Remember in 1929 when the Stock Market crashed? Of course you don't, none of you were alive. And before any of you get all smart-assy, no, I wasn't alive either. But I mention the crash of '29, because tens of thousands of people saw their savings vanish, almost overnight. And they couldn't comprehend the disaster that had befallen them, so many people did this:
And that was pretty much how I felt after today's game. We've had some pretty bad football in three of the last four years, but today I felt things had fundamentally reached a new low. The last time I thought this was after back to back blowouts by the Bears and Packers in 2010, and that lead to the ouster of Brad Childress.
But even that didn't feel like this did, because in 2010, the Vikings had a good nucleus of young players, and were less than a season removed from the NFC Championship game. We knew that we were going to go through a couple of lean years, but it wasn't that far fetched to think that one or two good drafts, and the Vikings would be in business.
But the Vikings have had three pretty good drafts and are spinning their wheels in the mud, it seems. 30 games in to the Christian Ponder era, the Vikings have pulled the plug...yet really don't have a plan in place. The short term answer was Matt Cassel, but that blew up against the Carolina Panthers. The long term answer is...Josh Freeman? The draft? We don't know. The defense...oh, the defense. What was supposed to be a pretty good unit has degenerated into something akin to a 50 car pileup on a highway.
This franchise that wears purple and gold so proudly is stuck in a haze. Purple...haze...amirite, Jimi?
Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
Actin' funny, but I don't know why
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze all around
Don't know if I'm comin' up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me
Help me help me
Oh no no... no
Purple haze all in my eyes
Don't know if it's day or night
You've got me blowin, blowin my mind
Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?
Your SMR that tries to kiss the sky follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Kyle Rudolph, TE: I was tempted to put no one here, too, because when you get your ass handed to you like that, coming out of the bye no less, no one really deserves any positive recognition. But Rudolph was putting forth the extra effort, even after all hope was lost, and I started him on my fantasy team. Seriously, that was the only redeeming thing that came out of today's game for me.
Oh my, where do we begin? I think that other than Rudolph and Adrian Peterson, I'm giving this to the whole team. Well, special teams wasn't awful, so I guess we can give them a pass as well. But let's start with...
Matt Cassel, QB: I was supportive of benching Ponder, but unlike a lot of fans, I knew what we were getting in Cassel. Some folks thought he was a magic potion to cure what ailed the Vikings, but he wasn't. By their actions, the Vikings have said Ponder is not the future, and Cassel's performance today all but assured us we'll see Josh Freeman next week, and barring injury, for the rest of the year.
And that goes to a larger point I made in the opening monologue--the Vikings are adrift and rudderless at the quarterback position, and there are no simple answers here. Arif has done a masterful job of breaking down both Ponder and Freeman, and long story short, Freeman is better but he's not the answer either. So where do the Vikings go from here? I don't know. The Vikings have now misfired on high round quarterbacks in six years (Tarvaris Jackson in 2006 and Ponder in 2011), and it has set this franchise back. And now, the Vikings are at a crossroads. Barring a near miraculous turnaround, Freeman will be something in between Ponder and Cassel, and we'll be looking at another quarterback in the 2014 draft. And we'll have to wait two or three season to see if he was a hit or miss, too.
Leslie Frazier, Coach: I really like Leslie Frazier. I've had the pleasure to speak with and interview him, and he's a wonderful human being. But it is flat out inexcusable for a team to look this flat and lifeless coming out of a bye after a big win in London. As Frazier knows all too well, owner Zygi Wilf has no problem in firing a coach in mid-season,. But when Frazier took over in the middle of 2010, it was a different team. This team seems fundamentally bereft of talent on defense, and clueless on offense. Well, I don't think you can say the Vikings are talentless, but it frustrates and befuddles me that guys that should be playing aren't, and guys that have no business seeing the field are matched up in man coverage against Steve Smith (coughJOSHROBINSONcough).
And this goes to a larger point, and it's that this coaching staff has seemingly regressed to a point that they cannot continue to run a football team after this season. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams has said (as has Frazier, I believe) that 'we don't play rookies'. Yet, they continue to trot out the Josh Robinson's and Letroy Guion's of the world, thinking...what, exactly?
And Bill Musgrave...oh, Bill. I don't know what's more ridiculous, the 3X5 index card you have all your plays on, or the two or three plays you run from said index card. From running on first down when you're down by 20 points or more, to not running a play action when the game is still in doubt, to your three and four yard screens and outs on 3rd and 9 or more, you defy logic. The Vikings have had the best running back in football since 2007, and with a weapon like that, this offense could be unstoppable. Look at 2009, for example. The only time the Vikings lost that year was when they beat themselves. Yet, year after year, Adrian Peterson gets one year closer to retirement, and I'm afraid I'll have to watch another Minnesota sports Icon leave the state to try and win a title.
But you're not off the hook here, defense. This was a unit that was supposed to be pretty decent in the front seven, but man, I haven't seen a Vikings defense this bad in my life, I don't think. In five games, they've given up 34, 31, 31, 27, and 28 points. They're on pace to give up...give me a second...carry the jillion...like six jillion points this year. When you have a defense that bad, the 1998 Vikings offense would be hard pressed to get this team to a 10-6 record and into the post season. It's easy to blame Christian Ponder for the problems on this team, but last time I looked, Ponder doesn't play defense. The line is porous, the linebackers are pretty terrible in their gap assignments and intermediate coverage, and the secondary can't cover anyone. Guys like the aforementioned Robinson and Marvin Mitchell start, while guys like Desmond Bishop (who was hurt today) sit, yet the Vikings staff doggedly sticks with guys who have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they have no business on an NFL football field.
There are no easy or quick fixes for this team, yet moves like the Freeman signing might keep some of the mouth breather wing of the fan base at bay. But not for long, if there are more losses like this in the future. And as the trading deadline approaches, there might be some more moves to make. But Zygi Wilf and Rick Spielman have to know that they have a lot of work to do, and today ripped off the veneer that the Vikings were close to being competitive in the NFC North.
Buy: Adrian Peterson and Blair Walsh.
Sell: Damn near anyone else. I wouldn't be mad if you went down the roster and told me anyone else had been traded, with maybe the exception of Rudolph, Smith, and the rookie first rounders. I'm 93% serious right now.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
'Do you mind if I take a nap? Watching the Vikings makes my eyes hurt."
Dad, that was the best thing anyone associated with watching this team did all day.
Kids, I'm sorry if I seem overly negative. But man, this loss seemed like a franchise defining moment today, and not in a good way. I really thought this team was on the way up after last season, and now it seems pretty obvious that I was wrong and there aren't going to be any easy, or quick fixes. Problems on this team run much deeper--from the coaching staff on down, there needs to be a fundamental overhaul at entire position groups on both sides of the ball. And one draft or free agency period isn't going to solve those problems. Players we thought might be core players aren't, and the current set of core players are all north of 30.
The worst thing the Vikings could do would be to be kneejerk-ish and reactionary anymore than they already have. The Josh Freeman acquisition wasn't necessarily reactionary, but it did go against the usually calm approach of the organization, and it's done nothing but bring more chaos into a locker room that is already swimming in it.
You wonder if we're not watching the beginning of the end of a lot of careers in Minnesota.