take him. He's a dynamic, thunderous skill position player that the Vikings currently don't have on he roster. Running behind Steve Hutchinson and (a newly healthy) Bryant McKinnie, he could consistently make big plays for the Viking offense. It's not a current need; Taylor and Moore are solid. But Adrian Peterson might be the best long-term guy the Vikes could pick, and he would immediately become a brilliant offensive performer for a team in desperate need of brilliant offensive performers.

Perhaps I'm just a little to excited to see the Vikings select skill position talent in the draft. The defense is good and the offensive line is strong. There aren't really great skill position players out there in free agency. The Vikings need some offensive playmakers, and the draft is going to be the best (and maybe the only) place to get those.

And I think Peterson will fall to the Vikings at #7. I have trouble seeing the teams in front of the Vikes taking him.

Shinders disappearing?

Evidently, Shinders (the Twin Cities chain for sports cards, comic books, and pornography, among other things) is in big trouble. Some stores are already closing.

I was just at the Maplewood Shinders yesterday afternoon (spent $1.59 total for four cards, including 25 cents for a Keith Wilkes card that appears to be his rookie card), and there were no signs of a closing. If the Maplewood Shinders closes, I'll be inconsolable. I go there about once a week, browsing the cards, spending bits of money on cards that are usually 29 to 49 cents, and picking up the free local magazines. It was wonderful that there were so many very cheap cards available.

Collectors of sports cards and memorabilia in the Twin Cities will have something to lament of Shinders goes away entirely.

Links: Spring Break Edition

Ah, spring break. One of my spring break traditions is to watch the classic spring break episodes of Arrested Development. Fun times.

Chris Weinke wants to play for the Vikings. Also, I would like to play for the Vikings.

You know I love to take Strib columnist Patrick Reusse to task. Lately the Daily Norseman has been pointing out the idiocy of Press columnist Bob Sansevere. For the record, I do think Sansevere is a worse columnist than Reusse. Sansevere also once offered me free key chains at some radio event at a casino in which a bunch of women of varying appearances got drunk, got on stage, and flashed the crowd. I've lived a full life.

Viking fans, the off-season is an especially good time to check out Kansas Viking. Kanas Viking links to most major stories and columns on the Vikings, so you don't have to go find them yourself.

UCLA lost in the Pac-10 tournament, which you can read about at the Bruin Basketball Report and Signal to Noise. I say, they could use the rest. Why barrel through the conference tourney and wear themselves out before they have to go and win 6 straight? I salute your shiftiness, Bruins.

Bill Simmons and Henry Abbott respond to each other over ESPN's top 10 centers list. Double-Nickel chimes in about the list with some praise for Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon is the best center I ever saw play.

Viking fans might be interested in checking out the Star Tribune's Viking blog and the Pioneer Press Viking blog.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crappola and Links


Did you know that Dr. Z is on sabbatical from SI and is only doing work for the website, like his mailbag? He's mentioned that he's on sabbatical to write his memoirs. I haven't bought a hardcover book on the day it came out since Stephen King put out the last three books of the Dark Tower saga (by the way, Marvel is doing a comic series on the Gunslinger. The Maplewood Shinders I frequent is always sold out when I show up, so I end up just taking the free magazines). But I would pay for Dr. Z's memoir when it comes out.

Via Outsports, The Smoking Gun has FCC complaints about the Super Bowl. There is nothing like the high comedy of FCC complaints. You start to think they have to be made up, that nobody could seriously write that. And then you think of all the crazies you've seen and met in your life, and then you think of P.T. Barnum's witticism that "You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public," and you realize the people are probably being serious.

WBRS Sports Blog reports on Steve Nash's bowel movements. I always wonder when players go to the bathroom before and during games. They have to drink plenty of fluids, and in my experience playing sports, once you get active you're sweating and don't need to go (or at the very least it never crosses your mind). But do pro athletes worry about going right before the game, or during halftime, or whatever? I knew a cross country runner who was getting his fluids up before a meet, then had to go and pulled it out and went while running.

The Ragnorak has an optimistic take on the Bobby Wade signing. It might just be a smart movie: pay a reasonable amount for a WR like Wade that nobody is excited about rather than overpay in a weak free agent year for a WR that people are senselessly excited about.

Other Things

People, I can't emphasize this enough: the guy that plays Harry Potter is starring in "Equus."

Basketball History

My favorite part of basketball is the history; debating old players and shit is the best. Via True Hoop, ESPN has a bit on the greatest centers of all-time. Kareem is first, followed by Wilt, Russell, Shaq, and Hakeem (what is it about centers that requires only a single name to understand?).

I like Kareem at #1, but it's important to remember just how superior Wilt was to Kareem in the rebounding department. Check it out: Wilt and Kareem were contemporaries for four seasons (though we'll leave out 1970, when Wilt only played 12 regular season games). Set aside the fact that Wilt was in his declining years and Kareem was in his youthful prime: Wilt out-rebounded Kareem each season (18.2 to 16.0 in '71, 19.2 to 16.6 in '72, and 18.6 to 16.1 in '73. Considering that for his career Wilt also averaged 5.5 more points per game than Kareem, I have a hard time ranking Wilt individually behind Kareem. Kareem, however, probably had a better career: 6 MVPs to 4, 6 championships to 2.

Anyway, check out the ESPN article for your hoops education. And to answer Henry Abbott's question on Russell, "If being the greatest winner in team sports history doesn't make you the best, what does?": being the greatest winner in team sport history makes you the greatest winner in team sports history; it doesn't necessarily make you the greatest individual player of all-time. In a team sport, the individual can't control everything.

Jermaine Wiggins is not God

I know many Viking fans now hate Brad Childress. I also know that most of the reporters, columnists, and commentators hate Brad Childress. But this does not mean we now must consider Jermaine Wiggins the Lord and Savior of the Tight End Position.

Jermaine Wiggins is a 32 year old TE. Before coming to the Vikings, he caught 50 passes in 4 years, playing on 4 different teams that didn't think he was worth keeping around as a starting TE. With the Vikings, he was effective. In 2004, when the Vikes still had deep threat Randy Moss, he caught 71 passes for 705 yards (9.9 average) and 4 TDs. He was not effective because he was a great breakaway TE that could get open on his own; he was effective because the offense focused on going vertical and opening things up for TEs and RBs short (the 2004 Vikes also had 4 RBs with 20+ receptions). Wiggins benefited from Moss; he was a sturdy, dependable receiver that could catch the ball. He didn't have to beat people himself to get open. A lot of other TEs could probably have caught 60+ passes in that offense.

In 2005, Moss was gone but the offense was the same. Wiggins still led the team in receptions, but his yards per catch slipped to 8.2. That is not great production out of a TE; that's what you expect out of a TE that just has to catch the ball short. Antonio Gates has a career 12.7 average. Tony Gonzalez has a 12.1 career average. These TEs are the best of the best; they can spread the defense, get downfield, and make plays. Jermaine Wiggins, in his last year under Mike Tice's offense, averaged about 4 yards per catch less than the elite TEs. He was a productive cog, not a legitimate playmaker.

People now complain that Wiggins didn't fit well into Childress's offense, either implicitly or explicitly claiming this as further evidence that Childress is unable to adjust his game plan to the talent he has. But in 2006, Wiggins' average per catch was about the same as it was in 2005 (8.4). What changed? The offense and the personnel. The Vikings didn't have a QB or WRs that could stretch the field, and they didn't have an offense that focused on stretching the field. Therefore, Wiggins had a harder time getting open. He had to rely on his own ability to get open more. He didn't do that very effectively.

I can't emphasize this enough:


You just don't try to fit your offense around throwing the ball a lot to a TE that averages 8.2 yards per catch. He's not a TE that can get downfield; he's not a TE that can beat LBs to get open; he's not a TE that can make plays. He's a solid cog. There was no reason for Childress to try feature Wiggins more than he did; Wiggins was a mediocre TE. He caught the ball less in the new offense but did about the same with the catches he got. Focusing on throwing the ball to him more would have had little to no effect on the Viking offense. Hell, for all we know they did focus on throwing him the ball and he didn't have the talent to get open on his own.

I liked Jermaine Wiggins on the Vikings. I like him as a person and think he's a solid football player. But he is not, as Mike Morris called him on KFAN today, a top-10 TE. He's doesn't belong with Gates, Gonzalez, Todd Heap (11.6 career average), Jeremy Shockey (11.5 career average), Kellen Winslow Jr., Dallas Clark, Alge Crumpler (13.8 average), Chris Cooley, or even Randy McMichael or Jason Witten. I'd probably take L.J. Smith ahead of Wiggins, and maybe even Desmond Clark. The Patriots might have had two TEs in 2006 better than Wiggins. Vernon Davis is just a matter of time away from being head and shoulders better than Wiggins, and I think Heath Miller can do more than Wiggins.

Wiggins was a good, solid pass catcher. But he doesn't make plays. He doesn't stand out against other TEs. He's average. It's hard to hold it against Childress that he didn't try to force the ball more to an average TE, or that he's now trying to go in a different direction at the position.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Okay I have been thinking about this for a day now and I am finally going to post about it. Before I do this, I should mention this view is specifically the thoughts of BlueVikingDevil and is no way associated with Pacifist Viking who I am sure will give his thoughts on my post and the issue in response.

If any of you are readers of the website, then I am sure you have noticed they like to make sarcastic and humorous comments about athletes, sports commentators, etc who make news stories. This is part of their schtick and it can be pretty amusing. They have documented well the issues of Sean Salisbury and Michael Irvin and their questionable comments about race and often mock those at the center of the story. But alas something that was contained in their one-liners monday morning disturbed me (the author is either their intern or them, but they have a post that states they shall be held accountable for any comments etc as they often edit them). So on to the comment.

"Saint Reggie is holding a free football camp for kids. (The agenda includes "Advanced Taunting Techniques" and "How To Get Paid By Injuns.")"

Now I have to lay out a few things to begin with. The paranthetical remarks are obviously made to be jokes. The taunting obviously refers to the NFC Championship game and taunting of Urlacher and the second quote obviously is in reference to the whole New ERA agency scandal of paying his family etc. The issue I have is with the use of the word "Injuns". Why use this word to describe Native Americans. Yes Michael Michaels one of the agents is a Native American, but why use the derogatory comment about a group of people? Does it add to the joke? I would argue it doesn't and here is why.

1. The use of that particular term would only add to the joke and bite of the joke if Reggie Bush had used that term in the midst of the fiasco or had called Native Americans "Injuns" at some time.
2. They are obviously making up ficticious names of agenda items, but why do it in a way that uses a word that has such historical racist connotations to it? The only reason I could see is that it is rhythmically and phonetically more punchy that "How to Get Paid by Native Americans".

But still the use of the term is used in the midst of the joke so people might think I am making a big deal out of nothing, but yet am I. Say the agent was instead African American, would they ever say "How to get paid by __the N word__"? I don't think so because in the predominant discussion of race that word is never to be used, but "Injuns" which is just as derogatory towards Native Americans slips by because it is not as predominant in the discussion of race and anyone who thinks "Injuns" isn't a deragoatory word is off the mark. I for one think PFT shoudl be ashamed for using the word and Reggie Bush should be mad that they connotate that he would ever use the word.

"Wade" in the Water announced the signing of our first free agent wide receiver. Bobby Wade. Entering his 5th year I am pretty much saying that he is what he is: a body that helps give depth to the wide receiver corp of the Vikings. I don't envision Bobby Wade "breaking" out in the Vikings offense, but hopefully he can do what our receivers failed to do last year which means he needs to: 1. Catch the ball, 2. Stay Healthy, and finally 3. Don't drink and drive.

Let's compare him to Troy Williamson (only entering his 3rd year so he could "and I am praying he does" finally click and emerge)

Troy's stats last year: 14 games 37 receptions 455 yards 0 tds

Wades stats last year: 16 games 33 catches 461 yards 2 tds

Forgive me but that is not that impressive to me, especially since he had ROY Vince Young throwing to him for most of the season (by that one should realize that a mobile quarterback allows more opportunity for a receiver to break coverage, etc. by buying more time).

Well that is all I got. Happy to see we signed a WR to give us depth, but still await something more. I am sure Pacifist Viking will give you his thoughts on the signing tomorrow.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Brady Quinn and the Vikings

IF the Vikings believe Brady Quinn is a franchise quarterback, and he is available at pick #7, the Vikings must select him. We may have high hopes for Tarvaris Jackson, but we certainly can't assume at this point he'll be a franchise QB, and neither can the Vikings. At best, it's a 50/50 proposition. At best. So if the Vikings see in Brady Quinn a franchise quarterback, they would be foolish not to draft him. Tarvaris is all about potential; the Vikings have nobody on their roster that currently resembles a great NFL QB.

Is Brady Quinn a franchise QB? That's the question. If the Vikings are unsure, they MUST NOT select him at #7. They can't take him there because they are surprised he's there and think he's got the best value at the pick; they can only take him if they truly believe he can be their franchise QB.

Brady Quinn Online

Notre Dame's Brady Quinn profile

Wikipedia's Brady Quinn profile

ESPN's Brady Quinn profile

I'm still waving the David Carr pom poms, and if the Vikes do nothing at the position, I'll keep my hopes on the pontential of Tarvaris Jackson. But I wouldn't mind Brady Quinn in purple.

(The Pioneer Press on Childress watching Quinn, via Kansas Viking)

Guest Post at Yelling Louder

For those interested, I've written a guest post at Yelling Louder previewing the A.L. Central. In my opinion, my post is the lousiest thing ever to appear at Yelling Louder. You can go check out my preview (Ernest Hemingway tells stories about the teams), but keep checking out the good writing that's going on over there.

Travis Henry is your 2007 Fantasy Demigod

In your fantasy football draft, is it possible to overpay for Travis Henry now that he is a Denver Bronco? With mediocre Bills teams, he twice ran for 1,300+ yards and 10+ TDs. With the Titans last year, he rushed for 1,200+ yards. He's got a career 4.1 average per carry.

With his grinding style (though he also had 9 20+ yard runs in 2007), with the Denver Bronco system, line, and style, I expect something like 5.5 yards per carry (like Clinton Portis had in his two years in Denver--he could have been the greatest fantasy running back of all-time if he'd stayed). And he'll get the carries, and he's tough enough to keep running when he gets them.

Injuries are always the unknown, but right now, my FLOOR for Henry is 1,400 yards and 15 TDs. That's a floor. The ceiling cannot be seen at this moment.

Snow leads to three day weekend leads to Monday full of links


Britt Robson does his T-Wolves blog at The Rake now.

Jim Buzinksi at Outsports has an interesting take on locker room mentality.

You already knew how great Kevin McHale is, right?

Pro Football Talk has a quick link to check 2007 free agent movement (which is nice if you've been snowed in for three days and barely have any idea what's going on outside of student papers and exams, a baby, and DVDs of The Sopranos).

And Other Things

If you don't read Marmaduke Explained yet, you're missing out.

Paradise Lost is one of my favorite works of literature. At the NY Times, Michael Joseph Gross explores the struggles to get a film adaptation of Milton's masterpiece. The article convinces me beyond a doubt that some producers will completely botch this. Quotes like "“if you get past the Milton of it all, and think about the greatest war that’s ever been fought, the story itself is pretty compelling,” “It’s a 400-some-odd-page poem written in Old English... How do you find the movie in that?” “it’s a war movie at the end of the day,” and "Scorsese makes you feel the rush of being in the Mafia ... Milton was after something like that, and that’s what we’re trying to convey” do not exactly inspire the confidence of this English teacher and Milton adorer.

I sort of liked this Kissing Suzy Kolber piece on murdering TV characters.

That sounds exactly like something Harold Bloom would say and academics would analyze.

Christina Weil has a NY Times op-ed on eating horses.

A Washington Post review that examines what happened to the Epic of Gilgamesh
(via Arts & Letters Daily).

Robin Marantz Henig explores God and evolution (via Arts & Letters Daily).

Slate has a good discussion on W.H. Auden (via 3quarksdaily).

A two-time guest on The Simpsons is going on some adventures (via 3quarksdaily).

Vikes "act" in free agency

The Vikings signed linebacker Vinny Ciurciu and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Both Ciurciu and Shiancoe are real, live NFL players.

The Vikings have helped us by informing us how to pronounce these names phonetically: "SHANK-oh" and "church-choo." And if you really want to be inspired, read further in the article to get the career highlights of Shiancoe and Ciurciu.

Exciting stuff.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Vikes can spend big

According to Pro Football Talk, the Vikes have around $30 million in cap room (man, Brzezinski knows how to manipulate those numbers). While the Vikings should (and likely will) spend that money judiciously, there need be no financial limitations to pursuing the players they want. There's room to get whichever available WR the Vikes think is the best choice (and the Vikes probably need more than one WR). There's room to trade for David Carr. There's room to get a TE upgrade and a DE that might rush the passer.

The madness begins at midnight.

PFT also chimes in with misplaced commentary:

"Still, we'd prefer to see teams spread that surplus around to key contributors already under contract."

As a general statement, that's a good principle (as stated in the previous post); I just don't see how it applies to the Vikings. First of all, the Vikings have been giving raises and extensions to players already under contract all season (most notably Bryant McKinnie, E.J. Henderson, and Kevin Williams). The Vikes have shown a commitment to secure the services of their key contributors, so I don't really know what the PFT writer is driving at in relation to the Vikings. Furthermore, this was a 6-10 team; the Vikes need to do all they can to pursue player to help them improve. They'd be foolish not to use that surplus to try fill obvious holes and secure clear upgrades. Teams like the Colts should do all they can to keep their own players; 6-10 teams like the Vikings need to add talent.

Update: via The Daily Norseman, Kevin Seifert of the Strib has a bit more on the numbers. Just a bit, though.

Wide Receivers and Free Agency

Free Agency is screwy because sometimes, teams aren't smart.

What will the Titans do in free agency? Last year they gave a big contract to David Givens, who's only real claim to fame is being one of the no-name WRs that Tom Brady and the Patriots functioned with (alright, scoring a TD in 7 straight playoff games is impressive, but there is nothing about Givens' career that suggests he's a great WR). And now the Titans are probably going to let Drew Bennett, a WR that has actually done something for the team, leave via free agency. Wouldn't the Titans have been wiser to not sign Givens (a player who wasn't doing much for the Titans even before he got hurt), then use that money to resign Bennett? Yes, that would have been smarter. But as Dr. Farthing says, "Hindsight is 20/20, my friend."

The 2005 Seattle Seahawks went to the Super Bowl with a Wide Receiver Corp that included Darrell Jackson, Joe Jurevicius, D.J. Hackett, and Bobby Engram. So of course, pissed off about the Vikings signing Steve Hutchinson, the Seahawks signed Nate Burleson and let Joe Jurevicius go. Evidently they realized Burleson's mediocrity quickly, as they traded a first-round pick for Deion Branch. On the 2006 Seahawks, Branch was OK, Burleson did almost nothing, D.J. Hackett emerged as a talent, and Darrell Jackson was by far the team's most productive WR. And still, the team slipped from a dominant 13-3 to a mediocre 9-7, barely winning a home playoff game because of Tony Romo and losing to the Bears. And now, the Seahawks might be trading Darrell Jackson, and D.J. Hackett might leave via free agency (Engram too?), but they still have Burleson and Branch.

Despite the glitter of something new, sometimes a team is better of sticking with the players it has at a given position. Drew Bennett would be better for the Titans in the next few years than David Givens will be. Joe Jurevicius did more for the Seahawks in '05 than Branch and Burleson did combined for the Seahawks in '06.

But then, sometimes a team has a desperate need. If the Vikings think they'll be fine in '07 with the same WRs they had in '06, we're looking at maybe--MAYBE--6 wins again in '07. Who knows how much losing Koren Robinson hurt the Vikes last year. I've written before that Robinson directly contributed to at least 3 wins in '05 that would have been losses without his play. Well, without Robinson, the Vikes slipped from 9-7 to 6-10. Losing Robinson cost the team a Pro Bowl kick returner AND a legitimate threat at wide receiver. Maybe the Vikes would have been in the playoffs with K-Rob sober and on the roster. Maybe.

I will be very surprised if one of the following players isn't a Viking next year: Donte Stallworth, Drew Bennett, D.J. Hackett, or Ashlie Lelie. None of those players are world beaters, but any one of them would provide a legitimate threat for the Vikings. Filling out or even REPLACING the wide receiver corp should be the team's top priority this off-season. They also have needs at DE, but a team can create a pass rush in more creative ways, and there is the possibility that players on the roster currently could be quality DEs. But you can't actually run a functional offense without some legitimate WRs. The Vikes can't depend solely on the draft to find the '07 WRs; they're going to need to sign one of these competent veterans.