Powell Endorses Obama

Former Republican Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, endorsed Democrat for president today on Meet The Press. He actually made the announcement outside the NBC studios:

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama on Meet The Press

Colin Powell Press Conference

This clip is of a press conference Powell held after taping Meet The Press:

Will The Vikings Show Up?

Before the Vikings game against the Lions last week I suggested the Vikes may be a tease with a soft part of the schedule coming up. My reasoning was that they were a better team that their upcoming foes and they would therefore look like a much better team than they actually were.

That was a disastrously wrong assumption.

The Vikings squeeked through with a victory against a Lions team and rookie quarterback against whom they should have dominated.

It was a very tough game to watch because the Vikes were uuuuug-ly.

The question today against a Bears team that looks fairly good and against surprisingly competent play of quarterback Kyle Orton is whether the Vikings can simply play consistently and minimize the mistakes. If they do that, they’ll have a decent chance of beating the Bears.

First, will the offensive line improve? Seriously, is this the same line that so dominated opponents last year? It sure doesn’t look like it. That line could produce running lanes for Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor even against defenses determined to shut down the ground game. That hasn’t happened this year. Last year they provided enough room for an indecisive quarterback to find receivers. This year, they have trouble giving the quick-trigger of Gus Frerotte enough time to find receivers downfield.

While we finally have an answer for the absence of fullback Thomas Tapeh, the fact doesn’t excuse starting Nahfu Tahi at fullback. Tahi was simply brutal last week. He consistently either got stood up by defenders at the line or blocked the wrong guy or simply whiffed. Oh, yeah; and Tahi dropped a pass. I’d love to see Jimmy Kleinsasser start at fullback; that would do a great deal to improve both the running and pass game.

The Bears, like everyone else, will be determined to shut down Adrian Peterson so it is imperative that our receivers catch the ball. And is it too much to ask Bernard Berrian not to stumble when chasing down the long ball?

This is a winnable game that would put us on top of the division. The only question is if the Vikes go for the jugular or continue to muddle through the season.

The Tease Stretch?

The Vikings enter a relatively soft part of the schedule, starting with today’s game against the winless Lions at the Metrodome, then to Chicago to play a 3-2 Bears team that may or may not be good (they beat a weakened Colts team in the opener, beat a disappointing Eagles squad, and dominated Detroit).

After the bye, we’ve got the Houston Texans and the Packers, both at home.

The Packers beat us in a close game in the season opener when Tarvaris Jackson was leading the team. Green Bay has two wins so far, the second of which came at the hands of the Lions.

The Vikings could easily go 4-0 during this stretch and face Tampa Bay with a 6-3 record. The question then will be are we really a 6-3 team?

Defensive Woes

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints

Despite offseason upgrades, the Vikings pass defense remains poor. Jared Allen has brought more pressure on opposing quarterbacks but Ray Edwards has not been able to pay for opponents double-teaming both Allen and Kevin Williams. Our left end must be able to beat one guy.

Opponents have been picking on Cedric Griffin all season and that will not change. So, understanding how offenses are going to attack our defense, isn’t there some way we can get Griffin some help?

Our pricey free agent safety Madieu Williams has been AWOL all season. Rookie Tyrell Johnson has played as well as we could hope to expect for a rookie safety but he’s still been taken advantage of in a way I presume Madieu Williams would not.

Our biggest problem on defense, of course, is the loss for the season of E.J. Henderson at middle linebacker. We can only wait and watch to see how that plays out.

Offensive Hope?

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints

The choice to start Gus Frerrote for the remainder of the season has given the Vikings a chance for a winning season when it was clear we couldn’t win two winnable games with Jackson at the helm.

But Bernard Berrian, our pricey free agent wide receiver, decided to show up just this last week; with him nursing an owie on his big toe, who knows how much we can rely upon him?

And, by the way, isn’t it important for your receivers to run the routes they’ve been assigned? Especially in an offense that requires precise route running?

Berrian may have caught a crucial touchdown last week, but he admitted the pass was not intended for himself and yet he still made a play for the ball. It’s a good thing he caught the ball because if the pass hadn’t been completed, he could rightly be criticized for brining his defender into the play.

Sydney Rice has missed the past few games while nursing a PCL injury and the running game has been bottled up of late.

Despite all that, we’ve been competitive for the most part, so there’s reason for hope.

Predictable Play Calling

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints

The most exasperating aspect of coach Brad Childress‘ tenure has been the absolutely unimaginative offensive game plans. It was unbearable during Childress’ rookie year, when he insisted on three-yard passes on third and nine. Thankfully, it has gotten a lot better than that.

But the play calling remains unimaginative. Faced with defenses that refuse to allow Adrian Peterson beat them, the offense has turned more often to the passing game. Fair enough.

But when you’ve got one of the best players in the league, you’ve got to find a way to utilize him. Why are we not trying harder to get the ball to Peterson in space? Why don’t we send him out on pass routes to get him matched up with a linebacker more often? How ’bout sending him deep a few times? He’s certainly faster than most defensive backs in this league.

And why oh why are we not seeing both Peterson and Chester Taylor in the backfield at the same time more often?!? We’ve got two starting running backs; let’s use ’em. Keep defenses off balance by making them pick their poison. Both backs can catch the ball; let’s use a mix of run plays, play action, screens.

Why were we running Peterson outside nearly the whole game last week when the Saints were missing their starting defensive tackle and the replacement is not an every down player?

Special Teams

Kluwe’s not the problem. He certainly can improve his directional punting but the Vikings missed four tackles on one punt return last week, many more on others, and faired poorly on kick returns when Kluwe was not on the field.

This unit has been weak all year. Maybe adding more veterans to the unit but who knows? Veteran receiver Robert Ferguson took an inexplicable angle on one of Reggie Bush‘s TD punt returns last week that took Ferguson out of the play when he could easily have had a shot at the Saints’ running back.

So, given all this, will the Vikings simply be a tease again after the next four years or will we seriously have the contender we hoped for before the season began?

So It’s Kluwe’s Fault, Huh?

So Reggie Bush‘s two punt returns for touchdowns are all punter Chris Kluwe‘s fault? Really?

It’s more than a little pathetic to see coach Brad Childress taking out his special teams coverage unit’s incompetence on one player of that unit, or, as ProFootballTalk.com (the blog the pros read) says, .

The coverage units have been woeful all year and most of it has to do with missed tackles. And by the way, the coverage units are just as bad when Kluwe is not on the field during kickoffs.

So, , Childress is working out punters either for the purpose of signing one or to send a blunt message to Kluwe to get better at kicking the ball out of bounds.

That, and calling Kluwe out publicly, are pretty classless.

Kluwe has been a top-notch punter for several years. In 2005, he was the franchise. He doesn’t deserve the berating he’s getting.

Besides, the guy’s awesome at Guitar Hero ( via :

Best Presidential Debate Body Language Moment

The most telling silent moment of last night’s debate came when Senator defended himself against Senator ‘s charges that he would be reckless in foreign affairs because he was too inexperienced. At the 4:50 mark of the following video, Obama summarizes McCain’s charges that he’s wet behind the ears while Senator McCain is somber and responsible but then he brings up McCain’s singing of “Bomb Iran.”  (CNN sucks. Their video embed script doesn’t work. Follow this link to see their higher quality clip). Watch Senator McCain’s body language during that exchange:

McCain’s body practically slumps; he looks crestfallen and his head droops toward the floor as if to say, “Ugh, you got me.”

Here’s the video of McCain singing “Bomb Iran,” the parody of the Beach Boys song:

The Bar Is Too High

McCain And Palin Campaign In Ohio

I know everyone is saying that the bar has been set so low for Sarah Palin‘s debate performance that all she has to do is show up and utter a few coherent sentences in order to win.

I completely disagree.

I think that the reason Palin’s poll numbers have fallen is that while people like her charm, her appalling interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric have alarmed a lot of people who now worry that she’s a 72 year old’s heartbeat away from the presidency and she appears to have no qualifications nor, more importantly, capacity for the job at all.

I don’t think Sarah Palin has to simply not screw up; I think she needs to demonstrate a solid understanding of the issues we face and clear reasoning for the positions she takes.

Glittering generalities and homespun hockey mom stories that have no bearing on the question will be seen through for what they are: nothing. I think the Internet has taught us to see through that.

I have no idea how intelligent Palin is but I gotta think anyone who can get elected governor has got plenty of smarts. Worse, she appears to be completely incurious.  And we’re still watching that movie.

The problem is, it looks like she has never had to grapple with national and international issues and she’s not had nearly enough time to cram. I think people want to be reassured that she can be president and you can’t do that just by cramming.