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Optimism Going, Going, Gone

I keep looking for the silver lining in the 2010 Minnesota Vikings season, but that’s a tough sell. After nine games the Vikings have a 3-6 record meaning they’ve lost two thirds of the games they have played this season.

To say that my optimism is wearing thin would be an understatement.

If this were a rebuilding year that would be one thing, but this is a veteran team with so many Pro Bowl players you can’t swing a cat without hitting one. Experienced players, who are some of the best in the NFL at their respective positions, playing this poorly is hard to fathom. No matter how we break down Sunday’s loss to the Bears in Chicago it simply amounts to more of the same stuff that’s plagued the Vikings all season.

Despite a hopeful, if not electric, start, Sunday’s game quickly devolved. Considering the dramatic way the Vikings won against the Arizona Cardinals, suddenly playing the way they did last season, I held onto hope as long as I could on Sunday. Somewhere in the fourth quarter I quit taking notes on the game and started hopping around the room because if the Vikings were going to wage a comeback, they needed to do it right then. Well, on Sunday there was no comeback.

Regardless of Chicago’s record, they aren’t really that good*. However, they didn’t have to be that good, they just needed to be a little better than the Vikings and the Vikings have been making that far too easy for opposing teams. The secret to Chicago’s success on Sunday isn’t surprising or complicated, they converted on third downs, they had good returns from kick-offs and punts, they had receivers, and they scored in the red zone. Oh, and because it was their home field, they knew what cleats to wear to keep from slipping all over the field like Larry, Curly, or Moe at an ice rink.

I could look at the rest of the stuff that went wrong on Sunday, but I just don’t have the energy or the discipline for that kind of systematic misery. If the Vikings are going to make any kind of attempt to salvage this season, they have to win every remaining game, meaning the best they can do for the season is a 10-6 record. If they were playing every upcoming game in the Metrodome, that might be possible, but they won’t. They would have to win on the road to end the season at 10-6 and they haven’t managed to win on the road since November 2009.

The way this season is going, it seems a safe bet that Brad Childress won’t be the Vikings’ coach next season. A new coach generally means that at least a third of the current roster will be gone next season, but it could be more considering all the veterans the Vikings have. And, as if that wouldn’t bring enough uncertainty to next season, there is also the storm brewing between the NFL and the Players Association because of the collective bargaining agreement. Whatever happens next season, the Vikings will look very different.

But before any of that happens there are still seven more games this season. If this Vikings team is going to continue to try to turn things around, they don’t have much time. If they are just going to phone it in and wait for next season, it’s a mediocre eternity.

If the Vikings continue to play the way they are playing now and winning only at home, then they would win four more games and end the season 7-9. But, if they somehow manage to win all of the next seven games (not a strong possibility, I know), the Vikings might be in the running for a Wild Card spot in the play-offs. I don’t like seasons when the Vikings have to rely on getting a Wild Card, too many other things have to go their way for that to happen. Luck has been hard for the Vikings to come by and I wouldn’t expect luck to suddenly make a convenient appearance at this late hour. And, honestly, the Vikings need to start making their own luck. With all of their talent, you’d think they would have an advantage in that department.

No amount of uninspired play calling should excuse the lackluster play, the missed tackles, the failed third-down conversions, or the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Even if Vikings players have changed their mindset from trying to win games to clock watching until the end of the season, the way they finish 2010 will tell teams considering signing Vikings players a lot about what they can expect from these players. Even if they aren’t interested in helping this team win anymore, players can’t honestly think that sub-par play will help them in free-agency.

Between self-interest and pride, one would hope that the Vikings could find a way to pull together and play the way they are capable of playing. If they can’t, then the next seven games will be pointless.

*I still maintain that the Lions should have won when they played the Bears on Week 1 of the season. The officials in that game robbed Calvin Johnson of his game-winning touchdown and I refuse to acknowledge it as a Chicago victory.

This piece is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under my alter ego Skol Girl.

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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in Football, Lifestyle

 

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My Vikings Training Camp Wish List

It’s been six long months since the Minnesota Vikings lost to the New Orleans Saints on January 24, 2010. It might take the edge off of my football withdrawal if I could get into baseball, but when I’m craving smash mouth football complete with calf-roping antics, baseball doesn’t quite do it for me.

But now it’s late July and soon, tantalizingly soon, Minnesota Vikings training camp will start up again and we’ll get to see what kind of a shot at redemption the veteran-heavy team has for the coming season. For a football-deprived fan like myself, it feels like Christmas in July. Truly. I’m filled with as much joy and anticipation for the start of training camp as I was when I was seven and hoping for a Cabbage Patch Kid.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I’m making out my wish list for the coming season. How weird and wonderful would it be if a sleigh pulled by eight tiny linebackers landed on my rooftop and a jolly giant like, say, Pat Williams hopped down the chimney to deliver everything on my list? Well, a girl can dream.

Wish #1

Doubtless, this is at the top of many people’s lists, but it would be so very nice if Brett Favre came back to the Vikings for another season. Kind of a no-brainer wish. However, the chances of Brett Favre making a return in time for or during training camp isn’t likely given his well-documented disdain for training camp. Still, this is a wish list, not a likely list—might as well aim high.

Wish #2

Adrian Peterson is a dynamic, hard-working running back. Every time he gets the ball he pours his heart and soul into trying to make something happen. Here’s a thought:  How about you hang onto the ball. While not as flashy as a break-away run into the end zone, reducing fumbles and turnovers probably would have won that NFC championship game against the Saints.

Wish #3

He’s big and he, occasionally, shows flashes of ability that validate the Vikings decision to keep him around, but I would dearly love to see Bryant McKinnie play up to his potential every game, not one in five. If Favre does return, then, for the love of Zeus, protect the guy! Last year Julius Peppers pushed 6’8” 330lb Bryant McKinnie around like McKinnie was on castors. I don’t know if that means Peppers is jus that good or if McKinnie is just that lazy. During the off-season Peppers signed with the Chicago Bears meaning the Vikings will have to face him at least twice next season.

Wish #4

Please, oh please, don’t let Brad Childress’s decision to bring in Rhys Lloyd mess up Ryan Longwell’s head or kicking consistency. While bringing in Lloyd to pin opposing offenses against their end zones is great, Longwell says kick-offs give him a chance to get a feel for field conditions before he kicks for points. Longwell is money in the bank, don’t throw him off his game.

Wish #5

I love linebackers. Leber, Greenway, Farwell, they make me smile. But, and I don’t say this lightly, I really, really love E.J. Henderson. Most of his highlights show him flying Super Man style to make a tackle. Who doesn’t love seeing that? And with a healthy Henderson at middle, I like the Vikings chances of forcing three-and-outs much better. So, here’s hoping that E.J. Henderson is back to his pre-injury form and that his season isn’t cut short with an injury the way it has been for the past two years.

Wish #6

Maybe it’s because I added his jersey to my collection, or maybe it’s because I like seeing an under-dog come out on top, but I would dearly love to see Sidney Rice build on the amazing season he had last year. A participant at Larry Fitzgerald’s summer training camp, last season Rice debunked the theory that he was a draft bust. Let’s hope that this season, regardless of who is ultimately playing quarterback for the Vikings, he proves that last season’s performance is just the start of many good things.

Well, a football fan could keep wishing all day, but I think six is a good place to stop. Something tells me that as the Vikings training camp heats up there will be plenty of new things to wish for.

*This piece is also posted at http://www.vikingsmix.com under my other alias, Skol Girl.

http://vikingsmix.com/2010/07/training-camp-wish-list.html

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football

 

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