Like many of you on Monday night, I spent much of the second half screaming at my television for the Vikings to NOT punt the damn ball to Reggie Bush. The Saints were basically doing nothing offensively in the second half, and there was no logical reason for the Vikings to keep kicking the ball to the one guy that could have made a huge difference.
But whenever Chris Kluwe punted the ball away, it kept landing in the hands of Reggie Bush, and giving him plenty of room to work with to boot. Reggie Bush had five punt return opportunites in the second half on Monday night. His average was a cool 35.2 yards a crack. . .more impressive given the fact that one of those five punt returns was a two-yard loss. So why the heck did the ball keep landing in Bush's hands?
Apparently it was because Chris Kluwe wasn't doing his job.
In his Tuesday press conference, Brad Childress threw Kluwe under the nearest speeding Greyhound by telling the media that he had told Kluwe to punt the ball out of bounds on those occasions. Now, I know that Kluwe has had some issues with directional punting, but for him to be unable to place a single punt out of bounds in five opportunities to do so (or at least two opportunities, because after the first TD, there's no way Bush should have gotten the ball again) seems a bit strange to me.
Whether it was Kluwe's fault or not, though, I still really don't like the way he handled the situation. Public ridicule of one of your players, even if it IS "only the punter," isn't the way to get things accomplished. Praise your players publicly, but admonish them in private. Keep any potential dirty laundry in-house.
I'm still not a huge Childress fan at this point, and stuff like this is a big part of the reason why. Whether he told Kluwe to punt out of bounds or not is something that only the team should know. Now we all know it, and it's just another thing that could potentially open up a rift.
Looking ahead to next week's contest. . .and I hope you're sitting down when you read this. . .depending on what sportsbook you're looking at (for informational purposes only, of course), the Beloved Purple have been installed as a 13.5 to 14 point favorite over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Yes, this Viking team is expected to beat an opponent by two touchdowns.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that the Lions have been nothing short of completely dreadful this season. In the first halves of their games this year, they've been outscored 80-20. . .and 14 of those points came in the season opener in Atlanta after they had gone down 21-0. They're in the bottom 4 in the NFL in every major defensive category (31st in points allowed, 32nd in yards allowed, 29th against the pass, 30th against the run). They haven't won at the Metrodome since 1997, and have only beaten the Vikings once in the last 12 meetings. . .last year's 20-17 disaster at Ford Field. The Vikings later went on to avenge that loss in a big way, thumping the Lions 42-10 in Minneapolis.
All of those numbers. . .and, yet, I feel a bit uneasy with this team being a two-touchdown favorite over anybody. It's a division game, and there are few teams with a history of playing down to the level of their opponent that rivals Minnesota's. I think we can win the football game, and I'd LOVE to see a blowout, but I'm skeptical of it actually happening.
And, finally, from the "Who Comes Up With This Stuff" department, the good folks from the Elias Sports Bureau, per Access Vikings, tell us that Monday night's game was the first game in NFL history that featured two punt returns for touchdowns (both courtesy of Reggie Bush), a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown (Fred Evans/Antoine Winfield), a touchdown pass by a non-quarterback (Chester Taylor to Visanthe Shiancoe), and two field goals of more than 50 yards (one each for Martin Gramatica and Ryan Longwell).
Someone needs to pay me to come up with this sort of stuff. Well, I guess, in a way, they already do. . .but even I probably wouldn't have been able to come up with that.