Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tapping Out

Well, I never really knew where this would take me, or how long I would do it, but the answers are in: Not very far, and not very long. I just don't have the time to commit to full blog posts daily or even monthly.

Thanks for following me, all three of you. I will still post on the Vikings over at dailynorseman.com and vikingsvalhalla.com, but I'm bringing this blog to a close.

Thanks, and take care.

The Purple Buckeye

Monday, September 14, 2009

5 Takeaways from the Vikings Game

Five thoughts on the Vikings win over Cleveland:

1) This had all the makings of a Vikings 'play down to the competition' game, and it looked like that in the first half. This is where I think Favre's veteran presence made a difference. He stayed calm, didn't panic, made a couple of clutch third down throws and second and long throws, and the Vikes score two TD's and hold the ball for almost 13 minutes in the third quarter. Ballgame. Jackson seemed to...not rise up, if you will, in situations like that. Would Jackson have audibled into those throws or made those throws? Tough to say. Maybe he would've scrambled out of a couple of sacks that Favre took and made a big play. I know it's all speculative, but I also know you played the game, and having a vet and a leader at the QB position makes all the difference. It's something you can't measure, but you know it when you see it. I saw it in the Vikes yesterday.

The team has a different feel to it with Favre, one that exudes a quiet confidence, and one that doesn't panic. A 'I know they will do it' attitude as opposed to a 'I hope they can do it' attitude. That, my friend, is the difference between a Super Bowl team and a playoff team.

2) Adrian Peterson will exit the game as the best running back to ever play the game. Just think if we still had Moss. Excuse me while I go cry a little. Both AP and Favre made a 'pick your poison' comment in the post game pressers. Put 8 in the box and AP will still get three or four yards, and give you a manageable down and distance. Put 6 or 7 in the box, and AP will embarrass you, especially if you try and arm tackle him. Give Favre two weeks to get his timing down with his receivers and nail down hot reads, my God...

3) John Sullivan is an adequate replacement to Birk. I love Birk, but Sullivan acquitted himself well, I thought. He got owned on one play, but he did a good job. Ditto for Loadholt, but Cook was so damn mediocre last year a pulse and no false starts would have been an improvement.

4) Yeah, it was the Browns, but the defense was oppressive as the desert heat at noon. Jamal Lewis had a few decent runs, but I think the Vikings gameplan was to not worry about him, to be honest. Lewis is what, older than Favre? He's gonna get a couple of 10-20 yard runs, but he's not a home run hitter, and when the Vikings needed to stop a short run, they did. I think they went into the game wanting to give Brady Quinn about 310 different looks to confuse him, and it worked. The only significant yardage the Browns had was in garbage time once the Vikings second string was on the field. Awesome defensive display.

5) My Dad and I ripped Chilly for the onside kick, but after 24 hours to digest it, I like the move. If the Vikes get the ball, they get momentum, and if they go down and score, game is probably over by halftime. It also sends a message to the defense that if it fails, we still believe that you will give up no worse than a field goal. It's the opening game, against a team you should beat soundly, so there was really little risk. Hell, the Browns weren't driving 50 yards to score a touchdown; just wasn't gonna happen. And as much as we've criticized Chilly about being too conservative, so when he opens it up and rolls the dice we shouldn't crucify him. I mean, it's not like he ran a fake punt inside his own 30 clinging to a two point lead with the game hanging in the balance.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chewing on the Mouthpiece

Well, some intemperate thoughts looking back on a great weekend of college and professional football.

Adrian Peterson 34, Browns 20: There are good players, great players, and once in a generation player. After watching Adrian Peterson rush for 155 second half yards and toss around defensive backs like he was pulling weeds, Peterson, barring injury, will end his career as the greatest running back in NFL history. What he is doing is truly remarkable, and just when I think I've seen an 'Oh my God!' moment, he does something even more incredible. He has the line of scrimmage vision of Barry Sanders, the speed and power of Walter Payton, and the attitude of Jim Brown. He is a wrecking machine, and whenever he gets the ball, you expect something great to happen...and it usually does. Be thankful, Viking fans, that we can cheer a talent of this magnitude. It doesn't come along very often, and leaves far before we're ready for it to.

As for the rest of the Vikings, I like the feel of this team. You know that the offense will go through Peterson, and I think the veteran leadership or calming presence of Brett Favre really hasn't been talked about today. This was a classic 'play down to the level of competition' game for Minnesota. Historically, they're terrible outside on grass, and this had all the earmarks of a nail biter with one screwy play or turnover costing Minnesota the game late. At halftime, it seemed like you could see the game unfolding that way. But the Vikes came out and took their first two drives and shoved the ball right down the throat of the Browns, effectively ending the game. When you have a vet like Favre, who stays calm under early adversity, it allows the rest of the offense to take a deep breath, collect themselves, and go to work. Put in an exciteable or inexperienced guy, doubt creeps in, people start pressing, mistakes are made and then the game is lost.

Favre made a couple of clutch throws on both those drives on either third and long (Shiancoe for a first down) or second and long (Harvin on 2nd and long to set up third and short inside the 10) to keep drives alive and set up a touchdown. Peterson scores a touchdown four plays after the Shiancoe catch, Vikes take a 17-13 lead. Harvin scores the next play after his clutch catch, and then Peterson cuts the heart out of the Browns with his amazing 4th quarter run.

Would Jackson or Rosenfels have made those plays? I'll let you decide.

Percy Harvin had an impressive debut. I liked his ability to catch a ball, sit down in a zone or find a seam. He has a nose for the end zone, and as the season progresses he will really begin to stretch the field.

NFC North Quarterbacks not named Brett Favre: Matthew Stafford was 16-37, 205 yards and three picks as the Lions got drilled by the Saints. Hey, the kid's a rookie making his first start, and the Lions didn't lay down. Interceptions are part of the growing process for a rookie. Let's hope the Vikings secondary helps him grow next week.

Jay Cutler managed to look like every other quarterback that the Bears have employed in the past 25 years. Wow, was he horrid. Occasional good throw, but he also had 4 picks, including two in the red zone and the back breaker to Al Harris to clinch it for the Pack. Brian Urlacher looked like he was ready to kill someone as he was walking off the field. Kyle Orton had a better game than Cutler did, which is saying something. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, stood tall in the face of a tough defense all night, didn't make any game breaking mistakes, and drove Green Bay to the win with about a minute to go.

USC 18, OSU 15: Damn. Just.....damn it. Terrelle Pryor needs a signature win for OSU to get to the level of national championship contender. Right now, for all his talent, I don't see it. He can run, he's got a strong arm, but he gets rattled and seemingly can't read defenses. It's either that or he's unsure of what he sees and gets tentative. Great defensive effort was wasted, and OSU could, and should have, won that game. If Pryor can learn from this and get better, OSU wins the Big 10 and goes to a BCS game. But I expect at least one more loss, to either Penn State or Michigan.

The Big 10: I think the Big 10 had a good weekend, even with the outcome of the USC game. Michigan won a classic against Notre Dame, and it appears that the demise of Michigan football has been greatly exaggerated. Yeah, Michigan State spit the bit against Central Michigan, but everyone else in the conference won, and Minnesota opened up an outdoor stadium on campus. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and it's great for the Gopher program and the conference. And it makes me yearn for an outdoor Vikings stadium. And they beat a pretty good Air Force team in the process.

Overall, a great weekend of football. Let's hope the Vikes keep it rolling at Detroit and OSU can bounce back against Toledo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vikes Wade-ed Too Late to Release Bobby

So Bobby Wade was let go, right before the beginning of the regular season, and right after he agreed to a 50% pay cut. Ouch. This is just another example of the…uneasiness…that Brad Childress gives me as a head coach.

To be fair, Childress has done some good things as coach of the Vikings. The talent he has brought to the defense is flat out impressive. Granted, he gets help from the college scouting department and ownership when he wants to get a guy like Jared Allen, but he still went out and had to convince them to be a Viking. His methodical plan to get the Vikings back to one of the elite teams in the NFL started with an overhaul of the offensive and defensive lines, and he has done that. The second thing he did was commit to a strong running game. With the free agent acquisition of Chester Taylor and the drafting of Adrian Peterson, that can be checked off as accomplished. The Vikings have improved each year under Childress, and are a legitimate Super Bowl contender entering 2009.

But where Childress seems to lack is in his handling, or mishandling, of personnel. In 2006, Marcus Robinson, who was arguably the best red zone option on a team that thought offensive touchdowns a luxury, found himself given a pink slip on Christmas Eve. He wasn’t injured, he was a starting wide receiver, but he popped off to the St Paul Pioneer press at the end of a frustrating season and was sent walking.

On the day before Christmas. Nice. Ho, ho, ho, Marcus. Now pack your shit.

And there are other guys as well that have been done wrong by Childress and the Vikings. Matt Birk was not offered a chance to retire as a Viking and is now in Baltimore. But before that, he went to Harvard. Daunte Culpepper and Brad Childress got into it about 11 seconds after Chilly's introductory press conference, and he was shipped off to Miami for the draft pick that eventually became Ryan Cook. He invested a lot of time and effort into Tarvaris Jackson as his quarterback, tried to further upgrade the depth by trading for a solid backup in Sage Rosenfels...and then pretty much both told them without telling them they sucked when he wooed Brett Favre. Yesterday, Bobby Wade took a 50% pay cut for catching 105 passes the last two years and being a pretty decent slot guy. Today, he's unemployed.

I'm no longer a kid, and I understand that football is a business, and you can make a legitimate argument that the Vikings needed to get younger on the offensive line, and that there might have been legitimate reasons for releasing Wade. But there's a way to go about letting people go, and then there's what Childress and the Vikings have done to some fairly high profile guys since 2006. Football is about building team chemistry and asking guys to suffer and bleed and buy what you're selling, so as a group you can achieve great things.

So when you ask a guy to take a pay cut and then turn around and cut him the week before the season begins, what message does that send? If the coach doesn't have their back, wiill they cover his? I doubt it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Going off Tangent, One Time Only

I try not to get political in here. This is a sports blog, and as such, I try to avoid wading into waters that don't relate to either the Vikes or the Bucks. But this time, I must comment on something that I saw today.

This is about that picture that was taken by an Associated Press photographer of a mortally wounded United States Marine, and then published by multiple news outlets in the United States.

Frankly, this photograph and subsequent publishing is despicable on several levels. 99% of Americans don't know and frankly don't care what trials Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines endure. And we don't care that you don't care, if we're being brutally honest. We do our job, as we have volunteered to do, and ask nothing in return, except for the government to live up to their end of the contract that we signed--a modest pension (if we do 20 years and retire), mediocre health care (and trust me, the VA sucks), and a headstone in a cemetary when we die.

We ask for neither glory nor recognition, only food, water, and enough ammunition to press the fight to the enemy.

When we bleed and die, let us do it amongst our own, our brothers in arms, for only they really, truly know what we do and what we deal with on a daily basis. What I did in Afghanistan I will never share with my family, because (yes, this is trite and cliche, but accurate) unless you were there, you don't know. If you don't know, the feelings and raw emotions of war cannot be explained, except with those that have shared it. If you want to experience the raw emotion of a firefight or lose a good friend to an RPG, enlist or get a commission as an officer. Jump in all the way, or stay the hell out, and spare us what you think this picture might do to "influence the opinion of the war", because I really don't give two flying shits what your opinion of the war is.

War sucks, how's that for an opinion?

His family didn't need to see this, nor should they. Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard needs to be remembered for who he was and how he lived, not how he died. His family didn't want this photo published, and I know if it was me that was dying in a far away land, I wouldn't want it all over the Internet, either.

This wasn't published to honor him or the sacrifice he made, as the photographer suggests, but to advance an agenda.

The photographer who took this photo and the media outlets that published it to promote that political agenda deserve our scorn, not our praise.

That is reserved for LCpl Bernard.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Scott Studwell's Stare to be Inducted Into the Ring of Honor

There's a good chance that you've never heard of one of the greatest Vikings to ever don the purple, at least as a player. Scott Studwell, arguably the best linebacker in Vikings history, will have his name enshrined in the Viking Ring of Honor during a haltime ceremony Nov. 26. As a guy that has been a Vikings fan since the early 1970's, I was surprised that he wasn't already in there, and then when I realized how overlooked he has been both as a player and a front office executive it didn't really surprise me at all.

His time as a player was a 'tweener' period for the organization--his rookie season was in 1977, the season after the Vikings last appeared in the Super Bowl, and his career ended in 1990, right before the string of success the Vikes had with The Sheriff, Denny Green. The 1980's, with the exception of a deep playoff run in 1987, was a pretty forgettable decade, both on and off the field. Bud Grant retired, Les Steckel was hired and fired, the franchise moved away from the frigid Bloomington prairie and into the Metropimple, and the Vikings traded for Herschel Walker. If the 1970's were a decade of excellence highlighted with 4 Super Bowl trips, the 1980's were marked by mediocre football, some pretty bad teams, a historically bad trade, and one magical run during a strike-shortened season that slipped through Darrin Nelson's hands. On the fucking goal line. As time expired. FUCK! Sorry, better now.

During Studwell's career, the Vikings made the playoffs 7 times, three in his first four seasons as the Purple People Eaters aged and retired. All Studwell did was was retire as the Vikings all-time leader in combined tackles, defensive tackles, single season tackles, single game tackles, and soul crushing stares that would make opponents wet their pants. Seriously, you old guys and gals remember--he had that Mike Singletary stare down long before Mike Singletary was in the NFL. I mean Jeebus, he looked at me through the TV with that stare of his and it could give a kid nightmares. It was the most intense look I've ever seen on a human being's face.

I've been scared, really scared, four times in my life--three of them were in Afghanistan when I thought I might not be making it home after all, and the fourth was when I got to meet Scott Studwell in 2006 when I covered the Vikings for a now defunct website. When I looked into his eyes and shook his hand (his grip broke four bones, by the way) I thought he was going to kill me as he was smiling and saying 'nice to meet you, Ted.' He doesn't look at you, he looks THROUGH you. But Studwell and Mike Tomlin were the nicest guys I met in Mankato, though.

Most of today's Vikings fans know Studwell as the front office guy in charge of college scouting. If you want to completely discount Studwell's numbers as inflated because he was a talented guy on a bad defense, then fine. I respectfully submit you're wrong and HIGHLY recommend you not let Mr. Studwell know how you feel lest he burn a hole into your soul when he looks at you. I would still argue he should be inducted just based on his body of work as a personnel guy. Think about this for a minute--when Studwell joined the front office, they were just starting to feel the fallout of the Walker trade and how many early first round draft picks they DIDN'T have, and he made lemonade out of lemons, helping to find guys like Jake Reed (3rd round 1991) Brad Johnson (9th round 1992), and Ed McDaniel (5th in '92). All of those players became significant contributors to the success of the 1990's teams, and Studwell's efforts have increased over time, resulting in what is arguably some of the strongest drafts in club history starting in 2006.

But like his playing days, he never really gets his due credit for his contributions. He logs thousands of miles on the road looking for potential NFL players, and his department helps to largely determine who could and who couldn't be a Minnesota Viking. The superstars are easy to find, but it's the late round guys who could become an All-Pro where a team is built, and that's where Studwell's department make their money. They've had a lot more hits than misses since he's moved to the front office, and those hits off the field mirror the savage ones he delivered on the field.

Congratulations to Scott Studwell. Thanks for giving a shit and playing to the final gun when it looked like some of your teammates in the early 1980's weren't, and thanks for helping keep the roster stocked with enough talent that we can today call the Vikings a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

All I have is one request. Please don't look directly into the camera during your induction ceremony. I'm older now and my bladder isn't what it used to be, and even though I know you'll have no malice in your heart, there's a good chance I'll still pee my pants from fright.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favregnugen Winners and Losers

Look, I apologize. I want to write more; really I do. I'm just busier than hell, so I try and get some comments up on Viva El Birdos, Daily Norseman, or Vikings Valhalla. I promise I'll try and do better.

I was a fan of Favre becoming a Viking two years ago, so yeah, I'm happy about it. Packer fans are apoplectic, the Vikings now have the look and feel of a legitimate championship contender, and the Vikings now have an inside track to get a new stadium deal done, which was arguably the main reason I want him in purple.

Oh, wait. Nevermind on that last part.

So who wins and who loses in this deal? Let's break it down.


Zygi Wilf--In his time as owner, Zygi Wilf has become the anti-Red McCombs. He has been aggressive in getting talent, and when the coaching staff has asked for money to get a guy, he hasn't hesitated about writing the check. Wilf has given the coaching staff all they have asked for, and he is now reaping the financial windfall and fan loyalty that might, just might, start framing the stadium debate in his favor. Gov. Pawlenty's initial comments are far from encouraging, but a Super Bowl run can change a lot of minds.

Brett Favre--Yeah, he's a prima donna. Yeah, he loves the spotlight, but did you see the reaction when he landed? Proper, refined, and very Lutheran Minnesota flipped the fuck OUT. There was a helicopter following his drive from the airport to Winter Park, which turned into one part Beatles concert, one part Health Care Townhall, and no parts Lutefisk social. He is now loved in a place he was despised and he plays indoors, playing with a potentially explosive offense. He gets a chance to give the 'eat my ass' to Ted Thompson he wanted to give last year, he's got $25 more million in the bank, and he's on a team that is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Vikings Defense--The Vikings defense never said it, but there were times when you could almost feel the frustration of pitching a near shutout and coming up short due to offensive ineptitude over the last few seasons. Favre gives the offense instant creditability in the defensive side of the locker room, and puts them on equal footing talent wise. The defense can now breathe a little bit, take more gambles now and then, and not worry about falling behind by 10 points anymore.

Receivers--If Brett Favre can make Bill Schroeder, Javon Walker, and Antonio Freeman 1,000 yard receivers, then Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, and Bobby Wade are going to Canton, baby!! Seriously, they have the chance to have career years.

Adrian Peterson--Peterson's stated goal has been to rush for 2,000 yards, and he has his best chance to do it. Defenses will now have to play the Vikings honest, and that means more running room for Peterson. He has been devastating running against eight man fronts; my penis gets hard thinking about him running against normal looks.

Sage Rosenfels--Look, I panned the Vikings for working on the Rosenfels trade for two years, but Sage has been a stand-up guy through all of this. It had to be tough to play solidly in your debut, then watch the statewide orgy over Favre take place, and then stand in front of the cameras and say you'll do whatever's necessary to help the team win. When this does become your team, Mr. Rosenfels, the locker room and the fanbase will have your back.

My Dad--He's 80, and has suffered through all the agony since 1961. He now lives down the street and we get to enjoy the games every week. We have our last, best hope for a Vikings championship in his lifetime, and I think I can speak for all Fathers and Sons out there when I say I want to share a championship with my Dad before he leaves. I'm not asking for a dynasty, nor an undefeated season, just a Vince Lombardi trophy. He gave me this love for the Vikings, and it would be sweet to share the greatest of joys with him after suffering through some of the most agonizing, torturous defeats in NFL history. He's ecstatic, so I am ecstatic.


Packer Fans--'Losers' and 'Packer Fans' is about as oxymoronic as it gets, but SUCK IT GREEN AND GOLD!!! BOO-FUCKIN-YAH!!!!! How's it feel for your Idol to give you the ultimate finger and play for your HATED rival?

Tarvaris Jackson and/or JD Booty--One of them is gone. The numbers don't support 4 QB's on the roster, so unless the Vikes can get Booty on the practice squad, they will have a depth issue come Mankato this time next year.

The NFC North--The Vikes put a stranglehold on the division before the first coin flip. Green Bay and Chicago are playing for a wild card spot, and Detroit is playing for a win. Just one.

Brad Childress--Chilly really handled this poorly, but Favre's on the team, so I don't care. He's probably alienated Rosenfels and TJ, but winning can put a damper on hurt feelings. He pushed his pile of chips all in, though, and if this blows up in his face and the Vikes don't at least win a playoff game, I have to think he's done as coach.

Vikings Fans--As much as seeing Favre in purple made me actually laugh with delight, we saw a glimpse of the 'look at me' downside of Favre--the on again, off again drama, the late press conference, the media circus. It won't be a problem in about three days, but it will be a problem in about 340, because the Vikes signed him to a two year contract. So come February, we will be held hostage with all the drama we used to lampoon the Packer fans over. Get used to it and be an adult about it; we dished it out, so we'll have to take it.