Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Titans

This week, the Vikings again tower over their opponents in search popularity with the homeboys getting 3,895 team-related searches (an uptick of nearly 200 from last week) and the Titans getting only 1,797. (Read my methodology here.)

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With seven Vikings or former Vikings making the list of 2005 Hall of Fame nominees on Thursday, I thought I’d check on their search popularity. Three of the seven–Jim Marshall, Matt Blair, and Gary Zimmerman–played all or the majority of their careers with the Vikings. The rest (Chris Hinton, Darryl Talley, Herschel Walker, Roger Craig) and played three or fewer years with the Vikings. The following are their searches by popularity:

  • Herschel Walker, RB, [Played for Vikings from 1992-1994]: 273
  • Jim Marshall, DE, [Played for the Vikings from 1961-1979]: 67
  • Roger Craig, RB, [Played for the Vikings from 1992-1993]: 41
  • Matt Blair, LB, [Played for the Vikings from 1974-1985]: 29
  • Gary Zimmerman, OT, [Played for the Vikings from 1986-1992]: 25
  • Chris Hinton, OG/OT, [Played for the Vikings from 1994-1995]: 5
  • Darryl Talley, LB, [Played for the Vikings in 1996]: 0

Chris Hovan searches (71) edge out Titans defensive end Kevin Carter (42). Daunte Culpepper‘s amazing play has begun to pique interest online; his 273 searches are nearly double the number of searches he had last week and outnumber his Titans counterpart, Steve McNair, who has 251. People may be anticipating Michael Bennett‘s return, as his searches continue to increase from week to week, this time with 133. Both Onterrio Smith (83) and Mwelde Moore (54) saw slight increases from last week, while searches for the Titans new running back Chris Brown are a robust (194) for a relative newcomer. You need to keep in mind, though, that Chris Brown is a common name, so searches on his name are likely artificially high.

Randy Moss continues to blow by everyone, breaking the 1,000 search mark this week with 1,040. While Marcus Robinson is a fine complement to Moss on-field, he’s got a lot of field to make up online with a mere 12 searches this week. The Titans most popularly-search reciever, meanwhile, is Drew Bennett with 69.

The match-up of first-round picks falls, finally, in the Vikings’ favor, with rookie defensive end Kenechi Udeze‘s 10 (which has remained at that number for awhile) outpacing the Titans’ first pick, tight end Ben Troupe‘s 5 seaches. Kenechi has a bit of an advantage though, because the Titans actually didn’t have a first-round pick: Troupe was taken in the second round.

Finally, the much-touted matchup of future Hall of Fame Anderso/en kickers–former Viking and current Titan Gary Anderson vs. current Viking Morten Andersen isn’t even close, with Gary winning hands down. Gary gets 62 searches versus zero for Morton Andersen. Only Morton’s last name is misspelt as Anderson does he get any searches, and then only 13.

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Daunte Culpepper’s Got His Mutha F***ing Roll On

The Strib‘s Mark Craig has a piece today on Daunte Culpepper‘s audacious season thus far and how if he keeps up the pace, he’ll be shattering all kinds of records. Future Hall of Fame quarerback Dan Marino was in town to interview Culpepper for a segment to air during this Sunday’s game.

Craig points to the irony that some of the records Daunte may shatter are Marino’s own. The greater irony is that if Culpepper stays healthy and maintains his performance over the course of his career, Marino may be looking at the guy who could shatter his own career records. If your memories go back far enough, you’ll know that it was Marino who shattered the records of another guy who was very familiar to Minnesotans: Fran Tarkenton.

Craig closes his article by asking Marino what he thinks of Culpepper’s "roll" dance. Marino’s response: "When you throw as many touchdown passes as he’s throwing, you deserve to dance any way you want."

But what of that dance that looks like he’s calling illegal procedure? Turns out, it was inspired by the song Get Your Roll On by Big Tymers.

I can see why Daunte likes Get Your Roll On because it’s got a great beat and is awfully catchy. I don’t get my undies in a bunch over song lyrics–because, well, that’s just stupid–but that might be another reason Daunte likes the song: It might be his own little joke.

He just might be getting a chuckle out of the fact that every time he does his "roll on" dance, he’s referring to a song whose mildest lyrics are in the chorus:

Everybody get yo roll on
Everybody getcha motherf***ing roll on

A little knowledge is dangerous, ain’t it? I suspect you won’t be watching Daunte’s touchdown dance in quite the same way anymore.

A Mossless Vikings

This Vikings team continues to put on impressive performances every week and the reason that it’s impressive is that they have yet to field a completely healthy team.

This week it was Randy Moss who went down (but not without scoring another spectacular touchdown), luckily with just a hamstring strain. The Vikings were forced to play more than a half without him and the offense never hesitated in his absence.

The telling statistics from the Vikings/Saints match-up is this: Six for 134. Those are Nate Burleson‘s receiving stats and they reveal more about Marcus Robinson than Burleson himself. They reveal just how much Robinson means to this team. The fact that our third reciever got six touches for one-hundred-plus yards tells me that teams are acutely aware that Robinson is a threat. With a Mossless Vikings, the Saints turned all of their attention to Robinson.

Robinson had four catches for 32 yards but two of them were touchdowns, one a pretty jump ball that would’ve made Randy proud.

Mewelde Moore

The obligatory line on any story about Moore during training camp was that (I can practically recite it from memory) he was only the second player in NCAA history to amass at least 4,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards with former Vikings running back Darrin Nelson the other.

All I can say, is: As Advertised.

Against the Texans, Moore gained 92 yards rushing, 90 receiving, and returned one kick for three yards; that’s 185 total yards from scrimmage. Against the Saints, Moore rushed 15 times for 109 yards, caught seven passses for 78 yards, and picked up 51 yards returning kickoffs for 238 all-purpose yards. He might have picked up another yardage category had a halfback pass play not broken down.

We haven’t had a running back like this since Chuck Foreman was wearing number 44 for the Purple. While not the exact same type of back, Moore’s got some of the same assets that made Foreman so dangerous. He’s got soft hands and knows how to run after the catch. But he’s not simply a screen-catching RB like Michael Bennett or Robert Smith before him. Mewelde can get upfield before catching the ball.

He runs well between the tackles, finding seams and breaking tackles. And he protects the ball. He does need to work on his pass blocking and at times, he still runs like a rookie by outrunning his blocking. But still, most of the time he has the patience of a veteran to let a play unfold.

It’s a hell of a luxury to have a fourth round, fourth string back with that type of production. Michael Bennett has been quoted saying, jokingly, the reporters are almost too quick to point out, that he’d better get back in there or he might lose his job. Bennett may be more right than he’d care to admit. Though healthy, he has lost his job for at least one week: Moore will start on Sunday against the Titans.

Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Saints

This week’s Online Buzz finds the Vikings trouncing the Saints in team-related searches with 3,699 for the Vikings and 1,207 for the Saints. (Read my methodology here.)

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Chris Hovan searches (70) edge out Saints defensive end Charles Grant. Daunte Culpepper has exactly double (182) the number of search that his Saints counterpart, Aaron Brooks has (91). Interest in the Vikings running back situation has increased, with an uptick in searches on Michael Bennett (124) and Mwelde Moore (48) from last week, while searches for Onterrio Smith remained flat (81); these compare searches for Saints featured back Deuce McAllister whose 42 searches don’t even equal the Vikings’ fourth-string back. Ouch.

The match-up of first-round picks falls in the Saints favor, with rookie defensive end Will Smith‘s 32 searches more than tripling Kenechi Udeze‘s 10. That may be a bit unfair to Udeze, however, since the Smith shares the same name as search category killer, actor/musician Will Smith, so presumably some of his 32 search are people looking for information on the I Robot star.

The most glaring example stardom versus superstardom becomes clear when you compare Randy Moss seaches against practically any team’s star player: Randy Moss’ 963 searches verus the Saints most popularly-searched player, Aaron Brooks, who had ninety-one. Or even add up all of the aforementioned Saints players’ searches, and you get 246.

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Vikings Vs. Texans — In Pictures

I do like the Star Tribune‘s online game photo gallery feature. I have only one complaint: They need to get a new person to write the captions for the photos because whoever is currently doing it, really has no clue.

I wouldn’t make a big deal of it if it was a one-time thing, but I’ve seen this sloppiness before. A few examples from this week will suffice.

A photo of Randy Moss going horizontal includes this description: "Randy Moss is upended in the second quarter by Rushen Jones after picking up a first down." You don’t even have to look at the photograph to know what’s wrong with this picture. Rushen Jones plays for the Vikings not the Texans, and so therefore, it’s impossible for him to upend Randy Moss. Okay, I guess it’s possible; he is one the the lesser talents on the team, so I guess he could have unintentionally upended his teammate.

Anyway. It doesn’t matter. Because the caption writer did get it wrong. Check the photo. Rushen Jones is nowhere to be found.

Example two: A photo of kicker Aaron Elling getting facemasked by Texans’ kick returner J.J. Moses sports this description: "Texans’ J.J. Moses was given a 15-yard penalty for face masking during the kick on a punt return on Vikings Darren Bennett in the fourth quarter."

Well, there are two obvious things wrong with this caption. The first hint is that the picture clearly shows that the name on the back of the jersey of the Viking in the photo begins with the letters ELL. That should have tipped off the caption writer–even if (s)he did not watch the game–that the person in the photo was not Darren Bennett, whose last name begins with the letters BENN. And if you’d followed the Vikings at all this year, you could not have avoided being aware of the Vikings maddening kicking problems and their attempts to correct them. And therefore you would know the names Darren Bennett and Aaron Elling. You would know that Elling is the Vikings kick-off specialist and that Bennett is their punter. So if you have Elling in a photo, the picture must’ve been taken during a kick-off return and not a punt return, as the caption said.

It ain’t no big thing to me personally because I know the Strib made the mistakes and I know how they should be corrected so I haven’t been led to believe something that not’s true. But I’m sure that’s not true for everyone who reads the captions.

Sure, it’s only football we’re talking about, not the war on terror or ethnic cleansing in Sudan for which the Star Tribune has got their facts wrong. But they’ve still got their facts wrong. They’re a newspaper. They’re supposed to get their facts correct–especially the easy ones. That’s what has me annoyed.

Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Cowboys

This week’s Online Buzz finds the Cowboys trouncing the Vikings in team-related searches with a whopping 11,459 for the Cowboys and 1,906 for the Vikings. (Read my methodology here.)

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In the quarterback matchups, Daunte Culpepper (161) beats out the Cowboys starting quarterback Vinny Testaverde (46) but, unforturnately, gets outsearched by the Cowboys’ backup signal-caller, the relatively obscure Drew Henson (172). The reason Henson is such a draw is most-likely due to the fact that even before the season was underway, they had a full-blown quarterback controversy on their hands when last year’s starter Quincy Carter allegedly failed drug tests and was subsequently cut by Coach Parcells. (Carter alone garnered 364 searches). Chris Hovan (50) gets trounced by Cowboys safety Darren Woodson (186); Michael Bennett (106) gets smothered by Eddie George (536); and among top picks, the 11 searches for Kenechie Udeze are a faint whisper to Julius Jones‘ 186. Among coaches, third-year guy Mike Tice (26) is overmatched against the legendary Bill Parcells (204). The only match up that favors the Vikes, is–you guessed it–among wide recievers: Randy Moss dominates here, of course. The freak gets 739 searches compared to Keyshawn Johnson (130) and Terry Glenn (19).

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Jermaine Wiggins & Brett Conway

Jermaine Wiggins

Our big offseason offensive pickup was TE Jermaine Wiggins, who was supposed to serve the Byron Chamberlain role of a big, soft-handed tight end who would stretch the middle of the field. Wiggins has plenty of swagger but he hadn’t backed it up on the field, until last night.

As the Strib‘s Kevin Seifert reported, Tice acknowledged that Wiggins would have been cut were it not for his six catch, 50 yard and one touchdown performance yesterday. Still, after watching him last night, I remain wary. I’ll be perfectly happy to be proven wrong, but I think he looks a bit too thick to be much of a recieving threat.

Speaking of tight ends…maybe Tice should have added another player to his list of those he wouldn’t play last night: Richard Angulo. He looked extremely impressive–more impressive than Wiggins–and he’s a huge target at six foot eight. But he sprained his knee last night. I hope we keep him.

Brett Conway

As the Pioneer PressJason Williams points out, the jury is still out on new Vikings kicker Brett Conway. His first kick0ff landed at the 17, his second kickoff went two yards further to the 15, and it was only on his third kickoff that the ball reached beyond the five, to the three yard line. But he did make his PATs, which was an improvement over Aaron Elling.

I just had to shake my head when we first signed him. The book on him was that he was injury prone. A kicker? Injury prone? How can a kicker possibly be injury prone? And how slick are we for signing one?!?

Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Seahawks

The latest edition of Online Buzz shows that people are far more interested in the Vikings than this week’s competition, the Seattle Seahawks, with more people doing Viking-related searches (1,906) than Seahawks-related searches (784). (Read my methodology here.)

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Searches for individuals again show Brock Lesnar kicking everyone’s ass with 1,651 Lesnar-related searches, more than twice as many as Seahawks-related searches and ab-so-LUTE-ly towering over his defensive-line "competition" on the opposite team, Grant Wistrom, who had only 40 searches on his name. Sadly (well, not really), I will no longer track Lesnar searches since he was cut. Daunte Culpepper (161 searches) walks all over both Seahawks quaterbacks starter Matt Hasselbeck (36) and backup Trent Dilfer (51). Randy Moss-related searches remain high with 739, far more the all of the individual Seahawks players I tracked combined (209). From the No Respect Department: Again, Vikings first-round pick Kenechi Udeze gets trounced by the opposition’s first-round pick. Udeze got 11 searches on his name compared to Seahawks rookie DT Marcus Tubbs‘ 31.

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Former Vikings/Seahawks: For fun, I decided to see how former Vikings who had played for the Seahawks fared online. Former Purple People Eater, Viking DE Carl Eller had 74 searches on his name but that number is likely artificially high because of his recent Hall of Fame induction. Eller played for the Seahawks in 1979, the last year of his career.

John Randall, another former Viking defensive lineman who played the last three years of his career for the Seahawks (2001-2003) had 21 searches on his name.

Former 4-time Pro Bowl wide reciver Ahmad Rashad had 121 searches on his name. That popularity, however, couldn’t keep him from getting a 60-plus percent rating at for the past three years.

Finally, the man the Vikings traded to the Seahawks for Rashad (clearly among the best trades in Vikings history) and local celebrity, Benchwarmer Bob Lurtsema had a paltry 3 searches on his name. The Benchwarmer moniker is something of a misnomer, however, because he was actually a pretty decent defensive lineman. Lurtsema had the misfortune of playing behind Eller, Page, Marshall and Larsen/Sutherland. After being traded to the Hawks, Lurts actually started 25 games for the two years he spent there.

Finally, a little treat:


NFL Network

About a week ago I got one of those oversized envelopes from the cable company that mean either the rates are going up or the channel lineup is changing, or both. This one delayed the inevitable for a while by dropping the bad news of rate increases in favor of channel lineup news. (I’m sure the rate increases will come later, they always do).

Much to my delight, the contents of my oversized envelope informed me that I would soon enjoy the NFL Network as a part of my digital tier lineup.

Damn! NFL football 24 hours a day.
What could be better than that?
Thank you, Comcast.

So naturally, the first thing I did this morning was tune in to my new favorite channel. And…the jury is still out. The first program I watched was NFL Total Access, NFL Network’s signature show that actually airs in the evening and was obviously being replayed this morning.

It’s a pretty good show. The Total Access crew includes Rich Eisen, Terrell Davis, and Lincoln Kennedy. It’s an NFL Live-type program with player and coach interviews and action footage. It looks like they’ve got web cams installed in ever team’s complex because the remote interviews have that Live from Iraq stutter-motion quality.

After that was a very good Inside Training Camp program called Jaguars Summer that, obviously, takes you inside an NFL training camp. It was a fascinating account of player progress and the coaches deliberation. The episode I saw was also surprisingly timely, as it discussed the troubles former Pro Bowl sackmaster Hugh Douglas was having making the team and the coaches discussions about whether or not they should cut him. Douglas was cut August 30th; I was watching September 1.

Next they replayed the program I’d just watched.

After that….drum roll, please: NFL Films Presents…Pop Warner Football! They had the dramatic background music, the professional crew, but it was little league!

They’ve obviously got more time to fill than useable content.

They have some programs I’ve yet to watch but am looking forward to. Playbook is an Xs and Os show that breaks down the game using teams’ own video.

During the season, they will also replay selected games using camera angles you don’t get on the TV broadcasts.

I’m sure I’ll talk more about the NFL Network in the future.

Red Bull vs. SoBe Energy Drinks

Have I mentioned how much I love football? I do. A lot. This much [Fade in picture of me with arms outstreched to either side of my body]. I love football so much that I play it at least twice a week (touch football, that is). I’ve been playing with more or less the same group of guys for about three years now. We play pick up games every Saturday (usually three games, sometimes four).

Yesterday was a perfect day for playing, with the sky fairly clear and the temperature hovering in the mid-sixities. We’d played several games when someone spotted the Red Bull mobile. The Red Bull mobile is a modified pickup truck that wanders Minneapolis and St. Paul dispensing Red Bulls. It’s easy to spot because the truck has a huge can of Red Bull with the bottom resting in the cargo bay and the top resting on the back edge of the cab. In the cargo bay, on either side of the can, are refrigerated storage areas where they keep their supply of the energy drink.

So we were playing ball when we notice a pretty blonde girl and a nice looking guy walking toward our game. And of course, they are Red Bull employees come to give us each a complimentary cold can.

I’ve seen the Red Bull mobile around town but that’s the first time I’ve seen it in action. I gotta say that I was very impressed. Their target market is young male athletes, night owls, and college students and they nailed all three because a couple of the guys I play with probably fall into each category. Several of the guys I play with are regular Red Bull drinkers. And everyone was quite happy to get a free Red Bull.

But after enjoying a practical monopoly on the energy drink market, Red Bull is losing market share to, for my money anyway, better tasting and more effective competition (Fortune magazine calls Red Bull a "a caffeine-laced drink that tastes like cough syrup and promises to enhance athletic performance and concentration."

SoBe Adrenaline Rush

The drink does taste like cough syrup and I don’t think it works nearly as well at energizing than SoBe. SoBe has a diverse product line but I’m partial to SoBe Adrenaline Rush, a direct competitor to Red Bull. It tastes good and works longer. But don’t just take my word for it, I’ve turned three of my friends into SoBe-drinkin fools.

SoBe’s original can design displayed their sense of humor with the slogan "Get it up. Keep it up. Any questions?" Beneath that was a 1-800 number which I presume you were supposed to call and ask when it would go down.

Mmmm….I do love my SoBe but they do gotta work on both their distribution (like in bars) and their visibilty. Hey, they could always sponsor my touch football team.