I've started this story three or four times now, and I just don't know where to take this. I feel kind of rudderless, like the football team that I cheer for, to be quite honest. There is no starting quarterback, no permanent head coach; hell, there's no stadium to play in right now. This loss exposed this team to the bone, and as I type this, there are far more questions than there are answers.
As I watch Brett Favre's post game presser, it feels more like a goodbye than a 'what just happened' or a 'what's going to happen next week' kind of thing. Not a retirement, but goodbye. It's over. No, really. Finally, it's done. And it's time.
And I'm sad, in many ways. I'm going to miss Brett Favre, but that's not why I'm bummed out.
This loss was the ignominious 'thud' to a 2010 season that has been one of the weirdest, craziest, and flat out whacky seasons in the Vikings 50 year history. It was not supposed to be this way, but it is what it is. But in another sense, it has given us a glimpse into what the near future holds, and unless the Vikings can make some rather dramatic personnel changes in a single off-season, the future looks pretty uninspiring.
I really thought that this would be a once in a lifetime season. Ironically, it has been, just not in the way I envisioned when training camp began:
You may ask yourself: How did I get here? Same as it ever was. SMR, after the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Brett Favre, QB. 297 consecutive NFL starts. Let that sink in for a minute, and then tip your cap. Favre, love him or hate him, has had a career we won't see again in our lifetime, more than likely. Bad shoulder, broken thumb, tendinitis, broken ankle, Dad dying, leg amputation*, it didn't matter. Brett Favre starting in the National Football League every Sunday since the tail end of the first George Bush administration is a remarkable achievement, and it was fun to be emotionally invested in it, in some way, for almost his entire career.
Brett Favre will mostly be remembered as a Green Bay Packer, and he should be. But we can say that his finest season in the NFL was while he was wearing Purple and Gold. From the bottom of my heart, Brett, thank you. Thanks for being a warrior, thanks for busting your ass for the Vikings, thanks for trying to get us to the Promised Land. We got a lot closer than we would have if you hadn't come here, and my Dad and I thank you for the effort.
*Didn't really happen, just seems like it.
Chris Kluwe, P. If your punter is the headliner of guys that actually played, it was a rough night. Kluwe, which is Aramaic for bad ass punter, was money once again. Booming punts, 10 of them (Jesus, 10 punts!!) pinning the Giants deep all night, just a phenomenal performance all the way around.
Lorenzo Booker, RB/KR. For a guy that was playing in the UFL a few weeks ago, Booker's performance was pretty impressive. Well, his special teams play was impressive. It was really the only--and I mean only--highlight of the second half, so it couldn't help but stand out. I don't know if it's impressive or damning that a RB from the UFL can come in and so quickly make an impact on an NFL roster that has Adrian Peterson on it.
Greg Camarillo, PR. Man, that 57 yard punt return was fun, wasn't it? I mentioned in the game thread that I really like Camarillo as a punt returner. He's not fast, but he fields the ball and immediately goes north-south and gets 5-10 yards. Not spectacular, but real solid. So of course, he fields a punt, goes north, then east, then west, then south, breaks a tackle, sends a couple of texts, does a pirouette, and then heads north. 57 yards later the Vikings are in business. Spectacular. I'd like to see Camarillo in purple next year. He's one of those blue collar guys that you just love to cheer for. I'd love to cheer for him next year.
Joe Webb, The Greatest QB to Never Play A Full Game. Yes, as is the custom among many fanbases, third stringer Joe Webb has been anointed as the next Chosen One based on a few pre-season runs...and on the general terrible play of Tarvaris Jackson. I don't know that Joe Webb is going to be great or if he's going to suck, but Webb had absolutely no fear on his first throw--deep sideline ball to Sidney Rice that Rice should've caught. I'd like to think he provided a spark, but maybe he just showed a pulse, which is more than Jackson did. Hell, start him. What do the Vikings have to lose at this point?
Special Teams Coverage: Punt coverage, kick coverage, it didn't matter--it was solid all night long.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB. I have been a guy who has given Tarvaris Jackson the benefit of the doubt, but no more. Yes, I was in the 'since the Vikings aren't going to the playoffs let's give TJ a chance' camp, and I got my way. He's been given a chance, and Jackson is what he is---not a very good quarterback, and a guy that can't carry a team. He's had a rough go of it from the moment he got drafted, but every time TJ has been given an opportunity to seize the reins as the starting QB, he has fallen off the horse. Spectacularly. Tonight was no exception, and in many ways this was the perfect opportunity for him. It was a neutral site game, so the crowd wouldn't be an influence either way. He had a healthy Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson, and still couldn't get it done. Hell, he coudn't even get it started. With Jackson running the offense, the Minnesota Vikings looked like they were anywhere from day three of training camp to halway through the second pre-season game.
For those of you that will throw out excuses like the line sucked, or there was no running game, or whatever, I say tough. In 2009, the o-line was mediocre, the running game disappeared for quarters at a time, and Favre was able to overcome it. Heck, even this year Favre--at 41 years old--was able to keep the Vikings in the game with the same conditions and standards that were presented to TJ tonight. there was nothing in his game tonight--nothing--that gives me confidence in his ability to lead this football team. It is time to move on.
The Offensive Line. Even Adrian Peterson can't make things happen with the defensive line in the backfield as soon as he got the handoff. The interior of the line was especially putrid, as Chris DeGeare, John Sullivan, and Ryan Cook were as effective in stopping the Giants interior line as the Maginot Line was in keeping the Germans out of France in 1940. What's amazing is that the Vikings didn't try more rollouts, or draw plays, or screens. Hell, it was just a terrible performance.
The Run Defense. About midway through the third quarter, I really thought I was watching a B-level horror movie. It was like Saw IX, with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw just running at will over the Vikings. I can't remember the last time that both the Vikings offensive and defensive lines just flat out got their ass kicked on both sides of the ball all game long. Other than Kevin Williams, who had several tackles for loss, both sides of the ball got their asses handed to them from about midway through the first quarter on.
Asher Allen falls to his knees after getting beat deep. Madieu WIlliams is on the bike in the
background, and he was still late getting over to help. Brett Favre lights a smoke and laughs.
Asher Allen, CB. Allegedly. Allen was a comedic train wreck, wasn't he? Nice pick in the first quarter, but apparently Allen went in to the 'rest on my laurels' defense after that, because he got burned from that point on. Had Eli Manning not overthrown a WIDE open Hakeem Nicks it would've been 28-3. Allen can't cover, he can't play run support, so this year that makes him the PERFECT CB for the Vikings, save for Antoine Winfield.
The Metrodome. A 30 year disaster deflates. Can we just set that building on fire? Die, Metrodome, die.
Buy: Playing at TCF Bank Stadium. For the celebration of the 50th Anniversary Team, I think it would be appropriate to play outside, in the elements, wearing the throwback uniforms. With Fran Tarkenton as the starter for the real team. Just sayin'...
Sell: Playing Another 'Home' Game outside of Minneapolis. I hate the 'Dome, but I'd much rather they play there than Detroit again. Or St. Louis, or Indy.
Buy: Sidney Rice. Sid had a pretty good game. It's just too bad it was overshadowed by the other 10 guys playing like ass.
Sell: TJ's Knee Running Into AP's Knee. When I was stationed in Korea, I bought some cheap, Japanese bushido swords. When I saw that happen, I almost felt like committing ritual hari kari. And I would've done it with a rusty butter knife.
Buy: Nothing Else. It was that bad.
Sell: Just About Everything Else. Seriously, for one night, the Vikings really, really sucked. If you taped the game, don't watch it. I beg you.
Well, the Vikings have been officially eliminated, yet we have three games left, with a Monday Night game at home...maybe...against Chicago up next.
Well, not much else to say. Does anyone here remember the show Dallas? It was a night time drama on CBS back in the 1980's, and there was this one episode where Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) was unexpectedly killed at the end of the season. Fans of the show were up in arms and demanded that something be done, so for the next season premiere the first episode was nothing but his wife 'dreaming' that he was killed, and it never happened. The whole previous season...POOF! Gone!
Can we do that here? No?