"Just their whole defense was pretty exotic," Ponder said, per the Bills' official website. "They had some exotic personnel and different schemes, it was a little different and sometimes it was a little hard for us to identify. … They're a very exotic defense, a very good defense. They had a lot of different looks."
That's what your third year, second season starting, 27-games in quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings said about a BUFFALO BILLS team. In the preseason. The second game of the preseason. A game in which the starting offense looked like it could have been better if run by Donovan McNabb. A game in which the starting offense essentially led the team to a 3-13 deficit by half time. A game in which your starting quarterback, that all your hopes and dreams are being pinned on, went 5-12 (41%!), for 53 yards, 2 sacks, and a 55.2 quarterback rating. ON THE PLUS SIDE, he did not throw any interceptions this game. Hurray!
And sure, sure. Some people are all like, "Dude, it's the preseason! It doesn't matter! The Bills totally were throwing crazy blitz packages at the offense, and they weren't expecting that. They thought this was going to be a scrimmage, a preseason game, that both teams were going to play vanilla. They DIDN'T WANT to adjust to the blitzes then either, and give up any of their coverages for the regular season! It looked ugly, but it was all part of the plan! Obviously!" Re-read that, and listen to how stupid you sound.
Here's the deal with this second preseason games. You – as a smart, self respecting Vikings fan that has put up with TONS of shit in your life with hopes of just watching a semi-competent football team one day – should be down right belligerent. You should be red in the face and blue in the balls, and you should be sending strongly worded letters to Winter Park to express your disgust. You should, you absolutely should. And it's not all just about the quarterback.
It's On Your Asses Too, Coaches
Listen, Ponder sucked on Friday night. He was awful. But so was the offensive line. Matt Kalil got demolished on the first play of the game and gave up a sack. The rest of the offensive line didn't fare much better. The coaching staff was horrendous too. You guys can't see, within the first three plays, that you're getting your face blitzed off? You can't call some hot routes or short passes or reasonable running plays to take the pressure off of some of your players?
You know what, the preseason is custom made for testing situational awareness in players. You want to see how they react to the unknown. Our players didn't do so well on Friday night, but neither did our coaches. A smart coaching staff would understand that the preseason is in place to test THEIR ability to react on the fly, read what the other team is doing, and adjust accordingly. All week we heard about how the coaching staff still wanted to see what their passing game was like in live action play. Cool, I would like to see that too. but I'd also like to see Christian Ponder and other plays NOT get their small intestines shoved through their belly buttons, and make it out alive in a game that doesn't matter. IT DOESN'T MATTER. Meaning, what the coaches wanted to see from players doesn't matter, either. Once the Bills blew up your game plan, it was up to YOU to create a new one, a new one that would test players in a new way that would still tell you whether you wanted them on your team or not. And keep them all safe. The coaches failed this one big time too. Don't let them off the hook.
Mushroom Stamp of Disapproval: Christian Ponder
But if you're still lying to yourself about Christian Ponder, just stop. Knock it off already, you look stupid. There cannot be a single thing you've seen in the last 27 games he's played in that makes you think he's the future starting quarterback of this team, the one that's going to get that Super Bowl ring. And you know what? That's fine! He doesn't need to be. He doesn't need that pressure, he doesn't need to be that talented. The team doesn't need him to be that talented. He just has to be competent, and that's the entire fucking problem. He's not even competent. He can't even go through his reads. He can't throw a deep ball. Hell, he can't throw a short ball. How many times did he completely miss Greg Jennings Friday night, when Jennings was like TEN FEET AWAY. It's embarrassing. I told you EJ Manuel would out play this guy.
And really, that's too bad, because I like Ponder. He's funny, he's nice, he looks super dreamy with his shirt off, his wife is a super nice lady, he really seems to have taken to Minnesota. That's cool. I appreciate that and thank him for that. But ….. Ah, I'd also like to win football games. When the guy can't call a proper audible ("But the coaches wouldn't let him!" Come on man … The choices were "Call an audible" or "Get Hadouken'd") or hit a hot route and check a blitz … In his third year … We got problems. Does that mean I think he's going to fall totally flat on his face? That he should be cut right now? That I'm wishing ill upon him, or that his house floods? No, don't be stupid. I don't care enough about the Vikings failures to wish that crap on anyone. But I am pass the threshold where Ponder continues to offer "potential" and am instead at the acceptance stage. This is what we have with him, maybe with some minor improvements along the way. Are you OK with that? Because I'm not. But it'll have to do for the time being.
But How About That Defense!
The only saving grace is that the defense looks like it could have some real potential to them this year, which will be sweet, until someone smart hires Alan Williams away to become the next Steelers 2.0 head coach like Mike Tomlin. There are still legitimate concerns about the defense up the middle, and the consistent play of the pass defense, but in Xavier (Weapon X!) Rhodes' first playing time of the season, he looked pretty nice. Big, physical, and smart, he could be a nice staple of our defensive back field for several years. He'll get burned his rookie year occasionally, that won't be a surprise, but I bet it'll happen infrequently, which in and of itself should be pretty exciting.
And let's not forget about the potential we have for an exciting safety tandem as well. Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford (him?!) could be a nice presence back there, too. Obviously Sanford's interception Friday night drew the eye, but what was more telling to me is that as soon as that ball went up in the air, you saw three or for Vikings heads turn towards it, looking to snatch it up. I doubt we saw that much focus on securing a turnover the last few seasons, so if we believe in "mind set" stuff, there's some evidence of a turn around. Hey, interceptions are a blast, let's keep it up!
Nipples and Notes:
Other stuff from Friday night:
– That was an awful game to watch. Let's just put that out there.
– Another frightening piece that should have Vikings fans very wary about the starting offense? They looked and played exactly like they did mid-season last year when they went through a slump. You can make your excuses about not having Adrian Peterson in the mix, but you can leave them at the door. This team should be competent enough to not look like a bag of acorns when ONE PLAYER is out of the line up, even if that player is Jesus incarnate. Poor excuse.
– Gerhart looked awful again. he had one nice run, but that does nothing to make up for all the other sighs he's drawn throughout his career.
– Jeff Locke might have a robot leg, which is both terrifying and amazing. Science has come so far!
– Bobby Felder may be creeping in on Marcus Sherels' territory. Call me sentimental, but I hope Sherels sticks around, even though he's really just human fodder when playing defense.
– I like Larry Dean and Marvin Mitchell. Hope they both make the squad somehow. Greenway impressed me with some big time impact plays, blowing people up in the backfield. That's never been his MO, but he showed flashes Friday of what I'd like my franchise linebacker to have as far as impact goes. Brandan Bishop should be concerned.
– The new white uniforms look pretty damn good, maybe even better than the home purples. How the white tops will look when paired with the purple bottoms? That remains to be seen, but my early guess would be, "NOT GREAT."
Who To Hate Next Week:
The Vikings head to San Francisco to play the 49ers on a Sunday night preseason "battle." Rumors persist that Adrian Peterson will be getting his only snaps of the preseason against the 49ers this week, which is of course the dumbest idea I've ever heard of. Let's put him up against Patrick Willis, proverbial Peterson Kryptonite! I'd rather Ponder play the sacrificial lamb instead and let Peterson sit. On the plus side, Vikings fans can keep an eye out for MarQueis Gray. Did you know he's playing tight end for the 49ers? Me neither. Nor do I care. I expect another loss.
Mom, I may be young,
But you shouldn't ACTUALLY
Murder their QB.
Whatever. Maybe Ponder will show up on Sunday night, yeah! He'll totally be better! Our coaching staff is definitely going to be smart and turn it around! Adrian Peterson won't play, and stay healthy! I won't have to saw my foot off at the ankle to escape watching this game! I can't wait.