It’s been a tough week for the Minnesota sports fan, or at least the ones who believe in accountability and the possibility that someone should have to produce some results in order to hang onto their jobs.
On Monday, Ron Gardenhire paid the price for three 90-plus loss seasons by being rewarded … well, when you have to manage this mismanaged roster of fringe AAA talent I’m not sure it’s a reward, but nonetheless, was rewarded with a two-year contract extension.
I’m not sure the 270-plus loss trio of seasons is all on Gardenhire. He can only manage the guys management gets him. Terry Ryan and the Pohlad family have to shoulder much of the blame, which Ryan acknowledged in extending Gardenhire’s position. But there also hasn’t been a lot of on-field improvement over the last couple years and many – myself included – think it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to simply see a new voice heading up the organization.
Then on Tuesday Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier announced against all odds that Christian Ponder remains the Vikings quarterback as long as he is healthy. This mind-blowing revelation follows postgame press comments where team leaders like Adrian Peterson eluded none-to-subtly who that they would like to see Matt Cassel retain the job. Continue reading
The New Orleans Saints are for real. They’re better than Atlanta. They’re clearly better than Miami. It was easy to see through the first month of the season that they were going to be better than in 2012. But the ease with which the Saints dismantled the Dolphins last night made it crystal clear: The Saints are for real.
Drew Brees took the offense up and down the field at will. And the defense teed off on Ryan Tannehill, sacking him four times and not giving him any chance to get comfortable at all.
I think this game is more indicative of the strength of the Saints than an indictment of Miami. The Dolphins have plenty of issues to solve – particularly its need to better protect Tannehill. But Miami also is an improved team on the upswing. This was a good, dominant win for New Orleans on a national stage.
I’d been waiting for the game for several months but in the end it was kind of anti-climatic. Seattle put the wood to San Francisco Sunday night in a game I expected the Seahawks to win, but not quite that handily.
It’s the second consecutive time that Seattle has easily handled the 49ers at home. Despite the lopsided loss, I still think the 49ers and Seahawks are virtual equals in the NFC and also believe that the winner of the NFC West ultimately becomes the team to beat in the conference.
The folks at NinersNation.com aren’t panicking. They also recognize that Seattle is a pretty good team that put itself in the driver’s seat. The pressure is on the 49ers, they acknowledge, to get back on track this week and to win the later-season matchup in San Francisco.
But Seahawks writers, fans and observers also are rightfully excited about the showing on Sunday night. Everyone knew how good San Francisco was. I don’t know that people were giving Seattle the credit they deserved. But as this Bleacher Report story notes, the Seahawks put the NFC on notice.
Cowboys blow an opportunity
Dallas was bailed out by its division mates as the NFC East went 0-4 in week two. But the Cowboys had an opportunity to not only gain a game on its division foes, but also to show everyone that this season was going to be different from the last two when the team finished 8-8 and outside of the playoffs.
One of the things I wrote I would be watching last weekend was the level to which playing with Carson Palmer can get the career of Larry Fitzgerald back on track. No, no, I’m not saying Fitz has been terrible, by any stretch. But through largely no fault of his own, he hasn’t had anyone throwing him the ball who could help him achieve what he had been early in his career. If game one is any indication, expect the Cardinals’ number one wideout’s numbers to fall back in line with what they looked like during the first six years of his career.
Fitz caught eight passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns, including a perfectly placed over-the-shoulder job heading into halftime. Fitzgerald gave way in the second half a bit, as Palmer spread the ball around to Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, but it was an encouraging sight for those who took a flyer on #11 during fantasy football drafts.
My curiosity with Fitzgerald was piqued when I compared the stats he put up during his first half-dozen years to those put up by Calvin Johnson during that same period of his career – which culminated with Megatron’s record-setting season in 2012.
Last year when Johnson was chasing down Jerry Rice’s single-season yardage record, we took a look at how the young Lions receiver was trending compared with Rice’s career marks, since the Hall of Famer holds almost all of them. Continue reading
Wow. Went to bed after the Chargers took a 28-7 lead over the Texans. Thought the game was over and I was tired from a long day of work. Woke up this morning to find that Houston came back to win in the last second.
Gotta love the NFL.
It’s a familiar refrain for Chargers fans too. Last season was destroyed for San Diego by last minute comeback losses – with one of the 2012 defeats coming at the hands of then-Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy – who last night experienced the other side of the result in his first game as Chargers head coach.
The continuation of the last minute woes wasn’t lost on Bolt Beat editor Ernie Padaon, who posted on the topic last night in the height of exhaustion. McCoy was one of five coaches whose debuts ended in defeat during week one.
Still – even with the disappointing conclusion, the Chargers looked like they have at least the potential to be more than I thought they would this season. There is talent there. They just have to figure out how to avoid the last minute meltdowns. Easier said than done, I guess, even with a new coach.
Rough day for newby coaches
It’s only natural for teams with new coaches to come into a season with renewed optimism. Fully one-quarter of the league’s head men this last week were new to their teams with seven getting their first shots at the top job. Continue reading