Monday Meltdown

The Monday Meltdown with Drew Magary

Monday, October 13th, 2008

meltdown.jpgAfter spending much of last week applying ice to the delicate parts of Cleveland-based NFL tight ends, Drew Magary returns for the Meltdown. Drew is a Vikings fan living in the Washington D.C. area. Contrary to rumors, he cannot eat his weight in thick-cut bacon. He also has a book out, in which he explains how the quadratic equation pertains to conversion rates on 3rd-and-4 or closer (not really). Practically every Monday, we exchange e-mails about the latest Vikings game. Here we go:

RandBall: Well, this is officially the strangest first six games of a Vikings season I have ever witnessed. They have cobbled together a .500 record during a pretty tough schedule by some magic combination of duct tape, secret sauce and pass interference. They have won two consecutive games to pull into a first place tie in the division, and many fans are more angry about the coaching and the team in general than they were when the team was 1-3. I don’t know whether to be heartened by the fact that the Vikings have yet to play a full good game and are somehow tied for first, or worried that they might spend the next 10 games playing the exact same maddening style. So I ask you: What do you make of these games, and where do they go from here?

Drew Magary: I thought those looked like the two worst teams in the NFL. That game was just agonizing to watch. The pass protection was pathetic. They didn’t deserve to win that game. In fact, they didn’t even deserve to PLAY it. They should have been replaced by a Mountain West team at the half. The blocked field goal made me want to eat my own face. The interference and the fumble review were two of the worst calls I’ve ever seen. I think they’ll be like this all year. Utterly maddening, and pulling out games strictly because of lousy calls, or because the other team wants it less.

RB: That absolutely was not pass interference. The call against the Saints was a good one. The one yesterday was just brutal. And I don’t think Calvin Johnson fumbled. Two huge, game-changing breaks. Is that simply the negative karma of the Lions superseding the gloom and doom Vikings fans have come to expect, or does this team have some sort of strange luck factor going for it?

DM: ‘Twas Millen’s revenge!

RB: It would be just fine if Adrian Peterson would hold onto the [redacted] ball.

DM: There were also a couple plays where he danced before hitting the hole and got swarmed. He improved in the second half, but I keep waiting for one of those kick-ass 50 yard blazers of his.

RB: RandBall endorsed players of the week (brought to you by the Greater Twin Cities Grammar Rodeo): Kevin Williams, Bernard Berrian.

DM: There’s no Grammar Rodeo. You’re going to the Tennessee World Fair!

RB: I’m not sure which feed you get out in your concrete wasteland, but here in Minneapolis, within about a five minute span, I watched Longwell beat the Lions, Josh Brown beat Washington (even after Incognito lost his freaking mind), and then Elam drop the Bears in a game the Falcons should have had a 1 percent chance of winning in the end. I would imagine that made for a nice little Sunday in the Magary house, no?

DM: Bethesda is a concrete wasteland? It was. indeed, nice to see some real football teams after watching those two [distasteful medical procedure].

RB: I don’t even know what else to say. This entire season has been like an awkward holiday meal. Anything can happen at any time. But the potatoes are delicious.

DM: Don’t expect it to change any time soon. Hope you like potatoes.

The Monday Meltdown with Drew Magary

Monday, September 29th, 2008

meltdown3.jpgEvery week, your humble Proprietor trades e-mails with Drew Magary, a Vikings fan living in Washington D.C., and we dissect the latest game in only the way we can. Think of it as Access Vikings with directed rage and better spelling. You might remember Drew from such blogs as Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber. You also might want to buy his book, which we’re 99 pecent sure is about matzo. Here we go:

RandBall: Well, that was a clear step backwards. They were on their heels from the outset. They were sloppy. They were crushed in the turnover battle. The defense was on the field all day (or at least it seemed like it; the fairly close TOP battle seems like a mirage). I’m having a hard time deciding if they’re just facing a brutal early schedule or if they’re doing a lot of this to themselves. I think it’s a 65/35 split right now, with the opponents making up the low number.

Drew Magary: Their first two turnovers, the AD and Tahi fumbles, were freaky plays that put them in the hole. And they aren’t good enough to dig out of a hole like that on the road against the AFC’s best team. They dropped tons of balls and committed about 500 penalties after that. I’m beginning to hate Shiancoe. More than any Viking since Alfred Anderson. All he does is [redacted] up. Why is he out there? Why can’t they put Mills out there? I hate Shiancoe. I hate him hate him hate him hate him. I do not like him. I hate him.

RB: If you look at the schedule through an optimistic lens, you can still find 10 wins in a reasonable fashion. But let’s be realistic: Next week at New Orleans is going to be very tough. That’s not a good matchup because the Saints will put points on the board. Home against Detroit better be a win. At Chicago is certainly not the picnic a lot of people thought it would be. So there’s a real chance that they’ll be 2-5 at the bye. Even when the schedule softens — and only somewhat — after the bye, the prospect of a season going the wrong way in a hurry is looming. I certainly didn’t think I’d be saying that at the quarter-pole.

DM: I think they’ll be inconsistent all year. They just seem to screw up every chance they have at making a big play. Berrian drops the long pass. A Purple Jesus run gets taken back by a hold. Etc. They aren’t well coached enough to get past crap like that.

RB: Know what isn’t awesome? Four turnovers.

DM: Like I said, the first two fumbles were pretty much total freak plays. Those got compounded by stuff like Winfield inability to cover Gage, and the loss of outside contain on Chris Johnson.

RB: No sacks. [Redacted] that. Seriously.

DM: They got lots of hurries and were in Collins’ face a lot, but you’re right. The better teams don’t just pressure the passer, they GET him. Especially when the guy back there is Collins, who has all the mobility of a caterpillar.

RB: Strangely, the other details of this — and every other game so far this year — tend to evaporate quickly. This team has a clear identity (Purple Jesus and a purportedly stout defense), but what they project on the field is often so oblique and temporary. Maybe that’s just the herbal tea talking, or maybe it’s just such a stark contrast to the Tice era, but these last two-plus seasons the games have seemed oddly detached, like a Modest Mouse concert (with Childress on the cowbell).

DM: I agree. They have absolutely no personality, especially on offense. And that’s a reflection of Childress, who is a can of dry paint out there.

RB: I’m not a great football thinker. I watch games, I think I know a thing or two, but I don’t profess to know the ins and outs of offensive schemes and such. That said, when I watch other teams play, things just seem EASIER on offense, and not in a dumbed-down kind of way. Am I wrong? What is it?

DM: It’s coaching. The scheme from Childress is so weak, that players have to do every thing exactly right for it to work. It’s pulling teeth out there, and it’s brutal to watch at times.

RB: At least the injury to E.J. Henderson doesn’t appear to be that serious. And McKinnie is back next week.

DM: Yeah, the injuries to him and Frerotte were not pleasant to sit through. Frerotte got a helmet in the groin from Vanden Bosch. That made me want to sit in some Epsom salts.

RB: Only other silver lining? The division might end up being pretty putrid. As in, 9 wins might do it, especially if Rodgers is out for any appreciable length of time. Hate to say it, but the Bears are right in the mix. Might even call them favorites at this point if Rodgers misses significant time. Behold the power of the neckbeard.

DM: Yeah, but if they win by default (still unlikely), who cares? They’ll get reamed come playoff time.

RB: Keeping in mind that I have by no means written off this season because I know how these things work, let’s say the Vikings wind up something like 7-9, miss the playoffs, etc. What is your blueprint for getting this thing back on track in a hurry?

DM: Firing Childress and hiring Frazier, who seems to actually have a pulse?

RB: Any double-secret botched plays/calls I’m forgetting?


The Monday Meltdown with Drew Magary

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

meltdown2.jpgDrew Magary is a Washington D.C.-based Vikings fan, and his screams can be heard across the beltway and beyond every Sunday. He is an Editor-at-large for Deadspin (whatever that means) and a key contributor to Kissing Suzy Kolber. He also has a book out, which may or may not contain actual facts. Every week, we trade e-mails about the Vikings game. Here is the result:

RandBall: Well, we have seen the blueprint: run the ball efficiently, get competent quarterback play that includes chain-moving throws on third down, and let the defense do the rest. I think the offense can be even better than it was yesterday, which makes me somewhat optimistic about the big picture. The long-term question, though, is whether those two opening losses — especially the one against the Colts — will be too much to come back from in a tougher-than-expected conference.

Drew Magary: I agree with you on the first point. Despite the absolutely horrible first half play-calling, I thought Frerotte and the defense showed real life after the Winfield TD. Before that play, the whole team just seemed to be wandering around aimlessly. Then Winfield stripped the ball, and it was like, “Oh hey! We’re playing football!” I also thought the 19-play FG drive in the second half was brilliant. Even though it didn’t end in a TD, that’s exactly what the Viking O needs to do: get first downs, give the D some rest, and just grind the other team down. I don’t think the opening two losses are so horrible. They’re only a game behind Green Bay now, so obviously they can make up ground. Though I have no doubt that they would have beaten the Colts last week had Childress pulled T-Jack.

RB: They simply cannot throw that seam route directly over the middle to Shiancoe anymore. The ball is knocked loose at least 50 percent of the time, and that’s an interception/fumble waiting to happen. On the touchdown he caught, he was in less traffic. If they can use his speed and size to create mismatches away from contact like that, he could still be useful.

DM: I wish they’d use Mills more. He’s got much surer hands. Maybe he’s not quite the blocker Shiancoe is, but on a 3rd down I’d rather be throwing down the seam to Mills, who strikes me as far more reliable. He always catches the ball, and he’s tough to bring down.

RB: Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, E.J. Henderson and Antoine Winfield were beasts. No other way to say it. If they play at that level or close to it for the entire season, the Vikings will not give up very many points.

DM: I thought Henderson was brilliant, but then sort of disappeared after the half. But you can see how mildly competent quarterbacking has really helped the defense. They got tons of rest off the field goal drive, then just destroyed the Panthers after that. Awesome to behold.

RB: Blitzes from defensive backs: my love knows no bound. Discuss.

DM: I love them too, except when the back doesn’t get there in time and an 80-yard TD ensues. Otherwise, they’re crazy fun.

RB: Gus Frerotte: should have been starting since week 1. There’s just a different feeling when he’s out there. Discuss.

DM: Agreed. I think Frerotte will give you the occasional boneheaded pick. But he can read the defense and make a few decent throws, which is all the team really needs. Also, and this is important, he has real pocket awareness. If there was an end two inches behind T-Jack, he didn’t sense it. Frerotte does. He also held onto the ball on a few sack/strip plays, which was huge. My only beef: he never throws the ball away. That ain’t good.

RB: Packers looked mediocre against Dallas. Bears are better than expected but still 1-2. Lions are beyond terrible. This division is still wide open.

DM: Agreed. My God, the Lions are bad. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it.

RB: Peterson and Taylor split carries just like I said. Did it kill your fantasy team, or did you have the good sense to stay away from them?

DM: I started Purple Jesus. 70+ yards ain’t bad. But I did keep Ronnie Brown on the bench. That was … dumb.

The Monday Meltdown with Drew Magary

Monday, September 15th, 2008

meltdown1.jpgAfter every Vikings home game, we trade e-mails with Drew Magary (formerly Big Daddy Drew, sort of a Chad Ocho Cinco in reverse) of Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber semi-fame. Drew is a Vikings fan living in the Washington D.C. area, which is a terrible thing on so many levels. Sunday’s game with the Colts is perhaps one of the greatest arguments for why the Meltdown was started. Drew also has a book out, which you can purchase right here; he has said he will come read it to you at your house in exchange for a six pack and a nice back rub. Let’s do this:

RandBall: Here’s the thing: Every offensive play seems designed to protect the quarterback from himself. At this point, to me, it’s not about throws he’s missing (which there were yesterday) or making (which there also were) but about that exact idea. If in the third year of your development as a quarterback, you still can’t be trusted to throw a tight pass on 3rd-and-5 or reasonably expected to lead a late drive, then there’s really no point in you being out there. If you have the ability and you are being held back by overprotective or unimaginative playcalling, then there needs to be a philosophical change. Essentially, either turn Jackson loose, or cut him loose. The in-between garbage is a sure way to lose. That said, I ask you: how short do you think the leash will be with Jackson (and, in turn, with Childress?)

Drew Magary: Agree 100%. That is a freaking Big Ten offense out there. It’s not a pro offense. They are absolutely TERRIFIED to pass, and when they do, they are the most basic pass plays you can get: counter passes and quick slants (which T-Jack had lousy accuracy on). It’s a joke; 30 other QB’s out there could have helped win that game with a couple of basic throws. He was off by miles in some instances. The Colts had nine in box early in the game, and they threw a swing pass to Purple Jesus. Are you joking? They can’t exploit obvious passing situations, and it’s painful to see. You can’t hide your quarterback. What’s the point? He needs to be benched. I’m all for patience with QBs, and I kind of admire Childress’ stubbornness in sticking with Jackson. But this has gotten way out of hand. At some point, Childress will bench Jackson out of self-preservation, but I wonder how long it’ll take him to get to that point. It needs to be soon. Like, NOW.

RB: That said, Part II: Fans booing Jackson loudly in the fourth quarter with the Vikings leading. Probably not the right time, and probably not warranted.

DM: Whatever. He’s a pro. If that bothers him, he can go have a romantic dinner with Vince Young. That crowd knew exactly what was going on out there. They knew this was a rare chance — to beat the Colts when half of Manning’s support system was gone — and they knew the team had absolutely zero passing game to work with, and that it was going to cost them by the time the game was over. They were right to be annoyed, and Dan Dierdorf can cram it if he thinks that’s so mean.

RB: The worst part: The game followed such a sickeningly familiar script. Early dominance undone by missed opportunities to cash in more. As soon as Longwell missed that field goal that would have made it 18-7, I knew exactly how the rest of the game was going to unfold, from the quick TD to the 2-point conversion, to the false hope of a defensive stop, to the next false hope of a 3rd-and-long, to the game-winning field goal. Those are the unfortunate privileges that come with having watched 20+ years worth of Vikings games.

DM: Yep. It was beyond obvious. The pass rush can only hold up so long when the offense can’t sustain any drives. You knew the second Chester got the ball on 3rd and 5 that it was a done deal. It makes me want to … BRRAAAAHHHHHH (more…)

The Monday Meltdown with Big Daddy Drew

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Hey kids — sorry, we usually have the same old image with this post, but we’re having 18 different kinds of problems with WordPress today (note to the good folks there: it could be on our end, too). So you’ll have to enjoy The Monday Meltdown without any art. Please welcome back Big Daddy Drew, who loves the Vikings from a safe distance.

RandBall: Holy [redacted] did they play awful for the better part of forever last night. The offense was tentative, and the whole team looked like a combination of nervous and burdened by expectation. It was the perfect storm for one of those late-season losses that makes you hate being a Vikings fan. And yet by some piece of magic, they were able to grind out a home victory against an inferior opponent. Were those really the Vikings last night? The team I know would have lost 13-12 because of that extra point.

Big Daddy Drew: Yeah, it was sort of encouraging that they pulled it out of their butts. Good teams win even like when play like [redacted], and holy [redacted] did they play like [redacted]. I think the o-line had one of their worst games of the year.

RB: T-Jack can go ahead and never throw that loopy pass over the middle ever again.

BDD: If he was Brett Favre, it would have been a BOLD throw!

RB: How stunned were you that the Vikings didn’t just sit on it after that horrendous pass set the Bears up for their only touchdown at the end of the first half, and that the Vikings (aided by a perhaps questionable late hit) moved into field goal range and cut it to 13-6? Those might have been the most important 30 seconds in the game. Credit to Childress for taking a shot.

BDD: Agreed. That could have been a total disaster, but I give Childress credit: he’s shown patience with TJ when no one else would. Credit to T-Jack for coming back from such glaring [redacteds].

RB: T-Jack can go ahead and never leave a 13-12 game in the fourth quarter in the red zone because of a leg cramp.

BDD: Ever cramp your leg? It [redacted] hurts, man.

RB: I’m a little worried that PJ is looking to hit home runs on every play. His success earlier in the year was based on exploding to the line, never having negative plays, making an early guy miss and then going off to the races. Maybe the blocking hasn’t been as good the past couple of games, but it also feels like he’s struggling, too.

BDD: He only had one really bad run, where he passed up an open hole to bounce the play outside. Otherwise, defenders were just wrapping him up before he even got to the line. Urlacher played like a maniac.

RB: Darren Sharper. Thank [redacted].

BDD: Indeed. You know what I like? The defense hits HARD. When they hit people, they don’t keep going.

RB: Why in god’s name do you punt the ball to Devin Hester with 3 minutes to go and leading by 7. Just kick it out of bounds. Or go for it on 4th and a foot. It worked out OK, but it was inviting disaster.

BDD: Yeah, but that may have just been a mistake by Kluwe. He had screwed up those punts a couple times earlier.

RB: This Washington game is going to be pesky. Can you charter a boat for Smoot and co. sometime this week?

BDD: I’ll do my best. They’re just as baffling a team as we are. I hope the crummy Skins show up, and not the mildly competent Skins.