Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

What We Learned From Week Two of the 2013 NFL Season

by J-Dub and Meehan

Yet another week has passed in the sportsgasm that is the NFL season, and that means it is time for us to tell you some things you need to know without the self-serving spin those assbags at ESPN will never give you. We know this because if you think you can get real football information from guys like Merrill Hoge and Trent Dilfer, you probably also think the earth is flat and that Kennedy was assassinated by Daffy Duck.

1) Either the Jets aren’t that bad, or the Patriots aren’t that good: Pick one. 

tom-brady-sideline-welp

 

Let’s just cut through the bullshit here; the Patriots aren’t that good.  When you see Tom Brady mugging, screaming, and eye-rolling at his receivers, you know that Patriots offense is more out-of-sync than a 1985 Yugo with bad spark plugs.  In contrast, when the Orlando Magic were in their heyday, Shaquille O’Neal once famously called coach Stan Van Gundy the “master of panic.”  Bill Belichick couldn’t be more opposite when it comes  to being so stoic people are worried pigeons might start shitting on him, but make no mistake. Brady’s antics show there is panic in Foxboro.

If you are the Patriots, this is exactly the time to start panicking. In all fairness, the Patriots could easily be 0-2.  There’s exactly four points separating them from being winless. They haven’t covered the spread yet. They were beat by Buffalo for 59 minutes, and they played down to the level of the sorry-ass Jets, so we can clearly understand why there’s a panic breaking out in New England.  For all of us who have had to suffer through the pretentious attitude Patriot fans are known for, we love hearing the panic in your voices, because it’s better than your tacky Boston accent that sounds like somebody left an audio interview of Godsmack on in the background.

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The Dubscast, Volume 4: Minnesota Vikings’ Fans Need To Quit Whining About Losing Percy Harvin

jdub dubscast 2

As a Philadelphia Eagle fan, of all people I know what it is like to watch your team languish in the doldrums of mediocrity.  For example, I know what it is like to watch a team enter a season with Jeff Kemp as the starting quarterback (shudder).  But I also know what it is like to watch your team take a giant, cathartic, “morning after over-doing it at the Chinese-buffet” kind of dump. Don’t act like you don’t know what I mean, not just the kind of dump Ron White says makes your pants fit better, but the kind that makes you lose another waist size from plunging that sucker through the choke-point known as standard plumbing.

That’s why today’s installment of the Dubscast is a plea to fans of the Minnesota Vikings…embrace the departure of Percy Harvin.  Getting rid of him is exactly one of those dumps I’m talking about, and it came with that “makes a cloud feel like pepper-spray covered cinder blocks” roll of Charmin available only to God and the president of the Teamsters’ Union, and even that deity-worthy wipe was printed on a first-round draft pick.

In other words, the only thing that will bind you up worse than eating 29 cheese wontons is a bad salary cap commitment, and that is only one of five key numbers J-Dub breaks down on why the Vikings are dodging a bullet with Harvin’s departure.

The Dubscast, Volume 3: Randy Moss Needs To Retire

jdub dubscastToday’s installment has a bit of a Sesame Street feel to it, as it is brought to you by the letter “R” and the number “36,” all of which have to do with the fact that future football Hall of Famer Randy Moss needs to realize his playing days are over.

Hat tip to Blog Surface whose piece inspired this rant…

 

Jared Allen Gets His Over-Rated Ass Kicked

Oh, was this a sweet moment…In a game where the Minnesota Vikings were finally exposed, the most over-rated player in the NFL got the bitch-slapping he’s deserved for far too long.

Some folks at ESPN may want you to believe Tim Tebow is the most over-rated player in the NFL, but somehow they forgot about Jared “I’m fine, I can drive” Allen.  Tebow and Allen are both winners of the Dubsy Award For Being Over-Rated (Tebow in 2010, Allen in 2009), I can’t think of a better definition of “over-rated” than leading the league in sacks on a team that gave up more passing yardage than anybody.  Is there a better way to define over-rated than getting $13 million to not make a difference?

In any event, enjoy watching the over-rated Allen getting an under-rated ass whooping.

The Minnesota Vikings Are So Lousy Jarrad Page Would Rather Play For The Bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers

Well, to be honest, that headline is a tad bit deceiving, but given the fact we are talking about two of the most dysfunctional franchises currently in the sports world, this story begged for a joke.

After all, it is true the Vikings are terrible, and the Dodgers are broke, but it’s not like Page is full of options. To be honest, the NFL thing isn’t exactly working out for Page.  He was a seventh-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft, since which time he has seen roster time with the Chiefs, Patriots and Eagles, and Vikings.  Page was the starting strong safety in Philadelphia this past season, but he was benched in Week Five and released in November.  The Vikings had a depleted defensive backfield, so they signed Page.  He played five games for Minnesota and it doesn’t look like he’s going to see six. His contract with the Vikings expires today, and he will likely be thumbing the classifieds by this time tomorrow anyway.

So, what makes Page think he can follow in the footsteps of other two-sport athletes Deion Sanders, Brian Jordan, or even the last Viking to try this, D.J. Dozier?

Page played college baseball at UCLA and was drafted three times;  he was selected as a center fielder in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by the Brewers, the Rockies drafted him in the 32nd round of the 2005 draft, and Angels called his name in the seventh round in 2006. Despite the fact he is switch-hitter who started 57 games in center field in 2004 and 2005 for the Bruins, Page stayed in football after all those drafts, and now he’s going the other way.

While Page may be a bit long in the tooth to be starting a professional baseball career at 27, the six foot, 225 pound safety/outfielder participated in an open tryout at Camelback Ranch-Glendale a week and apparently played well enough to interest the Los Angeles Dodgers; so much so the Dodgers signed Page to a minor-league deal as an outfielder.

What are Page’s odds to make the bigs as a ball player? Who knows, but I will bet they are better than Michael Jordan’s ever were;  he’s not just some guy who thinks he can play baseball; Page homered in his first collegiate at-bat in 2004, a season in which he batted .233 with 19 RBI and three home runs as a 19-year old.  But now he’s 27, and hasn’t played baseball in six years.  To me, Page look like a longshot to see the Majors, but at least he’s not a Viking anymore, and that’s a win no matter how you slice it.

What We Learned From This Weekend in Football 12/4/2011

1) Stick a Fork in ‘Em… The Philadelphia Eagles  Turkeys are Done

Just by taking the Sgt. Joe Friday approach (“Just the facts”), one can see it is time to blow up this thing in Philadelphia. The Michael Vick thing was a mistake, DeSean Jackson is a cancer, and the whole “Dream Team” thing was an unmitigated disaster. It’s time to clean house from the general manager on down and start over.

2) Conference Championship Games are Meaningless

Name one thing that would have changed had Georgia beaten LSU? The BCS championship game was decided two weeks ago. The outcome of the Michigan State/Wisconsin game would have only re-arranged a few deck chairs on the BCS cruise ship…Wiscy was in the BCS no matter what, and Sparty would simply have taken Michigan’s place in the field; with Wisconsin going to the Sugar Bowl.  Remember, the BCS is more an exercise about conference affiliation and who will travel well. Keeping that in consideration, the fun question becomes what would the BCS have done had Penn State been the 2-loss Big Ten team rather Michigan?

Not to mention, the most exciting thing that happens in most of them is that silly halftime challenge where some guy from the stands tosses a football into a giant can for some sort of prize.  Yawn.

3) Instant Replay Still Solves Nothing

Today’s example of the uselessness of instant replay came from the SEC Championship game when Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu apparently flipped the ball to the official before he has actually scored.

Now, instant replay caught this, but the officials charged with reviewing the replay completely missed it. In fact, nobody caught it except the announcers doing the game, and Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson didn’t catch this until at least five plays later when it was a completely moot point.  This is the perfect example of one of my biggest beefs with instant replay as an officiating tool. The supposition is that replay erases mistakes; it very obviously does not.

4) Updated Coaches Death Watch

  • Houston Nutt, Mississippi
  • Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
  • Paul Wulff, Washington State
  • Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
  • Turner Gill, Kansas
  • Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
  • Neil Callaway, Alabama-Birmingham
  • Mike Riley, Oregon State
  • Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Steve Fairchild, Colorado State
  • Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
  • Frank Spaziani, Boston College
  • Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
  • Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Luke Fickell, Ohio State (replaced, but retained on new head coach Urban Meyer’s staff)
  • Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Lezlie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
  • Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
  • Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers

5) Finally, A Minnesota Viking Fan I Can Relate To…

Honestly, I need to double-fist it to get through a Viking game as well…

Teams That Grind My Gears: The Minnesota Vikings

Seriously, I have no idea where to start with this rant. Viking fans have always been a bit delusional; they have to be to be fans of a team that has given them the “Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown treatment” more often than Lucy herself gave it to Charlie Brown.

But that delusion got turbo-charged once the sold they souls on that whole Brett Favre affair. Make no mistake, it is the Favre thing that took the Vi-queens from “Ehhh, Whatever” to “I hope every Viking fan gets sodomized by a syphilitic, eight-penised, laser-breathing space demon.”

Face it, you Purple Failure Eaters, The Brett Favre episode turned you into the whiniest fans ever. If you doubt that, all you have to do is refer back to the precious few days after the NFC Championship loss to the New Orleans Saints. You chose to ignore the fact your team committed five turnovers, you chose to ignore the fact that had it not been for  those five turnovers you would have won by at least two touchdowns, and you chose to ignore that your offensive line sucked so bad that your quarterback, the sainted King Brett I, got his ass handed to him so badly that he panicked his way into that final deal-killing interception.

Instead of accepting the reality that you clearly didn’t deserve to win, instead you claimed the Saints “played dirty” and refused to accept the legitimacy of the Saints’ victory.

This exemplifies the fundamental lesson to which Viking fans have been oblivious for a half-century: Whining stands in the way of winning.  Quit bitching about how the referees screwed you, quit bitching about how the other team cheated, and quit bitching about all the other small-change bullshit you point out rather than accept that your football team has never made the jump from good to great.  In fact, the Vikings don’t even know the difference, let alone being able to make that last step.

The Favre episode was just the purest distillation of the Minnesota Viking credo: don’t bother to improve your team, rather just make a bunch of excuses.  Face another thing, there a reason why the following list exists:

  • 0-4 Super Bowl record
  • No Super Bowl Appearance since 1977
  • 4 NFC Championship Game losses since the last Super Bowl appearance
  • The “Whizzinator”
  • The Love Boat on Lake Minnetonka

While those things are in the past, they are just the mile markers on the road the Vikings are still on. Sunday night’s drubbing at the hands of the exceptionally tepid Chicago Bears proves that. By benching a quarterback they never should have signed in the first place, the Vikings are admitting they’ve made yet another mistake.

There’s an old cliche from the world of literature that those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. That should be the mantra of the Minnesota Vikings. With what has happened since the last Super bowl appearance in 1977, it is clear the Vikings do not understand the importance of the quarterback position. And now it continues with Christian Ponder.

Look at this list of the guys who have gotten under center for the Vikings since then (number of games started in parentheses).

  • 1977 Fran Tarkenton (9) / Bob Lee (4) / Tommy Kramer (1)
  • 1978 Fran Tarkenton (16)
  • 1979 Tommy Kramer (16)
  • 1980 Tommy Kramer (15) / Steve Dils (1)
  • 1981 Tommy Kramer (14) / Steve Dils (2)
  • 1982 Tommy Kramer (9) (Season shortened by strike)
  • 1983 Steve Dils (12) / Tommy Kramer (3) / Wade Wilson (1)
  • 1984 Tommy Kramer (9) / Wade Wilson (5) / Archie Manning (2)
  • 1985 Tommy Kramer (15) / Wade Wilson (1)
  • 1986 Tommy Kramer (13) / Wade Wilson (3)
  • 1987 Wade Wilson (7) / Tommy Kramer (5) / Tony Adams (3) (Season shortened by strike)
  • 1988 Wade Wilson (10) / Tommy Kramer (6)
  • 1989 Wade Wilson (12) / Tommy Kramer (4)
  • 1990 Rich Gannon (12) / Wade Wilson (4)
  • 1991 Rich Gannon (11) / Wade Wilson (5)
  • 1992 Rich Gannon (12) / Sean Salisbury (4)
  • 1993 Jim McMahon (12) / Sean Salisbury (4)
  • 1994 Warren Moon (15) / Sean Salisbury (1)
  • 1995 Warren Moon (16)
  • 1996 Warren Moon (8) / Brad Johnson (8)
  • 1997 Brad Johnson (13) / Randall Cunningham (3)
  • 1998 Randall Cunningham (14) / Brad Johnson (2)
  • 1999 Jeff George (10) / Randall Cunningham (6)
  • 2000 Daunte Culpepper (16)
  • 2001 Daunte Culpepper (11) / Todd Bouman (3) / Spergon Wynn (2)
  • 2002 Daunte Culpepper (16)
  • 2003 Daunte Culpepper (14) / Gus Frerotte (2)
  • 2004 Daunte Culpepper (16)
  • 2005 Daunte Culpepper (7) / Brad Johnson (9)
  • 2006 Brad Johnson (14) / Tarvaris Jackson (2)
  • 2007 Tarvaris Jackson (12) / Kelly Holcomb (3) / Brooks Bollinger (1)
  • 2008 Gus Frerotte (11) / Tarvaris Jackson (5)
  • 2009 Brett Favre (16)
  • 2010 Brett Favre (13) / Tarvaris Jackson (1) / Joe Webb (2)
  • 2011 Donovam McNabb (6) / Christian Ponder (?)

That’s quite a list of shame, but it’s nothing compared to the list of horrible player personnel decisions the Vikings have made. It certainly helps to explain why a team with talent never seems to win anything.

Let’s take a look.

1963 – Ron Vanderkelen

Vanderkelen foreshadows the Vikings’ inability to scout quarterbacks, but it’s hard to blame them for this one.  But in retrospect, it fits the pattern.  The Vikes drafted Vanderkelen based largely on his insane record-breaking performance in the 1963 Rose Bowl.

Then, he backed that up with a huge performance in the 1963 Chicago College All-Star Game, which featured a college all-star team against the defending NFL champion Green Bay Packers.  Vanderkelen’s 74-yard touchdown strike leads the college kids to a 20-17 over the Pack, and Vanderkelen was named the MVP.

The trouble was all this hype hid the fact that Vanderkelen wasn’t ever going to be an NFL quarterback, a fact he proved after the Vikings traded Fran Tarkenton in 1967, despite the fact he was the back-up for four years.

1969 – Gary Cuozzo

This is likely the beginning of the long Viking tradition of not understanding the quarterback position, and making bad moves in support of that.  Minnesota coveted Cuozzo, who was the backup to Johnny Unitas and the first starting quarterback for the then expansion New Orleans Saints. The Vikings gave up a first-round draft pick  to New Orleans for a guy who threw more interceptions than touchdowns (43 TD, 55 INT).

1971 – Leo Hayden

The Vikings were in need of a running back, and the best available guy, John Riggins, was already off the board.  Hayden racked up 1,395 rushing yards with seven rushing TDs in three years at Ohio State. This is why the Vikings made Hayden their first-round pick in the 1971 Draft. The problem was Hayden never gained a single yard for the Minnesota Vikings, and they passed over two future Hall-of-Famers (LB Jack Ham, T Dan Dierdorf) to pick Hayden.

1972 – Jeff Siemon

When the Vikings traded QB Joe Kapp to the Patriots, they got the 10th overall pick in the 1972 draft, which they used to select Siemon, a linebacker from Stanford. Two picks later the Steelers selected future Hall-of-Famer RB Franco Harris

1982 – Darrin Nelson

This may be the worst. The Vikings take Nelson, an undersized running back out of  Stanford, with the 7th overall pick; two of the next three picks are Hall-of-Famers G Mike Munchak and RB Marcus Allen.

1983 – Joey Browner

While Browner was a pretty solid safety, a team that needed a quarterback passed on Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino.

1989 and 1990 – Herschel Walker

In what may be the worst trade in sports history… the Vikings wound up with the most overrated running back in the NFL; in return they basically gave the Cowboys two Super Bowl championships.

In this deal, the Minnesota Vikings received:

  • RB Herschel Walker
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1990 (54th) (Mike Jones)
  • San Diego’s 5th round pick – 1990 (116th) (Reggie Thornton)
  • Dallas’s 10th round pick – 1990 (249th) (Pat Newman)
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1991 (68th) (Jake Reed)

In return, the Dallas Cowboys received:

  • LB Jesse Solomon
  • LB David Howard
  • CB Issiac Holt
  • RB Darrin Nelson (traded to San Diego after he refused to report to Dallas)
  • DE Alex Stewart
  • Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1990 (21st – traded this pick along with the 81st pick for the 17th pick from Pittsburgh to draft Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith)
  • Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1990 (47th) (Alexander Wright)
  • Minnesota’s 6th round pick in 1990 (158th – traded this pick to New Orleans, who drafted James Williams)
  • Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (12) (Alvin Harper)
  • Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (38) (Dixon Edwards)
  • Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (37) (Darren Woodson)
  • Minnesota’s 3rd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (71) (traded to New England, who drafted Kevin Turner)
  • Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1993 (conditional) – (13th – traded this pick to the  Philadelphia Eagles, who then to the Houston Oilers, who drafted Brad Hopkins)

If it weren’t enough that the Vikings gave up five established players, the Cowboys ended up with a total of six of Minnesota’s picks over the succeeding years. Just look at the names of the solid up to Hall-of-Fame players the Cowboys got as a result of this deal.

There’s more that aren’t even listed here. As a result stock-piling the draft picks, the Cowboys used them to make subsequent trades, one of which landed the first overall draft pick in 1991, which was used to draft Russell Maryland.

1993 – Robert Smith

Having Herschel Walker obviously whetted the Viking appetite for over-rated running backs. the Vikings used the 21st pick to take Smith out of Ohio State, who really never lives up to expectations. Smith’s eight-year career only ever sees him play a full season once, and while in that one season he actually looks like a first-round pick, meanwhile one can argue the Vikings get a much better bang for their buck by taking three-time Pro Bowl DT Dana Stubblefield with this pick.

1995 – Derrick Alexander

This one is easy to see as a huge mistake. The Vikings are in need of a big-time pass-rusher, which prompts them to take Alexander from Florida State with the 11th pick. With the very next pick, the Buccaneers select future Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp.

1996 – Duane Clemens and Moe Williams

This is the same mistakes as the Vikes made in the previous season, yet it is compounded by who the Vi-queens passed on to take a player who garnered just 18.5 sacks in his entire career: WR Marvin Harrison, G Pete Kendall, and LB Ray Lewis.

A 3rd round pick from the University of Kentucky, Moe Williams only ever had one decent year in his career, 2003: when he posted 745 rushing yards and 644 receiving yards.  But he never amounted to much more than a quasi-useful 3rd-down back, not something for which the Vikings should have passed over LB Tedy Bruschi or WR Terrell Owens.

1998 – Randy Moss

Sharpen you crayons, Viking Fans, because this is Part I of “Stuff you are going to write me hate mail about.”

Granted, Randy Moss was one of the most exciting players in NFL history, and he was for a time the best receiver in the business. Seriously, the guy had amazing hands and had some physical tools that defied belief…

BUT…

There are a few facts which almost completely obviate his talents during his tenure in Minnesota. When you are assessing whether a player is correctly valued, EVERYTHING has to be taken into account, not just the “sexy” or the “feel-good” stuff.

FACT: Moss disappeared in the play-offs.

FACT: Moss only played half of his career in Minnesota; being traded away largely because he was such a douchebag.

FACT: Moss’ tendency to play “when he wanted to” completely eroded his over-all value.  Not being a complete player when you have superior talent makes you inferior.

This is why the Vikings would have been better served taking 6-time All-Pro G Alan Faneca with this pick. Faneca was a 9-time Pro Bowler, one of the best at his position throughout his career, and not a total dick.

1999 – Daunte Culpepper and Dimitrius Underwood

Here’s Part II of  “Stuff Viking Fans  are going to write me hate mail about.” Face it, 1999 is the year of the over-rated quarterback, and the Vikes fell for it. In the first round of that year, five QBs were selected: Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Culpepper, and Cade McNown.

The Vikes blew a 12th round pick on Culpepper, a lunch-wagon sized deep-ball artist from Central Florida. The trouble was that was all he could do; Culpepper never had a season worth mentioning without Randy Moss. The Vikings could have eliminated a lot of the offensive line problems they would have in the following decade as T John Tait, C/G Damien Woody, T Matt Stinchcomb, G Luke Petitgout, and T L. J. Shelton were all available.

But 1999 is a double feature; later in the first-round the Vikings inexplicably blow the 29th pick on Dimitrius Underwood, defensive lineman from Michigan State who was both highly regarded as being an above average player, but also came with a warning label that he had some serious psychological issues which were clearly going to be an impediment to his moving to the next level as a player. Underwood didn’t even make it through a week of training camp before the personal issues which would be his downfall became apparent.

2001 – Michael Bennett

If Wal-Mart sold a Guatemalan-made, low-quality knock-off of Robert Smith, it would be Michael Bennett. Bennett only lasts five seasons in Minnesota, during which time he only tops 500 rushing yards in a season once. The Vikes pass on WR Reggie Wayne, TE Todd Heap, and if they hadn’t made the Culpepper mistake two years prior, this is where they could have ended their quarterback problems by taking Drew Brees.

2002 – Bryant McKinnie

Where do we start here: Is it his nearly complete failure to live up to the hype which surrounded him? Or was it his complete failure to be more than overpaid, overweight bag of cold cuts? Or is it the staggering number of top-flight NFL players that were selected after him ( S Roy Williams, DE Dwight Freeney, WR Donte Stallworth, TE Jeremy Shockey, DT Albert Haynesworth, CB Philip Buchanon, S Ed Reed, and CB Lito Sheppard)?

2005 – Troy Williamson and Erasmus James

Taken with the 7th pick overall, Williamson was supposed to be a replacement for Randy Moss as he was a “vertical threat” blessed with monstrous natural speed. Too bad he couldn’t catch the damn ball.

Meanwhile, James was selected as a defensive end with the 18th overall pick from Wisconsin. In college, he was a one-man wrecking crew on the D-line, racking up 124 tackles (25.5 for losses), 18 sacks, 28 quarterback hurries, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries,  and six pass deflections. In the NFL, was just a wreck; he only notched five sacks in four years.

Worse yet, here is another example of the Culpepper effect. Because the Vikings were in love with this lard-ass, they passed TWICE on Aaron Rodgers.

2006 – Chad Greenway

A “role player at best” linebacker drafted in front of a “shutdown corner” (Antonio Cromartie), a legit “big-play” receiver (Santonio Holmes), and the best center in the game (Nick Mangold).

2008 – Tyrell Johnson and Jared Allen

There’s a reason why you never heard of Tyrell Johnson. The Vikings didn’t have a first-round pick in 2008 thanks in part to the exceptionally-stupid Jared Allen trade, but there was really no excuse for taking a safety from Arkansas State who would never be more than a role-player when play-makers like RB Matt Forte, WR DeSean Jackson, and RB Ray Rice were still on the board.

Let’s go back to that Jared Allen trade for a minute. This completes the “Stuff Viking fans will write me hate mail about” trilogy.

Kansas City sent Allen and a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 for the No. 17 overall pick, two third-round picks and a sixth-round pick. Kansas City turned the picks into T Branden Albert, RB Jamaal Charles, S DaJuan Morgan, and WR Kevin Robinson. The Vikings turned the Chiefs’ sixth-round pick into C John Sullivan.

In other words, the Vikings provided the Chiefs with a feature running back, a better-than-average offensive tackle, and two non-factors for a barely-mediocre center and a bloated contract for a one-dimensional pass-rusher who gets fat on C-list offensive line talent.  More importantly, it’s time for a dirty little football secret: Sacks are the most over-rated stat in football.

Don’t believe that? Consider the following: Out of the top ten individual sack leaders going into this weekend’s schedule, only  two play on play on a defense in the top ten in passing yards allowed;  Cullen Jenkins (5 sacks) and Jason Babin (7 sacks).  They both play for the Eagles, who are ranked 10th. Jared Allen leads the league with 8.5 sacks, and the Vikings rank 24th in passing yards allowed. Obviously, having a guy that piles up sacks doesn’t help your overall pass defense.

Now, for the final nail in the Jared Allen coffin – he gets paid a shockingly high amount of money for fractionally more than one sack per game. Jared Allen’s salary counts for  $11.6 million against salary cap, or roughly $1.36 million per sack. That’s the bottom line, and that’s for a guy who only offers a pass-rush; Allen has proven he is worthless against the running game. There’s literally tons of quality defensive ends out there for far less money and who can actually play against the run.

2009 – Percy Harvin

I will admit, it may be early to say this, but this guy can’t get on the field with regularity and he underperforms when he does (but in his defense it’s not like the Vikings have had a quarterback to get him the ball). More worrisome is the guys developing a s real playmakers who the Vikings passed up, such as LB Clay Matthews, and WRs Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt.

2010 – Randy Moss (again)

You ran this guy out of town once, then literally gave away a 3rd round draft pick for 13 receptions. The worst part is with that pick, The Patriots may have taken the quarterback you should have.

The Christian Ponder era starts on Sunday, and while nobody knows what the future will bring, the Vikings past history makes me nervous.  The problem is the Vikings emulate their fans; at the end of the day they are both decidedly Minnesotan.

Trust me, I lived there for 15 years.  Those phlegmatic descendants of Northern Europeans who wore real horns on their helmets never, ever change their ways no matter how obviously wrong they are. They don’t trust anybody who doesn’t live within 150 miles of the town they were born in, they bitch endlessly about things they can easily be changed rather than changing them, and they ostracize anybody who dare challenge this Minnesota mantra. Naturally, their football team which wears painted-on horns emulates those characteristics.

Maybe I’m to blame. After all, I’m the one who is continuing to watch the re-runs of “Golden Girls” and expecting Rose to get smarter. Whether you are an individual or a team, if you’re going to make the jump from “good” to “great,” you have to address the key issues.   You have to want to improve and you have to address the proper things.

If you are the Vikings or their fans, this mean confronting your own ineptitude and your own choke artist tendencies. If you do that, you’ll stop wasting your time calling your opponents bad people, blaming the referees, and generally brooding over yet another loss.

Who am I kidding? It’s not like it is ever going to change. For some people, the escalator of evolution quit running a while ago.  Most Minnesotans are goofy as hell, so is their team, and I just have to live with it.

What We Learned From This Weekend in Football 9/18/11

Several important football lessons were learned this weekend, both in the college ranks and in the NFL. So, without wasting time on a clever introduction, let’s just cut to the important stuff…

1) What Do Cam Newton and Notre Dame have in common?

To be blunt, they are both now officially over-rated.  The Irish are getting all sorts of love for beating a Michigan State team that couldn’t stop shooting itself in the face, and Newton hung up another 400+ yard passing performance against a team that couldn’t put pass-rush pressure on him. The fun part is they are both over-rated for the same reason…they both committed three turnovers, which is NEVER acceptable. In the case of Notre Dame, the only reason they won is because Michigan State did a better job of beating themselves than the Irish did. When it comes to Newton, passing yard totals are nice, but one touchdown to three picks isn’t going to fly in this league…ever.  A nice start for getting off the over-rated list would be for Notre Dame to beat a real team away from the shadow of “Surrender Jesus,” and for the Cam-shaft to win a ballgame, period.

2) The Early Leaders in Terrible

The Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, and the Minnesota Vikings. The Chiefs and the Colts just flat-out have no hope, and the Vikings found a way to blow a double-digit lead late. These three teams may not win 10 games combined.

As far as the NCAA is concerned, it was hard not to notice how overmatched Ohio State looked against Miami. For that matter, it was hard not to notice that most of the Big Twelevten looked generally shitty. There’s the aforementioned Michigan State debacle. Then there’s the Penn State offense, which looks like eleven shock-therapy patients whacked out on Goofenthal. The only Big Ten team which didn’t look lousy against real competition was Iowa, and that was only in the fourth quarter.

3) The Redskins are STILL not as good as they look

And that goes for the Bills and the Lions as well. There are  teams with a 2-0 mark after two weeks; the Patriots, the Packers, the Jets, the Texans, the Bills, the Lions, and the Redskins. There’s no way all of those last three are making the playoffs. However, I’ve got to give credit to Mike Shanahan for one thing…even though Rex Grossman still sucks, he sucks less than Donovan McNabb.

4) Bronco fans are retarded

Check out the mindset behind this billboard.

“We believe in Coach Fox. We’re just tired of Kyle Orton. We were sitting around after Fox said he didn’t hear the chants for (Tim) Tebow and we figured if he’s deaf, we hope he’s not blind.”

It’s crap like this that makes me think Denver doesn’t deserve an NFL team. First of all, the Broncos have been mediocre at best for close to fifteen years. The last few years have been a long, slow descent into suckitude, and there’s no way Tim Tebow changes that.

If you don’t believe that, look at it this way. If you say you believe in John Fox, then it is time for you to remember he has coached a team in the Super Bowl far more recently than the Broncos have been there, and Fox damn near beat the Patriots with a hump like Jake Delhomme as his quarterback.  That means John Fox has forgotten more than you will ever know about what it takes to be a quarterback in the NFL, Mr. Bronco Fan.

That also means if you believe in John Fox, then you would also believe that he’s correct in saying Orton is the better starting quarterback than Tebow. Instead, you are out putting up billboards showing off your idiocy.

If you hadn’t noticed, Tebow isn’t even qualified to handle the clipboard.   Remember, John Fox knows more than you, and John Fox’s number two man isn’t Tebow…it’s Brady Quinn. Let that sink in for a moment; a guy who knows waaaaaay more than you about quarterbacks thinks even BRADY FREAKING QUINN rates better on the depth chart than Tebow. So, where’s the “Start Brady Quinn” billboard?

Pull your heads out of your collective asses and understand something about Orton. He has a winning record as a starting quarterback despite the fact he’s played for Lovie Smith and Josh McDaniels, two coaches who have combined for exactly two winning season since 2006, and Orton was the starting quarterback in BOTH of them. He has a record of 22-10 as a starter at home; he DOESN’T suck.

Tebow is your future for a host of reasons, not the least of which is this guarantees Orton leaves town as a free-agent, and no other decent quarterback will sign on to be the guy you boo in favor of Timmy Rah-Rah. But the future isn’t now, and you need to come to terms with that. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… Kyle Orton is not, repeat IS NOT the reason the Broncos suck.

5) Tony Romo showed some balls

I can’t believe I’m defending Tony Romo in two consecutive weeks, but all the people who piled on him last week now have to give credit where it is due. Leading a comeback in overtime after suffering a cracked rib counters everything that was said about Romo last week; namely he’s soft and he chokes in big-game moments. Granted, he needs to pull moments like yesterday more often, but he can only do it one Sunday at a time.

The Dubsism 2011 Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

As we find ourselves on the verge of another NFL season, it is time for the degenerate gambler in me to preview the carnage. Let’s face it, the NFL is comprised of  three classes: Really Good, Mediocre, and Lousy.  This means NFL predictions are pretty easy to get reasonably correct. For example, the online sports book experts find it easy to predict the AFC East standings each year. As long as quarterback Tom Brady is playing for head coach Bill Belichick in New England, that will be your division favorite. Another point that should be obvious is that if you are reading this article and expecting anything more clever than a sports book expert, maybe you shouldn’t be gambling in the first place.

Having said that, here’s how we see these teams come January (playoff teams noted in green).

Rankings by Division

AFC East

The Patriots looked invincible last season until the New York Jets found their Achilles’ heel. Once you take away the Patriots running game, their offense suddenly can’t create plays. However, the Pats’ seem to have addressed that by solidifying the offensive line.  Otherwise, the Patriots needed to make two major changes;  they needed help in the defensive secondary, and they needed size in the running game. Danny Woodhead is a great story, but he’s a munchkin, and teams had him figured out by the playoffs. Brandon Meriwether is a fraud, and has been for a while. This is why the Patriots drafted defensive back Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen. When you stop to consider the Patriots’ past success at player scouting and development (don’t make me break out the Tom Brady cliché yet again), it is safe to assume that the Patriots solved their problems.

Q: Who knew this looked a future Hall-of-Famer? A: Bill Belichick.

But don’t sleep on the Jets.  The Jets get the second spot in the AFC East by default; the Bills and Dolphins are both in that “Lousy” category. The Jets season hinges on two things: the defense has to live up to expectations by being the dominant unit it should be, and Mark Sanchez has to not suck. Frankly, it is time for Sanchez to prove he is worthy of the star status he has been accorded. If he finally shows us he is the “San-chise,” the sky is the limit for the Jets. If not, expect another playoff loss.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

The Ravens defense used to be radioactive to offenses, but like all radioactive elements, eventually they pass their half-life and the decay becomes noticeable. This may not be the year that happens, but it is getting more likely with time. If the Ravens are going to make a move and snatch this division from the Steelers, that defense needs to stay healthy and give us one more season of nuclear-powered destruction. Anything short of that, and we may very well be seeing those damn Terrible Towels deep into the playoffs.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South

This division goes to the Texans by default. Tennessee has a new head coach, and I have no faith that Matt Hasselbeck is the cure to all that ailed the Titans. Jacksonville is just plain bad, and I can’t sell on the Colts fast enough. If you saw Indianapolis in the pre-season, you saw the lack of Peyton Manning is only one problem this team has. The offensive line couldn’t block a hat, the defense acts more like the express lane at the toll-booth, and head coach Jim Caldwell couldn’t find his balls with both hands. However, in all fairness, it’s not like the Texans have ever shown they know where their balls are either; they’ve never once showed they have what it takes to win.

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

Here’s another default situation that just drives me nuts. Every year, I get sucked in by the Chargers, only to watch them underperform. I honestly wish I could say with confidence San Diego can’t win this division, but who else can? The Raiders didn’t lose a division game last year, but they also have a new head coach, question marks all over the roster, and the usual Raider drama. The Chiefs showed what they were in that seal-clubbing they took at the hands of the Ravens in the playoff last season, and they didn’t get better since then. Do I even need to mention the Denver Tebows?

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Denver Broncos

NFC East

We could call this division the NFC Over-Rated. I swear to god, the next person who refers to the Eagles as “dream team” will get kicked in the neck (I say this as a lifelong Eagles fan). They have some serious issues on the offensive line, and I will give you even money Michael Vick proves to be a bust on that big contract he just got. Don’t forget he got the crap beaten out of him last season and lost five games due to injury, plus he got progressively worse as the season went on. Not to mention he is age-wise already north of 30, and I don’t know of too many athletes that aged like wine; running quarterbacks age like milk.

Then there’s the Cowboys. To buy this team, I need to do two things that make me nervous. First, I have to buy Tony Romo as a quarterback who can win a game that means something; that’s compounded by the fact he plays behind an offensive line that at times can look like five matadors in silver and blue. Secondly, I need to see head coach Jason Garrett take this team out of the gate as “the man;” last year I suspect he got a bump in performance out of that team just for not being fat Bob Newhart Wade Phillips.

As far as the Giants are concerned…well, let’s just say the difference between Tony Romo and Eli Manning is pure, uncut luck. Without one David Tyree catch against his helmet as the best possible time, we are likely dogging the drunken, non-misshapen-headed Manning as badly as we dog Romo now. Besides, that one catch lengthens the time before I will see Tom Coughlin standing by a freeway on-ramp holding a sign which says “will be an asshole for food.”

One of these quarterbacks is probably not a homosexual. The other is Eli Manning.

The only thing for sure about this division is that the Redskins will be a vortex of inter-galactic suckittude; the kind that generates such a gravitational pull it threatens to collapse under its own mass.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. New York Giants
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. Washington Redskins

NFC North

The Packers return better as defending champs not because they added tons of talent in the off-season; rather because they are entering with all the talent they lost due to injury. Let’s face it, the 2010 Packers were so beat up last year they looked like the battered women’s shelter by Mike Tyson’s house. If they can learn to slip that “I’m off my Lithium again” left-hook the NFL season can throw, the Packers will prove to be more than a Buster Douglas-type one-trick pony.

Meanwhile, three hours to the south lies the enigma known as the Chicago Bears. How can a team have so many ex-head coaches on its staff (Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli, and Mike Tice) and not know that a key to a successful offense is not letting the other team turn their quarterback into lawn mulch? It is easy to beat on Jay Cutler, but’s let’s be fair, he could sue his offensive line for non-support. If there’s a guy in Chicago who should be getting called out, it’ s Lovie Smith. He’s done the least with the most talent of nearly any coach in this league, and yet his job never seems to be in danger. One can make an argument that a coach who didn’t have his head up his ass could have won two Super Bowls with the Bears during the Lovie regime, but nobody ever seems to mention that…

If Wal-Mart made a cheap, Guatemalan-made version of the New York Jets, it might just be the Detroit Lions. Let’s look at the common components:

  • A team that will likely have a bone-shattering defense
  • A team designed around a “ball-control” offense
  • A team with a young quarterback who needs to prove he’s the real deal
This will be the first year of the post-Favre debacle in Minnesota; an era that will be marked by 6-win seasons and a continued failure to understand the value of the quarterback position and the talent required to make a winner.
  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Minnesota Vikings

NFC South

The NFL Lockout really was a cover story so Drew Brees could hang out with Seal Team 6 and waste some bad guys.

The Saints may very well be the most complete offense in the NFC. Drew Brees and Sean Payton make the brainiest quarterback-coach combination since Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. Not only did the running game get better simply by the subtraction of Reggie StolenHeisman-KardashianReject,  the addition of running back Mark Ingram and “I’m gonna smash you in the mouth” center Olin Kreutz, makes for a physical ground game to go with the Brees and Company Flying Circus.

Every since draft day, we’ve known the Falcons think they are “that one piece away,” and they think that piece is wide receiver Julio Jones. Honestly, I would be more concerned about the impending breakdown of running back Michael Turner; in the past few seasons he’s touched more balls than the lady who does the lottery drawings.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Carolina Panthers

NFC West

Welcome to the NFC 7-9 Division, or as I like to call it, the “Somebody’s got to win it” Division. Honestly, I loved all the belly aching that went on about how a team with a losing record shouldn’t be in the playoffs despite the fact the SeaHacks won under the architecture provided, and the people who bitched the loudest about the NFL playoff system are the same ones who beat on college football for not having a playoff. Plus, it was these very same people who bitched about my solution for the college playoff issue who stole the line form the “Poll and Bowl” crowd about this being about the “best teams, not just those who win a bad division.”

That was until the SeaHacks knocked out the Saints. Then it all stopped. It really doesn’t matter, because one of these teams will be in the playoffs whether you like it or not.

  1. St. Louis Rams
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Seattle Seahawks

Overall Rankings

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. New York Jets
  6. New Orleans Saints
  7. San Diego Chargers
  8. Atlanta Falcons
  9. Baltimore Ravens
  10. New York Giants
  11. Houston Texans
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  13. Dallas Cowboys
  14. Chicago Bears
  15. Miami Dolphins
  16. St. Louis Rams
  17. Tennessee Titans
  18. Detroit Lions
  19. Indianapolis Colts
  20. Arizona Cardinals
  21. Oakland Raiders
  22. Cleveland Browns
  23. Kansas City Chiefs
  24. Jacksonville Jaguars
  25. Seattle Seahawks
  26. Minnesota Vikings
  27. San Francisco 49’ers
  28. Buffalo Bills
  29. Denver Broncos
  30. Cincinnati Bengals
  31. Washington Redskins
  32. Carolina Panthers

Dubsism on Cubsism

First, let me define the concept of Cubsism. Named for the Chicago Cubs, Cubsism is an ideaology that permeates a sports franchise. It is characterized by the ability to be essentially viable while remaining an exercise in futulity on the field.  It is named for the Cubs because no other franchise in sports embodies it nearly as much as the Chicago North Siders do.

A microcosm of most recent century of  futility of this franchise lies in the last eighteen months. Look at what has happened before and after the sudden retirement of Lou Piniella last summer.

Usually, when a team makes a change at manager, the idea is to change the culture of the clubhouse by changing the leadership. Sometimes, when you make a change, the team doesn’t respond. That’s what happened last year at this time. Why? Because Lou Piniella was a respected “baseball guy.”

Just a few weeks ago, the rumors began circulating that new manager Mike Quade and general manager Jim Hendry will return next season in their respective positions. The logic is that Hendry is the guy who made the decision to hire Quade, knowing that  Quade was never intended to be a long-term solution. The thought was Quade would be a bridge until the Cubs found an established manager when the team is ready to  contend.

The problem is Quade should have never been the Cubs manager in the first place.  There’s so many reasons why, and they all illustrate the concept of Cubsism.

Go back to the day Piniella pulled the plug. Not the day he walked for good; rather go back to the day he said he was leaving at the end of the year. While every sports writer rejoiced at the thought of not having to write another “fire Lou Piniella” column, they all missed the main point.

Why let a manager appoint himself into a “lame-duck” status? To that point, the team was certainly going nowhere; they were lifeless and unmotivated, and now they are playing for a manager who has decided to fall on his own sword. There was nothing left to inspire the team to play hard; to not look they rolled over and died. What is to be gained by that?

The answer is absolutely nothing.  There’s one thing the Cubs have seemingly forgotten about their fans is that they live on hope. They have little other option; the Cubs have given them nothing else in over a century.

Flash forward one year, and the Cubs find themselves in essentially the same position. The Cubs collapsed early, fingers were pointed, and it looks like another change is coming somewhere in the leadership chain of the Cubs.

I don’t know how much hope that inspires in Cub fans, because I don’t know what the changes are going to be. Suffice it to say the Cubs are likely to make what I call a “Cubs-Type Decision (CTD).”

CTDs are the heart of Cubsism, and Cubsism is caused by four contributing factors, all of which have a long association with the  Cubs.

1) Leadership and a fan base that doesn’t understand the difference between “good” and “great.”

This point is exemplified by Quade. He was a terrible hire not because he is a terrible manager, rather there was a much better and completely obvious hire, and he was already in your organization.

Face it, Chicago. Mike Quade was the “good” hire; Ryne Sandberg was the “great” hire.  He was perfect for the job; let’s review why.

Sandberg became a Cub hero in the 1980′s being the best second baseman of that decade and arguably one of the top five at that position ever.  Sandberg became the Wrigley fixture Cub fans latched onto as a transition in to the Harry Caray-less days after 1998.  Sandberg was one of the smartest players in the game, and few played the truly complete game he did. Not only that, but Sandberg is not some Hall-of-Fame guy who thinks he should be able to blow into town and get the manager’s job on his name alone. Whether in his playing days or in his managerial career in the bus leagues, Sandberg has never been a guy to trade on marquee value, although he clearly could.

But instead of waltzing into the Cubs front office and saying “The fans that you need to keep want me in the dugout; I will be by before the Winter Meetings to pick the keys to my office,” Sandberg had spent the past four seasons prior to last year managing in the Cubs’ farm system. In fact, few managers in the minor leagues have built the reputation Sandberg has, and due to his humility, most of that has happened well beneath the radar. Sandberg has clearly “paid his dues” all while showing himself to be a cerebral skipper who can get his players to think before they act (Carlos Zambrano, I’m looking at you…)

In other words, he was the perfect man for the Cubs’ managerial job. How could the Cubs possibly entertain the idea of doing anything other than hiring the perfect candidate to end all perfect candidates? Because they are the Cubs, and they make Cubs-Type Decisions.

2) Terrible player/personnel decisions

In case you need a refresher, let’s review a few of my favorite CTDs:

  • Trading Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio (future Hall-of-Famer for washed-up pitcher)
  • Trading Rafael Palmeiro to Texas for Mitch Williams (3,000 hit/500 home run guy for a relief pitcher whose stay in Chicago wasn’t as long as some people who change planes at O’Hare Airport)
  • Drafting Josh Hamilton as a Rule 5 player, then promptly trading him to Cincinnati for a small amount of cash (3-time All-Star and reigning American League MVP for a few dollars when the Cubs were one of the richest teams in the league)
  • Trading Sergio Mitre and Ricky Nolasco for Juan Pierre (one serviceable starting pitcher and one on the verge of becoming an ace for a “legitimate leadoff hitter” for a guy who in his ONE season as a Cub got caught stealing 20 times in 78 attempts).
  • Letting Greg Maddox go to free agency (deciding a guy who would go on to win 355 games and 4 Cy Young awards wasn’t “the kind of pitcher who could help us long-term”)
  • Trading Dennis Eckersley for three minor-leaguers (Once in Oakland, Eckersley becomes the dominant closer of his era)
  • Trading Bill Madlock for Bobby Murcer (a solid defensive third-baseman who also would win four batting titles for a slugging outfielder whose career decline began immediately after this trade)
  • Trading Bruce Sutter for Leon Durham and Ken Reitz (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
  • Trading Lee Smith for Calvin Schraldi and Al Nipper (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
  • Trading Manny Trillo for Barry Foote and Ted Sizemore (a second baseman who still holds the record for most consecutive chances without an error for one of the great mustaches of all-time )

3) Belief in the “quick fix” for decades of problems

The Fukudome era...only slightly racist while being completely futile.

Just in the past dozen or so years, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard (insert new phenom and/or big free-agent signing) will change the fortunes of Cub nation…Kerry Wood, Todd Hundley, LaTroy Hawkins (even if he was only supposed to save the bullpen, I still can’t believe I just wrote that), Mark Prior, Nomar Garciaparra, Alfonso Soriano,   Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley, blah, blah, blah…Look at the knob-slobbing happening for Tyler Colvin, Darwin Barney, and Starlin Castro. How much you want to bet at least two of those names are on this list in five years? Doubt that? Just look back at what Cubs fans were bleating about Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot…

This is the same reason Cubs’ fans always love deals like Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley. Remember, they loved Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock, too…

4) A fan base ignorant of the fundamentals of the game

Picture it…Chicago, sometime in the late 90’s. I’m at Wrigley taking in a summer afternoon affair against the Dodgers. It’s the top of the ninth inning, the score is tied and the Dodgers have a runner on third with one out. The Dodgers hit a long fly ball into left field, and the family seated in front me (resplendent in their Cubs gear) is wildly cheering the out, completely unaware the Dodgers had just scored what would prove to be the  winning run on the sacrifice.

That family is the Cubs fanbase in a nutshell.

Having said all that, the next time you are looking to explain a franchise’s long term dysfunction, refer back to the four points of Cubsism. It runs rampant in professional sports; it takes little to see it.

Now for the fun part – here are ten franchises we have identified as having a very high Cubsism rating. Remember that Cubsism is not a short-term affliction; to be on this list a franchise must have shown a track record of futility for decades or have a generally dismal record with only the fleetingest glimpses of non-suck.

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