RSS

Tag Archives: Rookie

Feeling Superstitious About MN Vikings’ Loss in San Diego

Normally, I’m not a superstitious person. I have a black cat in residence who is constantly crossing my path, I don’t shy away from picking up coins that are tails side up, on occasion I have opened umbrellas indoors, and 13 never seemed like a particularly ominous number to me. But my normally levelheaded attitude is pretty much gone when it comes to football. Games like Minnesota Vikings‘ season opener against the San Diego Chargers, don’t do much to dispel that tendency.

While there are plenty of reasons for why the Vikings wrote A Tale of Two Halves at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, it seems that bad ju-ju is as likely a reason as everything else I have heard.

I trace the change in the game’s momentum to the seemingly reasonable idea of putting my 20-month-old niece down for a quick nap. My sister and my niece were flying back home to Michigan Sunday evening and we thought it was worth a try to get Rookie (a.k.a. baby niece) to take a nap because it was going to be a late evening for her. Until this point, Rookie had been suited up in her new Adrian Peterson jersey and she was grooving to “Skol Vikings.” It was crazy cute to walk into the room and see her get excited that the rest of us were wearing purple jerseys just like her jersey.

All suited up and armed with a wiggly toddler, we watched the Vikings start off their season with Percy Harvin returning the ball 103 yards for a touchdown. That opening play was fantastic, but things got even better because the Vikings’ offensive line did a respectable job of helping Donovan McNabb stay upright and giving Adrian Peterson holes to run through. Free-agent acquisition Michael Jenkins gave us hope for the receiving corps. Fred Pagac’s aggressive defense kept San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers from getting comfortable with pressure from the Vikings’ revamped defensive line. Mike Singletary’s linebackers tackled like men on a mission. The Vikings looked a lot more like a team making a statement than a team in a dreaded rebuilding year.

Then Rookie, much to her very vocal dismay, was put down for a nap and things went all pear-shaped for the Vikings. Now, I suppose that it might be silly to credit the Vikings’ second-half collapse with the absence of a toddler whose understanding of the game is comprised solely of her affection for the color purple but, when faced with the possibility that Bill Musgrave’s offense is no better at adapting and executing than Brad Childress’s offense, I lean toward the missing toddler theory because it’s a much easier fix.

That offensive breakdown was the loose thread that unraveled what could have been an upset victory for the Vikings on the road in San Diego. Instead, the Vikings are starting the season in the NFC North’s basement because all the other teams in the division won their opening games. While being one game behind the rest of the division is hardly hole the Vikings can’t climb out of if they correct the problems they had on Sunday, it isn’t the way Leslie Frazier wanted to start his first full season as head coach, and it isn’t a great way to build positive momentum for a team that is seeking a new stadium.

For me, the most mind-boggling moment in Sunday’s game came when the Vikings sent Joe Webb in to take snaps in the Wildcat formation. As much as I love watching Joe Webb play, I’m biased against the Wildcat formation-not because it isn’t a good idea, but because I’ve never really seen it work. It’s supposed to confuse and confound an opposing defense so the offense can break lose an explosive play. While the Wildcat did confuse the Chargers on Sunday, it also seemed to confuse the Vikings because after two plays they were in a third-and-ten situation. But the worst part of it was that the Vikings squandered the momentum Adrian Peterson had created with two strong runs.

Adrian Peterson wasn’t awarded a $100 million seven-year contract just because he’s a swell guy, he got it because he’s a strong, punishing running back. The offense is built around him and he’s going to be the face of the franchise for many years, so why, why would you take the ball away from him when he’s hot? Seems to me that Bill Musgrave would do well to heed the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen, “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

When you’ve got a talent like Adrian Peterson, why would you want to do anything else?

The Vikings’ running game is the center of the Vikings’ team identity. It’s meant to punish and demoralize defenders who try to stop it, the running game sets up the passing so the quarterback can take advantage of opposing defenses loading the box to stop the run, and it takes time off the clock helping the team win the time of possession battle. Taking time off the clock is especially handy in spelling the defense so they have the energy to stuff the opposing run and force them into third-and-long situations. Therefore, I cannot understand the decision to abandon an effective running game for a gimmicky play. The Vikings didn’t need to do it.

When faced with both the possibility that the Vikings new offensive system is falling prey to the same mistakes that their previous offensive system made, is it any wonder that I prefer to hope the offense can be fixed by making sure Rookie doesn’t miss a game? Making sure my niece has access to NFL Season Ticket is a lot easier than suffering through another season of Childressian offense.

*This post is also available at The Daily Norseman, a fantastic SB Nation blog. At The Daily Norseman I write under the name Skol Girl.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Football, Sports Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Good, the Bad, and the Not So Good-looking:

It is always a challenge to get caught up after a vacation. When the vacation you’re catching up from isn’t yours, it’s also a surprise.

My sister swept into town, her husband and her baby in tow, and I wasn’t able to find the time to even skim the sports page until they left. Which was tough because plenty of interesting things happened in the wide world of Vikings football while I was distracted by the cuteness of my teething eight-month-old niece.

As far as I can tell, this is what I missed. Percy Harvin spent a night in the hospital for observation after collapsing on the practice field because of migraine complications—he was released the next day. The Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. Sidney Rice went to Vail, Colorado for hip surgery. Javon Walker, who once elicited criticism from Brett Favre for contract antics back when they were teammates together in Green Bay, signed with the Vikings to help shore up the depleted receiving corps. The Vikings completed a rare player-for-player trade with the Miami Dolphins, exchanging corner back Benny Sapp for wide receiver Greg Camarillo. Former member of the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff, Pete Carroll came to town with the Seattle Seahawks to face the Vikings on Saturday night—the Vikings won, but their performance was a mixed bag.

Actually, I did manage to see both the 49ers game and the Seahawks game, but I’m kind of writing off the 49ers game because I was distracted. My niece was watching the game with me and Rookie was a cute, non-sleeping, handful in her Vikings onesie. So I’ll just speak to the game against the Seahawks which I watched without Rookie.

Saturday night reminded me of a Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Really, there was a little bit of everything.

I’m more of a bad news first kind of person, so that’s where I’ll start. The Vikings offensive line needs to gel, protect the quarterback, and give the running game a fighting chance. Certainly, they are affected by not having John Sullivan in at center and having a rookie on the line too, but in the meantime, the quarterbacks are suffering. There were some plays Saturday night where, I don’t know if there was a miscue or what, but Seahawks defenders barreled through the line untouched and flattened Brett Favre. To make matters worse, one of the times he was being flattened Favre fumbled the ball.

For his part, Favre was mostly what you would expect. He some showed signs of fatigue and rust, but it was liberally sprinkled with accurate missiles spread out to nine different targets. Perhaps the most shocking reception was Farve’s first pass over the middle to Percy Harvin. I didn’t even realize that Harvin was going to play because he hasn’t been able to participate much in practice. While Favre did throw two picks, one of them wasn’t his fault—Bernard Berrian couldn’t quite hang on to it and the Seahawks defense snagged it on the bobble.

But now, onto better things.

I’m just going to highlight a few things, but there were lots of good things peppered into an up-and-down game.

Greg Camarillo pulled in passes with his sure hands showing Vikings fans why the team traded Benny Sapp to get him from Miami. Camarillo may not have breakaway speed, which was a liability when the Seahawks defender got two yards ahead of him and intercepted Brett Favre’s pass, but Camarillo’s fantastic sticky fingers could still make him a favorite target for Brett Favre. Some of the local journalists have sneered a bit that he isn’t particularly explosive or dynamic, but I think with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin (when available), and Bernard Berrian (when he’s on the same page as Favre) not every player on the offense needs to be exciting and dynamic—some of them can just get the job done.

Despite being treated a bit like a redheaded stepchild, Sage Rosenfels marched the Vikings downfield and distinguished himself as the only Vikings quarterback to pass for a touchdown during Saturday’s game. He connected with newcomer Javon Walker in the end zone. Walker was in thick coverage but fought to come up with the ball. With the latest talk being that Tavaris Jackson is going to be the second quarterback on the depth chart, I hope that other teams recognize Rosenfels abilities and give him a chance to do more than fondle a clipboard on the sidelines this season.

And on defense, young Chris Cook is making a strong bid to be a starter in the September 9 game at New Orleans. With his height and his speed Cook was a desirable pick, but the coaches have said how much they like his sheer drive to learn everything they have to teach. Buzz-worthy through training camp, Cook was in on several great stops Saturday night. He’s got confidence, ability, and drive—and Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen are going to have to work hard on Thursday night if they want to win the starting job away from him.

On special teams Darius Reynaud had a fantastic game. His kick return from around the Vikings 4-yardline up to the Seahawks’ 22-yardline was a thing of beauty. If he can keep making plays like that, you have to believe he has a future with the Vikings.

It is going to be interesting to see how many starters the coaches decide to play on Thursday. Will we get a repeat of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, or will we see a more cohesive team? Guess we won’t know until Thursday. Is anyone else getting twitching about September 9?

This piece is also posted at vikingsmix.com and http://www.dailynorseman.com under my alter ego Skol Girl. She’s all football, all the time.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Brett Favre, Family, Lifestyle

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: