Football Returned! But With a Shoulder Shrug:
A hell yeah! Minnesota Vikings football returned Friday night! Who was ready for the most thrilling, exciting, mouth bashing, fist punching, exhilarating three hours of football your face flesh has ever had the privilege of exper … What? This was only a preseason game? Against the Texans? And the Vikings lost it, 27-13? And Christian Ponder only played two snaps, threw two passes, one of which was an interception? Uh … I guess … This was all pretty cool …
Haha, naw, I'm just messing with ya. The game sucked (Really, it was kind of boring as far as football games go), but a sucky game of NFL football is still better than the most exciting game of baseball you've ever been to, and it's really not even a comparison. Sure, the Vikings lost, but it was the preseason and no one cares. Yes, Ponder threw an interception, but it was largely Jerome Simpson's fault, but it was the preseason, so – what – was he going to lay out for it? Come on, people, he's got to use those hands to burn greenery later. It wouldn't be worth it.
Listen, the only thing I know is that on Friday night (and then again on Saturday), I watched the Vikings play some crappy football and it was the most enjoyable night of my summer. And that's pretty cool.
Mushroom Stamp of Approval:
For the six new readers we've gained on this blog since last season ended, what we do after each game is announce our own player or person that contributed to the game's outcome. Hopefully in most cases, a person is awarded our AWESOME Mushroom Stamp of Approval award. When the team loses though and there was maybe one player that sucked the most out of all the suckers, we give someone the Mushroom Stamp of Disapproval award. See how that works? Well, since it's preseason, this is all made up and the awards don't matter, so we're still giving an Approval award to rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who was shot out of the cannon and impressed right away with his 50 yard kickoff return. He followed that up with a night of 4 receptions for 54 yards, no drops, for a 13+ yard average. NOT BAD, KID, NOW DON'T GET COCKY.
So I attended the game on Friday night with two kind PJD readers and the Mrs., and every time I go to the Metrodome I am reminded about how unenjoyable the actual physical location is. From the pee-troughs to the $37 beers, to the video screens that are smaller than the ones in some of our homes these days, to the utterly predictable music choices, to overburdened cell service for every carrier, it's just not a really enjoyable experience. Does a new stadium change all that? … I really don't know. I bet the music still sucks. I bet if they don't add free wireless people will still be within a moment of using their phones as projectiles. I bet the buck-toothed hillbillies at Vikings games will still try to start the wave. It's pretty much decided that if I'm going to ANY sporting event in the Twin Cities anymore, that I'm sitting in a suite or nowhere. That's probably the only way to not feel like a mule these days. HUZZAH, DISPOSABLE WEALTH!
Nips and Notes:
Tons, and TONS or nipples and notes for us to run through this week, so let's cut the complaining about a place that will be demolished in eight months and talk about some players:
– Really, the Ponder stuff didn't bother me. He's shown enough in video I've seen of him at camp that he is deserving of half the season to prove he's not a total boob. I don't even care that he only played two snaps. The plan for him – and pretty much ANY starter across the NFL – was to play one series. Welp, his series ended on the second snap with an interception. OK, night's over. Whatever. Media people making a big deal over this is exactly why people hate the media.
– Stephen Burton really stood out to me during the game. Obviously he had his big reception in the first quarter, which was doubly impressive because he caught, spun, and then showed nice acceleration to break down the field. The ball he caught here was thrown behind him a little bit too, so nice concentration. His blocking on the long TD by Zach Line was also awesome, and is exactly what we need when Peterson hits the field. He had several other plays where he was blocking, scrapping, and generally DOING SHIT on the football field. I honestly went into the season totally forgetting about him, but he's had a nice camp and great first game here, and has a real shot of making this team. Does he push out Joe Webb? MAYBE!
– People have (Including and ESPECIALLY myself) historically hated on Marcus Sherels, but God damn if that little dude isn't the toughest CB on the team now that Antoine is gone. I mean, he's small as my testosterone levels, and will get knocked around more than a pair of double Ds on a mile run, but he doesn't back down from who he's defending and is ALWAYS around the ball at the end of the play. I hope he just takes back punts and plays as the 5th CB, but if that's his role, I'm going to be super excited for it.
– Toby Gerhart is done. Get rid of him. Trade him or put him on IR with a "Percy injury" but it's ridiculous that he makes as much money as he does for what he offers us, which isn't much. Let Asiata be the 2nd running back, and then keep the stud muffin Bradley Randle as your 3rd down scat back. We haven't had a solid 3rd down back since Moe Williams, AND I WANT ONE. I want one not named Toby.
– I'll eat plenty of crow's face on Mike Mauti, too. I honestly didn't think he had legs at this point AT ALL, let alone that he could run around on them and knock people out. He came up big, with some nice stuffs and showed great movement out there. I was impressed.
– Other linebacker notes … I didn't notice much from Gerald Hodges. Audie Diesel looked better built this season, but didn't do too much (looked a bit slow, even), whereas Larry Dean, Tyrone McKenzie, and Marvin Mitchell all had some nice little plays. Linebacker might not be as bad of a dumpster fire as I originally thought!
– Sharrif Floyd impressed early too. He went out early in the game with a leg injury (Good news, he's fine!), but when he was in the game he had a nice tackle in the backfield, tipped ball, and was super aggressive all around. He also broke out into a shirt-dying sweat in little to no time, just like Pat Williams would, which HAS to be a good indicator of talent moving forward.
– I kind of hope the team drops McLeod Bethel-Thompson, and James Vandenberg (obviously) going into the season, keep Joe Webb as emergency 3rd QB, and then allow themselves to keep an extra receiver. It may be a glut of options, but that would be pretty impressive considering the tumbleweeds that were manning the spot last year.
Who to Hate Next Week:
Next week, the Vikings head to Buffalo to face the Bills, Canada's team. One fun thing to watch will be how Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel performs with extended play against our defense. He came to the NFL via Florida State, ala our quarterback Christian Ponder, and it will be an enjoyable form of masochism to watch him out-perform Ponder, a third year NFL quarterback, in his second game as a rookie. I can't think of anyone on that team I really hate right now, but I am noticing that they have a RIDICULOUS amount of (at one time) good running backs in their stable. Tashard Choice, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller? Better wear a cup, linebackers!
An Indifferent Preseason Haiku:
Behold! Fleet of foot,
Gazelle-like speed, locks of gold,
… The hell? Who's Zach Line?
The season is just getting started, my friends! We'll have more all week for you to enjoy as training camp continues and we head into the second preseason game on Friday. Enjoy!