Vikings Win – The View From The Barstool: Go Pack Go (Away)!

Vikings Win – The View From The Barstool: Go Pack Go (Away)!

Welcome back to the Barroom!  Sorry I’m a little late to get back here, but a Vikings win over the Packers on Sunday night has consumed my activities for the past couple days.  First of all, there was a lot of hugging and high fiving…at the start, it was friends and family but the past 36 hours I haven’t been picky and anyone wearing anything purple got a hug.  Second, there was finding every friend and family member who is a Packer fan and reminding them that their team is inferior to mine and that they are generally a worse person because of it.  And finally there was the trolling…So. Much. Trolling.  Packer fansites, Packer Twitter, heck I went and mocked South St. Paul high school solely because their mascot is the Packers.  Quite honestly, it’s been exhausting.  But I’m back now so let’s get ourselves a drink and a spot at the bar and let’s relive the gloriousness that is a Vikings win over the Packers.

Two days.

It’s been a full two days and I haven’t stopped smiling.  Wait…let’s try being serious for a secon…nope. I think about Sunday night and there I go again, smiling from ear to ear.  I can’t help it, this is what I live for when it comes to being a sports fan.  Beating your hated rival is about as good as it gets, you know, in lieu of actually winning a championship.  But when you do it on national TV to open up your new billion dollar palace of a stadium?  That’s more than just a cherry on top of the sundae, that’s more like taking a whole damn can of Redi-Whip and emptying it onto a mountain of ice cream covered in hot fudge.

Coincidentally, we might need to order a Heggies pizza tonight.  I might be a little hungry.

Where were we?  Oh right…BEATING THE PACKERS ON NATIONAL TV. See? There goes that smile again! Look, I get it Packer fans…we probably are taking way too much joy in Sunday’s win.  It’s early in the season, there’s a lot of football left to be played, blah blah blah…But here’s the thing, you really don’t understand how truly annoying you can be.  ‘GO PACK GO!’ is one of the dumbest chants in sports. You pay $200 for a piece of paper that you claim makes you an owner, but all you really did was get swindled like an elderly grandma sending money to a Nigerian prince because he emailed her.  Worst of all, you wear styrofoam cheeseheads that have holes in it like Swiss cheese but you color them orange.  ORANGE CHEESE DOESN’T HAVE HOLES AND SWISS CHEESE, WHICH DOES HAVE HOLES, IS WHITE.

Again, I might be a little fixated on food.  My apologies.

As I was saying…you have also enjoyed an unprecedented run of success since 1994. You have rarely experienced any kind of struggle all while cheering on two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the league while we have had a turnstile-like rotation of signal callers, resulting in only flashes of greatness but long swaths of struggles.  Jealousy?  You bet your ass we’re jealous.  But all that makes Sunday night all that much sweeter.

But enough about Packer fans…let’s get to the actual game!

Your serving of crow, Mr. Krier

Hey, I’ll fully admit it…I was NOT a fan of the trade for Sam Bradford.  Not that I didn’t think he was an upgrade at quarterback, but a first- and fourth-round draft pick?  That was too damn much, in my opinion.  He was too injury-prone. He had never lead a team to the playoffs. He whined his way out of Philadelphia.  I had a laundry list of reasons why I thought the Vikings got swindled by the Eagles.

I couldn’t be happier to be wrong, at least for one night.

What the hell is growing under Sam Bradford's skin???

What the hell is growing under Sam Bradford’s skin???

Bradford was EVERYTHING the Vikings had been missing, even with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.  I thought he had a strong arm, but my God, he was slingin lasers.  I thought he had accuracy issues, but he tossed some absolute dimes in tight spots.  I thought he held onto the ball to long, but…no wait, yeah he probably still holds on to the ball too long.

Honestly though, the last time we had a quarterback who could make some of those throws off his back foot wore the #4 and pissed off Packer fans.  Any question about Bradford’s toughness were answered when it looked like he had a baby python growing under his skin on his hand and still came back to finish the game.

 

Any concern of rushing him in too quickly were relieved early too as he showed instant chemistry with Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and the rest of the receiving corps.  His grasp of the playbook seemed like he had studied it for months, not days. He commanded the huddle like the veteran he is.  He surpassed every expectation I could’ve had.  Consider me a believer.

The National Audience is Ready For Your Closeup, Mr. Diggs

Stefon Diggs just caught another pass against the Packers secondary...

Stefon Diggs just caught another pass against the Packers secondary…

Of course, it helped Bradford that Stefon Diggs decided to make the national stage his playground on Sunday night.  Much like a Vikings wide receiver used a Monday Night Football stage to introduce himself in 1998 also against the Packers, Diggs did his best Randy Moss imitation, catching nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.

While we knew about Diggs’s talent long before everyone else, it was wholly satisfying to see the one time fifth-round receiver get his moment in the spotlight and make every football fan take notice.  If you didn’t know about Stefon Diggs before Sunday night, you’re going to hear A LOT more from him.

Over in the Packers Barroom

For once, Rodgers didn't have an answer for the Vikings defense.

For once, Rodgers didn’t have an answer for the Vikings defense.

Hey, I’m not one to revel in a foe’s problems…no, wait…I’m TOTALLY one to do that…but Green Bay has issues.  I know everyone chalked up last year’s offensive woes to missing Jordy Nelson, but even with Nelson back, this offense is a shadow of its former self. I know that Eddie Lacy’s, um, rotundness has been a bit of a running joke here, but his lack of speed and mobility greatly limits the explosiveness of the offense.  Free agent Jared Cook was supposed to make a difference, but he has mostly been an afterthought the first two games.  Jordy did get his (5 catches for 73 yards with a TD), but Randall Cobb was MIA again.  On defense, the secondary is on life support due to injuries.  And most of all, Aaron Rodgers isn’t the same quarterback he was even two years ago.  The timing and preciseness he once showed is gone, as passes sailed overhead or skipped to his receivers.  He looks frustrated and for once doesn’t have a clever quip to put his fanbase at ease.

I’m not saying these issues can’t be overcome. What I am saying is that for the first time in a while, there are stormy clouds on the horizon in Green Bay.

Adrian Peterson’s Knee and Other Things That Don’t Work

I'll have the nachos, a beer and oh, hey..it's the 2012 MVP!

I’ll have the nachos, a beer and oh, hey..it’s the 2012 MVP!

Hey, I’m not a doctor…I don’t know what exactly a meniscus does or what happens when you tear it.  What I do know is that when in a billion dollar stadium you have to gimp through a space where people are eating mozzarella sticks and drinking beer to get to the locker room, that is a bad design.  I don’t care if it was the quickest route or not…that just looks incredibly stupid on a night where US Bank Stadium shined brightly under the primetime lights.

As for the actual injury, I’ve heard so many varying timeframes in regards to Peterson’s return that I have little to no idea if or when he’ll return.  What I do know is that it’s not the end of the world for the Vikings.  I don’t know how to put this kindly so I’ll just say it…Peterson sucked the first two games.  I can already hear you and yes, you’re absolutely right that his offensive line has done him no favors and his offensive coordinator appears to asleep at the wheel when it comes to a run game. But Peterson has not done his part to right the ship, either.  AP has always been a feast or famine type runner, and this season it’s been nothing but famine for the 2012 MVP.  He’s slow to the line of scrimmage, he dances too much when he gets the ball, and he has provided little else in terms of offensive production.  This might seem cold to say about a player who has carried the franchise on his shoulders for a better part of a decade, but Father Time may have finally caught up to AP.

Think about this

The Vikings defense has held its first two opponents to 16 and 14 points. That’s pretty impressive.  Now consider they have done it A) Without their starting cornerback B) Without their starting defensive tackle and top cornerback in game 2 and C) Without any meaningful contributions from their stars Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith.

Now thing about those three things correcting themselves.  Scary.

Okay, it’s now about that time…

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

  • Sam Bradford – 22/31, 286 yards and 2 TDs?  Yeah, we’re in good hands, even if one of them is swollen.
  • Stefon Diggs – He was FedEx on Sunday.  He delivered right on time, every time.
  • Trae Waynes – Let’s not kid ourselves…if it weren’t for his game-clinching interception, he’d probably be in this section under a different heading. But hey, you pick off Aaron Rodgers to seal the win, you get on the Good list.
  • Andrew Sendejo – If I told you that a safety would lead the Vikings in tackles on Sunday, my guess is you wouldn’t have guessed it would be Harrison Smith’s teammate.
  • US Bank Stadium – You looked gorgeous on primetime, baby.

The Bad

  • Terence Newman – Two bad penalties on the ageless wonder set up the opening score for the Packers.  Had fans (ok, me) yearning for Mackensie Alexander.
  • Adrian Peterson – 19 yards on 12 carries.  No, there wasn’t much to speak of in regards to holes or even a running lane, but Matt Asiata averaged more yards per carry after Peterson’s injury by just putting his head down and moving the pile.
  • The ability to fall on a fumbled football – Four times the Packers fumbled.  Only once did they not retain the ball.  That’s maddening.
  • Norv Turner – Bradford & Diggs bailed you out, Norv.  The game plan is as vanilla and unimaginitive as I can remember.  Even Bill Musgrave thinks you’re being conservative.  Defenses know exactly where you’re going with the ball before the ball is even snapped.  Time to get creative or it might be time to hand the reigns over to Pat Schurmer.

The Ugly

  • The Offensive Line, again – When I think about all the moves made in the offseason: Signing Alex Boone and Andre Smith, moving Brandon Fusco to right guard and bringing in Tony Sparano as the offensive line coach…they were all geared toward one focus: Improving the offensive line.  Somehow this unit hasn’t just not improved…it’s gotten much, much worse. The success or failure of this unit will determine how far the team can go.
  • Packer fans – There were much fewer of you this year.  It was refreshing.  Let’s keep it that way.

In the end, the Vikings get an early leg up on the division race, Aaron Rodgers gets that smug look on his face wiped off by a dominating defensive effort and the Vikings send the Packers and their fans back to Wisconsin with their tails between their legs.  That’s a pretty damn good Sunday.

Elsewhere Around the North

Tennessee Titans 16, Motor City Kitties 15 – Leading 15-3 going into the 4th quarter, the Lions remembered that they are, in fact, the Lions and were outscored 13-0 in the final frame to fall to 1-1.

Philadelphia Eagles 29, Smokin’ Jay Cutlers 14 – Jon Gruden’s unabashed manlove for Carson Wentz aside, Monday Night Football was a disaster for the Bears as they fell to 0-2 in front of a national audience.

A Quick Word on College Football this weekend

North Dakota State Bison 23, #13 Iowa Hawkeyes 21 – HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA  Don’t ever change, Kirk Ferentz.

The Exceptional Eight

  1. Denver Broncos (2-0, previous ranking: 1) – The champs are cruising right along thanks to a defense that seems to just keep getting better each week.
  2. New England Patriots (1-0, previous ranking: 2) – No Brady, no Gronk, no problem.  Patriots keep findinyg a way to win. Quarterback depth will be tested on a short week this week, though.
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0, previous ranking: NR) – Admittedly, I fell asleep on the Steelers. They woke me up on Sunday with an impressive win over the Bengals in a playoff rematch.
  4. Carolina Panthers (1-1, previous ranking: 4) – Got into the win column on Sunday with a 46-27 victory over San Francisco. Tough test for the offense comes on Sunday against the Vikings.
  5. Minnesota Vikings (2-0, previous ranking: 5) – Sam Bradford and Stefon Diggs suddenly make Minnesota’s offense air-friendly, which is a new wrinkle in a run-heavy game plan.
  6. Arizona Cardinals (1-1, previous ranking: 7) – Put a whuppin on the Bucs 40-7 getting them back on track after a tough week 1 loss.
  7. Houston Texans (2-0, previous ranking: NR) – At 2-0, a great start for the Texans as they roll into New England fortuitously on a short week with the Patriots having questions at quaterback.
  8. Green Bay Packers (1-1, previous ranking: 6) – Offensive struggles have continued from 2015 as the Packers dropped an early division test against the Vikings.

Poll of the Week

Last week’s poll:

This week’s poll:

Tweet of the Week

 

Well, that does it for me for another week!  Until next time, remember to keep your drink cold and always use a coaster.

 

ADVERTISING JZ Designs

“Thanks to JZ Designs, Packer fans can add the commemorative ‘0-1 at The Bank, Rodgers is in the Tank’ t-shirt to their drawers.” – Aldo Gandia, NFCN Barroom Editor-In-Chief / Fan of an 0-2 Team

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