During the first, what?–I don’t even know anymore–Monday Night Football? Thursday Night Football? game, John Madden and Al Michaels, basically dismissed the Vikings as a division contender simply because they’d traded away Randy Moss.
Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that Madden and Michaels have not offered a genuinely insightful observation on the game of football since the mid-eighties. Let’s be charitable and instead hone in on what are the essential elements for gridiron success in the NFL. The fact is, you can have the best recievers in the NFL and still lose if your quarterback is merely average or sucks. I think the Raiders will prove my point by the end of the year: Randy will tear up the league again but Kerry Collins will keep them from advancing deep into the playoffs, if they play in the post-season at all. But you can win with merely decent receivers if you’ve got an outstanding quarterback. The Eagles made it to the Super Bowl with Donovan McNabb at the helm but without their best–and one of the league’s best–receiver, Terrell Owens.
Madden and Michaels’ comments about the Vikings chances sans Moss is simply a result of their laziness. Sadly, I’ve come to expect that from the duo.
It’s more disappointing when you find the same laziness in a writer you’ve come to respect. Thus is the case with The Sporting News‘ Dan Pompei. I really do like his writing and have always thought he was fairly insightful, until I read his most recent column.
Based on the Vikings’ performance against Tampa Bay, Pompei devotes a whole column on behalf of his argument that the Vikes’ offense will struggle mightily without Moss because teams will no longer have to gameplan specifically for the threat that Randy presented.
That’s all true enough but Pompei’s conclusions are based on the Tampa Bay game and nowhere in his column does he mention the atrocious play of the offensive line as a reason the Vikes’ offense struggled so badly.
It makes me wonder if he watched the game at all because any reasonable person who saw that game could not walk away from it without lamenting the line play. That was the source of all the Vikings’ troubles last Sunday, and Pompei seems oblivious to that fact.
And that gets to the heart of my problem with sports journalists working for a national medium: It is impossible for them to focus on one team, and as a result, their ignorance of that team is glaring. You’d think The Sporting News would know better, though, because they’re smart enough to use local writers for their weekly team-specific blurbs in their division breakdowns: The Star Tribune‘s Kevin Seifert covers the Vikings, for example.