March 23, 2014

Joe Webb signs with the Carolina Panthers

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:20

Sad to see him go, but happy he’s at least getting a chance to play quarterback for another team. He was never going to be a franchise quarterback, but it’s difficult to say he ever really got a fair chance with the Vikings. As Ted Glover puts it, “The Joe Webb Era Is Dead. Long Live The Joe Webb Era”:

The semi-legend, who became part super hero, part mythological woodland creature, and part mediocre quarterback and receiver, has a vocal minority of support as strong as any fringe roster guy in NFL history. Earlier this evening he was signed by the Carolina Panthers as a backup to Cam Newton. The Panthers find themselves in need of quarterback depth now that Cam Newton will miss most, if not all of the off-season, due to ankle surgery. According to NFL.com, the Panthers ‘love his skill set’, and like the idea of having another athletic quarterback in the mix behind Newton.

Wait, I could swear I’ve heard a coaching staff rave about his skill set before. I know I have. I JUST KNOW IT.

Of course, Carolina also released WR Steve Smith, and they suddenly find themselves in need of wide receiving depth, too. And with Captain Munnerlyn now on the Vikings, maybe the Panthers need a guy who can return punts, or kicks.

Joe’s done that before, too.

The Vikings installed what they called the “Blazer” package to showcase Webb’s wildcat skills, but it was a remarkably limited package that only seemed to work the first time … because it was totally predictable after you saw it run once: there were no significant variations or options. That’s not Webb’s fault, that’s the fault of the previous offensive co-ordinator and his lack of creativity (or unwillingness to trust Webb with more responsibility, perhaps).

MINNEAPOLIS – NOVEMBER 7: Joe Webb #14 of the Minnesota Vikings runs a route during an NFL game against the Washington Redskins at Mall of America Field, on November 7, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

Update: Arif Hasan says goodbye to Joe:

Reasons to cheer for him: Joe Webb is a fantastic person with a great attitude. I’ve never heard Webb complain about getting jerked around or being put in a poor position to succeed, despite ample oppurtunity to and didn’t just do what his coaches asked of him — he embraced it enthusiastically. It’s also difficult to forget his more amazing moments, like against Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago. In some ways, it’s always easy to cheer for a player that gave you so many electrifying moments. He was very probably misused and certainly hurt for not being able to develop as a player with one position. Perhaps sitting behind an offense built for a running quarterback in Carolina will help him better use his exciting skill set.

Reasons to cheer against him: He hasn’t been very good. In all honesty, the great moments he had weren’t sustainable or reasons you could count on him for the future, and he produced one of the worst quarterback playoff performances of all time. Despite a career completion rate lower than 50% and yards per attempt lower than even Christian Ponder’s, he somehow found himself in quarterback controversies a bit too often. Maybe not his fault, but definitely something that inspires some resentment.

Verdict: For. Unless you really, really dislike Carolina, it’s hard not to cheer Joe Webb on. If Cam Newton gets injured and Webb leads the Panthers to the playoffs (or better), that will give us confirmation that the old coaching staff was terrible, and it feels good to be right. For all of his faults, he was probably misused in Minnesota. That isn’t to say he was a good football player, but when he was on the field, the ways he was used were suboptimal. Last thing: it’s kind of cool that Spiderman and Superman are paired together.

August 26, 2013

Preseason “action” as Vikings lose to San Francisco

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:10

This was a nationally televised game, and both teams were expected to play their starters for at least the first half (except the 49ers have like a dozen quarterbacks on the roster, so each prospective backup was going to play less than a quarter). The Vikings didn’t look good. In fact, they looked particularly bad with the first team offence on the field. The defence looked much better, but not good enough to make up for the lack of offensive productivity on display.

Adrian Peterson got a few symbolic snaps, but no meaningful action (no contact at all), and was quickly replaced by Toby Gerhart at running back. Stephen Burton, who has been pushing to make the roster as a wide receiver, gave up an interception to end an early series and reduce his chance of being on the 53-man roster at the start of the season. Both of the starting tackles ended up with personal fouls — Matt Kalil drew two unsportsmanlike penalties and Phil Loadholt was flagged for holding.

The Vikings special teams gave up a kick-return TD which immediately wiped out any momentum from the Zach Line touchdown reception. Joe Webb caught a second TD from Christian Ponder to round out the scoring for the Purple. Chris Cook left the game with a groin injury and Kevin Williams will have an MRI today after he was injured on a nasty-looking block away from the ball.

I saw the first half, then a thunderstorm rolled through our area and took out the power briefly. When the power came on a few seconds later, the cable was out and I couldn’t watch the rest of the game. From the reports, I missed very little indeed…

The first round of roster cuts (from 90 players down to 75) are due by Tuesday, so this game was the last chance for some players to make any kind of showing.

ESPN‘s Ben Goessling says the final stat line is kinder to Christian Ponder than it appeared on the field:

Ponder went 7-of-9 for 48 yards on his final drive during the Minnesota Vikings’ 34-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, directing a 12-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Joe Webb on a fade route. It was as assertive and accurate as Ponder has looked all preseason, and though most of his completions were underneath the 49ers’ coverage, he converted two third downs (one on a 7-yard scramble, the other on his touchdown to Webb), and the scoring pass was Ponder’s second of the night. It helped him finish with his best stat line of the preseason — 17-of-23 for 116 yards, two touchdowns and an interception — but it also dressed things up after another ragged start for Ponder.

January 12, 2013

Looking back at the ups and downs of the Vikings’ 2012 season

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:22

In the Daily Norseman, Eric Thompson reviews the Minnesota Vikings 10-6 season:

…let’s take a moment to appreciate how surprisingly well the 2012 season went as a whole. I thought the Vikings would finish with the exact inverse of their 10-6 regular season record. I felt that if everything went well for them, maybe they could scratch their way to .500. But the [insert Jim Mora voice here] playoffs? You kiddin’ me?! Only the rubiest of rubes could have predicted that with a straight face before the season. The Vikings struck gold multiple times in the draft: Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, and Blair Walsh all made an immediate impact. Josh Robinson, Rhett Ellison, and Jarius Wright chipped in with noticeable contributions as well. When you come off a 3-13 season where you were the third worst team in the league, you better kick ass in the draft. Rick Spielman & company did just that and it paid off.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have your all-world cyborg running back return from major knee surgery to come within nine yards of the single-season rushing record either. Adrian Peterson surprised everyone but himself this year. He put the team (and multiple defenders) on his back time and time again throughout the season. If he doesn’t win the MVP in a few weeks, Webster is going to have to change the definition of “valuable”.

[. . .]

So yeah…about that internal quarterback controversy. The Joe Webb bandwagon didn’t just come to a halt last Saturday. It went down like the Hindenburg. Webb confirmed what Arif, Skol Girl, and I all thought after covering training camp this summer. He’s an amazing athlete — it’s just too bad he can’t throw a football. He has an arm like a Civil War cannon; unfortunately, he also has the accuracy of one. At least in the cannon’s case it was usually OK if you missed the target by a few yards. I’ve always rooted for Joe Webb and marveled at his ridiculous athleticism. But if he’s the backup quarterback again next year, something is seriously wrong. That said, I can’t hate on Webb too much. He was thrust into an impossible situation with virtually no game reps to prepare himself. I didn’t think that the Vikings were going to win that game regardless of who was under center. And outside of the first drive it’s not like the play calling did him too many favors. [. . .]

Christian Ponder’s “Injury”: [. . .] the bruising on Christian Ponder’s arm was there for everyone to see. It was definitely a shock when it was announced Ponder couldn’t go just hours before kickoff. The sudden drastic change in Ponder’s status led people to believe that he was being soft and unwilling to play through pain. I saw all sorts of tweets and comments to the effect of “LOL PONDER’S A WUSS HE DOESN’T WANT TO SUCK AGAINST GB AGAIN” or “DURRR FAVRE WOULD HAVE BEEN OUT THERE WITH BOTH ELBOWS AMPUTATED NO DOUBT”. But then we saw Ponder’s arm, which looked like it talked back to Ike Turner too many times. And Rich Eisen said on his podcast this week that he heard the Vikings knew that Ponder wouldn’t be able to go on Friday night. Not exactly your run of the mill owwie, is it?

January 6, 2013

Vikings lose in Green Bay

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:48

Yesterday, I said “Everyone is expecting Green Bay to romp over the Vikings today“. That became an even more likely outcome just a few hours before game time, as the Vikings announced that starting quarterback Christian Ponder would be inactive with an elbow injury suffered in last week’s win. Backup Joe Webb would be the Vikings quarterback for the Green Bay game, not having thrown a pass since the preseason. After the game, it was made clear that the problem wasn’t pain, it was range of motion: Ponder couldn’t move his elbow enough to make the throws.

The Vikings got the opening kickoff and put on an entertaining drive that ended with a Blair Walsh field goal. Webb didn’t complete a single pass on the drive: it was all Adrian Peterson or Joe Webb running the ball. After the first drive, however, the Vikings went away from what had worked in the opening drive and were unable to move the ball consistently.

Jesse Reed at Bleacher Report:

Maybe we all took Christian Ponder for granted in 2012.

Joe Webb proved an invaluable lesson on Saturday night: The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and it doesn’t matter if you have the best running back in the world; without one, you won’t win in the playoffs.

Webb started the game because Ponder couldn’t overcome an elbow injury he suffered in Week 17, and the Minnesota Vikings offense was a hopeless mess without Ponder.

That’s right.

As much as many (myself included) have ripped Ponder for his flaws, his value to the Vikings was made apparent in the worst way against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday night.

Webb was simply atrocious.

1500ESPN’s Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero:

December 25, 2011

Vikings win yesterday was bittersweet: they won the game, but lost Adrian Peterson

Filed under: Football, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 14:00

The game at Washington was never going to change much in the playoff picture: neither team is going to the post-season this year, but both teams were playing for pride. In the end, the Vikings won despite losing their starting quarterback and all-world running back on sequential plays. The win was a bit of a palliative for a doomed season, but the injury to Adrian Peterson sets next season into question.

Christopher Gates dips into his history texts to find the best way to describe yesterday’s game:

Pyrrhic victory (PIR-ik VIK-tuh-ree) n. A victory that is offset by staggering losses

The term “phyrric victory” is named after King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who did battle with the Romans in the Battle of Heraclea in 280 B.C. and the Battle of Asculum in 279 B.C. In both battles, the Romans suffered greater casualties than Pyrrhus’ army did. . .however, the Romans had a significantly larger base from which to draw troops. So, in essence, Pyrrhus’ victories came at too high a price, as he even went so far as to say that another such victory would be his undoing.

That’s pretty much what we saw today at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., as the Minnesota Vikings fought like hell when it would have been easy to roll over, and got themselves a 33-26 victory over the Washington Redskins. The victory guarantees that they will a) not be the single-worst team in Minnesota Vikings’ history in terms of win-loss record, and b) no longer eligible for the top overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

While I still think Christian Ponder will develop into a good, dependable NFL quarterback, I’ve been a fan of Joe Webb since he was drafted. I’m delighted to see that he is getting the opportunity to showcase his diverse skill set, and I’d be even happier if the team can work him into games more regularly.


December 12, 2011

Vikings’ fumbles start and end game at Detroit

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:55

The game seemed to be getting out of hand on the Vikings’ very first play: a defender got past Phil Loadholt to hit quarterback Christian Ponder before Ponder had any idea he was there and stripped the ball away. The ball bounced into the end-zone and Detroit recovered for the touchdown. The Lions continued to build on their lead, getting to 21-0 before the Vikings could put together a scoring drive of their own.

Between interceptions and fumbles, Detroit scored 24 points off turnovers, most of them unforced. Things were going so badly for Christian Ponder that he was replaced with backup Joe Webb early in the second half. That upset the defensive scheme that Detroit had been using (Ponder can run, but is still limited with a hip injury — Webb is an even better runner than Ponder), allowing the Vikings to mount a comeback that almost succeeded. The last play of the game saw the Vikings on Detroit’s 1-yard line, only to fumble away the ball which Detroit finally recovered fifty yards upfield.


July 27, 2011

Washington trades Donovan McNabb to the Vikings

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:17

I have to admit, I didn’t see this one coming: I’d expected the Vikings to either go with Christian Ponder or Joe Webb as the starting quarterback, not to bring in a big name veteran:

The Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins have agreed in principle to a trade sending QB Donovan McNabb to Minnesota.

The deal is contingent upon McNabb taking a significant pay cut, but according to Jay Glazer, “FOXSports.com has learned the Minnesota Vikings have agreed to acquire McNabb in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft and possibly a conditional 2013 draft pick.”

That’s a much lower cost in draft picks than Washington was supposedly asking, so it works well for Minnesota in that dimension. It’ll be interesting to see how McNabb works with the two young quarterbacks in training camp.

Update: Of course, no trade will satisfy everyone, but this particular one has Ryan Boser incensed:

If you’ve read my work here, you’re well aware of my disdain for McNabb. At 10:15 tonight, Jay Glazer tweeted that the Vikings have agreed to send two sixth-round picks (2012, and a conditional 2013) to Washington for the 34-year old.

The deal is contingent on the egotistical vet taking a massive pay cut from the $12.5M he’s owed this season (he’s just one year into a six-year, $89.2M deal).

The optimist in me hopes that the delusional McNabb, who still thinks he’s elite, will put the kibosh on it. Realistically, it’s a lock that the Vikings will head into the season with their third (or fourth) choice under center.

[. . .]

He’ll obviously take a pay cut, but he’ll still cost a sub-.500 team chock-full of holes way too much cap space (in addition to the draft picks). Specifics for the restructured deal are expected tomorrow.

If the coaching staff were really worried about throwing first-rounder Christian Ponder (who’s been preparing like a maniac) to the wolves, then spend pennies on the backup mentor and let Joe Webb take the early-season starts.

Ponder’s the future, so you have nothing to lose by letting a sixth-round wide receiver be the sacrificial lamb. Who knows, you might just discover that you stumbled on to a gem. As it stands, you can stick a fork in Joe Webb, the quarterback.

Update, the second: Dan Zinksi has a bit of advice for McNabb:

The drama this time reportedly revolves around McNabb himself and his apparent hurt feelings over not being shown a level of deference comparable to that which the Vikings showed Brett Favre during their pursuit of him the last two seasons. As ESPN puts it, “McNabb was concerned Tuesday night about how the Vikings’ side of the situation was handled.” Evidently McNabb expected several Viking veterans to fly to his home in Zygi Wilf‘s jet bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh and possibly a six-pack, and was bothered when this did not happen.

[. . .]

Here’s my advice for you Donovan as you embark upon your new career as the quarterback the Vikings had to settle for because they lost out on Tyler Thigpen: Get your hands on that playbook as fast as possible. Also, get hold of Sidney Rice‘s phone number and start working on him to stay with the Vikings. You could have a nice array of weapons in Minnesota — better than you had last year in Washington for sure — but only if Rice stays. Third, try to be humble. Come in and say all the right things and do all the right things. And if your coaches ask you to wear a wristband? Remember that it’s for your own good and just wear the damn wristband.

April 29, 2011

The first round of the NFL draft

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:05

As I’ve said every year, the NFL draft is not a huge fascination for me because I don’t follow college football. I don’t know enough about any of the players, and after you’ve read two or three mock drafts, you know even less. Once the draft is over, you still won’t know whether your team was a big winner or a big loser in the draft . . . it really does take a few years to put perspective on it.

This year, the Vikings had the 12th pick in the draft and an immediate need for a quarterback, which meant they took Christian Ponder of Florida State. Joe Webb, who was a late-round draft choice last year got the chance to start a couple of games late in the season after Brett Favre was injured. He did fairly well, but he’s not widely considered ready to be a regular starter yet. Ponder will have a good chance to show what he can do in training camp (assuming that the labour situation is resolved fairly soon after the draft).

Here’s Judd Zulgad’s take on the Vikings’ draft choice:

Vikings executive Rick Spielman, coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave were among the members of the Vikings brass who spent a day-and-a-half with Christian Ponder last month in Tallahassee, Fla., putting the Florida State quarterback through various drills and evaluating his football smarts during a private workout.

“I thought the whole interview went great, the whole process,” Ponder said. “I was impressed by Musgrave and what he was doing on offense [and] Coach Frazier. I’m not sure how interested they were going to be, but I thought the whole process went well.”

[. . .]

While the Vikings could attempt to sign a veteran free agent to play in front of Ponder for a season, there also is the chance he will step in as the team’s starter. Frazier attempted to frame it as if Ponder will be competing with Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar for the job, but that’s a bit hard to believe considering the commitment the Vikings have made.

“I want it to still be an open competition with the guys that are on our roster,” Frazier said. “It will be those three. What happens with free agency? Who knows? We’ll eventually get to that point. But right now it’s a competition between those three and we’ll line up with the best guy when we get ready to line up against the Chargers [on Sept. 11 in the regular-season opener].”

In addition to a quarterback, the team has lots of other needs that could not be addressed in free agency, including both offensive and defensive linemen, linebacker, corner, safety, wide receiver, and tight end.

Update: Jim Souhan thinks that the jeering fans at the Winter Park draft party should give Spielman and Frazier a break:

The inebriated might wind up being right. Ponder might prove too fragile for the NFL and might become one of the many first-round quarterback busts in recent league history.

But this is one of those moments when it might be best to invest a little hope in the Vikings’ brain trust, because there is no greater thrill for the modern-day sports fan than to watch the development of a good, young quarterback, and there is no better template for winning than a coach and a young quarterback growing into their jobs together.

Let’s skip the usual draft-day analysis. It doesn’t matter whether the draft experts think the Vikings reached. Or think there were better quarterbacks available than Ponder. Or think there were better players at other positions available at No. 12.

Draft experts and NFL teams alike are often wrong, not because of a lack of due diligence but because projecting young quarterbacks is an inherently risky business.

[. . .]

What we know is this: Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was desperate to draft a quarterback who could lead his team, and he seemed very happy at the lectern late Thursday night.

Why not? This is a day for hope, and Ponder gives Vikings fans reason to do so.

The consensus: He’s smart, diligent and tough. His injuries gave his detractors reason to question him; the Vikings say they liked his toughness in trying to overcome them.

What we know for sure is that Frazier has tied his future to Ponder. So has personnel boss Spielman.

If Ponder develops into a star, Frazier and Spielman will be here a while. If he proves to be a bust, Zygi Wilf probably will be hiring a new personnel guru and coach within three years.

February 15, 2011

Joe Webb still hopes to impress at QB

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:27

Chip Scoggins says that Vikings quarterback Joe Webb is still hoping to be given more time to show that he can be the long-term starter:

Drafted in the sixth round last season as a wide receiver, Webb showed enough potential in two starts at quarterback to earn an opportunity to compete at that position. Webb’s long-term future at quarterback still remains unclear, but the Vikings at least want to see more of him in that role.

But given the uncertainty surrounding Webb, the Vikings need to explore other avenues.

“I don’t pay attention to [draft speculation],” Webb said. “You’re going to hear what people say. But I can’t control the decisions the coaches and GM make. The only thing I can control is the way I perform on the field. As long as I keep performing to the best of my ability, everything will take care of itself.”

[. . .]

But injuries to Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson opened the door for Webb to start the final two games at quarterback and play in four games. Webb opened eyes with his strong performance in a 24-14 road victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Webb completed eight of 11 passes for 124 yards after halftime, including a critical 19-yard completion to Percy Harvin on third-and-11 in the fourth quarter that kept a drive alive and eventually helped the Vikings extend their lead.

But Webb also struggled and looked raw in a season-ending loss to the Detroit Lions after a short week of preparation.

The final game was not a showcase for anyone wearing purple: the team was just playing out the string at that point. After the collapse of the Metrodome roof, the Vikings became a gypsy team, playing in whatever venue was available.

December 31, 2010

Mark Craig: Frazier and Webb are both keepers

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Star Tribune columnist Mark Craig thinks the biggest benefit to the Vikings from Tuesday’s game wasn’t the win, but the harbingers of the future:

Frazier is 3-2 with two road wins, the latter over a team that needed to win to secure a first-round bye. He also outcoached Andy Reid, one of the league’s best coaches, while holding the Vikings together through the most ridiculous of circumstances over the past three weeks.

Not knowing who the Wilfs have spoken to or feel they can get to coach the team full-time after this season makes it difficult to declare Frazier the man for the job. But I do not believe they will have a better candidate than the guy they have in place now.

The players respect him as a former player and an even-tempered professional. And obviously they’re willing to follow his lead. Otherwise, last night’s game never would have turned out the way it did.

And on the quarterback position:

As for Joe Webb, all I can say is Brett Favre’s streak of starts coming to an end was beneficial to the future of the franchise. It has allowed everyone to realize: A, Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer, nor will he ever be; and B, Joe Webb has what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL.

First of all, he has the size, athleticism, speed and arm strength. That allows him to be competent while learning how to play the position. Philly’s poor left end spent the whole game watching Webb dodge his pass rush and turn sacks into positive yardage. Secondly, he showed something in his first start that T-Jack never really showed in five seasons: He’s got a feel for the position and he won’t get hurt every time he’s touched.

Webb’s read and throw on the third-and-11 pass to Percy Harvin late in the game was beautiful. If converted a third down and buried the Eagles.

December 29, 2010

Vikings surprise Eagles in rare Tuesday game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:56

The Minnesota Vikings were two-touchdown underdogs to the Philadelphia Eagles, and some said even that overstated how much of a mismatch this game was going to be. It was such a foregone conclusion that the game wasn’t even broadcast in my area.

As they say, however, the predictions are just guesses. The game certainly didn’t go the way it was expected to:

The victory was sparked by Adrian Peterson’s 118-yard rushing performance and an astute defensive game plan that put consistent pressure on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. But it also was the result of a performance by a Philadelphia team that looked as if it had spent far too much time celebrating clinching the NFC East on Sunday, when the Packers beat the Giants.

The Eagles were called for 12 penalties as they lost to the Vikings for the first time since the 1997 season, ending a five-game winning streak. The Vikings had not won at Philadelphia since 1985. Philadelphia’s performance was reminiscent of the Arizona Cardinals’ effort in 2008 after they clinched the NFC West and then lost to the Vikings 35-14.

“It was an absolutely pathetic job on my part of getting my team ready to play,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “We didn’t coach well and we didn’t play well. It was a complete tail-whipping right there.”

Normally, as Gregg Easterbrook constantly points out, the team that blitzes too much gets burned by the quarterback throwing to his “hot read” (who is uncovered because the defender is blitzing). That wasn’t the case last night:

A game plan designed by Frazier, who had been defensive coordinator before taking over for the fired Brad Childress on Nov. 22, and interim defensive coordinator Fred Pagac made sure Vick was never was able to get comfortable because he faced a variety of looks and was consistently pursued by Antoine Winfield, who blitzed both from the corner and inside.

Vick was sacked six times and finished with an interception and two lost fumbles, including a crucial one late in the second quarter when Winfield stripped the ball from him on a sack, then picked it up and raced 45 yards for a touchdown that tied the score 7-7. Winfield finished with two sacks.

I had been looking forward to watching the game particularly to see how Joe Webb handled his first NFL start at quarterback. He seems to have done well enough:

Webb, meanwhile, got better as the game went along in his first career start, completing eight of 11 passes for 124 yards in the second half. He led the Vikings on scoring drives in their first two series of the third quarter, the first ending with a 30-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell and the second with a 9-yard touchdown run by the raw quarterback, who didn’t see open tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on the play.

Brett Favre is still the starter, if he’s healthy, so there isn’t a quarterback controversy. Whether he’ll be healthy for the final game at Detroit’s Ford Field on Sunday is still unknown.

December 21, 2010

Bears beat Vikings to claim NFC North division title

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:06

The last time the Vikings gave up this many points was a previous game against the Bears, but at least that one was close (48-41 in 2008). This game wasn’t close at all:

Vikings executives spent last week working diligently to make sure Monday night’s game was played in front of their home fans in part because it was meant to serve as a celebration of the franchise’s 50th season in Minnesota.

That was their first mistake.

Given the team’s performance in its 40-14, five-turnover loss to Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium, those execs might have done their fans a greater service by having shifted this game as far away from snowy Minnesota as possible. That way, many in the announced crowd of 40,504 wouldn’t have had to witness a second consecutive listless performance from a team that might have played in the elements but mentally appeared to be in Maui.

The game was supposed to be rookie Joe Webb’s first NFL start, but mirabile dictu the status for Brett Favre was upgraded from “out” to “questionable”, and he somehow managed to get healthy enough to start. It didn’t last too long, though:

Favre’s NFL record consecutive-starts streak had ended at 321 the previous Monday against the Giants because of an injury to his throwing arm and at that point it appeared his career might be finished. But Favre, who has said numerous times this will be his final season, wanted to give playing another shot.

It proved to be a poor idea.

Favre was left lying motionless on the field after taking a crushing hit from defensive end Corey Wootton in the second quarter. He suffered a concussion and was replaced by rookie Joe Webb, who had been scheduled to start in the first place.

Photo from Viking Update.

Webb completed 15 of 26 passes for 129 yards with two interceptions and a 38.8 passer rating and also scrambled six times for 38 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown. But it mattered little against a team that completed a season sweep of the Vikings.

Jim Souhan sent a couple of Twitter updates during the fourth quarter saying that fans were pelting the Vikings bench with snowballs. The quarterbacks were throwing them back, but the Bears players kept intercepting them.

December 17, 2010

Bruce Arthur: “It all falls down”

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:37

A lengthy, but pretty accurate, summary of the Vikings 2010 season of futility:

There was no easier metaphor with which to work this year than the collapse of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Well, technically, it’s not called the Metrodome anymore — the naming rights to the field were bought by Mall of America, but naming rights to fields are about the dumbest thing in sports, other than catering endlessly to Brett Favre after the age of 40 and trading a third-round pick for Randy Moss only to cut him after he complains about the buffet.

So when the great white marshmallow Metrodome roof caved in early Sunday morning in epic disaster-movie fashion, caught by the Fox cameras that some enterprising person left rolling all night, the analogies practically wrote themselves. The Vikings were one play from the Super Bowl last season until Brett Favre remembered that interceptions are his business, and business was good. They were that close.

[. . .]

Of course, the weather thing caught up with the Vikings last week, and their game against the Giants had to be moved to Detroit, where fans got in free and did the wave as Favre’s record consecutive games streak came to an end at 297 due to a numb throwing hand. He can still text-message with his left, presumably.

So this week’s game on Monday Night Football will be held at the University of Minnesota’s stadium. Which sounds great, right? Everyone can drink and laugh and wear scarves and toques and have a blast, college-style!

Well, except the seats are general admission, which means there’s going to be a hell of scramble when the doors open, and it’s going to be pretty cold at night in Minnesota, and oh by the way there’s not going to be any booze. So by my watch, the tailgating should begin right about . . . now.

Oh, and the field isn’t built to be used in these kind of conditions — there is no mechanism to heat the field and melt the snow, for example — so expect a skating rink. Plus, Vikings backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is also hurt, so a rookie named Joe Webb will don the ice skates Monday, plus maybe Patrick Ramsey, formerly of Washington Redskins, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins non-fame.

So it’s official: No fan base — not Panthers fans, not Bengals fans, not Broncos fans, not Dallas fans, not Washington fans (never Dallas and Washington fans, never), not even Detroit and Buffalo fans — has had a worse year than the poor boozeless purple suckers who will freeze in the dark on Monday night in Minnesota. Condolences, guys.

Like everyone else, the Two Scotts go for Chicago to win

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:06

They’re both so positive, I don’t think they’d change their minds even if Scarlett Johansson was playing quarterback:

Chicago (minus 3) at Minnesota, Monday night

Reid: After 297 consecutive starts, Brett Favre stood on the sideline last week for the first time since 1992. Tarvaris Jackson, a bit more modestly, will see his most recent streak end at exactly…one game. He’ll be back on the sideline for the first time since December 5th. Who will start? Creaky old Favre? Third string quarterback Joe Webb (of Dragnet fame) would be an interesting choice. He’s played a total of one series in the NFL but, on the upside, he is able to operate his body. Did we mention this game will be played outside at the University of Minnesota? Pick: Chicago.

Feschuk: Quite a debut for Tarvaris Jackson last week. I really admired how he would drop back in the pocket, look left, look right, look terrified and then scamper about the backfield in manic slapstick desperation. Had the Giants been dressed as British bobbies, Jackson would have been immediately sued for copyright infringement by the estate of Benny Hill. Pick: Chicago.

December 16, 2010

Vikings sign Patrick Ramsey, but Webb still likely to start against Bears

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:49

With injuries to Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson, Joe Webb was the only remotely healthy quarterback on the roster (and he has been working through a hamstring injury), so the Vikings had to scour the free agent market for a bit of additional insurance. As a result of their search, they’ve signed Patrick Ramsey to back up Webb:

The Vikings unsettled quarterback situation took a new twist Wednesday as the team signed veteran free agent Patrick Ramsey.

Ramsey, joining his eighth team, has not played in a game since 2008 or started one since 2005. It’s unlikely that he will start Monday night against the Chicago Bears, according to coach Leslie Frazier.

The starter likely will be rookie Joe Webb, who has served as the No. 3 quarterback all season until Monday and even played wide receiver two weeks ago. Last week’s starter, Tarvaris Jackson, won’t be able to play because of a turf toe injury, Frazier indicated.

The game promises to be no picnic for the rookie, as the Metrodome has suffered yet another panel tear in the roof, so it’s impossible to get it repaired and back into use by Monday night. It will be the first outdoor home game for the Vikings since 1981, and the Chicago Bears are probably eager to prove that last week’s embarassment was an anomaly. He’s been used to running the scout team, which means every week he’s running a different offence — he hasn’t had many chances to run Vikings plays.

The game will probably be hosted by the University of Minnesota at their new outdoor stadium, which has a few downsides:

  • Open air means that they’ve got over 100 casual labourers currently working to clear accumulated snow from the stands and the field (and more snow is anticipated over the next few days).
  • The field itself isn’t equipped with heating coils, so under that 16 inches of snow, it’s frozen solid (as one player remarked, it’d be like playing on concrete).
  • The stadium has 13,000 fewer seats and far fewer luxury suites than the Metrodome (and the University’s suite owners have the right of first refusal on any event held at the stadium).
  • Perhaps the toughest thing for the fans: no beer. The university doesn’t have beer sales for their home games, so the concession areas are not equipped (and may not be licensed) to serve beer.

Update: Tarvaris Jackson has been put on injured reserve, ending his season. His roster spot will be taken by Patrick Ramsey. That makes it all but certain that Webb will start his first NFL game on Monday Night Football.

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