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Meaningless Thoughts About a Meaningless Game

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Meaningless Thoughts About a Meaningless Game
(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

During the 2005 preseason, the Minnesota Vikings were a popular choice to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Heck, Sports Illustrated picked 'em to win the Super Bowl!

Daunte Culpepper was coming off a career year, the defensive side of the ball had finally been addressed, and Mike Tice was the head coach. What could go wrong? Culpepper lit up the preseason, Tice stopped scalping tickets, and expectations rose.

Then that fateful, hideous season happened.

The Vikings finished 9-7 on the back of a six-game winning streak after Culpepper suffered a season-ending injury. He ended his season with just a 2-5 record, and 6 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. Tice was fired for not meeting expectations.

Though he never should've been a head coach to begin with. I mean, just...just think about that for a second. Mike Tice was a head coach in the National Football League. Just...just think about that.

What a country.

Culpepper's career and earnings potential soon evaporated.  Fast.  It improved for a short time on a lakeboat in Minnetonka one night, but that's a story for another time.

That would be my example of how meaningless the preseason can be, and how important Randy Moss is. But that's a story for another time.

The preseason can't tell us how a team will perform in the regular season or how a player will play. Granted, Daunte's injury did him no favors, but neither has his inability to read zones and react to blitzes.

While the preseason is no great indicator for how a season will go, it is where jobs are earned and lost.  Position battles are settled in preseason games. Rookies and diamonds in the rough are found in preseason games. And that is why seemingly meaningless games are needed and useful. 

But they are meaningless games. And make it three instead of four games.

Alright, good talk. On to observations.


The QB Situation

Sage Rosenfels started the game, completing 10-13 passes for 91 yards, and running for five yards. Showed good mobility and good accuracy.  Didn't throw past 15 yards once, though. Not much to get excited about, but not much to criticize. 

Tarvaris Jackson didn't play with the first-string, so cut him some slack.  But also know this: Sammy Baugh's corpse would've played better. Pump-fake throws into the ground; I know what you're saying, "Pump-fake throws? Not possible." It is. It is possible. Short loopers behind receivers, inaccurate knuckleballs nowhere near a receiver, and the pocket presence of a jumping, blind lemming.  Not a good recipe for a quarterback.  7-15, 39 passing yards, and 0 rushing yards on three attempts.

And God help us all if John David Booty ever has to play.

Percy Didn't Play

And that was a real buzzkill. 

Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan

Loadholt got beat more than a handful of times. He was spun around several times and the speed rush to the outside gave him trouble. However, center John Sullivan had a pretty impressive game, holding the point of attack very well.

3rd string RB

An intriguing, overlooked battle in Vikings camp.  Second-year player Albert Young against undrafted rookie free agents Ian Johnson and Antone Smith.  Young seems to be the front runner for the spot; he had the most rushes of any Vikings back with 14, and the most yards with 58. Johnson had 9 rushes and 50 yards, and the longest Vikings run of the night with a 16-yarder. I would say Smith looked the best, though.  On the last play of the game, he bounced off a tackle, spun, and dragged a defender for a 13-yard run.  All three players look like NFL-talent, but they can't all make the roster.

Special Teams

Looking good, looking good.  They were flying around; Eddie Frampton, Heath Farwell, and rookie Jasper Brinkley always seemed to be on the ball.  Glenn Holt forced a fumble on punt coverage.  It should be a vastly superior unit compared to last year's abomination.

Nickelback

Based on the training camp chatter, this is likely rookie Asher Allen's job already.  He enveloped a Colts receiver on one play and tied for the team lead in tackles with Erin Henderson.

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