I really don't know where to begin, but let me get a couple of things off my chest.
There is no quarterback controversy. Christian Ponder is the quarterback of this team, and if you thought he wouldn't make typical rookie mistakes, and have at least one facepalm game, then I doubt we can have an intelligent conversation about this.
Did he make poor throws? Yeah. Did he have a bad game? Yep. I can forgive the first turnover that was a strip sack for a TD, and those picks were terrible throws. But until he was pulled so he wouldn't take more of a physical beating, he rallied. He still made throws, and he had a couple of nice TD passes. And Joe Webb rallied this team in a way that I frankly didn't think was possible. I tip my cap to you, Spiderman. That was a yeoman's performance out there, and if my vote for game ball of the week is worth anything, my vote goes to you, Mr. Webb.
So I got that off my chest. Let me get something else off my chest while we're at it.
I am generally of the belief that most NFL games are pretty fairly officiated. Most teams get one or two calls that go against them and one or two calls that go their way each game. I am also of the belief that the NFL is NOT the NBA, where one or two select teams seems to get every call every game. And yeah, I am also of the belief that if your team gets a particularly bad call aganst them, the refs give your team a 'makeup call' at some point.
Most importantly, I am not a Conspiracy Theory guy when it comes to the NFL being 'against' the Vikings, or any other team, for that matter. Nor do I generally believe that, also like the NBA, certain players are given 'the benefit of the doubt' on calls while lesser players of the same position don't get calls. All teams and players get calls that go against them, and calls that go for them.
The same thing happened against the Lions today.
But that non-call facemask at the end of the game was BULLSHIT. It wasn't questionable, it wasn't a gray area, it wasn't even an incidental 'let them play' situation, like you could argue on some close pass interference plays. Joe Webb's head was snapped down and to the right, and my Dad and I both yelled 'FACEMASK!!!!' at the exact same time. A buddy of mine from work even TEXTED me WHILE THE PLAY WAS GOING ON, and it said 'facemask, u lucky bastards'.
But it wasn't called.
Normally, this kind of thing doesn't piss me off, and I really don't know why this is grating my ass the way it is, but man, I'm pissed about it. I mean, this wasn't a playoff game; the team is 2-11, so in the long run you could say that the non-call might have helped the franchise long term, because we might have dropped in the draft order had the Vikes won.
But I don't care about that right now. The Vikes deserved a chance to win that game. The flag should've been thrown, and the Vikings should have gotten a free play with no time on the clock. This was one of the worst non-calls in the NFL in the last several years, and it very likely could go a long way in determining what the playoff field is for the NFC.
And once again, there were no police there to make it right, making us the King of Pain yet again. Police, King of Pain..seewhati'mabouttodohere?
I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain
SMR, after the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks (Besides Percy Harvin and Jared Allen)
If you're new to the SMR, in the last couple weeks Viking Investments has decided that we have three continuous blue chip stocks--Allen, Harvin, and Adrian Peterson. Peterson stock is on hold right now, but Allen and Harvin continue to rise, and today was no exception. They're freaking awesome.
Joe 'Spiderman' Webb, QB: After Christian Ponder's imitation of a pinata resulted in candy being strewn about the Ford Field turf, Joe Webb came in and had the game of his career. His 65 yard TD run helped get the Vikes back within 10, and the comeback was on. Would've loved to have seen what had happened had he gotten one more play on that non-call at the end of the game. It was a performance that came out of nowhere, and it also included Webb's first career TD pass, a short 2 yarder to Toby Gerhart (yay fantasy points for me!).
Toby 'Smash' Gerhart, Bowling Ball: You know, last week I posited that maybe Gerhart is ill-suited in his role as a back up/third down back, and the Vikes might see what they could get from him in a trade during the off season. I still feel that way, but they need to get somebody besides Lorenzo Booker to be the back up to the back up. So, if the Vikes management is reading this, don't get rid of Gerhart if you keep Booker, okay? Anyhow, Gerhart had 90 yards on 19 carries, along with the aforementioned 2 yard TD reception. Gerhart is a good back, and I like him. But these past few weeks he has given off more of a 'feature back' vibe than ever, and he's not going to be that as long as AP is the #1 back. I think a trade is at least worth looking into, and if they can get value for him, I say pull the trigger.
Devin Aromashodu, WR. The District Attorney had an okay game, but he still had a couple of troubling drops. He seems to be developing into a 'look to first' guy for Ponder, and he has flashes of real talent. And just when you think he's going to make that transcendental catch, he drops an easy one, or he pulls up on a go route, or something. Look, he's not bad, and he's not great, but I think he could be good. And I hope he will be, but he's a stock that is worth watching right now.
Greg Camarillo, WR. I really, really thought that Cammy was going to have a good year as a number 4 guy this year, but he's been largely invisible. And I don't know why. He made two big catches today, both on third down to get a drive sustaining first down, and he also broke up a poorly thrown ball that could've been yet another turnover.
Benny Sapp, CB. Okay, I admit it. I was wrong. Benny Sapp has the only defensive back that has played anything we like to call 'defense' since he was signed off of waivers. His overall pretty good play has been overshadowed by the rocket ship of suck that everyone else in the secondary is zooming to the moon in, but I think he was manned up on Calvin Johnson for most of the day, and Megatron only had 3 catches all day.
Heck, The Rest Of The Defense too, except members of the secondary not named Benny Sapp: When you give up 34 points, you're probably thinking 'Ted, take off your homer glasses'. But hear me out on this--of the 34 points Detroit scored, 31 were from turnovers and/or a short field set up by said turnover or special teams breakdown. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the Lions average starting field position in the first half was the Minnesota side of the field. The Vikings defense continually played in the shadow of their own end zone, and acquitted themselves well, for the most part. The run defense was as good as it's been in a month, and they put relentless pressure on Matthew Stafford, who took a beating every bit as fierce as Ponder did.
Cedric Griffin, Burn Victim. I really admire Cedric Griffin. Coming back from ACL injuries on different knees in consecutive years is damned impressive, but he's just not getting it done. He looked good early on, but has regressed badly, and with absolutely no safety help backing him up, he looks like a prizefighter that should've retired four or five fights ago. Would a switch to safety help?
Every Safety On The Roster: You guys are a black hole from which talent cannot escape. How many weeks in a row have we seen a cornerback release his guy to the safety, only to have the safety in row 6 ordering a dog and a beer? It happened at least three times today, and they went a long way to make Titus Young look like Jerry Rice. Titus Young. Seriously?? Their play makes me long for Madieu Williams.
Every Offensive Tackle On The Roster: Phil Loadholt and Charlie Johnson should be arrested as accomplices in attempted murder, because they damn near got Christian Ponder killed. On the first offensive play of the game, Phil Loadholt put his matador training skills to use, waving a red blanket and yelling 'OLE!' as Cliff Avril blew by him, forcing a fumble in the end zone that the Lions recovered for a TD. First. Play. Charlie Johnson wasn't much better, and by the third quarter Ponder had been TKO'd, and Joe Webb took over. Thank God Webb has some wheels, or he'd be in intensive care next to Ponder.
Buy: The sweet playcall that resulted in the Shiancoe TD. Sometimes, Bill Musgrave really impresses me and I can see why he was hired as the offensive coordinator. That designed screen to Shank in the red zone was beautufully designed, well executed...and TD Vikes.
Sell: Some fairly idiotic play calls that make no sense. Giving Lorenzo Booker the ball, for example. Ever. Last week against Denver, on the pick Ponder threw, he was looking for Harvin, and it looked like Harvin was running a flag pattern, but Harvin was on the short side of the field, and he ran out of field to maneuver in. Or not having your playmakers on the field during critical points in the game, seemingly every week. I like Bill Musgrave (my Dad doesn't, but he hasn't liked a coach since Bud Grant left); he graciously sat down and gave DN the biggest interview in our site's history, and he was pretty candid in his answers. At times, you can see the potential in this offense, but at times you scratch your head and go WTF?
Buy: Not overusing Percy Harvin. I get that Harvin can't be on the field every kick return and every offensive play, but they should put him in more. He is a game changer as a kick returner, something he showed again today, and he should be used there more.
Sell: Marcus Sherels thinking he's Percy Harvin on kick returns. There are only two guys who should be allowed to field the ball nine yards deep in the end zone and run it out on a kick, and Marcus Sherels isn't one of them. Percy Harvin is one, and Devin Hester is the other. Marcus Sherels is not.
Buy: Having a lot of running back depth. You need to have a deep bench in today's NFL, and Toby Gerhart has really done a good job stepping up in Peterson's absence.
Sell: Lorenzo Booker being part of said running back depth. I do believe that Booker fumbled on consecutive touches, they were both 'lolwut' moments, and one ended a drive that had entered Detroit territory.
Buy: Christian Ponder. I know I addressed this earlier, but Ponder, bad throws and all, continues to impress overall. Every rookie is going to have that 'hit the wall' moment, where everything seems to fall apart, and Ponder looked like he was well on his way to that today. But even after getting punched in the mouth, he rallied to lead two nice drives to get the Vikes within shouting distance. And Joe Webb almost got the win in relief.
Sell: Drafting Robert Griffin III or Matt Barkley in the 2012 draft. The Vikings need a ton of help up and down the roster, and I don't think QB is one of them. Yeah, Ponder has 11 picks this year, but he also has 11 TD throws. He's made some terrible throws, but he's also made some great ones. He's made bad, BAD decisions, but he's also made some very good ones. In short, he's a rookie. As a fanbase, we haven't had to watch a QB grow on the job since Daunte Culpepper in 2000. And he had Cris Carter and Randy Moss to throw to, and a very good back in Robert Smith to hand off to. Ponder's learning, and he's getting better. Today was a step back, but that happens in the maturation process.
Don Glover Quote Of The Day:
'Jesus Christ son. I could coach this team better drunk than Muskrat or Frazier can sober."
--Immediately after Ponder threw his first pick which was followed up by the 57 yard Titus Young TD 3 plays later. You know, the one in which there was no safety to be seen for several hundred miles.
You know, Dad, sometimes I think you could.
Have you ever ran a 5K or a marathon? Yeah, me either. Well, I did used to run 5K's in the Army, and about 3.9 K's into it, it became a Death March. A grueling, 'fuckthisican'trunanotherstep' kind of feeling. But you didn't want to fail, so you kept going. Because you have pride, and you WILL cross that finish line, and you WON'T quit.
And that's where we are now--we're 4K's into this bastard of a season, we have a sideache, our right calf is starting to cramp, and we just got passed by some 11 year old girl. Oh, and your lungs are on fire. And it feels like you have to pee.
But we're not quitters, Viking faithful. We're three games from the finish, and we're going to kick it in to high gear and finish strong. We'll be damned if some 11 year old girl is going to beat us.
Because the sooner this ends, the sooner we can shower and get the smell of 2011 off of us.