Monday, December 7, 2009

Week 13 Postmortem

Do you now see the evil genius of Brett Favre?

Do you understand my consternation and doubt. All season I resisted buying into the Minnesota Vikings as actual contenders. Just look at their schedule so far. The three quality teams they’ve played – Ravens, Steelers (who may not be that good after all) and Cardinals – wound up being two losses and one near loss.

The Vikings have had far and away the easiest schedule in all the land.

Plus there was the entire Brett Favre mystique. Sucking you in only to turn around and bitch slap you to the moon. It happened in Green Bay in 2007. It happened in New York in 2008. Like the Cowboys collapse, Favre imploding is as inevitable as another shitty Hallmark Holiday movie debuting on Lifetime.

But I resisted. See, I could see tragedy coming. I would not buy into the Vikings. Sure they had Adrian Peterson. Sure they have a stellar defensive line. Sure they no longer had Tavaris Jackson over throwing receivers by 15 yards. But they had Brett Favre.

Still, they kept winning. And winning. And winning. Until finally I caved and officially regarded them as a championship caliber team.

And that, my friends, is the diabolicalness (it’s a word!) of Brett Favre. He waits until everyone has finally been sucked in to his vortex before throwing out a stinker like last night. He waits until the final doubter is silenced before yelling ‘gotcha again!’.

He got me again and I’m not even angry at him. I’m angry and disappointed with myself. I’m the one that should have known better.

I also know that this could just be a bump in the road. That maybe the Vikings needed a game like this to, in effect, throw cold water on themselves. Give them that sudden shock of ‘Man, maybe we’re not as good as we thought’. A wake up call, if you prefer clich├ęs.

But I know better. Last night, Arizona – a team ranked 24th overall on defense – laid down the blueprint on shutting down the Vikings. The key is not Brett Favre. The key is Peterson. Shut him down (which is a chore in itself) and make Favre beat you. If you’re a lesser team, he just might. But lesser teams tend not to make the playoffs. Good teams with good coaching and good defenses make the playoffs (San Diego Chargers excluded).

That is what Favre will be seeing. Not the Bears or Lions or Browns or Rams or Seahawks.

Vikings play the Bengals next followed by the Panthers. Stay tuned.

Let’s run down some games.

- Halfway through second quarter of the Patriots – Dolphins game one thing became horribly clear: The Patriots could not stop Chad Henne. They weren’t getting any pressure, they couldn’t cover anyone, and Henne was simply throwing to the frighteningly wide open middle of the field play after play.

As thoughts tend to do when in the midst of despair, things snowballed. If they couldn’t stop Chad Henne, then maybe it wasn’t Drew Brees chewing up the Pats last Monday. Maybe the Patriots defense just stinks. And if that’s the case (and it sure seems like it is) then maybe the Patriots didn’t punt on fourth and two because they knew before anyone else that their defense stinks and didn’t want everyone to know that immediately.

Belichick takes the heat for a bad call but, in reality, he’s hiding the awful truth about his team: They can’t stop anyone.

The secret is out now.

- So the Raiders finally bench JaMarcus Russell and they’ve won two games in a row. Two impressive games at that. Against Cincy before taking down the defending champs at home! What is going on? Oakland is actually showing some grit. Tom Cable for Coach of the Year!! Or Coach of the Year with the best right hook at the very least.

While we’re here, nobody should be totally shocked that Brad Gradkowski is playing this well. It usually takes 2-3 full seasons before quarterbacks fully assimilate the position. There’s a lot of shit to learn. Gradkowski is still only 26 years old; typically the age when the QBs start peaking. Would it be ironic if the Raiders’ quarterback of the future isn’t Russell, but some castoff they signed because he was cheap?

Two other notes on this game:

1: The Raiders won despite flying east and playing in the early game. That hasn’t happened too often for any west coast team.

2: Gradkowski was born in Pittsburgh. Ouch, Steeler fans. Ouch!

- There’s a big deal being made about Michael Vick scoring his first touchdown since his release from prison. That he did it in Atlanta makes it bigger. However, I have to wonder about the thinking behind the Eagles coaching staff making sure Vick got his score. He played more than usual, which can be accounted for by the lopsided game, but it struck me as rubbing salt in the wounds of the Atlanta fans.

‘Look, Atlanta! Not only are we kicking your asses, but we'll have your once favorite son run it in for his first touchdown since the dog fighting scandal. Later we’ll have him in as QB and passing like crazy to get another. Later we’ll have him piss all over a bunch of your state flowers.’

That would be the Cherokee Rose, if you’re wondering.

- Three weeks ago I wrote that we would finally see what kind of coach Josh McDaniels is after the Broncos lost four in a row. Since then the Broncos have defeated the Giants and Chiefs by a combined 70 – 19. That would be highly impressive if they hadn't played the Giants and Chiefs.

- While we’re here, the Giants beating the Cowboys told us nothing. Can anyone figure out this NFC East division? It’s a friggin’ mess with a bunch of schitzo teams that lose when they should win and win when they should lose. More importantly, do any of those teams frighten you?

- I thought for sure the Titans would knock the Colts off the undefeated throne. I was openly rooting for Vince Young which is a strange feeling. It made me a bit uneasy, to be honest. Like I had eaten something that may give me botulism, but I won’t know for sure for 24 hours. I don’t think I’m doing it again.

- The Saints got bailed out of the prototypical letdown game yesterday. All Washington needed to do was kick a 20 something yard field goal to put things out of reach and they missed. Brees and company rolled down the field to tie the game and won it in over time. Typical of the way the season has gone for both teams.

- If you’re wondering, here are the final games for Indy and New Orleans:

Colts: Denver, at Jacksonville, Jets, at Buffalo

Saints: at Atlanta, Dallas, Tampa Bay, at Carolina

Something to keep in mind: By the time the final game rolls around, both of these teams should have home field wrapped up throughout the playoffs. Therefore, that final game will need to be won by the second stringers. You really think the Colts want Manning out in 25 degree weather against the Bills when nothing is on the line?

Fuck and No.

Same with Brees. Why risk injury when the main goal is to win the Super Bowl.

On the other hand, how great would this matchup be in the Super Bowl if BOTH teams were still 18 – 0? I don’t think I could sit still. For two weeks straight. No shit!

- I never thought I’d think this (let alone write it down), but Brady Quinn has looked pretty good recently. Sure, he’s no star, but if you consider the quarterback learning curve (see Gradkowski, Brad above) by this time next season Quinn could be one of the best young QBs in the league.

- And speaking of young QBs, if you had any doubt about Matthew Stafford take a peek at the perfect 70 yard bomb to Calvin Johnson against the Bengals yesterday. Just gorgeous. I’m already picking the Lions to be the sleeper team for next year. All the pieces are there on offense, they just need to shore up the line and get some defense.

Holy Shit Stat of the Week #1 (Patriots Edition): The Patriots lost consecutive games for the first time since 2006.

Holy Shit Stat of the Week #2 (Patriots Edition): Tom Brady threw at least two interceptions in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2003.

Holy Shit Stat of the Week #3 (Patriots Edition): Chad Henne entered yesterday’s game averaging about 164 yards passing. He passed for 174 yards in the second quarter alone.

Random Monday Night Prediction: Nobody outside of Baltimore and Green Bay will care who wins tonight’s game. Not much of a stretch there, but I’m done taking risks.

Today’s distraction: 82 Creative Products. I want those huge iPod earbuds for my office. In case anyone reading is looking for gift ideas. For me. Not for yourselves.


Clayton Bigsby said...

As a Vikings fan I'm not upset by the loss or Favre's picks. The Cardinals were in the SB last year. It's not a bad loss. I'm more upset about 13 carries for 19 yards. AD is not the same without a healthy offensive line. Favre knew this and started forcing it. He should have had 4 picks. EJ's broken femur is awful. It's the Vikings. This is how they roll.

Anonymous said...

Random Vikings fan here,

Found my way here via Hammen's blog. I am also more pissed about Peterson and the D-line's performance than I am about Favre's. Favre has been on some awesome teams and won a lot of playoff games. You make it sound like he is the biggest choker in all of sports. Granted there may be a 6 INT game coming somewhere in the future, but this was not the performance to pile on Favre. He was far from the Vikes biggest problem on Sunday.

Side note: Vikings franchise and fanbase are pretty much the pre-2004 Red Sox of football. They never win the Super Bowl even though they have clearly been the best team several different years, and they have come agonizingly close. Fans continuely hope for the best but secretly expect the worst. This can be evidenced by my defense of Favre above, followed by my aknowledgement that a 6 INT game seems possible, despite him being a top 4 MVP candidate right now.

I enjoy the blog.


Anonymous said...

As another Viking fan, I too saw problems in the game other than Brett Favre's performance. To me it seemed like Favre chose to force things because the running game wasn't working. It's one of his major faults as he's done it over his historic career (thus the reason for him holding the record for the most career interceptions thrown).

As for the Cardinals, I believe they are better than they were last year, and I'm taking it as a quality loss. It's the next game that will be the most important. We'll be able to see how well the Vikings can recover after getting knocked off their high horse, although the injuries don't help. Week 14 prediction: the Vikings get back on their high horse.

Clayton Bigsby said...

For any Vikings fan just go back to 1998. Best team to never win a Super Bowl.

I don't think you can compare the Vikes and Sox. The Vikings have been close a bunch of times. The Sox were just ran by incompetent people for so long.

The Cardinals are good. The Saints and Vikings should really fear them in the second round.

BeachBum said...

I don't blame the loss entirely on Favre's shoulders. I have a tendency to exaggerate.

I do, however, think a team takes on their quarterback's personality and my criticism of Favre isn't that he's a choker, but he is reckless and will kill his team when they need him to make intelligent decisions. Instead, he thinks he can win the game by forcing the issue (like Sunday night's game).

My issue with Favre and the praise heaped on him is the label of 'gunslinger' attached to his persona; something he has played up rather than discourage. Even with his stellar stats this year I've witnessed some questionable passes into double and triple coverage that would not wind up so well against better competition.

I will stand by my initial prediction that Favre will - somehow and someway - murder the Vikings Super Bowl chances.

And thanks for writing. Always enjoy the feedback.