Hi guys. I have to admit, this is getting tougher and tougher to write. I was really fired up about last night's game, I really was. I thought Webb was going to play well, and then when I heard Favre was going to start, it kind of seemed like some divine intervention. You know the drill--battered hero makes one last stand and carries team to improbable victory. It just seemed already written, you know? 50th Anniversary team celebration, outside in the snow, with the superduperstar running back out. Favre, all alone, carries his team to one more victory. And for the first drive, it was magic. Toby Gerhart ran with authority, Favre hit Percy Harvin on a rollout pass, then Harvin took a screen pass to the house, leaving Bear defenders in his wake. Favre ran into the end zone at full speed, celebrating with his team, fans were throwing snow from the stands, and Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden were doing some serious microphone fellating of Favre. Everything seemed right with the world. Sadly, the script was only half written at that point. It all unraveled after that, and the problems that the 2010 edition of the Minnesota Vikings have on both sides of the ball could not be masked by a battered Favre. The Vikings were exposed, again, as a bad football team with a lot more questions than answers as we head into the final two games, neither of which the Vikings will be favored in. So, where do we go from here? Since this is not the team we thought they were going to be, it's time to rename them. They didn't play like Vikings, they played like a bunch of imposters. So what do we call them? Aw hell, let's just call them the Minnesota Al's:
Hi guys. I have to admit, this is getting tougher and tougher to write. I was really fired up about last night's game, I really was. I thought Webb was going to play well, and then when I heard Favre was going to start, it kind of seemed like some divine intervention. You know the drill--battered hero makes one last stand and carries team to improbable victory. It just seemed already written, you know? 50th Anniversary team celebration, outside in the snow, with the superduperstar running back out. Favre, all alone, carries his team to one more victory. And for the first drive, it was magic. Toby Gerhart ran with authority, Favre hit Percy Harvin on a rollout pass, then Harvin took a screen pass to the house, leaving Bear defenders in his wake. Favre ran into the end zone at full speed, celebrating with his team, fans were throwing snow from the stands, and Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden were doing some serious microphone fellating of Favre. Everything seemed right with the world.
Sadly, the script was only half written at that point. It all unraveled after that, and the problems that the 2010 edition of the Minnesota Vikings have on both sides of the ball could not be masked by a battered Favre. The Vikings were exposed, again, as a bad football team with a lot more questions than answers as we head into the final two games, neither of which the Vikings will be favored in.
So, where do we go from here? Since this is not the team we thought they were going to be, it's time to rename them. They didn't play like Vikings, they played like a bunch of imposters. So what do we call them?
Aw hell, let's just call them the Minnesota Al's:
All along along, there were incidents and accidents, there were hints and allegations.
SMR, after the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Brett Favre, QB. Adios, amigo. I loved watching you play, and your last TD drive was vintage Favre. Emotion, improvisation, touchdown. Thanks for dragging your broken and bruised body off of the trainer's table and giving it one more shot. 2009 was awesome, 2010 has sucked, but it was a helluva run. Thanks.
Joe Webb, QB. I don't know about this, because there was a lot of bad in Webb last night. He made some plays, though, and it's too early to declare Webb a success or failure. I expect a pretty humbling experience in Philadelphia next week, but there were some things I saw that give me hope. He seems like a very confident, if really inexperienced kid. He has an NFL arm to go along with a unique combination of speed and agility. The few times he got to the perimeter last night, no one could keep contain on him, and he did some damage, to include his impressive TD run. But Webb's performance last night was the season for the Al's in a nutshell-a couple of good plays, some really bad ones, and in the end another humbling night. Can Webb be the guy next year? It's way too early to tell. Let's see where the last two games take us, and then we'll go from there.
The Whole Offensive Line: I just don't know where to begin. Steve Hutchinson will be back next year, and John Sullivan, when healthy, is okay. Phil Loadholt wasn't terrible, and I see him improving from where he was at the beginning of the year. But I'm done with Bryant McKinnie. I know a lot of you guys were ready to dump him last year, but I thought he was okay. But when you get schooled--repeatedly--by a rookie DE and get your QB knocked out, you're dead to me. Ryan Cook is okay for brief periods of time, but is not a guy that can sub for multiple games, like an Artis Hicks could. Chris DeGeare is what he is, a mid round draft pick that's been very inconsistent. There is raw talent there, especially with DeGeare and Loadholt, but they need work. Hutchinson's got one or two years left, and McKinnie needs to be replaced. Cue the Extreme Makeover guys, and get a good offensive line coach.
The Front Seven on Defense. The last two weeks have seen the Minnesota Vikings mauled in the running game. The Giants ran for over 200 yards, and the Bears, with a mediocre offensive line (and that's putting it kindly) opened gaping holes for Matt Forte all night long. Left, right, up the middle, it didn't matter. The Bears abused the Vikings defense, and it was flat out embarrassing considering the Purple People Eaters were there to watch it.
Special Teams, minus Warcraft. I got nothin'. How many different ways can you say awful and terrible?
Leslie Frazier. Frazier did a great job of rallying the Vikings to wins in his first two games, but we all knew the real test would be this three game stretch against arguably three of the four best teams in the conference. I was able to give him a pass on the Giants game; there were a lot of mitigating factors in that game where you could just let it go. But to lay an egg like that against a division rival, at home, in that atmosphere? That was inexcusable, and it was a performance like that against Green Bay that got Brad Childress fired. Are there mitigating circumstances? Yes. Does that excuse such a terrible performance, especially by a defense that was advertised to be able to stop the run? No. With the injuries in the secondary, I can understand, to some point, giving up big plays on defense. But when you add the inability to pass rush with the inability to stop the run, I have to wonder if there aren't some big changes coming on that side of the ball as well.
Madieu Williams. Okay, the Vikings are up early first quarter. The Bears, after two straight holding penalties are staring at a 1st and 30, the defense has held after a turnover deep in their end, and the offense is looking like they can score again if the defense can get off the field and get the ball back in Favre's hands. Let me emphasize the down and distance again: FIRST AND THIRTY. So what happens? Madieu Williams looks like a seven year old in the backyard in blowing basic over the top cover-2 for a 67 yard TD pass. He was RIGHT THERE, and almost any other safety in the NFL would've had the pick. It was a pass that was begging INTERCEPT ME. At a minimum, it should've been a knockdown. But no. Williams gets completely turned around, WR Johnny Knox collects it and coasts in to the end zone. As foolish as Williams looked on that, I'm surprised Knox wasn't laughing so hard he dropped the ball. Oh, and did you see Antoine Winfield's WTF reaction on the replay? Priceless. Yeah, ‘Toine. We were all doing it, too. Adieu, Madieu.
Buy: Playing outside in Minnesota. The visuals, at least for me, were stunning. The fans pretty much filled the place up, and I think if the Vikes were still in the playoff hunt, it would've been chaos trying to get everybody in there. Thanks for dispelling the meme that the Minnesota fans have gone soft watching the Vikings play in a dome for the last 30 years. Build an outdoor stadium. Just put heating coils in the turf.
Sell: Fixing the Metrodome. So the Metrodome has another rip in it, bringing the total to five, I believe it is. It has served its purpose, but take the money that would take to repair it and put it towards a new Vikings stadium. Other than the result on the field, last night was a smashing success, if you ask me, and I for one think the Vikings need to play outside.
Buy: Throwback uniforms as the permanent uniforms. I know that as a guy in his forties, I probably have too much sentimentality towards how things used to be. But those uniforms the Vikes wore last night are one of the five coolest in the NFL. The triple stripe on the arm and the purple and gold stripe on the pants are simple, yet awesome in an understated way.
Sell: The new uniforms. I was a fan of the new uniforms when they came out, because the road uniforms had purple pants, which I think are cool. After 2006, the Vikings ditched the purple pants, and without them, the Vikes look like just another Arena league Team. The wide stripe down the side of the jersey that flows into the pants is too much for me, but I do like the helmet. Take the new helmet, marry it up with the old uniforms, and what you have is the best uniform in the NFL.
Buy: Webb's alley oop pass to Greg Camarillo. Joe Webb settled down after a really shaky start, and I expected that as a rookie his first reaction would be to tuck it and run, and he did. But that alley oop pass that he lofted over pursuing linebackers is something that a mobile guy like Webb can bring to the table. The linebackers collapsed on him thinking he'd run, and he saw Camarillo wide open in the middle of the field. Unfortunately, great plays like that were few and far between, though.
Sell: Webb's terrible picks. We expected that Webb would make some bad throws, and he did. It's part of the growing process of a young quarterback, but those two picks were just horrid.
Buy: Toby Gerhart's running in the first quarter. On the opening drive, Toby Gerhart played like a legitimate NFL running back. He was patient, he hit the hole, and he got positive yards. He also had a 20 yard run in the third quarter, I believe. He got to the outside, ran over a couple of guys, and got some nice yards.
Sell: Toby Gerhart's running the rest of the game. But other than that, I don't know what the hell happened. It's like he called Michael Bennett, and decided it would be a lot of fun to run right into the back of offensive linemen as soon as he hit the line of scrimmage. No leg drive, no strength, just meh. I don't get it.
Sell: Toby Gerhart's fumbling. It's gotta stop, period. Whoever AP went to in the off-season to get rid of his fumblitis, Gerhart needs to make an appointment.
Buy: Open Coaching Search: The Vikings need to make an exhaustive search for the next coach. It will be a coach that will be able to deal with transition of some sort, from either playing in a temporary facility while a new stadium is built where the Metrodish currently stands, or when the team relocates to wherever they will go if Minnesota does not get a new stadium deal passed.
Sell: Not giving Leslie Frazier an opportunity to interview during the open coaching search. Frazier has had to deal with a lot of adversity since being named interim coach, and he deserves an interview. I'm not sure if his performance to this point is an asset or a liability, but he needs to be given serious consideration.
Buy: Gov-elect Mark Dayton's stadium position. The incoming governor has said more encouraging words about a new Vikings stadium in two weeks since being declared the winner than the previous governor did in his eight years. He stressed that it needs to be a collaborative effort, so the bill needs to come from the Legislature, not the governor's office, and I agree. Dayton will support a stadium bill, but his only requirement is that it not be financed with general fund money, but he threw out a lot of options he would be open to, like user fees, to pay for it.
Sell: The early, ominous signs from the incoming Republican Leadership regarding the stadium: For all the encouraging words from the incoming governor, the incoming Republican majority has been eerily silent. Dayton's opinion is that he has detected a ‘lack of willingness among some Republicans to address the issue' in the upcoming session. That said, Sen. Julie Rosen, a Republican from Fairmont, is working on a bill that was similar to the bill that was introduced too late in the last session to be taken seriously, and she is looking towards DFL'er Tom Bakk to co-sponsor it. That's great, but the Republican leadership needs to get on board with this plan, or modify it, and then endorse it with the governor's backing, and then get it passed.
Well, that's about it for now. I'm not sure if I'll post something between now and Christmas---and we still say Merry Christmas here at this little corner of DN--so let me wish you all a Merry Christmas, and leave you with the best Christmas song of all time, performed by the greatest singer ever, for the greatest Vikings fans on the Internet:
Merry Christmas, Daily Norseman. It truly is a pleasure to be a part of this community. Thanks for all the kind words, and even the stinging rebukes, throughout the year. You guys and gals are awesome.