Monday, November 8, 2010

Favre, Vikings: Stop playing with fire, or you'll keep getting burned

Sunday was the exception for the Minnesota Vikings — they had been burned plenty of times this season, but apparently Brett Favre and the offense had not yet learned the lesson.

Just how many times can a team turn the ball over or make a crucial mistake and recover from it?

Every loss this season you were sitting there watching the game with your fingers crossed, hoping the Vikings defense could get one last stop to give the offense a chance to tie the game late. This time, against the Cardinals, the situation was no different — except for the result.

That’s always the case for one reason: a myriad of miscues.

First, Minnesota allowed LaRod Stephens-Howling to score a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff after Adrian Peterson gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead. Then there was yet another freak unfortunate play involving Percy Harvin when he was held up on a kick return of his own and forced to fumble the ball, which was returned for another touchdown.

And on offense, one of Favre’s two interceptions was thrown on the goal line and the other should’ve been returned for a touchdown had Greg Camarillo not have made a super-human effort type of play.

In the red zone, Minnesota turned the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter and also settled for a field goal earlier in the game — the Vikings missed opportunities.

It seems like during every Vikings game this year, the fourth quarter rolls around and Minnesota scrambles to erase the demons from the first three quarters. Usually the clock has run out, leaving the Vikings burned.

But against the Cardinals, Favre had a little bit of that magic dust left in him to squeeze two touchdowns into the final five minutes of regulation to force overtime. Maybe it wasn’t magic though. Maybe the Cardinals just aren’t that good.

Arizona only managed to score 10 points against the Vikings defense all game though. On the day, Minnesota only allowed 225 yards and forced the Cardinals to punt the ball eight times — including three to start the game and three times in the fourth quarter and overtime to help the Vikings come back.

So I’m sure it felt good to watch Favre’s rainbow pass fall right into the hands of Visanthe Shiancoe for the game-tying touchdown with less than 30 seconds left to play. Favre had just completed a 77-yard drive in less than two minutes, with no timeouts. But why should Minnesota have had to resort to that?

Clearly the Vikings were the better team on Sunday, right? Minnesota dominated on offense with over 500 yards. Well, that’s true, besides the mistakes and the turnovers that plagued the unit, until those final three possessions of the game. The defense certainly held up its end of the bargain. Larry Fitzgerald is going to get his yards, and there may have been a mistake or two on the Cardinals’ touchdown drive, but that’s forgivable compared to the offense.

There’s no reason not to expect Minnesota to win by three touchdowns if you saw how well the Vikings defense played and if you knew how talented the Minnesota offense is.

Turnovers and mistakes like the ones the Vikings make can kill teams. How can you expect to win games if you’re giving the opponent two touchdowns and repeatedly shooting yourself in the foot throughout the game. No one is questioning how talented this Minnesota offense is.

I wonder just how good are the Vikings, though.

Minnesota hasn’t been good enough, or lucky enough, or whatever you want to call it, to come back from these holes the team digs itself all season. Just because the Vikings pulled it off against Arizona doesn’t mean we should be encouraged.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me all season, then maybe that’s what this offense is: a talented group that turns the ball over, that struggles to score in the red zone at times and a group that can’t string together a consistent quality effort without a crucial mistake.

It’s easy to just say that the Vikings need to cut back on the mistakes — they haven’t done it though. There aren’t enough possessions in a game to do what Minnesota does game in and game out.

Favre finally found a way to pull off that late comeback win that the Vikings have fallen on the wrong side of all season. And 3-5 looks a whole lot better than 2-6. Minnesota still has playoff hopes today thanks to that comeback. The chance may be small, but it’s still alive. They can’t expect to continue to win games like this though.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if Minnesota is going to make the playoffs this year the Vikings need to stop playing with fire.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vikings Need a Win Vs. Arizona. Duh.

There’s no way of finessing the situation – the Vikings need a win against Arizona or their season will be lost. At 2-5 they still have a decent shot at the playoffs, given the weakness of the NFC. But if they slide to 2-6? You can kiss any realistic hope of a 2010 playoff run goodbye. And, if last week’s reports are to be believed, you can probably kiss Brad Childress goodbye as well.

Judging from the sentiments being expressed by most Viking fans, there will be few tears shed if Childress is indeed sent packing by Zygi Wilf. The fact is that, from almost the moment of his hiring, Childress has been an unpopular figure with Minnesota fans. His manner has often seemed patronizing, his offense has often been boring, and his handling of players has often been clumsy. And I haven’t even mentioned his game management skills. However, if the Vikings should lose to Arizona this weekend, and Childress should subsequently be fired: I ask the vociferous Chilly-haters, what then? Would getting rid of Childress and elevating Leslie Frasier to head coach actually result in a run of wins? Or, would the Vikings’ problems remain even without Childress at the helm?

I have no doubt that Childress has done things to deserve being on shaky ground with his owner. However, if the owner fires Childress simply because Childress irritated him…well, how then would Wilf be any different than Childress himself, who got on the hot seat precisely because he allowed Randy Moss‘ comments about him to bother him personally? At some point, somebody in the Vikings organization has to put personal feelings aside and run this thing like a professional organization. In my mind, Childress getting fired now would demonstrate that Wilf is no more in command of things than Childress. The firing of the coach would not restore my faith in the organization; on the contrary, it would prove to me that the organization is in profound disarray, from the top down.

The fact is, a lot of what’s gone wrong this year has not been Childress’ fault. Did Childress injure Sidney Rice’s hip? Did he cause Brett Favre to suffer a bad elbow and bad ankle? Did he hurt Cedric Griffin’s ACL? Did he cause the pass rush to mysteriously vanish? Blaming Childress for everything that’s gone wrong in 2010 is, I think, a little too easy. And thinking Childress’ firing would magically fix the Vikings is naive at best.

No, the best thing for the Vikings now would not be a Childress firing but a win Sunday against the Cardinals. If the Vikings are going to get this much-needed victory, it appears they will have to do so without Percy Harvin, who injured an ankle early against the Patriots and has spent the whole week hobbling through practice. With Moss gone and Rice and Harvin hurt, the Vikings would be left with Bernard Berrian as their #1 receiver…but even Berrian was listed on the injury report this week with a bad groin. If you want to find a healthy Vikings receiver you have to go down the list to guys like Greg Camarillo, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett. Needless to say, Brett Favre himself is not exactly 100%.

With Favre still not fully himself and the receiver corps greatly diminished, it figures to be another rough week for the passing game. At this point we should’ve long-since resigned ourselves to the reality that, if the Vikings do manage to put together some wins this year, they will not be pretty wins. The 2009 offense ain’t walking through that door. The only thing that’s working this year is running the ball with Adrian Peterson…and if Childress elects to leave Peterson on the field, maybe he will even have a chance to carry the team. If Childress has any survival instinct at all, he will scrap his “mixing in Toby Gerhart” plan and just ride Peterson. I wouldn’t presume to tell Mr. Childress how to do his job, but it seems to me that when you do get some offensive momentum going, it would be a good idea not to yank your best player.

The key word when addressing the defense this week is “bounce back.” As in, these guys need to bounce back from getting undressed in the second half by Tom Brady and the Patriots. Asher Allen got exposed as not a very good football player last week, and overall, the tackling was just not good enough – sort of shocking when you consider that, for the last few years, the Vikings have sported one of the best tackling units in the league. Obviously, with the secondary looking shakier by the week, the onus falls more-and-more on the front-four, which has not exactly been rising to the challenge. I could do the easy thing here and blame it all on Jared Allen, but the fact is, the line in general has just not been getting consistent penetration, and that’s showing up both in the pass rush and the run defense. If the guys in the middle – the alleged strength of our defense – get more penetration, quarterbacks will get flushed more and Allen will run into more sacks. Frankly, I’m beginning to believe our real problem is that Kevin Williams has hit the downslope of his career. Outside of the occasional batdown, what plays is he making? The Williams Wall this year has looked more like the Williams Chicken Wire Fence. I don’t want to sound too harsh, but frankly, Brett Favre isn’t the only old washed-up guy on our team. Pat Williams is about done; and if you want to extend this discussion out to the team as a whole, I think you can add Antoine Winfield and Steve Hutchinson to the list of guys who are fading quickly. We knew the window was going to close on this team this year, but what we didn’t realize was that, for a few of the key veterans, it was already down to a crack.

Brad Childress can’t stop Father Time any more than he could stop Randy Moss from being a prick. But, when you’re a coach in the NFL, the reality is that you’re going to be blamed for everything, even the stuff that’s out of your hands. Childress’ problem this year is that everything came to a head at once: certain key guys got old, certain young guys got hurt, and a certain desperation set in that led to the single most disastrous personnel move of Childress’ tenure. Of course, Chilly still deserves plenty of blame, for the sometimes bizarre and boneheaded way he reacted to all these issues. However, I reiterate, firing Childress won’t make that stuff go away. Only a win, ugly or otherwise, will dispel the Cloud of Doom currently darkening the Vikings’ skies.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who's underachieving and who's not on the Vikings

The Vikings return most of the same roster that went 12-4 last season, but many of those starters simply haven't maximized their potential during the Vikings' 2-5 start. Here's a closer look at how the 2009 starters are performing this season:


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Has disappeared for most of the season, with only nine catches for 87 yards.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: Leads the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: The devastating news of Rice's hip surgery in late August decimated the Vikings' pass offense, and it has not recovered.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Is no longer Favre's favorite red-zone target with one touchdown catch compared with 11 last season.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: Is hoping for a long-term contract, and has kicked the fumble habit while setting a pace for more than 1,700 rushing yards.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Age, injuries and passing inaccuracy have plagued Favre this season after a dream 2009 campaign.


Ranking: Even arrow

Why: Gets burned occasionally, but he's generally a viable left tackle in this league.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: The bar has been set high for this seven-time Pro Bowler, and although he's been adequate, he's not been his dominant self.


Ranking: Even arrow

Why: When healthy, he's proved to be steady, calling protections and run blocking.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: At times, has created gaping holes for Peterson.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Looked poised to make the leap in 2010, but he's been hampered by speed rushes and penalties.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Hasn't recorded a sack since the Miami game after two consecutive years of 14.5 sacks.


Ranking: Even arrow

Why: Is still a beast up the middle with seven pass deflections and 30 tackles, but his sack production is down.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: A reliable run stopper in spurts, but he's not having a stellar season at age 38.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Despite plenty of quarterback pressures early in the season, his overall body of work is not strong.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: The team's defensive MVP this season is on pace for 169 tackles.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: Recovered from a fractured left femur to record 47 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble through seven games.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: Is on pace for four more tackles than last season while recording a crucial interception in the Detroit game.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: Is still the same physical open-field tackler and has kept a depleted secondary afloat.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Despite his pace for close to 90 tackles, Williams has whiffed on big-play chances and doesn't close the gap quickly.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Has played sparingly after Husain Abdullah took over the starting job in the preseason.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Never got the chance to build on his four-interception 2009 campaign after suffering a second torn anterior cruciate ligament in October.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: Hard to argue with 6 for 6 on field goals, but you'd have thought Longwell would get more work because the Vikings would be in the red zone more. Not the case.


Ranking: Up arrow

Why: Is tied for sixth in the league with 14 punts inside the 20-yard line.


Ranking: Down arrow

Why: Whether a fan of Childress or not, it's still hard to believe the Vikings have started off this poorly.

— Compiled by Jeremy Fowler

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Childress, Why moss?

Childress On Bubble Of Being Let Go

Say it ain't so!

After a five year absence, Randy Moss was finally back wearing the famed Minnesota Viking "84" jersey. The jersey, many Viking fans longed to see him in.

After four games back where he belongs, Brad Childress, you mean to report that you have waived him? Why? Was your ego jilted? Was your ultra-thinned skin damaged by the truth?

After your Minnesota Viking team was defeated in New England 28-18 last Sunday, were you left in envy of a franchise that is everything yours is not? A winner?

Yes, the Patriots, winners of three Super Bowls in four appearances during the 2000's, also currently stand at 6-1, the best record in the league. Your team is 2-5 and sinking fast.

You have more talent on your roster than they do, but they have a great head coach on their sideline and you Brad Childress, are no great head coach. Frankly, you are not even a good one.

In Moss' post-game press conference when he referred to Bill Belichick as the best coach of all time, were you insulted because he did not bestow that title upon you? Perhaps you feel your 1-2 playoff record outshines Belichick's 15-5 playoff record?

Maybe you acted in haste, because during that press conference, Moss revealed to everyone, how even with him explaining the Patriots offense to you and your coaching staff, you still could not stop them.

Or, could it be you wasted a future third round draft pick, because you are upset about Moss' alledged outburst over a locker room meal? Is that why you suddenly decided to waive the second most prolific receiver in Viking history?

Currently, do you not have a quarterback on your roster being investigated by the NFL for possible misconduct that could result in a lawsuit? Is he getting ready to be waived also, or is his 29th ranked quarterback passer rating so impressive it warrants him receiving preferrential treatment?

Oh that's right, you said that you want "good people" on your team. Really? Seriously? Are you not the one who cut Marcus Robinson on Christmas Eve? Yes, Christmas Eve, because the receiver - who led the team in touchdown receptions at the time - dared to speak out about your dreadful offense that was so predictable, it would not have been able to outsmart a fifth grader.

You are such a "good person", that a few years ago you simply could not resist fining Troy Williamson for taking too long in South Carolina, attending the funeral of his grandmother who raised him, and taking care of her affairs. Yes, such a wonderful show of compassion on your part.

During last season's playoffs, your "class act" was on full display as you had an- already-selfish, stat-driven quarterback throw two unnecessary late fourth-quarter touchdowns to drub your outmatched Dallas Cowboy opponent 34-3.

Zygi Wilf, you own the Vikings, it is time for you to break your silence, and begin cleaning up this mess that is your franchise. It is time to acknowledge that your first and only coaching hire thus far, has been a mistake. A big one. Cut your losses.

When you hired Childress in 2006, his first order of business was alienating Daunte Culpepper, the third most prolific passer in Viking history. He unceremoniously cut Culpepper, the franchise quarterback at the time, just prior to the start of that season.

Now the latest fiasco has Moss being cut suddenly without any reasonable explanation being provided. What sense does this make? Here says that Moss will one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that Childress will not.

Moss has played on the two highest scoring offenses in NFL history, the '98 Vikings and the '07 Patriots. This year, in the four games he played in, Moss boosted the per game scoring average from a paltry average of 14, to a respectable average of 21. Yet, just like that, he is gone, and realistically, so is this season.

The time has come that Brad Childress should be fired. The team is in total turmoil, there is no present indication that a turnaround is soon on its way. So why wait? The Vikings need a fresh start.

Remember Mr. Owner, how on New Year's Day, 2006, you didn't even wait until then Head Coach, Mike Tice, could even make it to the locker room to address his players after the victorious season finale? You fired him right on the spot in a room off of the tunnel. You certainly did not wait then, why wait now?

Your current coach has turned your organization into a joke, that lacks humor. It is unimaginable how there could be any respect for him in that locker room now.

In his four and a half seasons, at most a handful of teams have had as many Pro Bowl players on their rosters as he has had on his, yet Childress has only been able to produce a mediocre overall regular season record of 38-33.

As Brad Childress continues to run the organization into the ground, his ineptitude begins to reflect more and more upon the ownership. Just curious to know Mr. Wilf, what is the ownership going to do about it?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Minnesota Vikings: Randy Moss Explained

Vikings PhotosFull disclosure: I’ve been a Vikings fan since approximately 1970. I started attending about one home Vikings game per year in 1993. When 1998 came around, I told my then-wife that—if she still wanted to see the NFL on a yearly basis—we would need to buy season tickets.

The reason? No. 84.

Today marks the second day in my life that my favorite team has—and I cannot stress the next word enough—incorrectly decided to take Randy Moss away from Viking Nation.

The first time was after the 2004 season—a year in which an over-hyped QB named Daunte Culpepper would have won the NFL MVP had it not been for some guy named Peyton—and Randy was ignominiously traded to the Oakland Raiders. (Remember this, class. It comes up on the quiz.)

Randy languished in Oakland with no direction, no quarterback and no reason to excel. He considered retirement. (Actually, he considered retirement as soon as the trade was announced.)

Daunte Culpepper went on to…whatever. In his defense, I will say he entered the 2005 season in the best shape of his career. But without his bail-out option, he proved to be what most of us knew him to be—another guy wearing a purple jersey. Nothing special. Not bad, but not a world-beater, either. I hear he looks great in the UFL.

Fast-forward to 2007. After dealing with the loser mentality in Oakland for two years (quiz time!) Randy was traded to the New England Patriots. Under the coaching staff and imaginative game plans of Bill Belichick—which included such great plays as “Randy Go Deep”—the Patriots became the highest-scoring offense in NFL history. And who did they beat? The 1998 Vikings. But I digress…

Randy continued to produce in New England until this year, when he let it be known at the beginning of the season that he was looking for a contract extension. He said at the time that New England wouldn’t offer that because that isn’t the way they do business, which is true. Ask Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel or a host of others if you’re in doubt.

(Aside: Since 2001 and the Korey Stringer training camp death, the one thing I have said about Randy is, “Keep him away from a microphone unless you want to hear the truth.” Again, keep that in mind for the quiz.)

So here come the Vikings, offering a third-round pick for Randy. The Patriots gladly accept, the Minnesota Vikings fans go crazy—myself included—and Randy takes back No. 84. All is right with the world.

Except this: Randy smells Oakland, not New England. Randy knows this is a contract year. And—gasp!—Randy has access to a microphone!

So what does Randy do? If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Randy told the truth in front of that microphone. He told the world how the Vikings were out-coached by the Patriots. He said that he tried to help, but that it fell on deaf ears. He sensed a commitment to crap.

In a contract year, he needs to be somewhere where they will use him as John Madden once suggested. “You have to throw it deep to him once per quarter or he’ll sulk,” I can still remember the old man saying. And that’s kind of the deal.

The other side is that Randy wants to win. The Vikings are not winners. They don’t act like winners. They don’t smell like winners. And they sure as hell aren’t coached to win.

So, for the second time in my life, my favorite team has given up on my favorite player. And for the second time they fired the wrong guy. I can only wonder if Brad Childress will look great in the UFL. Lord knows I won’t watch him.

But I’ll watch Randy in Seattle, Denver, KC or wherever. And he’ll rise above it. Because he IS that good. And people will wonder, “Why couldn’t he do that as a Viking?”

The answer: We fired the wrong guy. Again.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Moss Takes The Podium After Loss To Former Team

Brett Favre Has His Chin Lacerated

Randy Moss Sheds A Tear For His Former Team
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. — Randy Moss got fined $25,000 by the NFL this week for not cooperating with the media. The Vikings receiver had plenty to say Sunday after catching only one pass in a 28-18 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

In one of the strangest "news conferences" you'll ever see, Moss announced that he will not conduct any more interviews the rest of the season.

Moss then said that if he does grant an interview, he will ask the questions and provide the answers. Wearing a black Boston Red Sox hat, he spoke nearly five minutes about his affection for the Patriots organization, his former teammates and coach Bill Belichick and the relationships he made during his three-plus year tenure. He said he "shed a tear" over an ovation he received after the game.

Moss then criticized Vikings coach Brad Childress' decision not to kick a field goal at the end of the first half and said he was disappointed his coaches and teammates didn't listen to the insight he gave on the Patriots last week.

Moss concluded by literally saluting the Patriots and Belichick.

"I love you guys, I miss you, I'm out," Moss said.

Moss was basically a nonfactor in his return. He caught one pass for 8 yards and was targeted only three times, one of which drew a pass interference penalty. The Patriots used deep safety help to take away his vertical threat. He also had a classic Moss moment in the fourth quarter. Moss drew an interference penalty on safety Brandon Meriweather on a deep pass down the sideline near the end zone. Meriweather fell down on the play, leaving Moss wide open with the ball in the vicinity. But he let up and inexplicably did not try to catch the ball.

Reporters gathered around Moss' locker after the game and he informed everyone that he would be talking on the podium. Did he ever.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brett Favre vs. Brad Childress: Who's at Fault? The Saga Continues

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - AUGUST 18:  Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress (L) walks with Brett Favre #4 after finishing  a passing drill during a Minnesota Vikings practice session on August 18, 2009 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Favre has reportedly agreed to play for the Vikings, a reversal of his announced retirement.  (Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
Brett Favre And Brad Childress Don't Mix?

For the 10th time, it looks like Brett Farve is finally at the tipping point. Regardless of playing in 291 games straight, leading the world in interceptions, and mastering the underhand flip pass before being smothered, Farve has finally hit a glass ceiling that cannot be broken through.

Public blunders, including his admitted creepy messages left on a female Jet's reporters cell phone, as well as head coach Brad Childress outing him on a nationally televised postgame press conference for "not knowing when to accept a punt" have been the icing on the cake for what is quickly looking like the end of the road for ol' Brett.

Never mind the fact that the Vikes have unheralded offensive potential with Moss and AP: The friction between Childress and his veteran QB will prove fatal in the 2010 Minnesota campaign.

To gain the utmost credibility as a head coach in the National Football league, the notion of keeping issues "in-house" is key. Similar to a shrink who swears confidentiality, then tells everyone involved what they think of your problems, Childress has laid all the blame on Brett Farve and his team. But wait a second: Wasn't it Childress who took Brett back, and gave the cold shoulder to a rapidly improving Tarvaris Jackson?

For a dynamic squad like the Vikings to be in a position where the Oakland Raiders have better depth at quarterback has the state of 10,000 lakes a little shaky. Stack on the fact that the Vikes face the Patriots in New England this weekend, you'd have to think that the bye week can't come soon enough.

After the bye, Minnesota then travels to Chicago, which should be a winnable match, but not one fan can consider that game as the lock it should be. Minnesota could very easily end up at 2-6 in as little as three Sundays from now

How Will The Vikings Finish The 2010 Regular Season Campaign?

6-10 or worse




10+ wins

Submit Vote vote to see results Farve has been limping since hopping off his tractor to talk with Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson, and Ryan Longwell about a possible comeback this Fall. Everyone in the sports world knew that No. 4 wasn't the same guy after his interception last year in the playoffs sealed an eventual Saints Super Bowl win.

So why is it Brett's fault?

Childress is a man who looks uncertain of his own team, choosing to slate Jackson to the bench, and go with a quick fix in Farve, who now has fractured bones in his foot, and might be ending his amazing run at consecutive games played.

If only Childress had some inspiration in what to do...oh wait, that Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good, how did he get the starting job again? Exactly.