And on the fifth week they rested, according to the Scripture of the NFL, Chapter 48 Verse 2013.
I usually hate having a bye week this early in the season. An ideal bye week would be as close to Week 9 as possible to split the season in half. But this year there were obviously some different circumstances with the team returning from a victory across the pond, so I suppose now is as good a time as any for a Vikings week off.
It's just too bad that there aren't any good talking points to tide us over until the Vikings host the Panthers in Week 6. Something like...oh I don't know...A QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY?!?!
Thousands of comments will be posted on this site throughout the next nine days (and beyond) debating the respective merits of Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. The classic quarterback controversy comment casualties are inevitable and unavoidable. But in my mind there really isn't much of a controversy at all heading into the bye week. Cassel should be the starter against Carolina regardless of Ponder's health.
Does one win against a hapless team on a different continent guarantee Cassel the job for the remainder of the season? Of course not. Cassel's numbers were solid against the Steelers but he was two Ike Taylor drops and a Jerome Simpson recovery away from three bad turnovers. Pro Football Focus had Cassel as the lowest-rated player on the offense last week. The combination of vastly improved pass blocking and a very weak Pittsburgh rush meant that Cassel was upright all day, which will make any quarterback look better.
Then again, maybe Cassel was upright because he actually got rid of the ball and made his progressions. Cassel's average release was nearly a half second faster than Ponder's thus far; that small amount of added quickness can go a long way in the NFL. I went back through his incompletions in the first half on the Coaches Film--since, you know, there weren't any in the second half--and he actually appeared to look at multiple receivers before throwing most of the time. (The poor throws that Taylor nearly picked off were the exceptions. The Vikings should probably avoid calling the automatic quick slant to Simpson so much.) There weren't many designed rollouts to cut the field in half either, which has become a staple of the Ponder-led Vikings offense. Either the coaching staff realized that Cassel isn't as mobile as Ponder or they trusted him to actually be able to read the entire field; I have a feeling it was a combination of both.
We know that Leslie Frazier hasn't officially named a starter for Week 6 yet. He probably won't until late next week. But Aj Mansour of KFAN wrote an excellent article describing why you can read between the lines to figure out that Cassel will be under center against Carolina. I couldn't agree with him more. Everything Frazier has and hasn't said points to it.
So there. Controversy settled. Matt Cassel gets the starting nod until he starts looking like...well, 2012 Matt Cassel. I don't have any illusions that my musings will quell the virtual mudslinging between Vikings fans over the bye week, but now you have my opinion on the matter.
With no game to preview this week I decided to give an estimated guess of how certain Vikings players and coaches spent their downtime over the bye instead. And by "estimated guess" I mean "completely make things up".
Cordarrelle Patterson: The rookie took advantage of his new wealth and traveled all the way to Tokyo. His huge frame and blonde-tipped dreadlocks made him an obvious standout no matter where he went. But despite being so hard to ignore, he was mostly overlooked by the locals during most of his stay in Japan. It made Patterson feel like he was right back in the Vikings offense.
Bill Musgrave: Mostly just relaxed at his home playing the classic memory game Simon. He's really good at it too. Which makes sense, because if anyone knows predictable repeating patterns, it's Bill Musgrave.
Josh Robinson: Traveled to Seattle's famous Pike Place Fish Market and watched the fishmongers toss fish back and forth from open til close every day. Which makes sense, because if anyone knows watching easy passes completed in front of him all day, it's Josh Robinson.
Matt Kalil: Caught up on his Netflix queue by watching the first two seasons of AMC's The Killing. Which makes sense, because if anyone knows a great first season followed by a disappointing second season, it's Matt Kalil.
Leslie Frazier: The Vikings head coach visited with none other than President Barack Obama over the bye week. When the press asked the President why he was meeting with Frazier, Obama responded, "First of all, Leslie is a dear friend. It's not like the Vikings are going to be visiting the White House any time soon, so I thought I'd catch up with him over his team's bye week. But most importantly I wanted to talk to him about the government shutdown. Because if anyone knows about managing an organization of highly overpaid individuals that accomplishes next to nothing when they get together, it's Leslie Frazier."
Christian Ponder: Traveled to the Northwestern campus to watch College GameDay. Whenever Samantha Ponder was on camera, Christian could be seen in the front row of the crowd behind her holding a huge sign that read "That's Right Bro, I'm Hitting THAT" with a down arrow below the text pointing to his wife.
Matt Cassel: Visited K-Swiss headquarters to revamp his old marketing campaign now that he's a starter again. (Warning: NSFW language in this awesome video.)
"Me and Matt Cassel just f*cked you up dawg."
Chad Greenway: Spent most of his week challenging the elderly to foot races so he could feel fast again.
Harrison Smith: Went to a carnival and knocked the guy in the dunk tank down on his first try. Instead of a prize, he received a letter from the company that runs the carnival telling him he was being sued for hitting the target too hard.
Marvin Mitchell: I didn't really catch what Marvin did during the bye week. It's not like he does anything worth paying attention to on the field; why start now?
Greg Jennings: Went back to Lambeau Field so he could loudly heckle and throw debris at Aaron Rodgers throughout their game against Detroit.
Desmond Bishop: Went back to Lambeau Field so he could ask Mike McCarthy to return to the Packers' IR...in hopes of getting more playing time than he's currently getting in Minnesota.
Blair Walsh: Went in front of the NFL Rules Committee in hopes of making a rule that all field goals between 40 and 49 yards be automatically moved back 10 yards "to make things a little easier" for kickers.
Jeff Locke: Went in front of the NFL Rules Committee in hopes of making a rule that all punts be taken from midfield "because the unorthodox punts where you need to pin them deep are the true art form of punting. Kicking the ball really far is way too hard."
Adrian Peterson: Peterson visited five children's hospitals, did a workout that would make even the most hardcore CrossFit enthusiasts quit after two minutes, shot three commercials, did 300 wind sprints up a mountain, signed over 5,000 autographs, installed custom-built counter tops that were cut solely by him shaking hands with slabs of granite, started four charities, and lifted weights to tone the muscles he already has on top of his muscles (for example, his triceps' triceps). After that he spent the other six and a half days of his week off mostly just relaxing.
Eric Thompson: The blogger spent his Vikings-free Sunday getting chores done around the house and enjoying the gorgeous Fall weekend outdoors with his family. (Just kidding. He spent 6 hours on the couch watching the RedZone Channel and obsessing over his fantasy football teams.)
And now for my Week 5 picks (home teams in ALL CAPS):
BROWNS over Bills: The Week 3 loss to Cleveland looks a little less embarrassing now that Brian Hoyer & company are tied for the AFC North lead, right? In fact, all three Vikings' losses have come against teams that are currently tied for their respective division leads. Hmmm...nope. That Browns loss was still an absolute abomination. But it goes to show how silly it is to point out "easy" and "hard" stretches of the schedule before the season. The Vikings weren't supposed to get to the "difficult" part of their schedule until later on.
BEARS over Saints: Everyone's just a little too high on Rob Ryan's defense right now. Google his name and the first results that pop up are all about how he has "turned things around" in New Orleans and how he "fits in" with his new personnel. Just a reminder: they were saying that about Ryan after his first few weeks in Dallas too. I think Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall give the D a wake-up call on a short week for the Saints.
Patriots over BENGALS: The Pats are the Miley Cyrus of football right now. They're both really uncomfortable to watch most of the time (close and ugly victories, close and ugly twerking) but you can't argue with the results (New England is 4-0, everyone is still talking about Miley).
PACKERS over Lions: My surprise Survivor Pool pick of the week, now 4-0 this year after the Colts throttled Jacksonville last week. I know the Lions have looked good but I just can't see Green Bay two and a half games behind Detroit. Also, the fact that the Lions haven't won in Green Bay since I was in fifth grade justifies the pick. No seriously, look it up. I wasn't making a joke. It was 1991. The good news for Detroit: the Tigers have the day off in the ALDS so fans won't have to endure the possibility of a double-whammy on Sunday.
Chiefs over TITANS: Ryan Fitzpatrick is back! Quick, break out the Harvard jokes! Like...um...."Ryan Fitzpatrick may be smart due to his prestigious education, but he is still a below-average NFL quarterback." What? That joke wasn't funny? WELL EXCUSE ME FOR NOT BEING A HARVARD SMARTY PANTS!
Seahawks over COLTS: Only because I really need Indianapolis to stop winning so much. They're ruining Bill Barnwell's theory that they were going to regress, a notion that I completely signed off on before the season. But their quarterback is quietly showing why the old Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III debate looks dumber and dumber by the week.
RAMS over Jaguars: I took a week off from my "take the team playing the Jags" Survivor Pool strategy because I'm pretty sure you don't get credit for 3-3 ties. This seems like a good time to break out the Gratuitous Picture of the Week.
Ravens over DOLPHINS: The Ravens ran the ball as many times as Ferris Bueller was absent last week. I think they'll mix it up a little more against a Miami team that's really struggling to protect their quarterback.
GIANTS over Eagles: More like NFC LEAST, amirite?!
Panthers over CARDINALS: Um...I guess we should keep an eye on this game to scout the Vikings' next opponents? This game is so uninteresting that I couldn't even think of a good joke to make about it. It's the Delaware of the Week 5 schedule.
Broncos over COWBOYS: Don't worry, Dallas fans. With how atrocious your division is so far, I'm fairly certain that you can lose this game and somehow increase your lead in the standings.
49ERS over Texans: Don't worry, Houston fans. With the Niners at home along with extra time to prepare for your team, I'm fairly certain you won't lose in heartbreaking fashion to an NFC West team for the second straight week. This loss could be more in the ass-kicking fashion.
Chargers over RAIDERS: This 10:35 PM Sunday night game might put Lunesta out of business.
Last week: 10-5
Season so far: 40-23