NFL Head Coach Costumes, Buy Yours Today!

Christopher Jug George

C. Jug George

 

Saint Paul, Minnesota- Unlike recent Vikings head coaches and lead assistants appeared to be, Mike Zimmer is not dressed as a football coach for Halloween. He is not a robot nor a puppet nor a cartoon; he is a believable football breather.

The Vikings have been in coaching turmoil since January of 2001 when Denny Green’s boys had the munchies and crashed the team bus into the Meadowlands like it was a 41 cent donut shop. Really, the unraveling of the Green era started long before that catastrophic Sunday oops.

Green’s tenure ended with a murmur and a fractured team. He was replaced by the giant Mike Tice, a better position coach than I think he gets credit for but he liked the idea of being a head football coach more than he was particularly capable of doing the job. To then owner Red McCombs, he was cheap rental truck, to Vikings fans and media, Ticey was entertaining but seemingly green and reactionary.

And then there’s Brad Chilldress. Chilly. Chilly, Chilly, Chilly. Uff duh. Chilly looked like he was at a Halloween party on the sidelines every Sunday. Chilly, the man who could not get out of his own way. The man with an ego the size of Mike Tice. The man whose stubbornness about his kick ass offense, namely not letting Brett Favre go Peyton Manning on the bit, cost the Vikings a chance at winning the Super Bowl in 2009. Leslie Frazier followed, and certainly looked the part but he made awful coaching hires and relied on a defense that wore flannel shirts and a coaching philosophy that wore parachute pants.

“I’m a bit of a country boy myself, Brett.”

There is something different about the Zimmer era, a football being we haven’t seen since Jerry Burns because the guy only cares about Football, The Game of. Riding shotgun on this football odyssey is another NFL lifer, offensive coordinator Norv Turner who doesn’t care what you think of him and his only concern on Sundays is outfoxing his counterpart.

With these two men directly engaged in mystifying opponents, Vikings fans can now focus their attention on the disgusting officiating or the cheating opposing team or the beautiful green astro turf. Even better, as Donavan McNabb did during his inspirational 5 and a half game tenure with the Vikings, those elephantine puffy white clouds lolly gagging through the September sky. The Vikes will lose some games but there is rarely going to be a Sunday when these guys get out coached.

Bill Belichick and his post-apocalyptic grey sweatshirt come to town this weekend and Zimmer is not daunted. He faced the Patriots a few times as the defensive coordinator of the Bengals and last October his outfit held Tom Brady and company to 6 points. Zimmer, while no doubt acknowledging their pedigree, is not the type of coach who is going to be intimidated, scared, or reactionary in his play calling just because the Patriots are in town. The biggest fear there should be with the Patriots is the fact that they are 0-1.

mike-zimmer-vikings-chiefs-2014-333x224

“Hey, Chilly, Leslie, You’e Outta Here!”

In St. Louis, the Vikings displayed discipline in every phase of the game, aside from penalties. If you’re going to be a young and a winning football team in the twenty-teens NFL, you have to be the anti-Raiders. The Raiders of the 70s drew penalties like they grew hair outside of their helmets, it was part of the deal. Three decades later they are still drawing penalties but it’s not cool anymore. The Vikings had too many penalties on Sunday but I’d be surprised to see that continue.

Zimmer’s band stuck to the formula. Matt Cassell may have wanted to turn the ball over but he didn’t. Only once was a timeout burned because of a bad formation, and execution of plays were exemplary: downfield blocking, route running, chipping, etc. Especially on defense with all of the moving parts and bodies and formations, things where generally clean and confusing to the bumbling Rams who had no answer to Zimmer’s twister approach to the alignment of players.

“This is the best game plan I’ve ever been given,” defensive end Everson Griffen said late last week. “Ever.”

What a bunch of fools Vikings fans have suffered.

Zimmer and Turner are guys who look beyond the media, beyond the silly flapping of the gums by over-anxious fans, they look beyond perception. Their eyes are set squarely on the opposing sideline. That is it.

How many times have you heard “one game at a time”? When this pair of football eggheads say it, they mean it.

Over the years there have been many Sundays that I’d see an opposing coach flexing his throat muscles just a little better than the Vikings head coach, or executing a headset take off to yell at an official in a manner that suggested they knew what they were doing. When they’d show a close up of certain opposing coaches face there would be a look that I didn’t see on the Vikings sideline, a steely glare, a glimpse into their football soul. I’d be jealous of their football powers, they’d be a step ahead on clock management, on organization, on game planning, play calling, being ready for any crisis, on and on. I regularly thought that our coach was inferior to their coach in every way.

Well, Mike Zimmer, who knows where your journey may take us. You may end up with 15 men in the huddle at a crucial point of a big game but, you sir, look like a football coach, one of those football coaches I’d ask Santa for.

Bill Belichick’s End of the World Space Pod/I Expect My World to End Every Day

George George

George George

Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., Earth?- Well, you prom-trotters, I have some tough news if you’re a fan of the Packers, Vikings, Texans, Seahawks, Falcons, Washington Presidents, Giants, some other dewdropping teams. The Super Bowl has already been played in a covert, multi-corners of the universe effort. Through the use of alien technology,specifically out of this world NFL football forecasting the NFL has been trying to keep off the streets (successfully) for decades now because it would be the end of gambling on the football, the Super Bowl Champion has already been crowned.

Apparently the world is going to end today and I didn’t think too much about it. I mean, I expect my world to end every day. The NFL wasn’t going to go quietly into the black matter though, a Super Bowl champion was going to travel through the cosmos, one way or the other. The alien NFL football forecasting machine had a 100% reading on the 49ers and the Patriots playing in the 2013 Super Bowl. This was all figured out before the schedule was made. So, that insane Harballz and his collection of rag-tag 49ers won the Super Bowl on Sunday night! JUMPING JOHNNY JUPITER!

I took an airplane to New England last week and it’s a funny thing, you never actually get to New England. I spent a day with Belichick and he showed me his space pod. I had forgotten about the end of the world but Billy has his eyes pasted on it. He’s going to outer space on the 21st of December, no matter what.

“The Super Bowl is in New England on Sunday night.” He told me. His eyes wide with wonderment, his gray sweatshirt filled with stains, presumably sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard, there was a half-eaten egg roll on the coffee table.

“What?” I said, trying to look more shocked than I normally do.

“Everybody is in on it. The NFL is acknowledging the end of the planet and the Super Bowl is the Patriots and the 49ers. They are keeping Space Records.”

“Space Records?”

“Space Records.”

“What are you going to do in outer space?”

“Coach Tentacle Ball.”

“What?”

“I’ve already developed a playbook and I’m bringing Brady.

Belichick, in a weird sort of way, asked me if I wanted to leave earth in his pod to be the team’s sports writer. He also told me I could live forever there because of the technology. Now I have to decide if I want to board Belichick’s pod or if I just want to go down to the giggle juice joint and see what happens to the world. I’d hate to miss that titan of football Adrian Peterson run with the football on Sunday, although, it might be a gas to see Titan.

Is it any coincidence that floor flusher Adrian Peterson finished with the a palindrome rushing total of 212 yards? All the numbers with all the ingredients for the end of the world.

Is it any coincidence that floor flusher Adrian Peterson finished with the palindrome rushing total of 212 yards? All the numbers with all the ingredients for the end of the world.

The Year of Purple Earth: 2013 and the Super Bowl Casserole

Christopher Jug George

Christopher Jug George

Saint Paul, MN, U.S.A, Purple Earth- The year of Purple Earth is coming.  For 51 years, an asteroid has been hurdling toward our planet and when it hits it will fill this baron rock with Purple Nectar and we no longer will need the Purple Kool-Aid. High atop the chariot, Adrian Peterson rides, dragging space junk shaped like quarterbacks and wide receivers on an improbable journey. Flash Peterson wants to deliver Purple Earth this year but the empty crushed up beer cans tied to a string at the end of the rig will more than likely delay arrival until 2013.

A few things happened this year that were unexpected, I don’t truly believe that GM Rick Speilman and perhaps even Leslie Frazier anticipated the strength of this team. It’s hard to criticize their thought process last summer as they cast there eye on the 2012 season. Their best running back was coming off major reconstructive knee surgery, they were saddled to ride a second year quarterback for better or for worse, they intended to play rookies at a number of a key positions. The writing on the wall was clear, it was a throw away year at best, get young, retool and hope to Unitas that Ponder develops.

But something strange happened on Purple Earth, the Vikings are better than anyone could have possibly imagined. The Vikings didn’t expect everybody to outperform expectations at every position other than quarterback and wide receiver. They didn’t expect Peterson to be better than ever and with Peterson that’s saying a lot. He’s willing this team toward the playoffs and the fact that is even on the table is remarkable considering their quarterback looks like Spergyn Wynn. They also didn’t expect the rookie class to be one of the best in decades. Chad Greenway is having his best season, as is Brian Robison, the defense is playing extremely well considering they spend way too much time on the field because of  Ponder’s inability to move the chains.

I can hardly blame the front office for it’s approach to the 2012 season. I will put all of the blame on the front office if they don’t completely rethink their approach to the 2013 season. They need a quarterback who can take advantage of this portion of Peterson’s career.  He is making it very clear to the world that the next couple of seasons could be the best Peterson anyone has ever seen and the Vikings damn well be ready!

Super Bowl Casserole Ingredients:
217 lbs. of Adrian Peterson
184 lbs. of Percy Harvin
1 Real Quartback
2 Real Wide Receiver who can go up and get the damn ball
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
1 cup (4-ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 (32-ounce) package frozen seasoned potato nuggets

This team needs to take Flash Peterson’s talent seriously. Put your draft egos aside. Go get a veteran quarterback and a couple of capable wide receivers.  Peterson is ready and willing to take this team to the Super Bowl next season. This is no joke. He is ridiculous. He is better than he was in 2009 when Favre was here. The only year in Adrian Peterson’s career that he’s had a quarterback was 2009. This team wins at home no matter who the quarterback is. We need a quarterback who can go on the road and win.

Loyalty to starting quarterbacks in the NFL is somewhat of a charade. I truly don’t understand how the Vikings, winners of zero Super Bowls, gave up on this season by sticking with Ponder, especially in Green Bay two weeks ago where a Viking victory would have actually and absurdly put them in control in the NFC North. It had to be obnoxiously clear in that locker room at halftime that Ponder needed to be benched if they had any chance to win the game.

Look at Whiskey Wade Wilson get out of the way of the teams best offensive player! In fact, he delivered him the ball on target and on time!

Look at Whiskey Wade Wilson charging down the field ready to deliver a pancake on some confused 49er and aiding the teams best offensive player!  In 1987, Whiskey was called upon to put on his helmet for a playoff run and he almost delivered. They rode Anthony Carter to the brink of glory. If only the 2012 Vikings had a similar opportunity.

Ponder called the game against the Packers a “wake-up call.” Was he still dreaming when he said that? I mean, am I right? Huh? Am I right? How about the game against the Cardinals in Week 7 for cripes sake! You passed for 58 yards you dewdropper! In Seattle you passed for 63 you hayburner! Those weren’t wake-up calls? You responded to your wake up call by passing for 91 yards against the Bears! Every time Adrian Peterson touches the ball he runs for 6.2 yards against 9 men in the box where as you average 5.8 yards per passing attempt. That ranks 35th in the league. There are 32 teams. Think about that young lad! Enough. I won’t pick on Ponder. He sucks at this moment in his career. There really isn’t too much to say about it. Bench Ponder for the second half of the Packer game, win, start Ponder the next week against the Bears and he is awful, bench again. With the position of the team in the standings, why did this not happen!? The guy would have lived. Let him experience that feeling of being benched. Unitas knows he’s earned it.

Yes, 2012 was never a year to consider making a run but here the Purple are, making a run.  It’s painful for a Vikings fan to see the path to a Super Bowl run with no willingness by the front office to put the team in it’s best position to win. All of this makes me long for Whiskey Wade Wilson. How did they not leave a veteran quarterback on this roster is beyond me because right about now a DeBergian sounds pretty good. If you make the same mistake in 2013 you will all be fired. And I mean it.

Vikings Beat this Old Scribe into a Final Oblivion

George George

Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., Earth- This franchise has nothing to hang its hat on. There is no coat rack. It’s all just lore. I don’t know when I’m going to die, I’m 90 and these young floor flushers running circles around me just might be sapping up my energy, shortening my life, boring me to death. Is a walk a pleasure these days? Sometimes. Or is it a slow march to death? Probably. I don’t care.  Heavy life issues don’t matter any more.

My verdict is in: the franchise of the Minnesota Vikings has ultimately proved to be a futile one.

I’ve seen it all and I’m not impressed. Do you know what I had for breakfast? Eggs. Did I get a crown for eating my eggs? Or a ring? No.  So, by that logic,  me eating those eggs is about as meaningful as 51 years of Vikings history. It was breakfast on another day of a seemingly endless life. It all blends together. Sun, moon, covered or not, I don’t care, just like these purple games I watch, I have no idea if it’s live or on film. It’s all the same, a seemingly noble pursuit of a footballer on this hopeful path to the ultimate in sport, a trophy held high but they don’t give trophies to second place teams in the NFL.

Here I am, punishing this tape recorder with more talk of meaningless football. Victory after victory, loss after loss, hope upon hope, glory seemingly in the distance like the appearance of a bar still serving at the end of the night. But this bar has been closed forever.

The Vikings have the look of a 4 time oscar winner but reality is the only thing this team deserves is star on a Hollywood sidewalk or an achievement award on a piece paper with Congratulations Vikings written in ink. Lifetime achievement awards mean nothing in the NFL. I’m tired. So, assuming that a Super Bowl is not won in my lifetime and assuming my dream of being zapped to the skies by Von Schmalien the Alien to be preserved in an other worldly lucid dream experiment where I still get to watch football every Sunday, assuming these things, it is time for my once in a lifetime, nobody in the history of the franchise ever won a damn thing so who cares greatest Viking of all-time award.  Let’s just get right to it. The futzing winner is:

Jerome Monahan “Jerry” Burns. Burnsie was the Vikings offensive coordinator from 1968-1985 and the head coach from 1985-1991. Burnsie. He is the greatest Viking of all-time. Why? Why fucking not.

The Greatest Viking of All-Time

I was all set to write a seething column about Bill Musgrave but Burnsie flashed into my head while I was mentally clubbing Musgrave across the face with his stupid little play sheet. There was a moment in today’s travesty where the Vikings had the ball on the Chicago 12, it was 3rd and 2 and Adrian Peterson was finally being allowed by Musgrave to put the team on his back and see how far the squad would go.  It was the teams only chance. Peterson has been insane over the last few weeks, the best player in football, yet, he only carried the ball 18 times on Sunday.

18. EIGHTEEN. He had a 6 yard per carry average. 18. 6. 18 x 6 =108. Christian Ponder had 153 yards on 43 passing attempts. 43. I have no idea. It’s almost like Musgrave was using some space age formula. But Sunday didn’t call for space age mathematics it called for giving it to the guy with the best chance to get you there. 28. That was the only number Musgrave needed to know.

I think I died a little more on a 3rd and 2 in the second half when Peterson had led them down the field to the 12 and Musgrave called a Ponder ass pass. On fourth down they called another Ponder ass pass. And the greatest running back in football walked off the field while Musgrave was once again left looking too cute for his own good while calling plays in the red zone.  He doesn’t have a resume to base that cuteness off of. Bill Walsh could be cute. Bill Belichick can be cute. Bill Musgrave can go fly a kite.

Immediately I was reminded of a Burnsie press conference defending Bob Schnelker, a wanted man in the late eighties for his crimes against offense. Burnsie, after a Vikings victory in which they scored 21 points on 7 field goals, defended Schnelker for giving his heart to purple as fans wanted to zap his play sheet with a ray gun.

I realized, after all this time in a nothing meaningful gained Vikings history, that a Musgrave is a Childress is a Green is a nothing much. Names that hover around the purple earth like doomed kites crashing into trees.

Burnsie, you win. You swore the most, which, in my book, means you cared the most. You gave it all to this organization, you beat the 80s dynasty Niners on the road in 1988 which remains the greatest win in Vikings history and because of this and your entertaining swearing, I’m naming you the greatest Viking of all time. All hail fucking Burnsie.

I’m an old, broken down sports writer giving a quasi eulogy because right now there is no deciphering between yesterday and tomorrow, much like this franchise, purple flashes of purple ghosts in 51 years of games being processed by this adorable head to no real path of lasting glory. Every time the Vikings have punted has meant the same thing as every time the Vikings have scored a touchdown. Ouch. Sue me.

A Caged Lion of Lordliness Recently Sat his Holy Ass Next to me at a Bar

George George

Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A, Earth- In the Forties the knee surgery that Adrian Peterson had performed last Christmas would have taken place in Area 51.  Cubby Carol would have described it as macabre. I can’t believe I just used that word, it still sends chills up my spine. Cubby Carol used that word a bunch back in our Hollywood days. She went through her failed Hollywood actress death faze like any aspiring actress of those times. Showing up at the diner table with white powder and black make-up on her face, rolling her eyes and sighing about death when I’d ask her to pass the mashed potatoes. I digress. Where am I?

Back then Peterson would have been given a Frankenstein knee and spent years being pulled around in a wheel barrel or the wagon back that was abandoned by so many Vikings fans last week in Seattle. But the world has changed and words like macabre have been replaced by immortal. Someone might live forever but it’s not going to be me. It might be Peterson.

Apparently Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz doesn’t think so. An encounter I had with that hayburner last week left me shaking the ice cubes in my drink. You see, Schwartz is kind of a jerk. Y’all may remember his incident with another jerk, Jim Harbaugh last year after a thrilling football game early in the 2011 season. Both coaches were fighting for upstart supremacy, or media coddling or whatever. Who cares. They were just a couple of egos slamming into each other on a Sunday afternoon.

Jim Harballz and Jim Schwartzcock argue about who is holier-than-thou. “I’m holier-than-thou!” “I’m holier-than-thou!” “Thee is not holier than me!” “I’m holier than all the thous that have ever set foot on the green field!”

But this article isn’t about that. I lose track of things, especially my lives. This is about Schwartz’s approach to Sunday’s game, he was cocky and he really didn’t give adequate acceptance of the beast that is Peterson. After the loss, Schwartzy had this to say about Peterson’s 171 yard lancing of his defense, “We certainly needed to stop Adrian Peterson but they have other good players.” Who is he talking about? That whippersnapper Percy Harvin was in his glad rags on the bench. This is in line with his behavior when I ran into him  at a downtown Minneapolis bar late Saturday night.

After meeting Schwartz in person I’m not afraid to report that the guy is a first class futz. If you notice a pattern here, i’m just reporting the facts. He was at the juice joint alone and it didn’t take me long to figure out Schwartz was nuts about himself. He’d written his name on his napkin and put a star in front of the J and after the Z. There were peanut shells on the napkin too and peanut spittle, more nutty evidence that I think, in the case of Schwartz, was admissible and not part of an elaborate prop pun.

Evidence of a Hot Shot

I decided to interview him but I knew he’d resist. I ordered a crazy drink that would get his attention. It was a green frothy libation that I call the Martian Colada. He couldn’t take his eyes off its glowing green grasshopperness. He glanced at me and I noticed  a blankness in an isolated portion of his face, namely the sunken area at the inner edges of his eyebrows. He looked out to lunch, paranoid, and conceited simultaneously, not an easy feat.

“I’m George George.” I launched.

“My name’s not George.” He said with cockiness quivering through his face muscles. His eyes were suddenly self important, there was a piece of lime stuck to his cheek.

“Listen, pal, I know you’re Schwartz.”

“You must watch TV because I’m on it.” He was now blatantly hotdogging.

“I’m a scribe.” I told him.

“Have a good day, inky.” He turned away from me defiantly.

“Listen pal, have a drink with me, I’m not going to report any of this stuff,” I lied. “What makes you tick, Schwartz?”

“Little tickers.”

I tried to punch him but couldn’t reach his face because my suit coat was too small. I couldn’t do it anymore. There was no faking kindness in the presence of such overt assness. I turned away but still kept an eye on him.  He looked at me in anticipation, the hopped up football coach was enjoying a flap of the gums with a stranger because it provided an opportunity for some good old fashioned horn tooting. I stared straight ahead, slurping on my Martian Colada. His eyes lit up, a self-satisfaction washed over him, a trace of self-congratulatory purring was decipherable within his over-exaggerated breathing. I looked at the wall.

He settled back into his seat probably thinking he’d blown an opportunity to make himself feel better about himself. He looked reflective for a second. I casually threw a peanut shell in his direction. He noticed it but didn’t care. He’d turned macabre. I decided to pursue the interview further.

“What are you going to do about Peterson tomorrow?

“Peterwhat?

“Peterson. The whippersnapper, humdinger, floor flushing footballer from the Minnesota Vikings.”

“It’s a team sport.”

“Huh?”

“What?”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

What word would you use to describe yourself?”

“Lordly.”

Lordy.

Picture Show: Rick Adelman Roundhouses Nets Coach Avery Johnson

Timberwolves Brooklyn Stunner- Rick Adelman zapped Avery Johnson down the stretch erasing a 22 point Nets lead as the Wolves went on a 58-25 run to end the game.  Adelman’s Timberwolves are basketball excellence personified and a joy to watch.   No Kevin Love, no Ricky Rubio and the cagers are 3-1.  The Wolves are hoping to stay around .500 while they wait for their two best players to return but Adelman has other ideas. T-wolves article coming soon. Below: Adelman’s reaction to Chase Budinger’s 3 point bayonet shot late in Monday’s game, a set play.


Ponder Standing at a Fork in the Road, Looking the Part of a Drifter

Christopher Jug George

Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, Earth- Monday mornings in the NFL world are reserved for overreaction, it’s the fans right, the media’s job, part of the fun, and rarely as dramatic as it seems. However, Christian Ponder’s performance on Sunday was so atrocious that Vikings fans don’t feel like their overreacting at all by saying, in regards to the future quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, “back to the damn drawing board.” Coming off of a 3-13 season, faith in the Vikings fast start seemed to be more kindling than a slow burning log. On Sunday, Ponder single handily set fire to the 2012 season for the fans and maybe even some teammates.

Ponder is precariously close to becoming a career back-up, a quarterback loner holding on to a clipboard, wearing his hat backwards, wandering from city to city, dressed in different colored clothes depending on who will give him a shirt with a number on it. Ponder is a train wreck right now, a skittish quarterback in every facet of the game. I have no idea where that mediocre to above-average quarterbacking he displayed early in the season has gone because Ponder now looks like a guy who just drove through the back of his garage, again.

T-Jack had a natural feel for hat placement early on in his career.

The want for the front office to have a quarterback to grow old with is a noble notion and obviously a best case scenario for any franchise. Twice in the past six seasons the Vikings have given the team to a drafted quarterback to be groomed as the long-term solution at the most critical position in sports. The problem with this approach is that it has the potential to set an offense back a couple of decades. The Vikings have the luxury of having Adrian Peterson on their roster during the prime of his career but watching Ponder struggle while Peterson soars is no way to live a football life. Peterson rushed for  182 yards on Sunday and Ponder had 62 yards passing. Is that even possible? The amazing thing is Seattle was completely focused on Peterson, who gashed them anyways, and Ponder was still unable to take advantage.

We all saw what happened in 2009 when Peterson had Favre lining up in front of him and, incredibly or sadly, that is the only year of his career that he has played with a legitimate starting quarterback. Because of Peterson, I think the Vikings have no choice but to explore all of their options this off-season.

Brad “Chili Dog” Chilldress hand-picked Tavaris Jackson in 2006 to be the future of the franchise. Jackson, while displaying the physical tools to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, had absolutely no feel for the game, an essential trait. Jackson is now a career backup. During Sunday’s game rookie Russell Wilson gave Ponder a lesson in quarterback feel. Wilson is in complete control of himself during a game, controlling his team at the line of scrimmage when he needed to, reacting to the game, staying calm. He’s not the most talented quarterback but he already is a better game manager than Ponder and that’s a scary thought.

For Spielman, what’s happening to Ponder in the middle of the 2012 season is the worst-case scenario. It’s not like the guy can’t turn it around because I don’t think he is THIS bad. Although he claims it’s not a confidence issue, the kid is not displaying any at the moment. He looks completely lost out there, not only in the pocket, but with his decision-making. When the game is simplified for Ponder and he is taking the 5 yard routes or swings to Percy Harvin, he is wildly off the mark. The team has no down-field passing game at all, and the non-existent play of receivers not named Harvin can only be blamed so much because the evidence of video tape suggests that Ponder is missing wide open targets. Also, the disappearance of the tight end in an offense that is supposed to heavily rely on the position is mystifying.  Throw in a suddenly Milquetoast quarterback and you have disaster.

McLeoud Bethel-Thompson is looking over Ponder’s shoulder, MBT is a rocket-armed unknown wearing Favre’s number. Vikings fans hope to see the other half of him before the end of the year if Ponder continues to chase his own hand towel. The Vikings might as well see what they have in the lad before heading into the off-season desperately hoping Ponder figures it out or before they go in search of the elusive North American Above Average Starting Quarterback.

Ponder needs to start the rest of the year if only to make a serious determination about his future. Not only is Peterson in the prime of his career but the team’s other best player, Harvin, is overdue for a contract extension and is growing weary of Ponder’s inaccuracy. Jackson’s failure led to Favre. Ponder’s failure will not lead to a Favre level player but an adequate quarterback is required next year whether it’s Ponder or Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham or Jeff George.  If Ponder continues to evolve into 2nd string material, the team is going to be forced to redirect its path to an old religion, the veteran stop-gap, the quarterback who rides in on a horse or in an Escalade driven by Leslie Frazier.

Kill Takes a Moon Shot, Musgrave is a Donut-eater, Peterson is a Supper Club

George George

Golden Gophers Nelson is From the Future

Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, Earth- In my life I’ve proven you can survive for decades upon decades on this blue planet if you always have a surprised look on your face. This has skirted me through many situations, gotten me a few free drinks and some unwarranted encouragement. It has also caused a great deal of confusion with the Mae West’s and the Cubby Carol’s of the world but that’s another story. It’s no surprise that my face looked surprised when Jerry Kill told me he asked Phillip Nelson to take off the red shirt he was wearing and put on a maroon one. I told him that was some odd phrasing, he told me, “Well, that’s how I said it.” Such a typical coach response. I like Jerry, he’s about the same height as me so we can sorta look each other in the eye when we talk although sometimes it feels like we’re about to come to blows. It’s hard to tell sometimes, when I start thinking he’s about to take a swing, he starts to think I’m about to take a swing because of the look on my face after I started thinking he was going to take a swing. It can get harry.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers launched a new quarterback into outer space last Saturday in hopes of reaching the moon, from the looks of it, this astraount from the Minnesota River Valley has a chance to get there and by there, I mean the best bowl game of all for old hacks like me, the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The Gophers will be lucky to ever make such a middling bowl during Nelson’s four years and I’ll be lucky to make it to the end of the street before sundown. I find myself in a race against the sun these days, ankling down to the juice joint in my glad rags while I can still see the sidewalk while the sun is getting to whereever it’s going. A buddy took a picture of me walking down the avenue toward the setting sun once, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to looking like an astronaut.

The Holiday Bowl represents the kind of mid-level operation Golden Gopher fans would be thrilled to be wandering around at. There is a sunset there too and it works perfectly for a snow bird like me. I go down there, wire back my story and walk down to Tijuana for some tacos.

Gopher Fans who made the trip to Madison don’t care if their team is getting drilled in the second half because they have a young whippersnapper at quarterback. Look out 2014 middle of the pack of the Big Ten!

Kill could use a taco or two these days. I talked to him long distance to Madison on the landline late Friday night. The world was collapsing on Kill for the first time in his major metropolis coaching career, so he did the only responsible thing he could do, inject his lawn with new life or at least that’s what he told me on the phone. He said he was “doing some seeding,” I said, “Sure.” He said he liked “to fill the gaps in the fall,” I said, “Sure.” Then he told me he was speaking in metaphor. I told him I was half in the bag. Then he told me he was turning to the wunderkind Nelson, the rocket armed freshman from Mankato. I said “Now you’re on the trolley!” The kid played alright, I liked that he was mad as hell after the game because the team lost. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put some aluminum foil on those bunny ears on you television and suck some college football out of the cosmos to watch the kid.

There has never been a bigger futz than Brewster Tim in Gopher history

The Holiday Bowl is out of reach this year but there is always next year, the Gophers are just hoping to squeeze a little more lemon juice into their 2012 cocktail and land in some bowl, even if it’s the Old Dutch Bowl. They need 2 wins. A bowl game would mean an extra month of practice for Kill’s football team and boy do they need it, they are  another rag tag collection of hayburners and lollygagers. Don’t get me wrong, there is some youthful talent on this team but that baloney coach that was fired, Brewster Tim, took this program out back, chopped it into firewood, threw it in a barrel and had himself a hobo fire. We can still see the flames, Brewster Tim, and we know you used a chainsaw because you certainly did not use Paul Bunyon’s Axe.

Musgrave and his Packages of Donuts

The Morgan Athletic Club, Racine Normals, Racine Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals came to town last Sunday and were handily beat by the Minnesota Vikings. I refuse to give offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s Flat Tire offense credit for the unruly running of Adrian Peterson, therefore, Billy had nothing to do with the victory. Musgrave didn’t seem to care though because I saw him eating donuts after the game and I’m not afraid to report that he kind of freaked me out. He brought his own donuts to his press conference. Think about that! The man must be a donut fiend and explains why I saw powdered sugar around his mouth when he was calling plays. He must have had a couple donuts stuffed in his pocket or under his hat although I admit that is pure speculation. After the game he was answering questions and eating donuts. What really bugged me is that he wouldn’t eat one donut at a time. He was alternating between donuts like some prom-trotter on the dance floor grabbing any pair of stilts that walked by.

Bill Musgrave doesn’t finish his box of donuts much like his offense doesn’t finish drives.

I thought about this and realized the guy is weird. When the Vikings were supposed to be salting the rim on 21-7 lead over Cardy with 10 minutes to go in the 4th quarter that dewdropper Musgrave passed the ball on first down instead of running the ball to take time off the clock. After a second down run Musgrave faced a 3rd and 5 and brought in his fire extinguisher package that sent humdingers Percy Harvin and Peterson to the bench. After the Washington loss, criticism poured down on Musgrave like a drink to face for not having the two intergalactic footballers on the field during a number of red zone opportunities. What a Pluto Poser!  Your team is 4-2 and in complete control how do you not have your best players on the field to smash that nail into the Cardinals wooden kimono. Finish your damn donuts, Musgrave, I always finish my chuckle juice.

Adrian Peterson is a Manhattan, a beer, a glass of red win, a side salad, a buttered dinner roll, a baked potato, a lobster tail and a porterhouse steak sort of footballer.

Adrian Peterson is a Floorflusher Again 

Owner Zygi Wilf left his booth full of cakeeaters on Sunday and was so pleased with Adrian Peterson that he gave him his purple tie. Peterson, who was playing on a bum ankle and only recently had gruesome surgery on one of his gams accepted Wilf’s akward gift but the true gift was watching that whippernsnapper carry the football. Peterson carried a safety like he was a kite on one play and on another run he hit the hole like an alien aircraft leaving Earth’s atmosphere. Peterson was tossing defenders aside like he was delivering papers all over the neighborhood en route to a 153 yard ankle through a top 5 NFL defense.

The 2012 Minnesota Vikings are just like my hair, they are a two parter: Percy Peterson and Defense.  Sue me.

Leslie Frazier Might Have Sworn at Jerome Simpson Behind Closed Doors, I Swear at Vikings Receivers All the Time

Christopher Jug George

Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., Earth- “Gosh Darnit, Jerome, when are you going to see the selfless operation going on around here!” Something is bugging Leslie Frazier and it has to do with Jerome Simpson. On Monday, Frazier had a talk with him. Simpson likes to talk so coach might have had a hard time getting those darns in but Frazier perhaps has heard but not seen enough from the talented ball catcher. After his three game suspension to start the season, Simpson has only played about 5 quarters of football because his leg is numb or his back is hurt or his back hurt his leg in his sleep. It’s complicated.

Whatever the hell is going on, there is something strange afoot with the player the Vikings targeted in the off-season to be their downfield threat. Simpson was mysteriously de-activated before Sunday’s game even though he claims he was 100% ready to go. On Monday, Simpson was called into Frazier’s office for a sit down. Bernard Berrian was the last Vikings receiver to have a Monday “talk” with Frazier (Gee Whiz, Bernard!) and it did not end well. The next day B-Twice was saying goodbye to his NFL career  Prior to being released, a healthy Berrian was deactivated three of the previous four games so Simpson’s benching on Sunday was perhaps a lucid warning to an underachieving dramatist. Nursing a questionable injury is a good way for a coach to see, especially someone new, a player’s willingness to work through an injury and if they use it as an excuse to stare at the clouds. My hunch is that Frazier is upset with Simpson because he is not buying into a program that is working at the moment.

Frazier is definitely taking a hard-line approach with players this season about preparation and professionalism. He knows playing disciplined, hard-nosed football is the logical way for this particular team to win games. The Vikings showed again on Sunday that they will fight when they are down, but if they make mistakes, they will get beat. There is no margin for error at all. After watching Christian Ponder’s shaky performance against Washington, it would be easy to pile blame on the guy. However, Ponder  is still developing and he only has one reliable wide receiver in Percy Harvin and that footballer is not even a classic wide receiver, he’s a whirling whatever,  a wide back or a running receiver or something like that.

On Washington’s Rocket Robert Griffin III, let me get this out of the way: R.R.GIII is going to score a touchdown on Mars someday because that footballer is from the future.
When the Viking were trailing 31 – 9 in the 4th quarter that old hopeless purple feeling came over me. Similar to the Vikings only other loss in 2012, the Viking were buried on the road. But, just like they did in Indy, the team  fought back and fought back hard, in fact, they almost pulled it off until R.R.GIII did a horizontal 76 yard space jump. Ironically, the Vikings only two losses have been to two rookie quarterbacks. After watching both Andrew Luck and R.R.GIII, I don’t think two quarterbacks have come in the league together who were this good since John Elway and Dan Marino entered in 1983. I’m not kidding. I’m serious. Seriously serious.

There is nothing to indicate that Simpson is a long-term answer nor were the Vikings banking on him to be that because they signed him to a one year contract. The Vikings were hoping he’d just be the answer on the outside in 2012. The other two “primary” receivers on the roster are Michael Jenkins, a noncombustible,  non-difference maker and Devin Aromashodu, a guy who has made some big plays this year but he is permanently tattooed as a 4th or 5th NFL wide receiver. Monday’s sit down with Simpson may have been a last-ditch effort to see if he can get the most out of the team’s best deep threat. Simpson was a full go at practice on Wednesday so, for the moment, he bought into something Frazier was selling but it remains to be seen if it was a hot dog or a permanent residence.

One thing is evident, the Vikings offense will not reach the heights it is capable of until they add talent to the outside. A real field stretcher, you know? A real dasher and dancer, a run Ronnie runner!

The Vikings offense is played in a backyard. Everything takes place within 20 yards and they succeed with dumps, dupes, and dashes. The Vikings have proven they can move the ball between the twenties but the red zone has become a serious issue for this team and the 3-D approach proves more difficult the less field there is for the defense to defend. The lack of throws into the end zone prove this. Barring a stunning play from Harvin or Adrian Peterson, they are content to crawl toward the area around the goal line that is only worth 3 points.

We’ve been spoiled in Minnesota as far as the outside burner goes but, 7 years later, we all know that Randy Moss is a once a century comet. Engrained in Purple minds is the image of Randall Cunningham with his arm cocked back like the Sagittarius Constellation ready to send a football to the sky with Moss waiting for it to so easily attach to his hands. Those days are gone, gone, John, John. What a painful thing it has been to watch the weaksauce wide outs this team has tried to replace Moss with. The organization has made no effort to shore up this position aside from the drafting of Sydney Rice who had one incredible year orchestrated by the Favrenheimer. Rice proved too injury prone to be trusted with a long-term contract.

The biggest blunder came at their first crack at replacing Moss. With the pick the Vikings acquired from Oakland for Moss they selected the biggest wide receiver anti-Canton bust in team history, Troy Williamson. They went on to sign lightweights like Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson, Bobby Wade, Robert Ferguson, and Greg Camirillo. They continued the pattern of the mediocre receiver by signing the Jenkins and the Aromashodu. The one time the team took a shot at an actual game breaker was when they signed B-twice who actually was the best receiver on the market at the time he just wasn’t very good, or, seemingly, was too caught up in himself to be all he could be.

Some teams are lucky to have a quarterback who can turn disciplined, solid route running, decent talent level receivers into stars. Favre made a career of making receivers money, as has Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, the list goes on. Ponder has yet to scratch the surface on whether or not he can make a star out of a receiver and that’s never been the way it’s done around here. We like our retread quarterbacks as much as we like casserole and for nearly 15 years we were spoiled by stellar wide receiver play; from the jolting Anthony Carter to the undroppable Cris Carter to the mutant Randy Moss. Obviously acquiring a wide receiver has to be priority number one this off-season and failing to do so may hold this team back. For 2012, all Leslie wants is for Simpson to board the anti-love boat.

Percy Harvin is a Football Genius, Meanwhile, John Carlson, Phone Home

Christopher Jug George

Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., Earth-  The Minnesota Vikings battering of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday illustrated to the rest of the NFL that the Vikings are for real. The defense stamped out another opponent, limiting the Titans and quarterback/time traveler John Locke  to 7 points and have now given up a ridiculous 33 total points in the past three weeks. While the defense continues to be the biggest surprise, the true football genius was once again Percy Harvin.  Harvin has been unruly this season and oddly enough, it’s my hypothetical belief that misfit John Carlson’s March signing might be indirectly contributing to Harvin’s success.

The Vikings signed local boy Carlson to a 5 year $25 million dollar contract hoping to bolster their offense. So far, Carlson’s presence on the Vikings is much like a satellite in the night sky, the only way to see him is to concentrate really hard on the television screen and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of him going in motion before disappearing into the darkness. Carlson is the anti-Percy Harvin, the do nothing to Percy’s do everything.  Harvin plays the role of both the sun and the moon on the football field and is the best all-around player in NFL. He also is on the short list of many national pundits league MVP candidates.

The connection between Carlson’s signing and Harvin’s success is pure speculation on this writer’s part and traces back to an unhappy Percy at June mini-camp. Harvin, still playing under his rookie contract, is the most underpaid player in the league, which probably sprouted the mini-squabble at mini-camp where Harvin voiced his displeasure with the front office about “something.” It was all very vague and was written off as “Percy being Percy.”  It’s still unclear what exactly went down behind closed doors but at one point Harvin apparently asked for a trade. At the time it was easy to speculate the dispute was about money, then reports surfaced that his unhappiness sprouted from the way the team intended to use him. It’s easy to draw a line between the two. Harvin, who was not an every down player last season, wanted the opportunity to produce and therefore get paid. This leads us to the case of the weird neighbor who moved into Winter Park seven months ago and is rarely seen, John Carlson.

It’s possible that Harvin viewed Carlson’s contract as an affront for a couple of reasons. First, Carlson, a tight end in Bill Musgrave’s Two Tight End Ice Cream Dream offense, would potentially take touches away from Harvin which would deflate Harvin’s stats and lessen the dollar amount of his extension, or more so, Harvin was just plain unhappy with the two tight end pass catching concept.  Secondly, Harvin probably thought ‘What the hell are they giving money to Carlson for and not me!’

Off-topic:
Dear John Carlson,
Please phone home, we have no idea where you are.
Thanks,
Purple People

If that was the case, he has a point. I have no idea if Percy was viewed as selfish but I know he’s a winner. After the game on Sunday he was praising the defense for the victory and talking about how the team is not even close to being where they need to be. He has a championship pedigree and while his maturity and willingness to practice have always been  question marks, his play on game days have never been an issue. The ascension of Harvin as one of the best players in the NFL is no surprise, however, the level of maturity that we’re seeing out of Harvin this year has elevated this team to heights that no one saw coming except for maybe the team itself.

Maybe that’s what was really going on in June, the front office convincing Harvin that they needed him all-in if this team was going to be successful and Percy stating that he needs to get paid accordingly for what he does. Perhaps an ultimatum was delivered to Harvin about habitually missing practices and the coaching staff made it clear that they didn’t treat Percy like an every down player last year because of Percy’s laziness during game week or because of the perception that his migraine problem led to him being viewed as not durable. It’s possible, but the one thing about Harvin on Sundays is that he gives everything he has to give, the Vikings just might have wanted more, in so that they wanted Harvin to be a leader on the team and bring that attitude to preparation. Whatever happened, it worked. Harvin is the man on the Vikings offense, no small feat with Adrian Peterson standing next to him in the huddle.

I was a big fan of Harvin in college when he played at Florida in spite of despising everything about egotistical Urban Meyer’s Tim Tebow Gator Machine. While Tebow was doing all of his mercy me stuff it was my belief that Percy was the best football player on the 2008 National Championship team.  Now Harvin has surpassed Peterson, who only recently was considered by some to be the best player in the NFL, as the best football player on the Vikings and probably the most popular.

On a Vikings team that is amazingly well balanced- offense, defense, and special teams, Harvin is the straw that stirs the drink. There is a lot of talk this week about Harvin being the best all-around player in football and it’s hard to find one name that does the things Percy does. Even in NFL history, I’m hard pressed to come up with a player who does what Percy does.  The key is that Harvin is one of the top receivers in the game so he is uniquely a wide receiver who plays running back who plays wide receiver. We aren’t talking about a screen pass guy like Thurman Thomas or Roger Craig or even Arian Foster, we’re talking about the best slot receiver in the game who would be one of the best running backs in the game if that was his sole position. Harvin is also the best kickoff return guy in the NFL. There are no wide receivers in NFL history with Harvin’s skill set as a running back, with an arsenal of ankle breaking moves; the power, the hands, the speed, and the will of Harvin. Not that I can think of at least.

What it boils down to for Harvin is his ability with the ball in his hands. If I were to describe Percy Harvin’s running style I’d compare him to Bo Jackson on Tecmo Bowl. Now, that is not a comparison to Bo Jackson, the NFL running back, it’s a comparison to Jackson’s pixelated version that could run all over the field making guys miss and causing 6 defender pile ups. What makes Harvin so difficult to defend is that he gets the ball behind the line of scrimmage on high percentage passes and can dart, dodge or destroy his way to 10 yards in an instant or, though not a classic outside receiver, Harvin occasionally is able to make a play down field. He also makes tough catches over the middle and is one of the best at fighting for and obtaining first down yardage. Then the Vikings put him in at tail back and he looks like an All-Pro. Against the Titans, Harvin had a 40 yard catch and a punishing, up the middle, 4 yard touchdown run on the same drive. Later in the game, Percy went Tecmo Bo on Titan defenders on an absurd 10 yard touchdown pass breaking the ankles of 2 defenders and then left a 3 Titan pile up as he went on his merry way into the end zone.

Musgrave is playing a long term chess match with his use of Harvin and very soon Peterson is going to be the beneficiary. Teams have no choice but to commit more than two defenders to Harvin, it’s a ridiculous request to ask a defensive coordinator to prepare for both Peterson and Harvin. With the play of the Vikings defense, having those two whippersnappers makes this 4-1 start no fluke and the beginning of something larger down the road, whether that’s in 2012 or beyond we’ll have to see, just don’t take your eyes off this team, they are worthy of our attention.

Watch Bo Jackson’s Bananas Tecmo Bowl Run:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PBvOxicz-0