Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Night Third-String QB: Cliffhanger

Reason #1A why I'd be a horrible columnist/beat writer/anything to do with writing professionally: I tend to check out once in a while. Like, this season for instance, which has been so utterly insane that all I've been able to do is just sort of stare wide-eyed with my mouth half open, kind of like Mike McCarthy trying to decipher whether or not he should call a timeout.

Even now I'm at a loss for words. I need some help - and what better to help me sort out the 2010 NFL season than the holiday classic, "Cliffhanger"?

Gabe Walker - Our hero, responsible for the scene that tells you all you need to know about this movie: after spending hours climbing a mountain in a t-shirt and nearly freezing to death, he finds shelter, puts on a sweater and is totally fine two minutes later. Well, duh.

This year's magic sweater goes to the Chicago Bears offensive line, coached by Mike Tice. Jay Cutler was getting sacked at a record pace earlier this year, including 10 times by the Giants in Week 4. They've been much better ever since they slipped on the sweater, allowing Cutler to actually perform... really well?  Suddenly the Bears don't smell so fraudy.  It makes no sense.

The Chick From "Northern Exposure" - The most aesthetically pleasing aspect of the movie should go to the most aesthetically pleasing part of the season, watching Tom Brady do his thing this year. The Manning/Brady argument now reads Advantage: Brady. It has to, injury to Dallas Clark be damned. Brady's been down that road before - remember when Reche Caldwell was his go-to guy? And he still commandeered that offense to the 2007 AFC title game, and almost won it. Lets see if Peyton can do the same with Jacob Tamme and Blair White.

By the way, Janine Turner is gorgeous, and therefore should've had a much better career. She left the inexplicably successful TV show "Northern Exposure" for a career in film... or actually, TV movies with titles like, "Fatal Error," "A Secret Affair," and "Circle of Deceit." How many more times does this need to happen to keep actors from continuing to David Caruso themselves?

The Guy From "Robocop 2" That Gets Shot in the Head - This guy not-so-famously played the Big Corporate Guy's Lackey in Robocop 2, and hilariously (to me anyway) shows up in this movie for about 3 seconds before promptly getting shot in the head. Sounds like the Cincinnati Bengals. Thanks for stopping by, guys.

Hal Tucker - A performance by Michael Rooker notable for several things - portraying his girlfriend falling to her death with the same vigor as if he dropped his Chipotle burrito, but spazzing out at every other opportunity, getting his ass kicked more often than a 1980s WWF jobber. See for yourself:

I'm gonna go ahead and predict that will be the Jets and their fans in a few weeks. They still reek of fraud to me.  "Braylon!! BRAAYYLOOOONN!! YAAAHHRRRGGHHHH!"

Travers - One of the funniest characters in history, the cinematic equivalent of Rex Ryan. How do you not love this guy?  "Come in, GOD DAMMIT" will never not make me crack up.

Two EXTREEEEME Outdoorsy Dorks - "Man I hate work, even when someone else is doing it!"  I guess these guys were here for the comic relief, but little did the writers know that this movie already had plenty of unintentional comedy.  That sounds like the NFC West. There's so many bad teams now that one of them has to win a division? Ugh.

I know the sensible thing is to play this scenario off as a rare one-time thing, but I'm not so sure. Just take a look at all the head coach firings that are coming, and all the terrible quarterback play this year. Sometimes it really doesn't seem like there are enough quality (or even qualified) head coaches and quarterbacks out there to fill 32 teams. Just like every other pro sport, the league is pushing towards an equal playing field at the expense of quality play. I wouldn't be surprised if we had another NFC West scenario a couple years down the line, especially if teams continue to hire the Mike Singletarys and the Brad Childressessseseses of the world.

FBI Guy That Realizes What's Going On - This marks the token Star Trek connection.  Actor Vyto Ruginis also plays Chief Engineer Logan in a Season 1 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm seriously starting to wonder if there's a Star Trek connection to every movie ever made.

Lady That Falls to Her Death - The Pittsburgh Steelers could be a great team, better than the Pats in my opinion, if they'd just stayed healthy.  Now with Troy Polamalu (who I consider the most valuable defensive player in football) banged up, they might not even get a 1st round bye.  As it is with their decimated lines, they're a bad matchup for just about every other team in the AFC.

Eric Qualen - The guy commandeering the most incredibly implausible scheme in action movie history: having their inside FBI guy steal money and transport it in mid-flight from plane to plane using a zipline, while flying over a mountain range. May have been an ill-advised plan. You know who that sounds like? You guessed it, the Minnesota Vikings.

Childress giving the OK to bring back Favre in the hopes of lightning striking twice was, as Mike Lombardi is fond of saying, mistaking hope for a plan. Also, I wouldn't trust the ancient Vikings defense to shovel the sidewalk in front of my house, let alone look spry enough to keep up with the rest of the league. A disaster of Eric Qualen proportions.

Turns out, we were just getting started.  There was also:  trading for Randy Moss, cutting Randy Moss, Randy Moss yelling at a caterer (yes, this is national news in this day and age), Brett Favre texting his junk to Twiggy McBoltOns (previous note also applies here), Brad Childress mercifully getting fired, Leslie Frazier introducing his weird neck skin to the rest of the country, the Metrodome roof collapsing, playing a home game at Ford Field in Detroit, playing a home game at TCF Bank Stadium, and Brett Favre finally giving way to someone else, leading to Daunte Culpepper heroically charging in on his white horse to lead the Vikings to a 49-0 defeat at the hands of the Lions after 5 fumbles, 5 interceptions and a top 10 draft pick.  (I only made one of those things up.)

Guy Getting His Face Grinded Into the Snow As He's Sliding Down A Mountain - Vikings fans.  Is it over yet?  Can we just fast forward to the draft please?

Monday, November 22, 2010


So Childress is gone, now what?

Leslie Frazier's the interim coach, which should silence the "We can't let another Dungy/Billick/Tomlin go!" crowd.  And you can bet the "interim" label isn't going to last long, considering...

- Zygi has to pay out Childress's extension, handicapping his ability to dole out more millions for Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and the like.

- A brand new coach would probably want to overturn the staff, meaning more payouts for at least a dozen more coaches.

- There's a lockout coming in 2011, and you can bet your ass Zygi's not going to pay TWO guys not to coach.

While I'm encouraged by Frazier, partly because he is in fact NOT Brad Childress, there are some concerns.  For instance, he's interviewed for a head coaching job several times, and was passed over again and again, where he was beat out by such luminaries as Mike Singletary in San Fran, Chan Gailey in Buffalo and Pete Carroll in Seattle.  Why?  Who knows, maybe we'll find out soon enough.

Also, more obviously, the defense has been beyond horrendous this year - old and slow with no discernible strengths.  Frazier did FINALLY admit defeat a couple weeks ago in realizing his front four can't get pressure by themselves anymore.  He's sent a lot more blitzes, and it's helped wake up Ray Edwards and Kevin Williams.  (The rest of the line?  Not so much.)   So that proves he can adjust, and he's at least not Mike Ticeian in terms of stubborn idiocy.

I see the logic in waiting until the end of the season to fire Childress, which is what Zygi wanted to do.  That way, he takes full blame for this abortion of a season, and falls on his sword, case closed.  But Chilly forced Zygi's hand - getting blown out at home in embarrassing fashion to the Packers will do that.  People are pissed.  Now Frazier runs the risk of getting this season's stench on him, as if he's the guy to blame for the average age on this team being 38.  Or somewhere around there.  At least it seems like it.

Bottom line is this team is old and slow at quarterback and on defense, and a new head coach isn't going to change that.  But it saves the Vikings from the pit of total irrelevancy, which could have been the death knell for the franchise in this area, as the threat of relocation looms closer than ever.  A move had to be made primarily for that reason.

So, a new season starts today.  Interesting times to be a Vikings fan again.  They're in Washington on Sunday, a team you could say is their mirror image.  For the first time in a long time, I'm optimistic.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Your job has sucked so far this year.  You are buried in work and everyone is slagging you.  Nobody is cutting you any slack.  Your company keeps losing out on every break, on every deal.  The writing appears to be on the wall.

Your boss has put all his eggs in one basket by trusting an old, way past his prime guy to lead your company to glory, hoping against hope that lightning strikes twice.  He also just made what looked like a great business deal on paper, only to bail on it at the first sign of trouble.  There are strong rumors that he nearly got in a fist-fight with one of his employees.  People are murmuring that he's as good as fired.  In fact, people are chanting that he be fired every chance they get.

Certain guys usually seen as reliable are disappointments lately.  Other guys appear to have lost their marbles overnight.  What were once strengths are now weaknesses.  The ship is sinking and everyone knows it.

Be honest.  If this were the case, how much effort would you give toward your job?  It's very easy to say, "Fuck it."  Just look at Dallas last night.

The 2010 Vikings refuse to lay down.  Down by 14 in the 4th quarter to a terrible Arizona team, they roared back.  It was a testament to... well, giving a shit.  An especially important statement after just releasing Mr. Not-Give-A-Shit.

Yesterday was a testament to professionalism.  Does it necessarily mean they can still make the playoffs?  Does it mean they've "turned it around"?  Does it mean Childress has saved his job?  No.  No effing way.

But that's besides the point.  Vikings fans LOVE to get carried away.  They're eager to -- booing the FG call on 4th and 1, when just about everyone was whining about going for it in the same situation the previous week?  That's a classic contradictory fickle Vikings fan reaction.  Nonsensical.  Can you blame us?  We're delirious from weeks of bullshit. Our heads are spinning.  We just want to win and enjoy watching the games.  That's all.

Believe me, that's hard to do when your coach is Brad Childress.  We're still very close to finding out what it'll be like with Leslie Frazier.  But it's not hard when your team busts its ass like it did yesterday. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pros and Cons of a 2-5 Team

Maybe Tarvaris will start.  As he showed in garbage time yesterday, he can actually move.  That 20 yard scramble was so foreign to me I thought Percy Harvin had to switch jerseys for some reason. 

He's still Tarvaris Jackson.  If Tarvaris was ever even a decent option, why beg for Favre?  Why were Vikings fans clamoring for him before the 2009 season?  Are people's memories that short?  (Yes, they are.)

Maybe the time off did Tarvaris good.  He's only 27 years old.  Time on the sideline worked for Romo, Rodgers, Rivers, even guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kyle Orton.  Remember, a young quarterback making an immediate impact is the exception, not the rule.  There are only so many Matt Ryans and Sam Bradfords to go around. 

Or maybe being coldly shunted aside totally destroyed his confidence and the rust will be too thick to shake off. 

Adrian Peterson is still a reason to watch every week no matter what their record is.

Toby Gerhart is not.  It's amazing to see AD get these 8 yard gains from seemingly nothing, while Gerhart is lucky to get 1 yard.  It could be only a matter of time to break out the B-word for him.

Percy Harvin is still a reason to watch every week no matter what their record is.

I missed Pat Williams' funeral.  Luckily for us, they never buried his corpse, so we still have a chance to say goodbye.  See also: Asher Allen's ability to tackle.

One bad loss away from the Brad Childress Era coming to a close, several bad losses away from a shot at a quarterback in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

They have the same record as the Detroit Lions.  And have scored 54 less points.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bench Favre? Makes No Difference

So, bench Favre? Yes or no? The most popular quarterback in Minnesota is always the backup. See also: Wade Wilson in the late 80s.  Rich Gannon in the early 90s.  Brad Johnson in the mid 90s.  Jeff George in the late 90s.  Gus Frerotte in the mid 00s.  Right now Tarvaris Jackson jersey sales are probably up.

Now, I believe having Tar-Jack come in the middle of the game and starting Tar-Jack are two different things. He's going to be the most effective if you throw him in the mix in the middle of the game, much like Michael Vick in Green Bay back in Week 1. His legs would be the biggest difference and represent an entirely new aspect to the offense. I think that's a good option to have, to say the least, as I'm a little tired of having a someone with 450,000+ miles on his odometer under center.

On the other hand, starting Jackson allows your opponent to prepare for the running aspect, and then you're left with Tar-Jack The Below Average Quarterback we all got to see in '07 and '08. You know, the inaccurate guy always unsure if he should run or pass, always a little too scared to take a risk at throwing a deeper route to a wideout, and when he does, it's right to the free safety or middle linebacker he didn't see.

Some will say, and I don't blame them, that this is essentially the same team in 2008 that went 10-6 with Tar-Jack at the helm, so what's the big deal? Except it's not essentially the same team. The 2010 version can't get to the quarterback worth a damn (and they REFUSE to blitz), there's no Chester Taylor (who Toby Gerhart and Albert Young have combined to do a terrible impersonation of him), and there's no Cedric Griffin (who Chris Cook, Lito Sheppard and "Friggin" Frank Walker have combined to do an even worse impersonation). 

I may be willing to concede this point if Sidney Rice comes back healthy and effective this year, thus creating a Daunte Effect - three great WRs making a QB look 10 times more awesome than he is. That may work with Favre too, you know.  But realistically, the ceiling on this team this year is 9-7.  And that's very optimistic.  They'd have to go 7-3 with their remaining games. 

Silver lining - the rest of the NFC is garbage.  Rank the best teams right now, I dare you.  Falcons, Giants... who?  Last night's Packers?  The Saints, who just got taken apart by Cleveland, AT HOME?  The Eagles, who crapped themselves in the 4th quarter in Tennessee yesterday?  The Fraudulent Chicago Bears (their now official name the rest of 2010)?  The Effing Tampa Bay Bucs?  The RAMS?  So yeah, it's not over yet.

Still, our deal with the devil expired at the end of last year and we're paying for it. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Night Third-String QB: Spotting Frauds With Robocop 2

"Robocop 2" is an interesting movie. It's directed by Irv Kirschner, famous for doing such a fantastic job with "Empire Strikes Back." The first installment was a fun and a legitimately good movie, and a lot of the same special effects guys, designers and makeup artists are back. There was a lot to look forward to.

The first 20 minutes or so start out surprisingly touching, as Robocop deals with the recurring memories of Alex Murphy pinging around in his cyborg brain, and wonders how human he really is. But then, that plotline is abruptly dropped and forgotten, as the rest of the movie deals with drug dealers and evil scientists and corporations or something.

That's kinda how the NFL season usually goes - remember last year when the Giants and Ravens were both 5-0 and looked like huge favorites in their respective conference? It wasn't to be, especially for the Giants who were completely forgotten by Week 12.

With the help of "Robocop 2", I'm setting out to find this year's fraudulent teams, among other things...

Wife In Denial - She can't come to grips with the fact that her husband is dead, while Bears fans can't seem to come to grips that they're the most fraudulent 4-2 team in recent memory.  They legitimately lost Week 1 against Detroit but were bailed out thanks to the bullshit "continuation of the catch" rule, they beat what turned out to be a terrible Dallas team, they were given a victory by the Packers' 18 (18!!) penalties, and beat possibly the worst team in the league in Carolina.  The one legit team they faced, the Giants, SMOKED them, to the tune of 10 sacks.

Seattle hadn't looked worth a damn outside their home field (lost big in Denver and St. Louis) until they came to Chicago.  They had an easy time dictating the pace, an easier time rushing Jay Cutler (who doesn't?), and forced the Bears to go 0 for 12 on 3rd down.  Time to admit he's dead, Robocop's Wife/Bears fans.

(Aside: there's been lots and lots of terrible quarterback play all across the board this year, but nobody does it with as much zeal as Jay Cutler.  He's the Louis CK of bad QBs - he makes me laugh more than anyone else.)

Cops On Strike - The parallel here is a team turning on the coach, and the first place I look is in San Diego.  The Chargers continue to egregiously waste the primes of Phil Rivers' and Antonio Gates' careers (both are truly remarkable to watch and don't get nearly the hype they deserve since they play on the West Coast) by trotting out high-school-level special teams (allowing 30 special teams points so far this year) and having a defense that folds like an accordion on the road.  These guys could be SB contenders if they had a coach worth a damn.

(Aside: the cop you see there front and center is none other than Boggs from "Shawshank Redemption.")

Guy That Looks Like Pau Gasol But Isn't - Goes to the team who looks like they should be good but aren't - the Houston Texans.  They did a great job fooling everyone the first two weeks of the season with that awesome Indy win and the comeback in Washington, but they're clearly the same old Texans who just happen to be getting some New-Orleans-esque calls and bounces this year, as evidenced by the gift pass interference penalty late against KC.  They're like a higher functioning version of the Bears, but without a complete retard at QB.

Speaking of lookalikes, "Robocop 2" easily has the most "Hey, isn't that...?"s, only it turns out it's not who you think it is.  This includes Not Sean Penn's Fat Brother as a corrupt cop, Not Helena Bonham Carter as Kane's woman, and Not Gary Cole (Lumburgh) as the car security system salesman.  This movie DOES feature, in addition to Boggs from "Shawshank", Ken Lerner (Jerry Korman from "90210") and John Glover, star of a "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episode where he steals the Dax symbiont.

Robocop 2 Prototypes - The funniest sequence in the movie. In a desperate attempt to capitalize on the success of the Alex Murphy-model Robocop, Omni Consumer Products starts pumping out "more advanced" Robocops, fittingly titled... "Robocop 2."  Each one immediately malfunctions and shoots itself and/or pulls its own head off.

What better way to describe the Vikings?  If you had told me 2 years ago that Brett Favre's throwing TDs for the Vikings to Randy Moss, I also probably would've tried to rip the skin off my skull out of disbelief.  What a strange, unexpected mish-mash of talent on offense.  Although so far, the Moss experiment seems to be working, only because it frees Percy Harvin up for underneath routes and allows him to go back to returning kickoffs.  Still, I gotta admit, even I'D laugh if Favre ends up suspended for texting his junk to Twiggy McBolt-Ons.

Robocop 2 Final - Purely evil concoction bred to destroy, fueled by drugs and hatred.  That's easily the New York Jets, right?  Needless to say, I fully expect the Jets season to end by someone pulling their brain out and smashing it to mush against the pavement.

Little Kid Running Drug Ring - It's not often people should be surprised that the league's best rookie is the #1 overall pick, but isn't Sam Bradford's performance in St. Louis kind of stunning?  His best receivers have been Mark Clayton, Danny Amendola, Michael Hoomanawanui, Billy Bajema and Danario Alexander.  Who the hell are these guys?  When I saw "D. Alexander" on the crawl, I thought, "They called up Derrick Alexander??  There was NO ONE else available??"  If they trade for Vincent Jackson, they could win the division.  Not kidding, this is the NFC West we're talking about.

(And yes, yet another team has a legit, capable, likable young starting QB, and it's not the Vikings.  Sigh.)

Kinder, Gentler Robocop - Reprogramming Robocop to be a Kinder, Gentler Robocop turned out to be a disaster, as it only re-awoke certain aspects of Alex Murphy's dead brain (don't ask) and his fierce cop instincts bubbled to the surface.  He ended up trying to electrocute himself to end the pain.  I can't decide who that sounds like more, Packers fans or Cowboys fans.

You're Dallas.  You've had five 3rd and 1s so far and you've completed all five by handing it to Marion Barber.  You face 3rd and 1 again in a critical spot late in a tie game, deep in your own territory.  What do you do in this situation?  If you're Jason Garrett, the answer is "7 step drop, not even a playaction fake, throwing the ball over the middle where EJ Henderson can make an easy interception."  Seriously, THIS GUY was supposed to be the heir apparent in Dallas?

You're Green Bay.  You average about 394 penalties a week.  You have 80 billion injuries.  Your coach has a 13-18 record in games decided by 7 points or less.  Also, you're Green Bay, so you inherently suck.

If you see Packers or Cowboys fans today hanging from telephone poles trying to electrocute themselves, just leave them be, its for the best.

Introspective Robocop - The most likable (and the coolest looking) character in the movie reminds me of the most likable team this year, Miami.  If I were flakey enough to have a "2nd favorite team," it'd be the Dolphins.  They just have this understated quality about them.  They're well coached and they always play well on the road.  They have a quality young QB that gets better every week, legit skill position players and a boatload of "no-name" talent on defense.  Cameron Wake might be my favorite non-Viking (now that Moss is back in the fold.).  They're better than 3-2.  I loved watching them dismantle the Packers today and I'm really glad the Vikings don't face them again. 

Evil Scientist Lady - This picture sums up Evil Scientist Lady.  Her reaction in this screenshot is at a pivotal moment in the movie - what is her expression here?  Relieved?  Bored?  Nervous?  Gassy?  Sleepy?  It's impossible to tell, and her character is just as ambiguous the whole movie.  She misguidedly reprograms Robocop but has good intentions, she valiantly stands up to Evil CEO Guy and his lackeys, only to create the twisted Robocop 2 Final, but then she kinda sorta feels regret?  Maybe?  Even though she eggs the thing on to destroy half the city?  That's what the above shot is supposed to explain.  I have no idea.  Neither does she apparently.

That screenshot doubles as my expression trying to figure out what the hell is happening in the NFL.  Who's supposed to be good?  Who sucks?  Who's out of it?  Who shouldn't we count out?  Who the hell knows? 
If someone says they do, they're lying.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Your 2006 Minnesota Vikings!

Are we sure that's not a 1 in front of that 4 on the quarterback's jersey?  That's not Brad Johnson back there?   That wasn't Artose Pinner blowing blitz pickups?  Not Troy Williamson and Travis Taylor running crazy routes?

Wait, Jared Allen is white?  So, that's NOT Erasmus James that's totally invisible out there? Or Kenechi Udeze?  Could've fooled me.

Last night was pulled straight out of the 2006 Minnesota Vikings Greatest Hits Collection.  Where to start, where to start...

The first half was embarrassing.  A completely retarded gameplan - run Peterson to set up "manageable third downs," on which three receivers run 25 yard routes against 5 defensive backs while everyone else trying to protect the 41 year old corpse under center.  You're playing DIRECTLY into the Jets defense's hands doing this.

You know how when people get into their 80s and 90s, they get so senile that its like they revert back to childhood again?  Senile NFL quarterbacks work the same way and need to be handled as such.  We're at the point where Favre needs to be protected like a rookie, especially on the road.  This means: THROW ON FIRST DOWN, when the Jets are most expecting the run and have 4 linebackers on the field.  Short, high percentage completions to set up 2nd and short, when you're free to run any play in the book.  Miami did a fine job of this in the 2nd half against the Jets in Week 3 - Chad Henne threw on 9 out of 11 1st and 10s, and they moved the ball just fine.

The second half shed some joy, at least.  Moss got his deep bomb TD in classic fashion.  Harvin made an A+ catch in the back of the end zone.  But Favre at this point is like a 4 month old tube of toothpaste - you can see its flat, its empty, but its still there in your bathroom cabinet, and you still hope for some gold that might be settled in near the cap.  Sometimes its there, but most times its just an empty tube and you're too damn lazy to go buy more.  So you're stuck with what looks like Brad Johnson and grimy teeth.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ripping Brad, I'm pining for the days of #14 right now.  At least he didn't exasperate things with needless, useless, unwarranted drama about pictures of his gray wang and some twiggy shit-for-brains with bolt-ons.  Ugh.  I miss when the Vikings were just another team.  Hear this, though: I do not regret 2009.  I understand the terms of our deal with Satan.  We have to take the good with the bad.  This is just a gigantic version of Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell pouting their way off the 2005 Timberwolves after finally getting KG to the conference finals the year previous.

Part of me really wants the Vikings to totally tank the rest of the year and gun for Stanford's Andrew Luck or Arkansas's Ryan Mallet.  Hey, the shitty 2006 season led to drafting Adrian Peterson.  But then take a look at the rest of the NFC.  Atlanta's the clear #1 right now at 4-1 and playing well, but the 4-1 Bears are very clearly frauds.  Green Bay is banged up.  New Orleans is nowhere close to what they were last year.  The NFC East is a quagmire of wishy-washy teams that can't make up their mind if they're decent or lousy.  The NFC West is like Vietnam after Rambo First Blood Part 2.

And supposed NFC favorites Dallas are also 1-3, who are coming to town next week.  It's not over yet.  After yet another frustrating day, that's the most frustrating part of all.  This shitshow still has a chance.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is This Really Happening?

First, Bill Simmons accidentally tweets something in public that he meant to be a direct message to someone, presumably a Pats outsider. "Rumors swirling about a Pats-Minny trade for Randy Moss."

Initial reaction: Not this again. WTF would Simmons know? Why would the Pats get rid of him NOW? Why would they risk pissing off Tom Brady again when they've had a history of giving away his favorite targets? Makes no sense.

Then Mike Lombardi posts that there's some smoke here. It ends with, "but I know the Pats have not given Moss permission to talk a new deal with anyone." See, there ya go. No way the Vikings giving up draft picks for him AND sign him for next year or the next couple of years.

But it went to the next level when Jay Glazer, he of the next-to-impeccable record when it comes to breaking these things, says they are DEFINITELY talking trade.

Getting Glazer's blessing on this was like getting your dad's permission to spend all day at the arcade. In other words, I'm delirious, past the point of logical thinking, although in the back of my head I'm thinking, "If it's anything more than a 4, it's too much." Then I wake up this morning and find out the deal is done. Ho-lee shit.

(An incredibly boring story from my perspective, I know, and this probably makes for dull-as-dishwater reading, I know, but I'm maintaining this for continuity's sake when I read it a billion years from now when I want to know what happened during the 2010 season. In other words, I write for me! FOR ME!!)

Screw the negatives, I'm all in. I'm fully aware that I'm in Fanboi-Mode, and I'm fully aware that I may regret being so happy about this (it's still the Vikings after all), but it's Randy friggin Moss. 1998. 2007. Transcendent years. Difference maker. Game changer. RANDY MOSS.

Now, tackling the perceived negatives of this trade:

Attitude problems. Moss has openly always wanted to play with Favre, going back to 2006 when Favre begging the Packers to make a deal for him. Also, Moss is the biggest frontrunner ever. A few deep balls, a few touchdowns and a few wins will cure those woes.

Childress will screw it up. You mean like he screwed up last year's offense, which saw Favre have one of his best seasons ever, Peterson run for 1300+ yards and 18 TDs, Rice go for 1300+ yards and 8 TDs, and Harvin average almost 28 yards every kick return with 2 TDs? Not buying it. He'll stick to screwing up the clock and challenges, a la Andy Reid.

There's only one ball to go around. Ties into the attitude problems, but Peterson is a boy scout. Rice has wanted a contract extension but he's smart enough (or has a savvy enough agent) to keep it out of the public eye. (Haven't heard about it since August, for example. Even then it was only once.) Harvin is a trooper. This HELPS a lot more than anything for obvious reasons - one less guy in the box, Harvin will see less double teams, Shiancoe will own the middle, Berrian won't see the field, you get the idea.

A 3rd round pick is too much.

2010 - No pick (Traded up for Toby Gerhart)
2009 - Asher Allen (Decent nickel corner)
2008 - No pick (Traded for Jared Allen)
2007 - Marcus McCauley (Out of football)
2006 - No pick (Traded up for Tarvaris Jackson)
2005 - Dustin Fox (Loooong out of football)
2004 - Darrion Scott (Contributed a bit but now out of football)
2003 - Nate Burleson

You get the idea. You have to go back to 1987 when they took Henry Thomas in the 3rd to find a real impact player. The only other reason to be against giving up a 3 is that it gives them one less asset to trade up in the 2011 draft to get a legit QB of the future like Andrew Luck or Ryan Mallet.

This means Rice is behind schedule. Brought up by a commenter at the esteemed Big Lead blog. There's probably some truth to this, but if anything, it allows them to play it that much safer with him, and that's fine. Back on September 21, Rice originally targeted Week 8 against New England for his return. If they need to protect him an extra two weeks, so be it.

And yes, I still have my Moss jersey from 1998. You bet your ass I'm wearing it this Monday night.

Addendum: What about a new contract? Moss is 33, but has always hinted at early retirement, so it's tough to tell what kind of deal he wants, whether its just 2 extra years or more. If they do sign him after this year, you can kiss the younger and cheaper Sidney Rice goodbye. I'm inclined to think Moss is just a rental, and I'm totally fine with that.

No bye week? Really interesting point from's Don Banks -

"I just thought of one big loser in the Moss deal, and that's Moss's 33-year-old body. If everything goes as planned, Moss will wind up playing 17 games in the regular season, because the Vikings just took their bye in Week 4, and the Patriots are about to take theirs in Week 5. With Moss now in Minnesota, he'll wind up playing four games for New England and 13 for the Vikings."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Throwbacks: 1987 NFC Divisional Playoffs, Minnesota at San Francisco

No Vikings game this week? No problem.

Minnesota Vikings 5 Greatest Games DVD set just came out a couple weeks ago. Despite the disappointing lineup of games (2008 Week 17 vs. the Giants backups?? A Wildcard win against the Cowboys in '99?? Where's the MNF against GB in '98, dammit!! Where are the games from the 70s!!) there is one game in particular that makes this worth every cent... the 1987 Divisional Playoff upset over the 49ers, otherwise known as the Anthony Carter Game.

We're coming to you TAPED from drizzly, gray San Francisco with... NOT Pat Summerall and John Madden???


Dammit!! Ah well, as awesome as this game is, I can't complain too much. Theismann's annoying habits were merely in the embryonic stage, not in full bloom. And that guy has cool glasses.

Crowd is WAY into it early as the Vikings receive the kickoff, with Wade Wilson under center instead of the injured Two-Minute Tommy Kramer. (Both as complimentary and derogatory of a nickname as you could ask for.) The offense immediately throws down the gauntlet, with 1st down completions to Darrin Nelson and Anthony Carter, and Wade scrambling for 11 yards on a big 3rd down. They're at the San Fran 5 yard line in 11 plays. Very well done.

Bob Schnelker (the Vikes "much maligned" offensive coordinator, and that's putting it lightly) takes this opportunity to give DJ Dozier of all people his first handoff, for zero yards. Thanks for causing the Herschel Walker trade by sucking so badly, DJ. Wade then throws a LASER (well, for Wade) on 2nd down which is dropped by TE Carl Hilton. Jerry Burns is not happy.

On 3rd down, Wade throws it into the first row. "Here we go again with the Vikings in the red zone," says Tim Ryan. Ugh. Chuck Nelson makes it 3-0 while every Vikings fan at the time is moaning and groaning at the missed opportunity, rightfully so.

The idiot Niners kick returner bobbles the kickoff and gets tackled at the 5 by... Neal Guggemos!! One of my favorite football names ever.

Swing pass right to Roger Craig for -2 yards, incomplete deep to Jerry Rice into double coverage, HB dive to Craig for 3 yards. That's right, the mighty Niners offense goes 3 and out, and they're forced to punt from the back of the end zone. Hell yes. Vikings ball at the 50.

The Vikes respond by matching their 3 and out, punting to again put the Niners inside their own 5. At least they're winning the special teams battle so far. And seriously, just getting the play-by-play guy to introduce the Niners lineup on their 2nd possession is an accomplishment on its own. Montana even calls timeout on 2nd and 10 because he's too screwed up by the Vikings D.

But then a few Same Old Vikings moments: a 15 yard late hit penalty on LB David Howard (or if Summerall were calling this game, David HOWWWWW-ard) as Montana scrambles out of bounds on 3rd and 10. An easy 15 yard pass to Craig. 29 yards to John Taylor on 2nd and 15. Despite this, the Niners do not look crisp by any stretch, partly because of the dreary weather, partly because of the Vikings consistent pass rush and tight pass coverage. They only get a field goal to tie it at 3...

...only to be greeted by more Same Old Vikings moments as Wade is picked off on a tipped pass by Ronnie Lott, or rather Ronnie Lott's gigantic shoulder pads. Seriously, how the hell can he even move in those things?


But wait! It's called back on pass interference? That NEVER happens. Iffy call that could've went either way.

The drive continues - AC bails out Wade on a play by recognizing the pressure and breaking off his route (14 yard catch), and on another play makes a beautiful sideline catch for a 1st down. Two minutes into the 2nd quarter, AC now has 5 catches for 62 yards, and nobody in the Niners secondary can keep up with him. Smart game plan by the Vikings - balancing perfectly between runs (only getting them 3 yards a pop, but still) and short passes (8 completions so far) to dominate time of possession and keep the Niners offense off the field.

Wade makes some nifty moves and scrambles for 12 yards and a first down inside the Niners 6, immediately followed by.... a TOUCHDOWN!!

Quick pass to Hilton over the middle, making up for that drop earlier. That play was exactly like the old TE cross play that worked every single time in the original Madden game.


More evidence that this might be the Vikings day comes on the next Niners' drive - Rice makes a nifty catch for 17 yards, only to be called back on a tripping call. That results in a quick three and out as Montana is looking, dare I say, confused? He's had to check down a LOT, and on 3rd and long, he had all day to throw but nowhere to go.

(Should be noted that I'm getting very sick of Joe Theismann narrating every single detail in every replay - "There's the big hit and there goes the ball and there it goes out of bounds." Yes I can SEE that, you dolt.)

Play of the game comes on the next Vikings drive. 3rd and 10, AC runs a corner route down the left sideline, ball is underthrown, both AC and his guy get their hands on it at the same time, AC somehow grabs it off the tip and races another 40 yards to the Niners 10 yard line.

This sums it up so far:


What comes next is a sequence that no doubt broke several hundred remotes across Minnesota. Alfred Anderson for 2 yards, Allen Rice for 2 yards, Darrin Nelson for 2 yards. All straight up the middle. Nobody did ghastly playcalling like Bob Schnelker. Field goal, 13-3 Vikings, 8:30 to go in the 1st half.

Thankfully, the Vikings continue to dominate on defense. Craig for -2 yards, Montana forces one over the middle to Rice in a sea of Vikings (incomplete), and... picked off by Reggie Rutland! He's gonna go all the way!! It's 20-3 Vikings!!!

Hard to believe this really happened. Montana looks terrible, Vikings defense looks unstoppable. These are not the Same Old Vikings.


Ah, the old "What the hell do I do against these guys?" face. Niners go three and out again. The Vikings return the favor and punt as well, but Montana is forced to scramble out of bounds for a gain of 2, throw into double coverage incomplete to Rice, and get sacked by Chris Doleman. By the way, Jerry Rice: 0 catches for 0 yards.

Vikings punt again, going 2 yard Wade run, incomplete, incomplete, and... hey, check out who's looking in on the game!


Sadly, Jim McMahon appears to have rejuvenated the Niners, who after getting great field position off a crappy Bucky Scribner punt (another awesome name) execute their two-minute drill to perfection. Craig and Montana run wild with tons of space in front of them, and Rice is finally able to catch a pass at the Vikings 5.

But incredibly, inexplicably, momentum shifts back to the Vikings. Scott Studwell blitzes up the middle for a sack, Tom Rathman catches a pass for a measly 2 yards, and Craig lets a pass bounce off his hands. Not only that, but they miss the field goal! EVERYTHING is going the Vikings way. These aren't the Same Old Vikings. Awesome to watch. Your halftime stats breakdown:


So, every sane Vikings fan at this point knows that the Niners get the ball the start the 2nd half, and there's a 100% chance they march down the field and score. Only it doesn't happen this time. ANOTHER 3 and out. Montana is now 11 for 23 for 104 yards, 0 TDs and 1 pick, very Carson Palmer-esque. That's right, Wade Wilson is outdueling Joe Montana.

And of course, as soon as I type this, Wade is picked off by safety Jeff Fuller who brings it back 48 yards to make it 20-10. DAMMIT!! Wade totally stared down his receiver. Terrible. Same Old Vikings.

Wade now thankfully decides to keep it safe by getting the ball to AC, who hauls in a 15 yarder and takes a reverse 30 yards. This leads to a Hassan Jones fade route... TOUCHDOWN!! 27-10 Vikings! That drive was major, MAJOR. Any Niners momentum has evaporated, and the crowd, after starting out sounding raucous, is completely out of it.

Niners manage a first down but have to punt again. It's hard to tell what exactly the Vikings are doing in the secondary that's giving Montana so much trouble because of the limited camera work (remember, this is when having a "Reverse Angle" was still somewhat new), but they're doing just an awesome job. Joe Cool has taken at least three coverage sacks so far.

Vikes go three and out, and then the unthinkable happens - the Niners BENCH Joe Montana! Steve Young enters the game (to a huge reaction) and immediately makes an impact, throwing a rocket to Craig inside the Vikings 5. I'm going nuts wondering how much time is left, they REFUSE to show the clock. So frustrating. Young eventually scrambles into the end zone himself to make it 27-17. Holy crap was he fast. 4:01 left in the third. Tick tick tick...

So the lead's down to ten, Young has brought the crowd back into it, so what do the Vikings do? DEEP TO AC down the right sideline!! A spectacular leaping grab Tim McKyer for a gain of 44!

Put that on still-store, Cambot:


As you can see the coverage was right there, AC just went up and got it. Incredible, considering he's only 5'11" and 175 pounds, and he's making Larry Fitzgerald-type catches over All-Pro corners. And he just barely got his right foot in bounds.


That's right, eat it Jerry Rice.

After two clock killing runs and an incompletion, Chuck Nelson makes it 30-17. On the ensuing drive, Young rips off a 50 yard run down the left sideline as Theismann annoyingly rehashes the same point about Young's mobility OVER and OVER again. Shut UP already. Ugh. Thankfully, the Vikings D adjusts and keeps ends Doleman and Doug Martin back to contain, leading to two throw aways and an incompletion to Tom Rathman. On 4th and 10, Walsh opts to try a field goal from 48 yards (not even close), down 13 with just over 15 minutes to go, royally pissing off the crowd. Don't understand that one at all.

Vikings respond with what else, more AC, this time a 14 yard out, and a nifty screen pass to Allen Rice for a big gain followed by a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty. Leads to another Chuck Nelson try, this time from 46 yards... and he nails it!! Big game from him in these crappy conditions, 4 for 4 now. Tim Ryan calls him "a good mudder." Okay then.

Meanwhile, it starts to sink in. 12 minutes to go, 16 point lead. Three possessions. I'm guessing this is when the guard for a lot of fans went down. They could actually do this. Meanwhile, Theismann explains in the tone of someone who just discovered the Earth was round, "The 49ers actually have TWO opponents right now, the Vikings, and the clock!" Even Tim Ryan wants to cut his mic off.

The Niners roll downfield, eating up a lot of time in the process. Young nicks up his left foot, mercifully compromising his speed. Another great stat demonstrating the Vikings defensive brilliance:


The very next play, Carl Lee picks off an overthrown Young pass!

Fans are filing for the exits!! NFC favorites my ass! Vikings kill the clock with 3 runs and punt at 5:55 left in the game. A once every ten years upset in the making. In the 00s, it was 6 seed Pittsburgh beating the 1 seed and prohibitive favorite Colts in Indy. In the 90s, it was 6 seed Jacksonville beating the 1 seed and prohibitive favorite Broncos at Mile High. In the 80s, it was this game. Fuck yeah!

Fascinating tidbit here regarding the replacement players that had played the first 3 games of the '87 season. Remember, the Vikings scabs went 0-3 -


Young gets free from Keith Millard and finds TE John Frank at the 5, who runs it into the end zone. 33-24 with 3:42 left. Onside kick coming. Even though it's still a two possession game, every Vikings fan's heart is in his/her throat watching this at the time. And... Steve Jordan comes up with it! A Perfect onside recovery.

Another "oh God no" moment as Allen Rice fumbles but was ruled down. The anxiety never ends. Still, another HUUUGE break. Feels completely foreign to me.

Thankfully, the Vikings top it off with the perfect FU deep pass to who else, AC! 31 more yards down the right sideline.


Again, Jerry Rice has 2 catches for 20 yards.

Three clock killing runs (including DJ Dozier tripping over Wade Wilson's feet) bring it down to 28 seconds, and Nelson hits his 5th field goal to make it 36-24. The Vikings are high fiving on the sideline! CBS is rolling the credits! The stadium is half empty! Tim Ryan calls this "absolutely startling!" THIS IS AWESOME

Unfortunately, Jerry Rice does get one more catch for 11 yards, but still... shut DOWN. Your final score...


Final box score here. Not much else I can add to that. See? Bye weeks aren't so bad.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday Night Third-String QB: Total Recall, NFL Style

After watching Total Recall for the 497th time this weekend, I felt it would be apt to recast the movie with NFL teams based on how they've looked so far this season. If you haven't seen Total Recall, go! GO! NOW-UH! GET DIS PEOPLE DA AIR-UH!


Midget Hooker - The plucky, likable undersized/undermanned underdog in the movie has got to be the Kansas City Chiefs. Sure it's unlikely they'll sustain this run, but they took a machine gun to the Chargers (as fluke-tastic as it was) and the Browns, and then stabbed the fraudulent Niners in the groin earlier today.


Benny the Cab Driver - Speaking of the Niners, they fit the Benny role perfectly. He seems like an everyday good guy at first ("I've got fiiiiive kids to feed!") but - SPOILER ALERT - later reveals that he's been working with Cohaagen the entire time to ensure Quaid fulfills his task.

The theme is betrayal, and nobody fits that so far like the Niners, the supposed NFC West favorites (akin to being the most handsome mutant) whose main strength (their defense) has looked bottom 5 bad. Mike Singletary is looking more and more like the second coming of Mike Tice, a fine "players coach" who's a great soundbyte but is completely overmatched tactically and strategically.

I was tempted to go with the Cowboys here but they won today. Bennie's mutant arm even looks exactly like Jerry Jones' latest facelift.


See? It's uncanny.


Tony - The Pittsburgh Steelers have personified winning ugly throughout their team history, and nobody has ever been quite as ugly in cinematic history as the valiant Tony, who apparently has a weeks-old raw Grade F porterhouse steak glued to his face.

Here's the obligatory Dan Dierdorf-esque unqualified exaggerated statement brought to you by Rekall: I'm not so sure that Troy Polamalu isn't more valuable to their team than anyone else in the National Football League. (Translation: Polamalu should get MVP consideration this year if their defense keeps this up.) When he got hurt in Week 1 last year, their D wasn't close to being the same. They went 5-7 without him last year including a dreadful 5 game losing streak that effectively ended their season. Since he's healthy again, they're back to being a top 3 defense and Super Bowl contenders.


Kuato - Since Kuato reminds me of Al Davis (there's a 50/50 chance he's actually dead and there's a mutant being living in his torso that can read people's minds, right? That's not unreasonable), how about giving this to the Raiders for benching Jason Campbell and going with... Bruce Gradkowski?

It's worked wonders as the offense has been rejuvenated to the point that Darren McFailden is closer than ever to shedding his nickname and Zach Miller could become a household name. I know they lost, to Arizona no less, but I'm still on the Raiders bandwagon. Janikowski missed 3 field goals that game and they lose by 1, go figure. People are caught up on the Chiefs being 3-0, but don't sleep on the Raiders just yet.


Richter - One of the stupidest villains in action movie history meshes up well with one of the stupidest decisions made so far this year: Chargers GM AJ Smith not signing or trading Vincent Jackson. There were at least 3 throws up for grabs late in Seattle that he definitely would have come down with. Regardless of how many yards Phil Rivers throws up, the Chargers have no red zone targets if Gates can't shed his double-team. It's a shame because Jackson is a really fun player to watch, and his presence alone makes them a top 5 offense. Without him, they move the ball great between the 20s, but that's it. They're like the AFC version of Dallas.


Corpse Filled With Bullets Going Up Escalator - What better way to describe the Buffalo Bills? It's also worth noting that in a movie with at least 779 things that would never ever be allowed to be released today, this ranks as #1.


Chick With Three Tits - The New England Patriots defense has been the biggest random "WTF?" this season, giving up boatloads of yards to Carson Palmer's corpse in Week 1, letting Mark Sanchez look like... well, someone who's actually good in Week 2, and giving up 30 points to the waterlogged Bills in Week 3. I never thought a Bill Belichick defense could look this bad.

Apologies for passing on Rex Ryan, who's probably got three tits lurking underneath that XXXXL sweatshirt. Give him a break, he needs a goddamn snack.


Everett - One of my favorite villains ever, Gul Dukat from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is in this movie as Police Chief Everett. I just wanted to point this out, because Marc Alaimo is awesome and should've played Magneto in the X-Men movies.


Lori - I hate, HATE using the term "sexy" to describe something in sports, but the New York Jets were undoubtedly the 2010 Sexy Training Camp World Champions Presented by Axe Body Spray. Congratulations!

Meanwhile, there's actually a season to play, and they've alternated between looking abysmal and looking great, sometimes both at once. Their defense is still capable of being top 5, but Miami moved the ball at will tonight. And who the hell knows what they're getting from the offense from week to week? Of course it doesn't help that their guys can't help but get suspended every other day. Build a team on low-character guys, and you'll get low-character results. Imagine that!

But once Santonio Holmes comes back, that'll put a big bandaid over everything, right? Wait, who's throwing him the ball again? Rick Mirer 2.0? Oh yeah.

Also, Sharon Stone is off-the-charts hot in this movie. 10 out of 10. If I ranked every single awesome thing about this movie, all 9,498 of them, she would be in the top 3 easily.

Cohaagen - Who else but Bill Parcells, the NFL's original evil genius? He's made some "shady" (read: asshole-ish) moves in the past, openly ditching New England for New York despite contractual obligations, and screwing with the Bucs in 1992 on a "handshake deal" to become their next coach. But he's done a hell of a job with the Dolphins. (He's since gone as Team Executive VP but this team is his doing through and through)

Despite everyone constantly misspelling his last name, Tony Sparano was a great hire. They're built like an old school 80s team - start with the lines, go from there. And their o- and d-lines are as good as it gets this year. QB Chad Henne looks capable, especially when complimented with legit big play guys Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Brandon Marshall. The secondary is also a strength - Brett Favre described CB Vonte Davis as, "the best cornerback in the league nobody's heard of," and I have to agree with him. Parcells very quietly put together a potentially great team in Miami.


Hauser - Arnold spazzing out after having triggered "erased" memories as Hauser is one of my favorite Arnold scenes ever. "YOU BLEW MY COVAAAHHH! DEY'LL KILL YOU ALLLLL! GAAAHHRHREUHFAJHFAJHFDJHAF" There's only one spaz in the NFL who matches him expression for rubber-faced-expression, the only guy who pulls this routine practically every week: Philip Rivers. What a dork.


Quaid - The valiant superhero, solid as a rock, always reliable... has to be the Indianapolis Colts. Another year, another 12 wins, another deep playoff run. Even Colts fans have to be somewhat bored with it at this point.


Quaid's Exploding Head - Me, watching the Vikings offense. That might as well be Brad Johnson back there. Any semblance of last year's Brett Favre is long gone, Rice or no Rice. The only way the Vikings are making the playoffs are if Adrian Peterson wills them there, which is definitely not out of the question.

However, I'm ready to say this: the days of being a Super Bowl contender in the Childress Era are gone. We've seen his Perfect Storm. He's had enough time now to see his coaching ideals realized and collect the personnel reflect those ideals. We've seen his best, in other words. I can't help but shake the feeling that we're just treading water until we're bad enough for him to be fired, just like the Denny Green Era. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. I've seen this movie before.