Okay, who laid the 10,000 to 1 bet that Audie Cole would return two interceptions for touchdowns?
Yeah, I didn't think so. If you did, I bet you're the person that lives in Lapeer, Michigan that just hit the 3rd largest Lotto prize in history, too. Aren't you? AREN'T YOU??
Like I've said countless times, let's not get too worked up over pre-season games, but that was fun, wasn't it? I didn't join the game thread, as I had to DVR and watch the game earlier today with my Dad. So apologies for the tardiness on the SMR.
You know what else I've also said countless times? This team is going to be better than everyone thinks. Other than a 20 yard Fred Jackson scamper, the run defense looked much, much better with the regulars back in, the secondary looks like it has something more than guys who do nothing more than fog a mirror when you put it under their nose, and I'm starting to say 'Ryan Who?'
With cut-down day looming about a week from now, I do know that guys like Cole and others are being watched closely by the coaches, and anything they do, good or bad, stand out. Every move they make, every step they take, they'll be watching...
Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take
I'll be watching you
Is it stalking? Yeah, probably. SMR, after the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Audie Cole, LB: I don't know if Audie Cole will make the final 53 man roster. I don't know if he deserves to, but I do know that for one night, Audie Cole had the best defensive performance on a team that has guys like Jared Allen and Kevin Williams on it. His back to back pick 6's late in the game sealed a win for a team that's seen far too few of them in the last couple of seasons, pre-season or otherwise, and for a guy on the bubble like Cole, it does nothing but help his case to make the team. If the team gives out game balls for the exhibition season, I hope Cole got one.
The Celebration That Ensued After Cole's Second Pick: I don't know why, but I think there was something telling when veteran guys like Jared Allen and budding former malcontent Chris Cook ran to the corner of the end zone to congratulate Cole after his second score. I was expecting the guys on the field to mob him, but seeing the vets out there...ahem...acting like kids out there...was just a lot of fun to see. Did it mean anything? Nothing tangible, but football is a game of intangibles, and maybe, just maybe, these guys are really bonding as a team. The sum is greater than the whole, and if they believe collectively as a group, damn near anything can happen. Not saying it will, just saying that was nice to see.
The First Team Offense: They are 6 for 6 in scoring drives this year. Now yes, it's the pre-season, and yes, touchdowns are better than field goals, but with every snap, Christian Ponder looks more and more comfortable. Although the offensive line gave up a couple sacks, they look leaps and bound better than last year. Leaps. Bounds. Percy Harvin had a typical 21 yard 'catch and OHMYGODHEMIGHTBREAKIT' run. And Adrian Peterson has yet to play. I'm diggin' what I see so far. Let's just get more TD's, okay?
Blair Walsh, K: So far, GM Rick Spielman looks like a genius with this pick. Walsh is 7/8 on FG's through 2 pre-season games, had good distance on kickoffs last night (7 of 9 kicks last night went into the end zone, and there were 4 touchbacks), and his field goals have been short and long (3 from more than 40 yards again last night).
The Guys Trying To Fill Out The WR Positions Behind Percy Harvin Not Named Jerome Simpson, With The Exception of Devin Aromashodu: Stephen Burton seemed to get a leg up on the competition last week, but Emmanuel Arcenaux wil not go quietly into the night, as he had two catches for 50 yards, Michael Jenkins had a very nice 35 yarder on the sideline, and Burton also had 2 catches for 36 yards...but he also fumbled.
Jerome Simpson And His Hurdling Prowess: That was the highlight of the pre-season so far, but that wasn't his only highlight--he had a solid game overall. He seems to really be developing a nice chemistry with Ponder, and you kind of get the feeling that the Vikes will have one more playmaker on the field...after he gets re-instated for his Boyd Crowder impersonation (If you don't know who Boyd Crowder is, go watch 'Justified' on F/X).
Toby Gerhart, RB: Toby Gerhart runs like a M-A-N, man. He's not ever going to be mistaken for Adrian Peterson or Barry Sanders, but would you want to be the guy having to tackle him after he has a head of steam into the second level? I wouldn't.
Devin Aromashodu, WR: I mentioned it above, but to the casual observer it seems that the District Attorney is going to get disbarred. He was targeted four times last night and didn't make a catch. He had a similar opportunity that Jenkins did to make a long, sideline catch twice in the second quarter and couldn't stay in bounds. He also had a drop in the third quarter. It was behind him, but still looked catchable. Stephen Burton caught almost the exact same behind him throw the very next play. Bottom line is that when you have other guys making the most of their opportunity, it seems that Aromashodu has not only fallen behind guys like Arcenaux, Burton (fumble aside), and Jenkins, but he's about to get lapped.
Buy: Mistral Raymond, S. I've said a few times I think that Raymond would probably be one of the favorites to win one of the starting safety jobs, and I thought he really separated himself from the pack last night. He made a couple tackles to prevent big gains after completions, and was solid in run support. It's the most I've seen from an incumbent safety in two years.
Sell: McLeod Bethel-Thompson Making The Team: The kid didn't even play. He's getting cut, so the MBT true believers need to prepare accordingly.
Buy: The Replacement Refs: I might be in the minority, but I don't see any more gross buffoonery from the replacement refs than I do from the regular guys. Seriously, what is all the wailing and gnashing of the teeth from the players and owners over these part time employees taking over for the regular...wait for it...part time employees? Anyone?
Sell: The Yellow Disco Collar On The Jersey: Seriously Nike, whoever said 'let's put a 1970's looking Disco shirt collar' on the uniforms needs to be fired. The road ones are bad enough, but these? Sheesh. They look horrid, they're distracting, and I want them gone. K? Thanks.
Buy: Josh Robinson: I thought he looked good in his debut. Had a couple pass breakups, including a big one on fourth down right before the half, and also had a chance at a pick late in the second quarter.
Sell: Chris Carr: I didn't think he looked very good at all. Missed a couple tackles that turned into some decent YAC for Buffalo. Just not a good night for one of the marquee free agent pickups.
Buy: Joe Webb As A Freakishly Athletic Backup QB: Spiderman is arguably the most athletic guy on the team. He can go 41 yards on a busted run or when the pocket collapses, and in spurts, he's a great stopgap.
Sell: Joe Webb As A Starter, Or As A Wide Receiver: But can we put this 'Joe Webb should start' debate to bed please? He just inspires no confidence in me as a guy that could be a long term answer at quarterback. That doesn't mean he should be converted to wide receiver, either. Webb is who we thought he is--an NFL caliber backup quarterback that isn't a bad option to start for a game here or a game there.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
"We haven't had a kicker able to kick one out of the end zone since you were a kid. Probably before that. That kid is going to win us a game or two this year."
When you're a Viking, and my Dad doesn't call you an idiot the first time he watches you play or coach, you've unlocked an achievement that I thought unlockable. Young man, you are deserving of a clapping GIF:
So, what do we have after two weeks? A seemingly legitimate NFL kicker, an improved offense, and a defense that probably isn't as shaky as we thought last week. We still have a ways to go, but so far, color me impressed.