The longtime home of the Dallas Cowboys, known for the giant hole in its roof, “so God can watch his team,” according to local lore (if God likes cheaters, that is), came tumbling down early Sunday in a planned demolition. Found at YouTube from AssociatedPress.
After last week, when they had a chance to lock up their playoff spot, it’s sorta pointless to talk about or get your hopes up for a Vikings post-season this year. They could come out and stink or they could play wonderfully and still not make it with a motived Redskins team playing Dallas‘ second-stringers.
So absent the burden and frustration of phantom playoff hopes, my interest will be focused narrowly on my hope for a 400 yard rushing game for Peterson and improved play for Tarvaris Jackson. And one probably depends upon the other.
The Denver Broncos‘ defense is 30th in the league against the run but even a really bad defense can improve significantly against the run by deploying eight or nine men in the box. So we’ll see, but there’s plenty of reason to hope for a big ground game for the Vikings and for Adrian Peterson in particular.
The one thing the Vikings will have to do for Peterson to have a big day, of course, will be to make the Broncos pay for stacking the box. And that depends upon Jackson making those plays, something he hasn’t done consistently.
Maybe the Vikings should come out in no-receiver sets. Sit the receivers in favor of tight ends and fullbacks and maybe an extra offensive lineman. Say to the Broncos, we’re running the ball; try and stop us. It ain’t gonna happen but I’d love to see it.
Peterson needs only 12 yards to overtake Pittsburgh‘s Willie Parker, who is out for the season. But in order to win the title, Adrian will have to significantly outplay LaDainian Tomlinson who has 1,418 yards to Peterson’s 1,305. The problem is that the Chargers play the Oakland Raiders today.
In the passing game, I want to see Jackson make better decisions and not get flustered in the face of a heavy rush. He seems to do just fine when he’s got sufficient time in the pocket, but he’s going to have to learn play well under pressure.
Those are my modest hopes at the end of a disappointing season.
The bright side, I guess, is that the Vikings hung with the Cowboys from nearly the entire game and had plenty of chances to win. But the you look at how the Vikings actually played, and you gotta feel discouraged and frustrated.
After an initial drive in which the offensive line looked dominant on their way to matching the Cowboys opening score with an Adrian Peterson TD run of their own, the line’s play broke down and afforded little running room and less pass protection. Ryan Cook had a particularly bad day.
What’s most frustrating, though, is not the loss (which I thought was a given) but the lack of progress in Tarvaris Jackson‘s play. His accuracy is still suspect, both on short and log passes. He consistently throws behind receivers on short routes and consistently misses receivers on long routes. Though the ball should have been caught, a better placed toss to Bobby Wade would have resulted in a Viking touchdown.
He holds onto the ball far too long in a pocket protected by an offensive line that is not good enough to give him that much time. This may be because he hesitates so much when deciding where to put the ball.
That hesitation affords defenders time to see where Jackson’s going to throw the ball and then react to Jackson’s intentions.
Our receivers didn’t have a great day, either. Every receiver failed to catch tosses they could have come down with. This team cannot afford dropped passes when they’re lead by a young, inexperienced, and inaccurate quarterback like Jackson.
It’s simple. If the Cowboys can’t stop Adrian Peterson, we might have a chance. If Peterson runs wild, it will help open up the passing game so Tarvaris Jackson can get in some practice throwing deep and hitting wide open receivers, practice he desperately needs.
The Vikes will lose this one.
This is what the Cowboys bloggers are saying:
- The Boys Blog predicts a Dallas victory: Dallas 27, Minnesota 17
- Cowboys Locker predicts a Dallas blowout: Cowboys 35, Vikings 14
- Cowboys Gab follows suit: Cowboys 37, Vikings 10
- CowboysBlog.net predicts a win, flippantly
- Blogging The Boys has a nice analysis
- Cowboys FanHouse doesn’t predict but do tell a funny story about Brad Childress and Terrell Owens
This is what VIkings bloggers are saying:
The thing about this season is that the Minnesota Vikings just have to get a little better than last year to win a lot more games. Consider the games the Vikings lost last year:
- In September, the Vikings lost to the Bears, 16-19
- In October, the Vikings lost to the Bills, 17-12
- and to the Patriots, 7-31
- In November, the Vikings lost to the 49ers, 9-3
- to the Packers, 17-23
- and to the Dolphins, 24-20
- In December, the Vikings lost to the Bears again, 23-13
- to the Jets, 13-26
- again to the Packers, 9-7
- and to the Rams, 21-41
The two games against the Packers and Bears each were winnable. The margins of victory for each of those four games were 3 points, 6 points, 10 points, and 2 points. The Vikings lost to the Bills by 5 points; to the 49ers by 6 points; and to the Dolphins by four point.
Instead of 6 and 10, they could have easily been 10 and 6 and division winners.
But the defense, of course, wasn’t the problem last year. The offense was.
We improved on offense significantly with the addition of Adrian Peterson. I am officially a converted fan of Bobby Wade, who has proven very adept at making yards after the catch. Robert Ferguson is a great addition if he can stay healthy. Sidney Rice is a nice big target who has shown he’s got good hands, is not afraid to catch the ball in a crowd, is very athletic and has excellent body control. And if we can get Troy Williamson to catch a few long bombs, we’ll at least have the semblance of a deep threat.
The offensive line returns with one year together playing the zone blocking scheme, so they’ve got to improve simply because they are more familiar with one another and with zone blocking.
The big question is Tarvaris Jackson. He looks very poised and by all accounts is a smart kid, a quick study, and a quick decision maker. The main thing for Jackson is to avoid mistakes, which is to say turnovers, while he learns the ropes.
The most glaring weakness of this team is the coverage units, which are absolutely horrible. I’m not too confident that they’ll improve that much.
Looking at the schedule, I think it’s reasonable to think that the Vikings could go 9-7 or even 10-6 this year. I’m giving the Vikings both games against the Detroit Lions, even with Calvin Johnson. That team has to prove to me they can win, cause they’ve never done it before. I’d split the Chicago Bears series as I would the Green Bay Packers series, though I think the Vikings could sweep them as well.
So that’s eight wins.
The Kansas City Chiefs are beatable with Damon Huard at QB. The Dallas Cowboys are beatable. They’ve got a rookie coach and we don’t yet know whether Tony Romo is the real thing. The San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos look as if they will be good, but they’re sorta at that stage where it’s too early to tell. Even the Eagles could be beatable because you never know if Donovan McNabb will be healthy.
Thee only guaranteed loss is to the San Diego Chargers.
Updated 2/24/2019: I updated this post to fix missing videos and added a few more.
With the Minnesota Twins celebrating the 20th anniversary of the team’s first World Series championship, I have, of course, been reminiscing.
In 1987, I was living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I attended Coe College.
I was a Twins fan as a kid and I played baseball daily in both Little League and during summer pickup games. The players I watched included:
- Harmon Killebrew,
- Tony Oliva,
- Bert Blyleven,
- Jim Kaat,
- Bill “Soup” Campbell,
- Dave Goltz,
- Jerry Koosman,
- Dan Ford,
- Larry Hisle,
- Lyman Bostock,
- Butch Wynegar,
- Roy Smalley and
- Ken Landreaux
But my favorite player was, of course, Rod Carew. In 1977 I watched him flirt with a .400 batting average.
To this day, he was the best hitter I’ve ever seen. I go crazy watching the current Twins–or most current Major Leaguers, for that matter–bunt because Carew was such a master at it. He was also a master at stealing home.
Not Winning Enough
While I got to watch many talented baseball players, I never got to see the Twins in post-season play. In ’69 and ’70, they made it to the American League Championship Series, but I was five. The only World Series appearance the team had made was in 1965, when the team was four years old.
The Vikings, however, were perennial winners during my childhood. The young Vikings team had advanced to Super Bowl IV, but that was before I started following sports.
I started watching them when I was nine years old, 1973, the year they drafted outstanding running back Chuck Foreman.
The year before, the Vikes traded several players and two draft picks to reacquire quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Those two additions helped the Vikings win their first nine games of 1973, finish the season 12-2, and advance to Super Bowl VIII, where they lost to the Miami Dolphins.
The Vikings returned to the Super Bowl twice more after the 1974 and 1976 seasons, but lost both of those as well. They would have played in the Super Bowl after the 1975 season, were it not for the cheating Dallas Cowboys.
During the early eighties, the Vikings had some average seasons but in 1987 came within an inch of the Super Bowl when Redskins corner Darrell Green knocked the pass out of Darrin Nelson‘s hands to deny the Vikes a last second touchdown.
So during my childhood, my professional sports memories are filled with losing and not quite winning enough.
From 1980 to 1986, the Twins never finished better than third place; in 1986, they finished sixth in a seven team division. It was tough, therefore, to be a Twins fan during my college year; particularly because my annoying Chicago classmates were merciless in their teasing me over the Twinkies.
Then came 1987.
At that time, while at college, I also managed a restaurant and did some freelance copywriting. During the World Series, I visited with a copywriter for one of the top advertising agencies in Cedar Rapids, trying to make a name for myself and pry my way into the advertising business.
“How ’bout them boys from St. Louie?!?” he said to one of his coworkers, as I followed him to his office. I bit my lip.
It was interesting being in Cedar Rapids at that time because half of the town was rooting for the Cardinals and half was rooting for the Twins.
I tried, but couldn’t take off work from the restaurant for many of the games of the series, so I was reduced to asking customers the score, then dashing home to watch the highlights on CNN and devouring a copy of the Cedar Rapids Gazette in the morning.
I did managed to find someone to work my shift for Game Seven.
My girlfriend, who was also from Minnesota, and I watched the game at our apartment. We watched a nail-biting game featuring a remarkable eight inning pitching performance by Frankie “Sweet Music” Viola and a ninth save by closer Jeff Reardon for the win and the championship.
The elation over my Twins world championship was due as much to the relief that we’d finally won as it was to the joy of winning itself.
You have to understand the context.
No modern Minnesota sports team had ever won a championship. We were always getting a sniff of the ultimate victory, but never the taste.
In baseball, the Twins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965. Four times the Vikings played in a Super Bowl game and four times they lost. In 1961, the Minnesota Gophers football team lost to Washington in the Rose Bowl.
Long before the Timberwolves, the Minneapolis Lakers won three NBA championships before the team moved to Los Angeles, but I wasn’t born yet, so it doesn’t count.
Losing the big one was not merely confined to sports, though.
My state was a two-time loser in presidential politics as well. In 1968, former Minnesota Senator and then-Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey lost the presidential race to Richard Nixon. Again in 1984, former Minnesota Senator and former Vice President Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan.
Add to that the economic uncertainty of the time (Black Monday occurred on the first off-day of the series), and you have not just the winning of a championship but the relief and redemption of an entire state.
I didn’t get to enjoy the subsequent parade but I did watch it from afar. This is someone’s home movie of the parade. There there is no sound.
This is a tribute that was shown yesterday:
In today’s Pioneer Press, the paper ranks the 10 biggest trades in Vikings history from best to worst. Best? The trade that brought Fran Tarkenton back from New York. Fair enough. The worst? The Randy Moss trade.
At the time it was the largest player trade in NFL history, probably still is. On October 12, 1989, Vikings general manager Mike Lynn sent linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, defensive back Issiac Holt, defensive end Alex Stewart, and running back Darrin Nelson, and 6 draft picks (conditional picks in the 1st & 2nd round in 1990 and 1991 and their 1st round and a conditional 3rd round pick in 1992) to the Dallas Cowboys for their star running back, Herschel Walker.
Dallas shrewdly waived and schemed and manuevered and ended up drafting the team that built their Super Bowl dynasty of the 90s on the foundation of the Herschel Walker trade.
The most notable players the Cowboys got in the deal were NFL all-time rushing leader running back Emmitt Smith, defensive tackle Russell Maryland, cornerback Kevin Smith, Pro Bowl safety Darren Woodson, and cornerback Clayton Holmes.
It took nearly a decade for the Vikings to recover.
Maybe there’s a reason Knight Ridder was being sold.