The road portion of the 2010 pre-season has concluded, and thankfully not a moment too soon. The level of competition was noticeably improved, and the level of play noticeably dropped. Consequently, the Stock Market took a tumble, and it’s going to be hard to find some blue chips this week. But a good investor knows what to look for in a bear market, and I’ll give a couple of good tips. But for the most part, once the game concluded…on a safety, all I could do was channel my inner Private
Hicks Hudson of the United States Colonial Marines to encapsulate my feelings about that game, and pre-season in general (If you are at work, in church, at a Cusser's Anonymous Meeting, or are offended by adults using adult words, For The Love of All That Is Good, Right, and Holy, DO NOT CLICK THE LINK):
Stock Market Report, after the jump.
BLUE CHIP STOCKS:
EJ Henderson. Had this been any other pre-season game, and had this performance been from any other player, it would have been a fairly pedestrian night. But it wasn’t, because it was the return of EJ Henderson, emotional defensive leader for the Vikings. He had a couple of tackles, and he looked pretty damn good back in the middle of the defense. One thing I noticed is that there seemed to be no hesitancy and no shying away from contact. His tackles weren’t arm grabs or a pile-on at the end of the play. They were head up, shoulders squared, laying the wood tackles. It looked, for the limited time he was in, that there were no ill effects from his injury. Easily the highlight of the night.
Defensive Depth. So far, the 2010 defensive unit looks to be solid at just about every position two deep. Now, I’m not saying that the second team could play well for extended periods against an opponent’s first team week in and week out, but I am saying that the depth on defense causes me no worries. There seem to be answers to our questions about the secondary, and although the Vikings will have to cut several defensive linemen, I think all of them will land on an NFL roster.
Brett Favre, QB. His only series was inauspicious, much like his pre-season debut against Kansas City last year. It doesn’t matter. There were a lot of stories about Favre not respecting Childress, his commitment to playing, blah blah blah. Those questions were answered—emphatically—during an interview broadcast at halftime, where it was revealed the Vikings had a team meeting where that issue was addressed and put to bed. As to whether or not Favre needed to be in training camp practicing, I asked NBA great Allen Iverson how he felt about practice. He said:
Still one of my all time favorite clips.
Chris Cook, CB. His play continues to impress me, and even though it’s pre-season, he looks and feels like a guy that can be good in this league for a long time. He is tall enough to match up against guys like Calvin Johnson, broke up a couple of passes, and scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown, although it was called back on replay. The early returns on him are good, and it looks like he might be pushing for a starting job. I mean, when your primary competition to replace an injured Cedric Griffin (Lito Sheppard) gets burned by Ted Ginn and the third string QB, you look better in the eyes of the coaches.
Joe Webb, QB. All the hoopla about Favre aside, Webb was the best quarterback on the field last night. Favre only had four plays, Tarvaris Jackson was okay, but played conservatively, and Sage Rosenfels was as bad last night as he was good last week. The athleticism of Webb just jumps out, and he really carries himself confidently. His late touchdown run was impressive, but he still has a lot of work to do as a passer. And for a 6th round pick, that’s okay. Oh, and I give Rodney Harrison the ‘Dumb Comment of the Night’ Award when he mentioned that if Webb really has a desire to make the team he’ll volunteer to be a wedge buster on the kickoff team. It’s comments like that that make me miss Howard Cosell.
Viking Wide Receivers Not Named Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, or Bernard Berrian. Uh, they looked good in their uniforms, I guess. Take out Berrian’s 1 catch for 10 yards, and the wide receivers had five catches for 25 yards. TE Garrett Mills had one catch for 15 yards all by himself. I sincerely hope that Percy Harvin finds something to help him cope with his migraines, and if it needs to be away from football for him to do that, then I will wish the man well and hope he has a great life. But if Harvin is out indefinitely, and Sidney Rice can’t play because of his hip, what is left isn’t very inspiring. They can’t get separation, and they’re not big enough to go get a football if it’s just chucked up there. Bernard Berrian is the only threat, much like 2008. Let’s put it this way. If I can talk myself into Javon Walker as a good signing, the backup WR’s are a serious issue going forward.
The Entire Offensive Line. Well, that was monstrously craptastical, wasn’t it? I’m the first one in line to say pre-season results don’t mean a hill of beans, and I still believe that. But what pre-season IS good for is to see what kind of depth you might have at certain positions. I still don’t think the offensive line was as bad as everyone else thought last season. There was most certainly a drop off from 2008, but they were still okay, considering they had injuries and experience issues, along with super sub Artis Hicks. Let’s go left to right on the line and do a quick review:
Bryant McKinnie: STILL can’t handle an outside speed rusher.
Hutch: Still a road grader
Sullivan: Did not play. His replacement was terrible.
Herrera: Terrible, at guard and center
Loadholt: A big pile of meh
Backups: Freaking horrid. I know the Vikings were trying to see if guys like Herrera could play multiple positions, and that’s fine. But let’s pull the plug on Anthony Herrera at center, along with the Jon Cooper era. Chris DeGeare looks like a rookie, and Ryan Cook, who was a center in college, looks like he’ll be the top backup at tackle. No one has stepped up to claim the top backup spot, and Cook’s career has been mostly underwhelming. He was serviceable as a right tackle, but would be my last option as a backup left tackle. Oh, and let’s not get into the ‘well, we can move this guy from guard to center, the center over to left tackle, and the left tackle over to the right side’, because that NEVER works. Once the season starts, Sullivan will play, and the line play will be no worse than last year. I will be petrified if somebody gets hurt, because this line could resemble the Packers line from last season if one or two guys go down.
Sage Rosenfels, QB. What a difference a week makes, huh? Rosie looked tentative, indecisive, and inaccurate. I think some of it had to do with the lack of ability from the backup receivers, but Rosenfels didn’t do himself any favors, either. With Joe Webb ‘putting it on tape’, as they say, I thought Rosenfels was the odd man out at QB this year. His pre-season playing time seemed to be an audition for other teams to see if he could generate trade interest, but after last week I thought he might make the cut. No more. There’s no way Webb gets cut and then re-claimed for the practice squad, as I feel he’ll be claimed by someone, and Rosie just doesn’t have any trade value at this point, unless a team needs a vet as injury insurance.
Buy: Jasper Brinkley, LB. Brinkley was put in an unenviable position following Henderson’s injury last year, and he did well, for the most part. He continues to play well this pre-season, and seems surer of himself and what he is doing. Henderson’s return is important to the Vikings defense, but Brinkley adds even more depth to a talent rich defense, and if he has to spell Henderson, the drop off won’t be as significant as it was last year.
Buy: Jamarca Sanford, S. When training camp opened, this didn’t appear to be a job where the incumbent was in jeopardy. That has changed with Jamarca Sanford getting the nod to start over Tyrell Johnson last night. Tyrell Johnson had the hit of the pre-season last night, but it was well into the second half, when reserves and Albert Haynseworth are on the field Seriously, can we put the ‘let’s trade for him’ talk that was rampant in the off season to bed now? Sanford looks like he has gone out and taken the starting job, with Johnson as the primary backup.
Sell: Albert Young as a Kick Returner. Watching Albert Young run through quicksand once he fielded a kick made me long for a speedy return of Percy Harvin. Man, was he slow. Having somebody, anybody, other than Harvin return kicks makes you realize how valuable he is in that role. Darius Reynaud looked good as a punt returner, but kickoff return is a black hole without #12. Get well soon, Percy.
Sell: Adrian Peterson, Pass Protector. Adrian Peterson the running back is a ferocious beast who would make Chuck Norris piddle himself. Adrian Peterson the pass protector/blitz pick up guy better figure it out soon or he will make Viking fans piddle themselves with fear all season long. One the first offensive series 49ers LB Patrick Willis broke through on an inside blitz, and Peterson was as effective as the Iraqi Republican Guard in stopping the breakthrough. Peterson has to make that block, and he knows he does. But can he do it as consistently as Chester Taylor did? We’ll see.
Again, I don’t want everyone to over-react too much. A loss is never fun to watch, especially in the brutally boring fashion we saw last night. It’s still the pre-season, and none of these are major concerns yet. Well, the depth along the o-line is, and I think it might be time to look and see who can be brought in, but that’s just me. The third pre-season game is essentially the dress rehearsal, so we’ll know where this team stands next Sunday morning than we do now, and although I see a lot of good things, there are definitely things that can be worked on.