Grab a beverage. . .this one might get a little long.
And move the kids away from the computer. . .if I may go third person for a bit, Gonzo's going to be working a little blue this evening.
WHAT WAS GOOD
Tarvaris Jackson - Yeah, the numbers don't show a hell of a lot. But anyone with an objective eye that saw this kid last night saw exactly what sort of potential he has.
There is no possible way that you can put the lousy performance of the offense last night on the shoulders of #7. No way at all. The kid was under duress all night long, and was attempting to make things happen despite getting little to no help at all from the coaches or most of his teammates. The odds were fairly well stacked against him in this one anyway. . .but after the "game plan" was revealed, he really had no shot.
Antoine Winfield - The best cornerback in the National Football League. Period. I'll never get how this guy keeps not making the Pro Bowl (even though he's an alternate this year). Yeah, he's small. . .yeah, he gets beaten sometimes. . .hell, all CBs get beaten sometimes. But the man is, pound-for-pound, the best tackler in the NFL, and he holds that title by a wide margin. And he's pretty damn good in coverage, too.
The line for #26 from last night. . .7 solo tackles, 1 assist, 4 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 special teams tackle where he absolutely annhiliated Vernand Morencey. Quite frankly, he was the best player on the field for either team last night.
(You want to try to argue for Aaron Kampman? Fuck you AND your Aaron Kampman.)
The run defense - Yes, Ahman Green sucks and is virtually worthless. But holding him to 42 yards on 18 carries, and the entire Green Bay team to 46 yards on 24 carries, is still nice. Now, as long as the Vikings don't give up more than 153 yards on the ground against St. Louis this weekend, they'll end up being the second-best rushing defense of all time (behind only the 1942 Bears), and the best since the AFL-NFL merger took place. They do play a pretty impressive running back in Week 17 in St. Louis' Steven Jackson. . .but the Rams also have an even MORE impressive passing game, led my Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce.
The pass defense - Yes, Favre Almighty threw for 285 yards. It took him 50 pass attempts to get those 285 yards, and he barely completed 50% of those throws. He also threw two patented Favre picks, one to Darren Sharper that #42 should have called for a fair catch on, and another one to a wide open Fred Smoot that went back 47 yards for the game's only touchdown. His rating for the evening was a robust 52.5.
There are lots of losses this season that we can blame directly on the Vikings' pass defense. This one, folks, is not one of them.
You're wondering where all the "blue" work I promised earlier is? You've found it.
WHAT WAS BAD
Brad Childress - You know, I've never had to design an NFL gameplan. Let me just make that qualifier right up front. Having said that. . .what in the FUCK was up with the gameplan last night!?
You've got a rookie quarterback that stands 6'1", weighs 235 pounds, and possesses an outstanding arm and very good mobility. He's replacing a quarterback with basically zero arm strength that gets pigeons landing on him when he drops back to pass. To say there's a drastic difference between these two quarterbacks is a pretty severe understatement. With that in mind. . .
WHY IN THE BLUE HELL WOULD YOU DO EXACTLY THE SAME THING WITH BOTH OF THESE QUARTERBACKS!?
How many designed rollouts did we see last night? One? MAYBE two?
How many called quarterback runs did we see last night? There weren't any that I remember seeing.
Brad Childress managed to take a quarterback with fresh legs and undeniable physical skills. . .and turned him into Brad Johnson. Not in some "reverse Al Jolson" way, either. He turned him into an immobile quarterback that doesn't try to throw a pass more than 2 or 3 yards at a time.
Brad Childress, not Tarvaris Jackson, is the reason this offense sucked last night. And Brad Childress, not Tarvaris Jackson. . .hell, maybe not even Brad Johnson. . .is the reason this offense has sucked all year long.
(Nah, never mind. . .Brad Johnson still sucks.)
If you're going to put someone like Tarvaris Jackson in to quarterback your team, you're probably going to have to go deeper than page #3 of your playbook. I don't know how many times Childress has flipped past that page all year. I'm sure you'd probably be able to count them on one hand.
Troy Williamson - Troy. . .buddy. . .pal. . .last week in this space, I bragged you up a little bit. I saw you make some pretty good catches against the Jets, and I thought you might be starting to turn the corner. I thought you looked like a different player with Mr. Jackson throwing your way than you did with Mr. Johnson at QB. Then came last night's game.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TRY CATCHING THE BALL WHEN YOU'RE OPEN BY THREE FUCKING STEPS!!
Tarvaris Jackson hit Troy Williamson last night with a nearly perfect pass. Williamson had left Al Harris in his wake, and had a clear path to the end zone had he only caught the football. But, as per usual, the ball bounced not off his hands, but off his shoulder pads, and fell harmlessly to the turf.
Frankly, that one play completely changed the complexion of the game. If the pass is caught, Williamson probably coasts into the end zone, #7's confidence level goes through the roof, the Vikings jump out to an early lead, and we're looking at an entirely different ball game. Instead, it was another drop for Troy Williamson, and. . .well, you saw what happened.
The rest of the offense in general - Second verse, same as the first. . .don't block anybody, don't catch the football, don't make big plays. . .wash, rinse, repeat.
The NFL Network - To call the NFL Network's broadcast last night "amateurish" would be incredibly insulting to amateurs everywhere. Seriously, your average junior high A/V club could probably cobble together something better than what we saw last night.
First of all, I'd like to make a small request to the NFLN folks. The next time you televise a Packer game on your network, do you think you could man the booth and the pre- and post-game shows with people that can detach their lips from Brett Favre's penis long enough to actually talk about football? I mean, come on. . .unless you assholes are on the Green Bay payroll (and, frankly, if it came to light that you were, I wouldn't be the least bit shocked), everyone involved with the broadcast needs to pull their heads out far enough to realize that there are two teams on the football field for every NFL game.
But that's not the impression that we got from this pathetic broadcast. Nope. . .to hear these idiots talk, it was just going to be the Packers scrimmaging against themselves for three hours, and being given credit for a victory when it was finished. Hell, everyone's favorite overrated, prima donna quarterback even felt compelled to come over to the broadcast booth during the pre-game show to grace America with his presence again. Think any of the assholes in the booth would have reacted the same way had a member of the Vikings come over to shake hands? Hell no.
That's why it's going to be so great when Favre finally retires. . .not because he's so great against the Vikings, because he isn't (and never has been, and never will be). . .but because all of these assholes might actually have to talk about FOOTBALL during a FOOTBALL GAME. And 90+% of them probably won't have a damn idea how to go about doing that.
And then we get to the actual game, and a pair of guys in the booth that have no clue. Gumbel managed to get the right down and distance approximately 1/2 of the time. . .this isn't a good ratio for a play-by-play man. And if Collinsworth had been cheering any harder for the Packers, we would have had a cut to the booth and seen him with a gold and yellow jersey on. They weren't quite as big a joke as the pre- and post-game shows, but they were in the running for that title.
After that, it was made obvious that they were surrounded by people that were equally clueless. The Vikings burned an early timeout, and didn't call any after that for a while. . .but anyone that was paying any attention knew that the Vikings still had 2 timeouts remaining. So, when the Vikings called their second time out, the following naturally appeared on the screen:
Timeouts: Vikings 0, Packers 3
Counting backwards from 3 is a fairly fundamental undertaking. I wonder if I could get a job at the NFL Network if I threw together a resume and included my magical ability to do that. Well. . .magical compared to the people that are currently employed there, at least.
Thus far, of all the games I've seen on the NFL Network, the only announcer they have that's worth a damn is Dick Vermeil, and he unfortunately had to leave the last game he was broadcasting with laryngitis. The quality of the broadcast took a dive straight into the toilet after that.
So, basically, when the NFL Network isn't showing live games, they're great. During those 3 hours on Thursday and Saturday nights, however, they're pretty terrible. And if they're showing a Packer game. . .well, here's a little trick I learned.
-1 Go to The Game Live and find a working audio link to your favorite team's hometown play-by-play guys.
-2 Take your Tivo, hit the pause button on the game, and count to 7.
--(If you don't have a Tivo. . .you really, really should have a Tivo.)
-3 Unpause the game. The delay between the audio you're getting through your computer and the action on the field should be gone.
This will save you the frustration of listening to the chimps on the NFL Network.
And, with that, I leave you for this evening. Have a good one, folks!