That was delightful: I went in to Saturday night just pumped for some football. I don't know why. I mean, I shouldn't have been. All I had to go on for 2011 was an embarrassing performance from the Vikings in Tennessee and a week of practice that didn't sound like much of anything at all. But there I was, counting down the hours until I could turn the Vikings/Seahawks game on. And then it happened, and I was ready! ... Except it was 7:00 PM and I had no idea the game wasn't until 9:00 PM, although it totally makes sense in retrospect since it was on the West Coast. Stupid. So instead, I pretended like I wasn't watching that gymnastic performance from the Xcel Energy Center until 9:00 and waited until football was actually ready to go. And then it was, and it was about everything I could have hoped for. The only thing which could have made Bevell's return look even more awesome was if McNabb and Rudolph would have connected on that 3rd and long play to cap a 99-yard drive into the endzone and a 14-0 lead on a team that I hope gets washed away into the ocean and eaten by sharks. OR KILLER WHALES! That would be sweet too.
Instead, I settled for a mildly entertaining game where, to my knowledge, no one of importace was seriously injured, the team looked better than last week, and TarVar, Rice and Bevell all looked like a bunch of nerds in high school who think they are finally going to get back at the mean jocks for packing more sausage in their pants. GOOD LUCK, NERDS!
Could TarVar had been any more TarVarish? I'm not sure. Everything we saw out of him was pretty text-book, to the point where you could almost predict every single one of his moves. "Oops, looks to be a bit of pressure coming from the blind side, bet TarVar will spin and run to the left side line for 4 yards. Look at this! Play-action roll right with a defender in his grill, hop-skip and a pass and it's straight to the feet of a wide open tight end. Ho hum, nothing new to see here." Did this guy really get signed to be a starter for a professional football team? It makes zero sense. OK, well, it makes SOME sense. I rather evilly went searching around some Seahawks blogs to see if they were all blowing a gasket because of Jackers poor performance and Charlie Whitehurst CLEARLY out-playing him in every facet of the game you could think of, and there were two things I noted. 1) TarVar was brought in as a starter, I guess, but more so a QB who was familiar with an offensive system in a shortened offseason that could maybe bridge the gap. He's lucked into a starter's position, in that sense. The lock-out is the only reason I would give the Seahawks a pass on this stupid move. And 2) the excuses I'm hearing (reading, making up, etc.) from Seahawks are just so god damn familiar. "Well, the O-Line is weak, receivers are out, he's not given enough time, etc. etc. etc." Guess what guys, it doesn't matter. That's just ... TarVar. That's who he is. That's how he plays football. He's got a bitchin' jump pass and can dump off better than me after some Indian food, but that doesn't mean he's any type of answer. Charlie Whitehurst won you guys a critical game to get into the playoffs last year, and you don't think he can pick up Bevell's kick-ass offense throwing 5-yard outs to tight ends or taking a sack? I'm sure he'd do fine.
God, I almost feel bad for that entire fanbase, except that I kind of still hate Seattle anyway, so whatever. Enjoy it, dick cheeses.
The Seahawks are a hot mess: I admittedly don't know a whole lot about the team from the Emerald City (other than they now play at Century Link Field instead of Qwest Field? Examples of when a rebranding strategy goes horrible wrong), but from what I can tell, the Seahawks are not even trying to pretend to challenge anyone this season and will fully shit every game away for their chance at Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft. I can't blame them, I wish the Vikings had the chance to do that to forget about Christian Ponder, but Purple Jesus would never let that happen. He'd win us a Super Bowl out of spite. Don't get me wrong, the Seahawks have some nice pieces. I like Marshawn Lynch, if Whitehurst was starting I bet he'd be serviceable, Mike Williams looked great last year, clearly I still wish we had Sidney, that Curry guy would look good as an outside linebacker for us, and Earl Thomas is hyperspace years better than anything we've seen at safety since, sadly, Darren Sharper. However, this isn't World Championships of Masturbating, this is a team game where everyone needs to play their part and it doesn't look like anyone is. Their offensive line is young, sure, but they looked like hell. They let OUR defense make them look like fools. Come on, guys, we're not that good. They even made Chris Cook and Asher Allen disappear for a night, in a good way, because they weren't getting burned for 35 yards every play! That should tell you all you need to know.
Also? I question whether Pete Carroll is worth his salt as an NFL head coach. I don't even know what his specialty is. Defense? Is he a defensive guy? You let McNabb and second stringers almost drive 99 yards on you. Come on. And he can't be that brilliant if he hired Bevell on as coordinator.
Mushroom Stamp of Approval: There were plenty of Vikings that stepped their game up this weekend who could deserve a mention here. However, I feel like it goes without saying that Marcus Sherels deserves this week's game ball for making TarVar look like a complete ass hat and for getting the Vikings on the board early. Without his pick-6 of 60+ yards, the game would have been a lot closer, and it shouldn't have been. And while Sherels did fumble on a kickoff, I'm inclined to say "whatever" because of this other play. Also, he DID show some decent skills at the cornerback spot, and POSSIBLY, just POSSIBLY could turn into a Benny Sapp type of player for the Vikings minus the headaches, penalties, and molestations of other players. I have no way of knowing this, but I don't think Sherels is nearly as hot-headed. Also, as the only player on the Minnesota Vikings who actually hails from Minnesota (not just played for the Gophers, but actually grew up in Rochester), you have to think that counts for something.
Offensive sexiness: With that being said, I saw plenty of good things from the offense as a whole as well, which we will lay out here:
Kyle Rudolph: OK. I'm on the bandwagon. Not that I ever was doubting whether I should have been or not, but all indications point to him being the real deal. His hands are phenomenal, his size is pretty shocking (height, not trouser snake, although I'm not sure), and he's playing in an offense that has a shitty offensive line, new quarterbacks regardless of who it is to the team, and him as a huge as white guy safety net. Don't tell anyone, but I'm totally drafting him in fantasy football.
Michael Jenkins: In the same way that TarVar was signed to Seattle because he knows the system, Jenkins reached this team because of his familiarity with Musgrave's offense. The difference of course is that Jenkins can't completely debilitate the team with his poor play, while Jackson will handcuff the Seahawks. And what I saw out of Jenkins on Saturday I liked. Solid run blocking down the field and an impressive body-contorting catch. Could he be this offenses Cris Carter?! ... Probably not, but you know what I mean.
Toby Gerhart: Dare I say this, but this white Fathead looked solid on Saturday. His speed looks much improved this season, and he's even shown some fancy footwork and delicate balance bouncing off hits. If, heaven forbid, Purple Jesus was put in a tomb for three days this year over a football game, I wouldn't lose my shit knowing GerFart was moved into the starting spot with Booker behind him. SHOCKING!
Lorenzo Booker: I still like Lorenzo Booker, too. Sure, he fumbled one (out of bounds, guys, come on) but the rest of his moves and his potential make up for it. Also, eagle eyed PJD readers were immediately drawn to his first "Mic'd Up" session of the evening when he was practicing on the field early and had his jersey rolled up under his pads to show off his abs. I NEED A SCREEN CAP OF THIS IMMEDIATELY!
Bill Musgrave: This guy is no Childress and Bevell. Two things which stood out, scenario wise, which stress this point. 1) Backed up on our one after the Vikings stopped the Seahawks at the goal line on turnovers, Musgrave went shot gun three times in a row. Childress? 3 runs and a punt. Musgrave's football is way more fun. 2) As The Viking Age pointed out as well, 3rd and long in field goal range and Musgrave calls a shot to the endzone which probably would have worked had McNabb and Rudolph been on the same page. Childress and Bevell? Dump off to Tahi, PJD rages ad nauseum. These, are great improvements.
Defensive boner-tude: Similarly, the defense had some noticeable parts which stood out Saturday night. Not all of the defense, mind you. The safety play still looked offensive and no one stood out as the other outside linebacker, but there WERE some bright spots:
Everson Griffen: The dude looks solid. He's a bit too aggressive at times, where I saw him rush past his containment on TarVar or others, but he's got the bulk and speed to fill in like Ray Ray did, and, I think, should legitimately be given the chance to start over Robison if this continues.
Cedric Griffin: I don't think I actually noticed him do anything stellar in the game, but just the fact that I saw him out there during that first series, running with a receiver, making cuts and back pedaling ... it's SO good to see. Doesn't make me as nervous that we'll have to rely on Cook or anything. Because that would be an unmitigated disaster or tsunami proportions.
Defensive Tackles: Likewise, I didn't see a defensive tackle that stood out who tightened my pants or anything, but the goal-line stop was huge for this unit, as was the "seemingly" improved rush defense, especially up the middle. I say seemingly because I didn't look at the numbers actually and as far as the super reliable eye test goes, they have allowed me to not see DT as a glaring weak link on the defense, which makes me feel much better about life.
Joe Webb is a better quarterback than Pondexter at this time: This is just stating a fact, and really, probably not too big of a surprising one, but Joe Webb looks like such a much more polished quarterback than Pondexter. On Saturday night, Webb went through his progressions, showed a ridiculous strong arm (he could through a cat through a tank) and nice loft on his passes. I've spent five years watching TarVar laser a dump off pass through a fullbacks hands, allowing them zero percent chance of actually catching it, that just seeing some on throw a moderate lofted pass so someone can catch it blows my mind. Also, his elusiveness still looks great. The only thing with Webb is that he needs better accuracy on his deep balls. I don't really know if that's something that can be learned over time. It can be TAUGHT, sure, but can Joe actually get better? Is it an issue of familiarity with receivers? I don't know. But I like what Big Leslie is doing, mixing the 2 and 3 quarterback up with different starters to see how they play. In these two weeks, Webb has shown me he deserves the number two spot, and I think that's fine. You keep him at quarterback, let McDonovan play well, if he leaves next year let those two guys battle it out. Webb will be in his third year, Pondexter, hopefully, will be smarter, and we have a solid, healthy, decent quarterback battle on our hands.
Or, we just draft a legitimate starting quarterback some day and call it quits. Just once, for the love of god, please.
A winning haiku for a group of winners:
"I'll forgive your sins,
If you admit you leaving,
Was dumb. El-oh-el!
Tune in tomorrow as well as we're going to re-cap the "Tweets of the Game" again, and then on Wednesday announce the new entries in the PJD fantasy football league. Sorry it's taken so long, but it is what it is. ALSO, an important announcement regarding draft time for the league ... I have to push it forward, or backward, on Sunday the 28 due to a different conflicting draft schedule. If anyone has a preference (earlier on Sunday or later on Sunday, like 8/9 PM) even if you're not in the league yet, let me know in the comments.
Hurray for football being back!