Ahhhhhhhhhh, it's good to have football back, isn't it?
Yes, it was only the first pre-season game, and yes, it got sloppy when the third and fourth string guys were in, but football is back, and it was good to be able to watch it, even if it was on an Internet feed that was choppy and somewhat pixelated at times.
Either way, welcome back:
Your dreams were your ticket out.
To that same old place that you laughed about.
Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.
Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)
Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've hot him on the spot, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Your Texans SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
The First Rounders: Xavier Rhodes was held out as a precaution because he tweaked a hamstring earlier in the week, but Shariff Floyd and Cordarelle Patterson more than made up for it. They both look like the real deal, and Patterson seemed to be a much more polished pass catcher than scouting reports and stories from camp lead me to believe. His opening kickoff return was electric, and he flashed some serious playmaking potential. It's way too early to start chirping 'Percy Who?', but Patterson looks to be the real deal.
Michael Mauti: It was hard to watch most of the fourth quarter, but the only guy that really stood out consistently on the Vikings defense was Mauti. He made some solid plays, and looks like a textbook Mike linebacker. Because of the camera angles and terrible Internet picture, I never was able to spot him in pass coverage, but this kid looks like the real deal, too. His tackle on the goal line of Dennis Johnson was textbook, as he stood the runner up and stopped him cold, then drove him backwards for no gain. LOVED that play. Loved. It.
Special Teams: Blair Walsh was money. P Jeff Locke pinned the Texans inside their 10 twice, and boomed his other punts. Cordarelle Patterson had a great kickoff return, and the coverage units looked good. If this kind of play is to be the norm, special teams will win a game or two for the Vikings in 2013.
The New Uniforms: I love the new uniforms. Love. Them.
The Quarterback Situation: This is not a defense of Christian Ponder, nor is it a demand to start Matt Cassel. This is, however, a big thumbs up to the Vikings quarterback depth compared to this time last year. If Ponder falters, I think the Vikings will be in capable hands with Matt Cassel. I'm not saying that either of these guys will light up the NFL, but I am saying that we probably won't see games of under 100 passing yards again. In retrospect, it seems apparent that the Vikings didn't play Webb when Ponder slumped last year because they knew he would do what he did in the playoffs. I am confident that if Ponder falters in 2013, the Vikings won't hesitate to pull him for Cassel. As they should. But I hope they won't have to.
Stephen Burton, WR: Burton's spin and run that turned into a 65 yard reception on 3rd and 15 was a big time move, and something he hasn't really flashed a lot in his time in Minnesota. With so few spots open, things like that could be the difference in whether or not a guy makes a roster or doesn't.
Gerald Hodges, LB: Hodges made some plays on defense with the third team, but he wasn't as consistent as Mauti seemed to be. Still, I thought overall it was a nice evening for him.
Zack Line, RB: That 61 yard TD reception was almost all individual effort the last 10 or 15 yards, because you can't stop Zack Line, YOU CAN ONLY HOPE TO CONTAIN HIM. Is he the 2013 Audie Cole? Time will only tell, but plays like that only help a guy.
Travis Bond, G: He got owned on the Vikings first FG drive, three times by my count. Man, not very good.
DeMarcus Love, T: Speaking of putting your name out there but not in a good way, it's been a rough 2013 for Love so far. First came the announcement that he was being suspended four games for PED use, and then he had a holding penalty that cost the Vikings a decent gain in the second half. It's like he's trying to get cut.
James Vandenberg, QB: In 2009, as a freshman at the University of Iowa, Vandenberg made his first start against Ohio State, in Columbus, with the Big Ten title on the line. He damn near pulled off the upset with one hell of a game, and I thought he was going to be an NFL quarterback someday. He is not, in fact, going to be an NFL quarterback. I was wrong.
Buy: Bobby Felder's goal line pass defense. In the third quarter, Felder had two straight pass break ups down on the goal line, and it forced the Texans to kick a field goal.
Sell: Bobby Felder's pass defense the rest of the game. He gave up a TD to DeAndre Hopkins on a pass he was in position to break up, and on said field goal drive, he was primarily responsible for the Texans getting into a first and goal situation.
Buy: Bradley Randle. Although Line had the big TD catch, Randle played well, and had an all around better game. He ran with confidence, and looked better in blitz pickup than Adrian Peterson ever has. Just sayin'...
Sell: The sloppy play in the second half. The good news is that the Vikings seem to have decent depth two deep at most positions. The bad news is that other than Mauti and Hodges, the three deep sucks balls. WOO WAIVER WIRE!!
Buy: Matt Cassel's play. Overall, a good job. His numbers were 12/19, 212 yards, 1/1, and he made some very nice throws, both downfield and checking down.
Sell: The Interceptions. Can't have 'em. The Vikings were very good at not turning the ball over last season, and if the Vikes are going to make another playoff run they'll need to win the turnover battle, plain and simple.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
Me: Dad, you want to come over and watch the game on my computer?
Dad: Oh, God no. My eyesight is terrible. I'd probably get a headache while going blind watching future insurance salesmen on your damn computer screen. I'll watch it Sunday.
You see my friends, Don Glover has no use for 'computers', 'the Internet', and 'Live streaming', thank you very much. He will watch the game on Sunday afternoon at my house when he comes over for dinner, after I DVR it Saturday night.
Overall, I can't say I was disappointed in what I saw from the first and second string guys, regardless of the final score. Both Cassel and Ponder threw a pick, and fairly bad ones at that, and that stuff needs to be cleaned up, and we didn't see a lot of regulars, like Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, but for the most part, the rookie class played very well.
There's a lot to build on, but a lot of positives to take away from this game. The most important one being is that no one got seriously hurt, and we move onward an upward for next week.
SKOL, and welcome back, football.