If there is one thing you can say about a Vikings season, any season; It’s that it is never dull. We hit more peaks and valleys weekly than being trapped on a roller coaster because the operator is on a bender and fell asleep. This week was no exception.
Another loss of a game, and a surprising loss of a coach. We’ll get to that later… but what happened around the rest of the NFL? Let’s find out… Together! *friend high five*
Who Fed It, Who Ate It
The Panthers continued their Tour of Denial by winning the “who’s team can slide further” competition with a victory over the suddenly, very uneasy Cardinals. This game had all the hallmarks of a modern NFL game. Two bad teams fighting it out, a ridiculous outfit worn in the post-game presser, and new fodder for the bobblehead-serious-discussion machine. There’s nothing the bobbleheads enjoy more than being able to mount a really, really high horse over something a really, really-well-paid jock said. Woooo-wooo-wooo, wubba-wubba-wubba. It’s enough to make a viewer want to drink bleach (and pour it into one’s eyes at seeing hideous Cam Newton outfit #1382).
The Patriots took revenge on the Bills for daring… DARING to beat them earlier in the year. They took them behind the woodshed, then inside the woodshed, then into the neighbors woodshed. It was ugly unless you’re a Patriots fan. High point of the game, however, was the well-timed dildo pitch onto the field. This raises a lot of questions about the how and why of smuggling a dildo into an NFL venue, but the Bills fans are also the ones who do butt-shots in their tailgates so I guess it pays to be prepared for anything. I’m more shocked about how the play managed to continue without a single player stopping at the sight of the field suddenly sprouting a wang. I know I would need to pause and consider not just what I’m seeing but a lot of life choices that brought me to that moment.
Another week, another tie! We’re not talking about that 8 dollar thing you buy dad that he’ll wear once to appease your monstrous sense of gift-giving. (Do people even buy dad ties anymore? Does dad still sit in his den afterwards and quietly drink his liver into submission while considering his life choices? There’s a lot of life choices involved in this week’s recap… ) The Redskins and Bengals played to a standstill, with missed field goals in overtime sealing the most unsatisfying result in a game this side of playing strip poker with Andy Dick. It speaks to either parity in the NFL or mediocrity in the NFL. Pick your poison and ask Andy to put his shirt back on.
The Agony of Defeat
Two defeats in a row! The shame! The horror! The dark cloud took an extra day to lift this week (or because it was a Monday night game and loss-hangovers take a bit to clear). All the hope at bouncing back vs. the 1-6 Bears evaporated in a pool of ineffective offense and a dispirited defense. If you ask Vikings fans, the team went from Superbowl contenders to barely competitive with the Pee Wee league team sponsored by Darryl’s Hardware Store and Chinese Food Palace.
This is something unique to Minnesota fans, in just about any sport. If we were 2-2, 5-2, 8-2, or 23-2, a 2-game skid automatically erases all the good things done before it. Panic sets in and we turn to our beers with enthusiastic bitterness (and the beer tells us “I knew you’d be back.”). Of course the shouts of dismay and wringing of hands even occurs in games that we win should there be a bad play, or quarter. Suffice to say, this game further exposed some serious flaws in the Vikings team.
The Bears rushed 4 for the majority of the game. Our normal players took back over from the Cascade Lake Choir 3rd graders and somehow managed to play worse. Something is seriously broken in our offensive line, and it has to be remedied. We have 832 injuries and are out of salary cap, so that leaves it to scheming to alleviate some of the bad.
However, the scheme we used offensively seemed to be of a mind that we had a fleet of steamrollers ready to flatten everything in front of them. Inside-power running plays, 7 step drops and deep receiver routes across the board exacerbated the problems with our line. Bradpool got hit more than a quality-tester in a punching factory, and at times was dodging non-existent defenders. When your QB lines up behind center and instead of saying something like “Red 42” they say “Not in the face”, then you know you have issues.
If the line simply cannot block, you have to change the scheme. Short passes, slants, screens, rollouts, misdirections… anything to get the QB a precious second or two so they can even take a breath and brace for the impact (and maybe even get the ball out of their hand). We didn’t do this and as a result, Bradpool spent his second off-week in a row at a local men’s crisis center.
Defensively, it was a “down game”. One was bound to happen, and we can endlessly speculate as to the why. Has our blitz package been figured out? Are our D-lineman just too tired to get their normal push? They did seem, in the second half, to be a dispirited bunch. At times it looked like they were as enthusiastic as pall-bearers who have to explain where the coffin went between plays. I can’t tell if that’s an effect of the overall level of expectation vs. the offense (it’s hard to muster fight when 26.5 other players don’t seem to be helping), or if there’s something deeper going on in the organization. It’s not my place to speculate, however, and I’m also really, really bad at it. Hopefully this is a down game and that’s all.
Finally, Norv. I think the writing was on the wall after this game. Written in big, red letters that said “DAMMIT WHY CAN’T YOU TRY A SCREEN ON FIRST DOWN OR SOMETHING???”. In the end of it, I think Norv felt like a man out of time, literally and figuratively. His personnel did not match his offense, nor did his offense match his personnel. As great of a coordinator and person as he may be, this was probably the straw that broke the not-this-team-at-this-time-camel’s back. Love ya Norv, and respect the hell out of your decision.
The Lochdowns For Week 9
Not a good week from Lochdown Central here. I went 1-2, missing on both the Cardinals-Panthers and the Browns getting their first win. My record now stands at 12-6, which is still bet-worthy. Apparently I underestimated the amount of sadness Cleveland can generate, yet again. Could they be the next 0-16 team? Could the Lions not feel so lonely?
On the bright side, despite the river of saliva the bobbleheads fountained into Roger’s jock for having a good game, the packers still dropped one to the Falcons. That’s a hard bright point for a week like this, but we’ll take it. It’s like bad pity-sex from the gal who’s always at the end of the bar and looks like a worn-out old boot with eyes.
Lochdown 1 – The Chiefs will calmly and assuredly dismantle the Jaguars. They will generally outclass them in all phases, even if they end up starting West and Foles. Blame it on the hideous Jaguar uniforms. You can’t feel good playing in those. It’s like trying to play while dressed as a Brony (Google it, peeps).
Lochdown 2 – Back to picking on Cleveland! You’ve now used up the 2 weeks of hope I had for you to stop-the-loss-train. It’s pulled out of the station and you’re still in the bathroom dealing with the after-effect of that dodgy burrito stand. The Cowboys are also on a tear right now, so they will roll the Browns back into the lake and throw them a spare tire for a life preserver.
Lochdown 3 – The Upset Special this week will be… the Eagles over the Giants! I have no idea why the Giants are favored in this game. The Eagles, angry after their loss to the Cowboys, will vent their frustrations on a fantastically mediocre Giants team. Let’s face it, the Giants this year are kind of like the circus attraction from that Bob’s Circus who books parking lots and gives donkey rides and has attractions like The New York Giant Midget!!! … with a guy sitting there on a stool looking bored. The Eagles are legitimately good and will make short work of them.
Alas, the Vikes will end their skid against the Lions this week. Were it not for the sudden coaching change, I’d put myself in the “delusionally hopeful” column… But seeing as Shurmur is now at the reins, expect us to actually adjust to having a crappy O-line. We’re not switching to a west coast offense overnight, but even using Uncle Norv’s playbook, we will start adding wrinkles much more like those we used in weeks 2-5. The Lions will not be able to bully and push towards sacks in 7 step drops, or stuff a 1st down run between the guards as much. This will result in… le gasp… points!
On defense, despite Stafford having a statistically excellent year, he seems to be the food our defense enjoys to eat and re-charge on. Stafford spends more time on his back vs. the Vikings than a trailer park prostitute. We seem to have his number, and it gets called a lot. Expect the defense to return to dominance.
The final score? 24-10, Vikings. We win this one going away and the USB Stadium shall rock and roll all night.
Until next week, stay sober my… I just can’t finish that. Skol!