This isn't going to be a real long SMR, kids. I mean, I've watched bad football, and goodness knows with this team we've seen more than our fair share of it for the better part of a decade, and this was right up there with the best of them. Or worst of them. Or best of the worst. Or worst of the best. Or worst of the worst.
I really didn't think the Vikings were going to win once Teddy Bridgewater was deactivated, but I didn't see a 42-10 thumping, either. With the bad weather and Green Bay's inability to run the ball, I thought the Vikings would be able to run the ball and make a couple of plays and keep the game close.
Then I remembered, as I watched the Vikings flail around on offense, that Norv Turner mentioned before the Falcons game that the Vikings wanted to use the pass to set up the run. And then I realized something else, watching Christian Ponder play the role of NFL quarterback against what had been a fairly pedestrian Packers defense up until last night:
That strategy was folly with Ponder.
There was no way in Hell that was going to happen against the Packers, and the Vikings weren't going to be able to run the ball. As soon as the Packers scored and went up 7-0, it might as well have been 70. I just started drinking at that point. And had I been with you, my DN friends, I would've pulled out the DN corporate card. And you all could have had a drink on me. Right, Mr. Johnson?
Whiskey gin and brandy
With a glass I'm pretty handy
I'm tryin' to walk a straight line
On sour mash and cheap wine
So join me for a drink boys
We gonna make a big noise
So don't worry 'bout tomorrow
Take it today
Forget about the check we'll get hell to pay
Have a drink on me
Yeah have a drink on me
Yeah have a drink on me
Have a drink on me
Your all the alcohol in the world can't make me unsee that SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Marshall Faulk, NFL Network analyst: In the pre-game show, he picked the Vikings to win. Which was cool, I suppose. Marshall Faulk is in the Hall of Fame as a player, not as a prognosticator, obviously. Still, it was the only highlight the Vikings had all night, and it needed to be recognized.
Blair Walsh, K: He hit an extra point and a field goal to pull the Vikings within 32 points in the 4th quarter. In other words, he did his job. On a night when literally no one else did, I feel this deserves some kind of recognition. Like a good, job, good effort participation trophy.
Christian Ponder, QB (allegedly): It occurred to me, at some point last night--I can't remember when, exactly, as all the bad plays melted in to one huge molten ball of terrible--that the Vikings had been starting at quarterback a guy that's barely a third string talent. And they'd been doing it, more or less, for three years. When you consider that the Vikings went to the playoffs in 2012, that's actually remarkable in many ways. I don't know how many times I watched a replay of Ponder rolling out, taking a sack, or throwing to a receiver short of the first down on third and short, and I said to myself 'so and so was wide open'. The offensive line didn't do Ponder any favors, but look at this little nugget from Arif that he tweeted out earlier:
So what does that mean? Well, like Arif said, context is important, but if you look at a lot of replays, Ponder had time to throw. He had as much time as Teddy Bridgewater did against Atlanta. Bridgewater threw for over 300 yards, Ponder had us all throwing up. Ponder has no pocket awareness, no consistent ability to go through his progressions and find the correct receiver, no touch on his throws, and no accuracy. And maybe it's just me, but he looked beaten about halfway through the first quarter. It was a Tour De Force of horrid.
Offensive Line: All that said about Ponder, when you have a backup playing, the line needs to step up and give him extra time. Not only didn't that happen, but you guys made Letroy Guion--LETROY GUION--look like a first ballot hall of famer. Seriously, what the hell gentlemen?
Coaching Staff: This was the most poorly called game of Norv Turner's tenure as an offensive coordinator so far. The Vikings running game, which worked well with a solid balance between Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata, wasn't balanced. Asiata had 10 carries, I think it was, before McKinnon touched the ball. Well, McKinnon was wide open in the flat on a dump off pass, but Christian Ponder overthrew the ball so bad Josh Freeman spit up his beer laughing in his living room.
The Entire Defense: Eddie Lacy hadn't rushed for more than 50 yards in a game coming into Thursday night. He had 53 in the first quarter. Although there were good individual plays, the bottom line is this defense gave up 14 quick points, knowing that a crippled offense would be hard pressed to overcome that kind of deficit.
The Vikes defense had terrible gap discipline, took bad angles, couldn't tackle, let Jordy Nelson get so wide open even Christian Ponder could've completed that TD pass (okay, maybe not THAT wide open, who are we kidding), and just had one of those nights where it might just be better to burn the film and forget about it.
I want to give special recognition to Robert Blanton, though. Congratulations, Robert. You've been posterized by an opposing running back in back to back games. But what you lack in tackling ability you make up for with a glaring weakness in point to point triangulation, because the angles you take put you two to three yards behind your target. It would be comical if it weren't so serious. But, I will say, at some point last night I did, in fact, just start laughing.
Buy: Teddy Bridgewater. Last night showed to me, almost more than anything Bridgewater could do on the field, how important he is to this franchise now. The body language of the offense was a complete 180 degrees turn from last week. They looked apathetic and unconcerned that they were in the middle of an ass beating. Against the Falcons, they looked fired up and ready to play. It's disconcerting that they can just shrug their shoulders and seemingly not care, but they just seemed defeated every time they took the field.
I'm not going to go into a long winded diatribe about how they're professionals, and millionaires, and they need to be able to play hard and all that. Because I'm not saying that they weren't trying, nor am I saying they weren't playing hard. I am saying that a team, much like a military unit, has a certain level of morale, esprit de corps, whatever it is you want to call it. And they get that from their leader. I've been in units that had terrible leadership with poor morale, and it affected the performance, although the level of effort was high.
That's what I saw last night--a unit with a leader who was uncertain of himself, and it worked it's way down to every player on offense. It happens, it's human nature. Now sometimes, someone can step up and fill that leadership void, but it didn't happen last night.
Sell: Thursday night football. I've never really been a fan of these Thursday night deals, and with the average margin of victory being around 30 points, these games need to go. The NFL talks a good game about player safety, yet they make them turn around on three days rest to play another football game, when bodies have yet to heal from the previous Sunday. Yeah, the league is making money, but they're putting a terrible product on the field, not just the Vikings last night.
Buy: 2-3 isn't terrible right now. When the Vikings schedule came out, most people thought that the best the Vikes could do would be 1-4. With the opener in St. Louis, and the Purple a bad road team, 0-5 seemed very believable. In the first five games, the Vikings have lost their best offensive lineman, their starting tight end, starting quarterback, the new starting quarterback, and starting running back who just happens to be one of the best who's ever played the game.. Yet somehow, they've won two games, and are far from out of things. The defense, while still prone to mental lapses, is better, and has a lot more young talent on it than aging players. On offense, if Teddy can stay healthy, the offense is going to be okay, even with Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph out. Things could be much, much worse. So much worse.
Sell: 2-3 with a 42-10 ass kicking at the hands of Green Bay isn't terrible, either. WRONG. Losing to Green Bay sucks; getting humiliated by them is even worse. I am sick and tired of getting pantsed by the Bears and Packers on a regular basis. It's embarrassing, and losing division games obviously hurts more than losing non-divisional games. And losing games this way just flat out sucks, man.
Buy: The schedule gets a lot more manageable. Their next four games are Detroit at home with 10 days rest, at Buffalo, at Tampa Bay, and then home against Washington. Detroit has started out strong, but it's a home game, and winnable. The other three games I like the Vikings chances in. There's a very good chance the Vikings can get to the halfway point at 5-3, and if they win all four that's 6-3 with back to back games against the Bears and Packers coming up. The point is, the Vikings are still very much in this thing, and even with two bad losses, this team has a bright future moving forward.
Sell: The current staff is apathetic about what happened. Did you guys see Mike Zimmer's post game press conference? That was a guy that looked as pissed off as anyone I've seen in front of a microphone, but he kept his composure without giving the old Leslie Frazier platitudes in the face of an ass kicking. I know one thing for sure: I do not want to be a member of the Minnesota Vikings the next 10 days, because Mike Zimmer's gonna shank a bitch. And it's good to see that kind of passion and fire, and a willingness to call guys out when they don't perform. Last night left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, and I would like to believe that these ass kickings are now the exception, and not the disturbing semi-norm they became under Leslie Frazier's staff.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
"Son, this isn't football. This is shit."
Yeah, Dad, it was.
Hang in there guys. I'm as unhappy about last night as the next guy, but I think better days are ahead.