Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weird, Wild Stuff

Percy Harvin and freaky offense (Star Tribune).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Favre does not push the Vikings over the edge

I can't shake the feeling that the Vikings, whether they start Sage Rosenfels or Brett Favre for 16 games, are going to win 9-11 games in 2009. So does Brett Favre take them from a playoff team to a Super Bowl team?

That's a foolish belief. Brett Favre's teams haven't won two playoff games during a single season since the 1997 season. In the 00s, Favre's teams have lost three home playoff games to seemingly inferior opponents, Favre has thrown two playoff overtime interceptions, and Favre has thrown multiple interceptions in four of his eight playoff starts.

This is not an attempt to bash Favre. It is an attempt to lay waste the belief that Brett Favre could put the Vikings over the edge in the playoffs. Brett Favre does not transform the Vikings from a playoff team to a Super Bowl contender.

Let Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels compete. I believe given a fair competition, Sage Rosenfels will win the starting job. And I believe the Vikings will be better off.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Offseason Article Genres

Here's an offseason staple: the "Mediocre/Inconsistent Player faces questions about his performance all the time, but he takes it in stride because its all part of the job" articles, featuring loads of quotes from Mediocre/Inconsistent Player about the situation. Sometimes the writer's tone suggests it's not quite fair that Mediocre/Inconsistent Player always faces this scrutiny; sometimes the tone does suggest that criticism and questioning is justified when it comes to Mediocre/Inconsistent Player. Regardless of the writer's tone, the subject is predictable and easy. It's something to write about a Mediocre/Inconsistent Player that is still inexplicably in a position of importance.

In "Scrutiny only sure thing for Vikings' Jackson" in the Star Tribune, Chip Scoggins and Judd Zulgad give Tarvaris Jackson the genre treatment. The article features sentences such as:

"Another day, another round of difficult questions for the Vikings quarterback."

"Perhaps that's why Jackson acted neither surprised nor angry that he found himself under the microscope again at the community outreach event this week."

"Until he's able to do that, Jackson knows he will continue to face criticism and pointed questions."

Jackson has a lot to say about how he understands the situation, just deals with it, and tries to play well. Of course he does. What's he going to say? "I know I'm mediocre and inconsistent, but all this questioning and criticism and speculation is unjustified and unfair"?

But why do I feel like I've been reading articles like this about Tarvaris Jackson since I first learned to read, and why do I feel like I'll be reading articles like this about Tarvaris Jackson for as long as there is a Minnesota Viking franchise? Gus flushes the toilet in The Dumb Waiter less often than I read these articles about Tarvaris Jackson, and his trips to the john are a lot less monotonous.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pointless List Season

It's summer, which means sportswriters will be creating a lot of lists. I salute them: it's a way to pass the time in the offseason.

When I saw John Mullin ranking backfields at Sports Illustrated, and then didn't see the Vikings Adrian Peterson-Chester Taylor combo right near the top, I thought, what's this happy crappy? Then I recognized that backfield includes quarterbacks, and the list really ranks QB-RB combos.

Oh, I thought.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It could be worse, Vikings fans:

You could be a Timberwolves fan.

And in the sad reality that makes many of us fans of both teams... well, it's just sports, right?

Minnesota hasn't had a major pro sports team make the championship round since 1991. We don't even really have an expectation that our teams will be nationally relevant, do we? When I think about these things, it's hard for me to imagine a time when any of these teams will be relevant. It makes me want to focus my emotional energy on things that can't break my heart, like, say, a grapefruit. Probably when I cut into it to eat it, it's going to taste good. And if it doesn't, it was cheap, and I can just go buy another grapefruit. So that's something, right? I turn my attention away from the Vikes and Wolves to the reliability of a grapefruit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Risk of Favre

If Brett Favre is a Viking in 2009, the only way it can be considered a success is if the Vikings win the Super Bowl. And that makes the risk far outweigh the reward.

Partly, it's practical. I doubt very much Favre has more than one season left in him, and that means signing Favre is a one-year fix. This means if they don't win it all with him in 2009, then all they did was set the franchise's long-term quarterback search back one season. If Sage Rosenfels is successful, he could be the team's QB for the next five seasons.* No matter what Favre would do, he would only be the quarterback for one season. So if they sign him, they push back finding out who should be the team's QB for the next five seasons.

Partly, it's emotional. All I really want as a sports fan is to see the Vikings win a Super Bowl, and if it takes Favre to win it, so be it. But if they don't win it, they'll have tainted far too much. We'll have a season of actually rooting for the nemesis, and for what? For a Wild Card? For a division title? For a trip to the NFC Championship game? It's not worth it.

I think Sage Rosenfels might be a five-year QB. I'd like to find out if he is. I want to see the Vikings win the Super Bowl, and I think finding a five-year QB gives them a better chance than signing Brett Favre--who has not exactly been a reliable playoff QB--for one season.

*Yes, I consider a five-year QB a long-term solution. Obviously you want to find a decade-long QB solution, but that's rare, and there have been a lot of successful QBs--even at the Super Bowl level--with shorter runs on a particular franchise (Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson).

Viking Blizzard

Sid Hartman with Keneche Udeze on his return to the field.

Holy Hitter passed this on to me: Mike Florio at PFT asks, "How is Allen’s affinity for killing animals any different than Michael Vick's?" Of course, others were making similar connections back when Florio was consistently demonizing Vick.

Is the unnameable inevitable? (Star Tribune)

Kevin Williams and Pat Williams (Star Tribune). If a suspension is inevitable, it might be better at the beginning of the year with a manageable schedule. Then again, over the course of the year, making sure you win those easyish games is critical.

Terrible sportswriter speculates about Antoine Winfield, Brett Favre, and money. The only thing I wonder is whether Charley Walters is aware his speculations are pointless and he's a terrible sportswriter, or if he's blissfully unaware and thinks he's doing something meaningful with his speculations.

Brad Childress and QBs (Viking Update)

An argument for Tarvaris Jackson (Defensive Indifference). I'll make one argument against Jackson. He's had some good games when the Vikings are running the ball well, and he always benefits from the threat of the Vikings' dominant running game. But in situations when the Vikings must throw the ball, and the defense knows he must throw the ball, he often struggles badly. Jackson looks like a QB that, at best, can be solid when playing with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. But I've seen nothing to suggest that he can win a game for you when the situation dictates the team must pass. And I think the Vikings have to find the QB that can do that.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Syllables: The Key to Success for the Vikings' QB

I am tired of hearing about Brett Favre and the never ending soap opera that is his life of retirement/non-retirement. Doing a simple analyzation of the Vikings QB history, I have found that one person gives us a good chance at success and he is currently on the Vikings roster.

Let's look at history:

Last 2 QBs to lead the Vikings to the Conference Championship:


Last QB to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl:


Notice a pattern?

That is right they all have last names with 3 syllables. Who knew that the whole reason Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte couldn't do it was because they simply lacked that 3rd syllable? I see now why Brad Childress used his infinite wisdom to look back at history and see that all he had to do was find that magical 3 syllable last name:

Ladies and Gentlemen, history shows us that we have a reason to believe. Sage Ros-en-fels has all that it takes.

So let's just let this Favre talk die. We know we can do it because we have ROS-EN-FELS!!!!

****sure you could point out that we also reached the Super Bowl with Kapp or that we made it to the conference championship with Wade Wilson, but why would you do that? Do you enjoy causing us fans despair? Stop disbelieving and just believe in Ros-en-fels!!!!****

Peyton Manning's 2009 Fantasy Season

Peyton Manning is the most reliable fantasy football player of the last decade. In every one of his 11 seasons, he's thrown for 3,700+ yards and 26+ TDs, and he has never missed a game due to injury.

But now it appears the Colts will have a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, and a new offensive line coach. How dependent is Manning's greatness on the quality and consistency of his coaching? It is possible that the loss of his head coach will affect his consistency, the loss of his offensive coordinator affect his quality, and the loss of his offensive line coach possibly affecting his very low sack percentage (and does that mean greater injury risk?).

Is anybody else shying away from Indianapolis Colts for the 2009 fantasy football season? I'm not sure whether I am or not.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Dear Sports Illustrated:

This is neither a truth nor a rumor. It is just a terrible sportswriter saying things.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Moving On

Perhaps it was all just a test of Viking fans' loyalty.  Make die-hard Viking fans actually want Favre, then leave them in shame, making all their future "Favre was an overrated media creation" arguments sheepish and tainted.  So cheers to those who hated the idea all along (for what it's worth, my main interest in seeing Favre as a Viking was more an interest in seeing Generic Hall of Fame Quarterback as a Viking--the Johnson/Jackson/Holcomb/Bollinger/Frerotte years have been tough--but of course I could never see Favre that way).

I think the '09 Vikes will win 10-11 games with Sage Rosenfels at quarterback (which might give them third place in the NFC North).  My worry with Rosenfels isn't his interception rate (though that's worthy of concern), but fear that his high competion percentage is a result of Gary Kubiak's offense (in 2006 David Carr completed 68.3%, in 2007 Matt Schaub completed 66.4%, and in 2008 Schaub completed 66.1%--Rosenfels' impressive completion percentage may be the proverbial product of the system).  But from what I've seen, Rosenfels is a quarterback that can complete passes and run an offense (and at this point, that actually makes him appealing).

Rosenfels has to be the quarterback in 2009.  With Tarvaris Jackson, you sacrifice any semblance of a two-minute offense, you are probably totally screwed if the defense and running game aren't winning a game for you, and you will wait knowing a game will come along when the majority of passes are bouncing all over the carpet, far from receivers' hands.  Jackson doesn't complete a high percentage of his passes and rarely makes plays when the defense knows the team must pass.  Rosenfels has his problems too, but I think he'll be able to do some things--things that the team needs--that Jackson just can't do.

Hurt Feelings

There's one line of logic regarding the Brett Favre speculation that I find sort of silly. The thinking goes that by flirting with Favre, the Vikings are sending mean signals to Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, and that these quarterbacks will be so psychologically damaged that if the Vikings don't get Favre, there will be some sort of major problem.

Jackson and Rosenfels are professional adults. I know being a professional adult doesn't make one immune to anxiety, insecurity, or any other negative feelings. It does mean, however, that despite whatever anxiety, insecurity, or negative feelings you may have, you will still need to make a gamely effort at doing your job. I assume Jackson and Rosenfels will.

Kevin Seifert expresses something like the psychological damage thesis:

"The simple act of setting up a meeting with Favre sends a mixed message, at best, to the two quarterbacks they had planned to pit in a training camp competition. Simply by virtue of Tuesday's story, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels already know they're on the brink of being pushed aside -- at least for one year."


"If Favre walks away, or if the Vikings move on because he won't accede to their requests, Childress would be left with the unenviable task of rebuilding the trust of his remaining quarterbacks."

Before any Brett Favre story started, both Jackson and Rosenfels each knew he was "on the brink of being pushed aside." Jackson and Rosenfels can't each earn the starting job; they were going to compete for the starting job. Both men likely believe they will have a chance to compete for the starting job (and acquiring Favre would mean they wouldn't), but neither currently holds a secure starting job. Certainly Seifert recognizes as much in his concluding paragraph, but doesn't diverge from his thesis that the Vikings have "boxed themselves into" something. But it's not that either Jackson or Rosenfels was sitting in a position of security, and have had that security taken away. They were each in a position of insecurity that became more insecure (or, if you prefer, they are now secure in their knowledge that they will be backups).

If Favre doesn't become a Viking, then either Jackson or Rosenfels will start week one. And I suspect the flirtations with Favre in May will have absolutely zero impact on either QB's on-the-field performance in September.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Waiting for the Crackup

At Sports Illustrated, Steve Aschburner covers a lot of the interesting angles.

This is one of those times I would love to go back in time to, say, 2003. I would tell 2003 joe "Hey, guess what? Randy Moss set the single-season TD reception record as a New England Patriot, Kevin Garnett led the Celtics to their 17th NBA championship last season, and Brett Favre is about to become a Viking."

Perhaps 2003 joe would squint, shrug his shoulders and reply, "Well that's understandable. So does everybody eat Dippin' Dots?"

I had talked myself into Sage Rosenfels.

I mean, he's a guy that can complete passes.  Right?  Right?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

This is really happening, isn't it?

The existential nightmare is about to begin. This, this, this, and this convince me. The internal psychological tensions may cause both Minnesota and Wisconsin to cease all activity; the warring emotions may just render everybody frozen in anguish.

I now know what it means to be horrified and ecstatic at the very same moment.