Wake Me When Things Are Different: After watching the Minnesota Vikings get convincingly silenced by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night 17-6, I was a little bit confused. I thought I was watching a team from 2012? This is a new NFL year, right? There are new players and younger talent that has grown and learned the game since they were rookies, yes? Because I thought I was getting trolled until AT LEAST when McLeod Bethel-Thompson came in. I half expected McNabb to come waltzing out of the tunnel at any moment eating a Philly Cheese steak, dancing the whole way. It would have just felt pretty natural, because the team by and large didn't look very different from last year.
"But PJD, this is the preseason! Teams are playing vanilla schemes and trying not to show their hands! A bunch of starters were out! No one cares about winning! Other stupid comments that blind Purple Fans spout off because they want to keep their hope alive for the 2012 season!" Don't care. The 49ers seemed to be able to win still. Andrew Luck had a QB rating of 158.3 yesterday. Did the Colts just decide to open up the playbook for him? Point being, the team SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT look the same from one year to the next, ESPECIALLY when your previous year included you going 3-13. And they did. The same problems were there. Poor tackling, bad angles in the secondary, no separation from the wide receivers, questionable blocking from the offensive line (more so in the second and third units, I'll admit) ... Troublesome. VERY TROUBLESOME.
So let's scrutinize a meaningless game even more in this week's game recap:
Mushroom Stamp of Disapproval: For the noobs that are popping up, the Mushroom Stamp of (Dis)Approval is awarded in each game recap to a player that did well in a win, or did poorly in a loss. Unless Purple Jesus goes off in a game, we tend not to give it to him otherwise he'd probably get it every week. If the Vikings would have won on Friday, I totally would have given it to Kluwe because he had some awesome punts in conditions he said were worse than Soldier Field. That's pretty amazing, considering that place sucks balls. Unfortunately, the first Mushroom Stamp of Disapproval this season is going to Mistral Raymond, who was pretty much handed an opportunity to be a shit kicker on defense in a starting position and instead filled his pants with feces. There was one play in particular where the running back broke through the line and jutted to the right sideline where Raymond got himself sucked up so deep in the hole that it was like Boba Fett getting lost in the Sarlacc Pit. Unbelievable. It's not so much that it was Raymond that deserved it (I actually have high hopes for him this year) but rather just a reminder of the circumstances that I was hoping wouldn't happen again in 2012 appearing in the first game of the season. I cried a salty tear when it happened, and for that he gets stamped.
Joe Webb Might Be in Trouble: I'm just going to come out and say it ... Joe Webb looked AWFUL at quarterback. Awful. TarVar-esque. This is now, what, his third season? ... And he's shown the same tendencies to do the same stupid things in all three seasons, as a quarterback. His knack for scrambling 20 yards in to the backfield and forward again to only lose 2 is positively infuriating. I'd rather he just jump passed the ball or got hurt every time he was hit like Tarvaris ... Except that Webb DOES jump pass the ball. Terrible, terrible memories ... This isn't to say he's still not a good player or potentially valuable to the team. It's just becoming less and less likely that it happens at quarterback. Would I like to see him moved to wide receiver more often? Yes! Is Bill Musgrave smart enough to figure out a scheme to do that? Probably not! Which gives you another reason to believe that this team will be lucky to push the .500 mark at the end of the year.
Why People Back Paul Allen, I'll Never Know: If you were "lucky" enough to watch the game on local TV, you got "treated" to "the voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen, host on KFAN radio. I used all of those quotations because I was being facetious. I know people LOOOVVEE "PA" because he's a total rube who loves the Vikings as much as they do and he apparently does a real good job at calling the games? Although I can't tell because he's too busy using his Bermanisms when talking about players and talking in generalities about the game of football to really say anything instead of referencing meaningful advance or comparative stats. It baffles me that in a day and age where you have play by play hosts like John Fowke with the Wolves, a "lesser" important local team to require a radio voice or presence, honestly, that Vikings fans are stuck with PA. Not to say he doesn't have a place, or even that he should go. If he stuck to simple play by play and let the color commentator do their work, he'd be more tolerable. But the blow job he was giving McLeod on the air on Friday? Horrible. And that's an every 15 minute occurrence when you're listening to him during a game OR his radio broadcast. And, he was wrong. AND, he's wrong MOST of the time when he's talking sports. So am I, but I at least make no pretense about it. As Vikings fans, we deserve better, even if you don't think it. Who else would I suggest? I don't know, and that's not the point. But let's call it like we see it, huh? And if I had to name someone, I'd say Antoine Winfield when he retires, largely because of his silky smooth voice. He'd make my boxers moist. Or maybe Dan Barreiro? /Trolling101
Worthless Notes and Observations: The game happened like two days ago and everyone forgot about it or read a bunch of posts and articles about things online already. BUT I DIDN'T. And, you haven't read MY important PA-like thoughts on the game yet, so here they are:
- That little bastard Marcus Sherels is going to make the team again! Against all odds, he keeps getting all Thomas the Train on us and makes plays. I never would have guessed it out of a Gopher, but here we are. He looked pretty decent Friday night.
- Zacahry Bowman also looked OK. If he keeps this up, I wouldn't be surprised if he made it as the last CB. Chris Carr had some slip ups, but he didn't stand out as a total idiot, so that has to be a positive, right?
- Kyle Rudolph did look like one guy that has improved in the last 12 months. Maybe it was because we ran plays to him, or maybe him and Ponder really do have better chemistry. Either way, his catching and movement up-field looked pretty good. Likely, he'll have a pretty big role for us this year, and that's OK by me.
- Stephen Burton is interesting. He had the big catch from Ponder, but he also seems just steady enough to be a decent roster spot. I dont' think I'd be disappointed if he took Greg Childs spot this year, but I should probably see more out of him.
- Audie Cole looked good! Real good! I'd be lying if I said I was expecting this out of him. As a seventh round pick it's always a crap shoot, and I hadn't heard a ton out of him in mini and training camps. But he showed up with some nice awareness, tackling, and interference. His mic'd up skills weren't very solid though, so he'll need to improve that area.
- The starting offensive line looked ... Manageable? I recall Ponder scrambling to safety a couple of times, but not because of huge blown assignments of "Charlie Johnson on an Island" issues. That's encouraging.
- I know he has done so, but it seems like Toby Gerhart has never run for more than six yards at a time for us. Again, he did so on Friday with a long of 16, but it always surprises me when it happens!
What did we miss? Make sure to leave your impressions in the comments.
A Losing Haiku for a New Group of Losers:
"Riddle me this, Joe,
Have you ever seen a team
Lose at the coin toss?"
Whatever. It's a preseason game. Games two and three will be the real cock tease for football fans. Just get everyone healthy, get Purple Jesus a snap or two to get his feet back, and just get to the regular season. In the meantime, for us we're back to the grind. Game previews and recaps, some tweets possibly, interviews with opposing team blogs, Purple Jesus Diaries is right back in to your hearts and your loins! Tell a friend. But really ... tell a friend. We'd love more readers, because readers are fun.
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God that was brutal. I couldn't watch more than half the game. Thank goodness for booze. We are as doomed (or more?) than last year. Not to be a broken record here, but this team blows chunks. I have barely slightly maybe a tad more than zero expectations. Oh well, at least that way I'll be pleasantly surprised when (if?) if we more than 3 games.