The window you hear shutting is not just the one to the house now that the weather has suddenly turned colder this mid-October. It’s the Minnesota Vikings’ window of opportunity for the Super Bowl, which opened four years ago when the team acquired not just Brett Favre for the offense but also but another big play maker in Jared Allen for the defense. Allen is still around but unfortunately like Favre, you get to a point in your career when diminishing returns becomes your fate until you retire. Thus the Vikings, filled with many such players and others not capable of having diminishing returns because they offer no returns whatsoever, have seen that Super Bowl window not just shut but slammed shut in two awful performances over the past two weeks. The only amazing thing about the Vikes’ in 2013 is how badly they play in the very next contest. Nobody thought they could do any worse than what they did against Carolina. Then they played the Giants. Maybe they shouldn’t practice.
Given this situation Pioneer Press columnist Tom Powers believes the Vikings should perform an act of mercy and trade away Adrian Peterson to another club and use such a trade to restock. Such trades are tempting (assuming one can find the sucker to give away first, second and third round draft picks for the next two drafts, is Mike Lynn or Dan Devine still out there?) but consider this point: As bad as the Chicago Bears were for much of late Walter Payton’s great career, they did not ponder trading him because he was, at the very least, the one person on the team that fans could root for, be interested in and set an example of good play for the rest of the club, much like Peterson is for the Vikings. The solution is not to get rid of such a player in the hopes you might find someone willing to sacrifice so much to get him. No, the solution is to draft and acquire better players to put around him, which is what the Bears’ did with Payton which why they won the 1985-86 Super Bowl. If the Vikings ever traded Peterson, there won’t be enough corporate dollars floating around the Twin Cities to buy all the unsold tickets to prevent TV blackouts. Not to mention all empty seats in the Metrodome from all the no-shows.The Vikings would never be seen again.
All NFL teams have injury problems to deal with throughout the regular season but for whatever reason the Packers seem to be the most unluckiest team in the league when it comes to said injuries. They usually happen in bunches and they usually happen to their best players. And they happen on both sides of the ball too. Clay Matthews out with a broken thumb and a few weeks later Jermichael Finley gets a bruised spinal column. Green Bay barely had the league minimum of players against the Browns last week. Is it the trainers? The way they condition or strengthen themselves or just plain old rotten luck? Whatever the case, the remarkable thing is Green Bay still manages to move forward despite the absence of some of their best players from week to week. From GM Ted Thompson finding capable replacements to head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff coaching them up, this is quite an achievement. Of course, it should also be pointed out, the Pack has never lost its quarterback, either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers, for an extended period of time either. If they did, well, look out below.
Oh, and it should also be pointed out the quality of opponents in the NFC North is also conducive to staying on top of the division. This season is no different. The Vikings are imploding, the Lions are more interested in cheap shots, fines and insulting band members and the Bears inconsistent and now also hurting without quarterback Jay Cutler.
Last week’s Minnesota-Northwestern game may have provided a preview as to how the University of Minnesota football program will proceed in the future if head coach Jerry Kill decides to step back from coaching on the sidelines and hands of some of the day-to-day duties of the program to other persons on the staff. Clearly the Golden Gopher players are inspired by Kill’s presence and will play hard for him. Simply sending him away or giving him some desk job in the administration would not be satisfying to all parties involved. He wants to be involved, but the trick will be to make such involvement less of a health risk and one which accentuates the positive qualities he brings to the program in terms of recruiting, player morale, strategic planning, fundraising, game planning, a whole host of areas a modern Division I coach is involved with while the assistants do much of the on-the-field work. Because with Kill, you’re not talking about one man but whole regime of long-time assistant coaches and others who are the backbone of the program. Take that out and the whole structure would collapse like a suit of armor in a museum would if you bumped into it. The question is not whether Kill will stay or go but how can Kill stay and be an effective leader of the Gopher program while he deals with his epilepsy.
It’s nice that some people are taking into account the awful ending to the Wisconsin-Arizona State football game in concluding the Badgers could have been a Top 10 team with it. Perhaps. But given the fact it would have taken a field goal to win the game if they could have pulled it off and that said field goal kicker for the Badgers, Kyle French, has been demoted for the rest of this season and has been told in no uncertain terms that next season (French is a redshirt junior) he’ll have the best seats in the house any spectator could hope for by being on the Badger bench, buried in the depth chart, there’s no guarantee he would have made that kick to win the game. Then you’re not talking about a Top 10 team but a team right about where the Badgers are at the moment, on the outside looking in when it comes to the BCS standings. So what happens if kicker Jack Russell isn’t much better when it comes to kicking field goals (and he hasn’t demonstrated it so far)? Call me crazy but I have a hunch we haven’t heard the last from French this season. UW’s kicking game is so inconsistent he may well get another chance just because UW has ran out of options (which would not include an injured Chris Borland). If nothing else it would make for a great story.
If the Minnesota Wild doesn’t go on a breakout winning streak in the next few weeks, don’t be surprised if management concludes that Mike Yeo just isn’t the head coach to take this talented team to the next level. The Wild may very well be in the market for a veteran head coach with playoff experience if they’re not near the top of the tough Western Conference standings between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This being an Olympic season, the Wild can’t afford to wait if they’re going to make a coaching change.