Season officially over, Chilly takes the rap for the 12th man, and my 10 points to put the Vikings on the road to recovery.

The weather has gotten awful cold in London these past few days. The mittens are on, the scarf is out, and the sleeping bag is opened up as an extra duvet on the bed. But I’m pretty sure it’s a lot colder in Minneapolis.

With a few days to digest everything that had happened, not only on Sunday but throughout the season, Brad Childress took to the media podium for the last time this season, to dissect Sunday’s loss and look ahead to 2010.

Unsurprisingly the main talking point was, what the Star Tribune has dubbed “The 12th-Man Game”. Chilly was very open about what had taken place, and took responsibility for what had happened, a very noble thing to do considering that this could haunt the team for many years to come.

It appears that going into the time-out there were 2 conversations that took place about the upcoming play:

“The initial conversation was about a personnel grouping with a tailback and a fullback and we ended up settling on a tight end, three-wide type of operation and we had the fullback in the huddle.”

Fahu Tahi was that fullback; and with a short timeout, Brett Favre communicating with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, and the other coaches “over communicating with their position group”, Tahi (who was apparently squatting on the other side of the huddle) was never spotted.

“That’s my mistake…  It hurts a great deal and it hurts everyone a great deal. So, I’m disappointed that it happened.”

This could well be the defining moment of Childress’ career. We had a chance of making it to the big game, and instead it put the team under enormous pressure which resulted in the interception, and as a result, we couldn’t even give Longwell a shot of making a field goal to seal it. But it wasn’t the sole reason we lost, and this is why I think Childress taking responsibility can help the team recover.

The loss wasn’t because of one giant mistake, it was a collection of many, and if the whole team can accept that, then we have a chance of moving on, keeping the locker room spirit that was so powerful this season, and challenging again next year.

But there is a lot that needs to change if we are to, so I’ve come up with a 10 point plan which can help the Purple come back next year:

1) Adrian Peterson needs to fix his fumbling problem. He can do this by living up to his nickname “All Day”. As in he needs to carry a football with him all day throughout the off season, and every time he drops it, he loses that weeks wages. But let’s not make it too easy for him. Let’s set the Vikings’ running backs coach Eric Bieniemy on him, and for every time he can make him fumble the ball, he gets the lost wages as a bonus.

2) Get Favre signed up as soon as possible. If we can’t sign him, we get someone else. I’m not totally sold on McNabb, but as my previous blogs have said, I don’t trust Tavaris or Sage to make the coffee, let alone a touchdown pass when it’s really needed.

3) Put the O-Line up against our D-Line, only their mammas are at QB and they have to protect them from Jared Allen and Ray Edwards. They did not protect Favre enough on Sunday. True he was never sacked, but he got hit hard enough to make him consider whether he’d actually make it through another season alive.

4) Improve the secondary. Nuff sed.

5) Keep the team together. There has been so much talk about not only how good this team was, but how much spirit there was in the locker room. We lose anyone and it could destroy this, and then we’re really up the creek.

6) Sort out the new stadium. I love the Metrodome, it may be old and crumbling, but it is a terrifying place to come to if you’re the visitors, as out 9-0 record testifies to. But time is running out on a new pad, and it is another pressure factor on the team if they’re wondering where they’re gonna be playing in a few years. And I for one would like to have an outdoor stadium. I never went there, but I hear the old Metropolitan Stadium was the coldest most inhospitable place on earth. Bud Grant refusing our team heaters on the sidelines because the fans didn’t have them really created an extra bond between the team and fans, and I think an outdoor stadium could be just as effective as a noisy dome when it comes to crushing the spirit of the opposition. But right now I’d take anything as a new home, because the thought of the Vikings moving away from the Twin Cities is too much to bear.

7) Pick wisely in the draft. This goes without saying really, and we’ve had a couple of good drafts recently, but with 30th overall, our chances of picking up another Percy Harvin is slim. We should know more about what we need once Favre Watch ends, but one suggestion I heard was to draft QB Tim Tebow from Florida. His stock has dropped a lot recently so he could still be available, and with no real future at that position, with or without Favre, he could be a good addition. But then again, our secondary needs beefing up, and with rumors that the Patriots are interested in Chester Taylor, a new RB might be on the menu too…

8) Find some way of improving our road record. Go train overseas for a few weeks (come to London!), go somewhere that is unfamiliar and outdoors, we could have sealed home field if we hadn’t lost to teams we should have beaten on the road last year (Chicago, and Carolina in particular).

9) Further to improving All Day’s ball retaining skills, we need to make sure he gets his 2000-yard-a-season mojo back, and isn’t too disheartened by this year’s problems. The O-Line wasn’t as sharp without Matt Birk at centre, and if they can make a few more holes in opposition D’s then our offence could be even more deadly next year

10) Keep the faith. This season wasn’t a disaster. It was magic! Pure magic, and whilst the magic ran out, it was one hell of a ride, and it will be remembered more for that than the 12th-Man Game.

And finally this week it’s time for FAVRE WATCH

Day 3: Brad Childress wouldn’t be surprised “one way or the other” if Favre decided to retire or re-sign, would you like a cushion for that fence you’re sitting on?

Tiger Woods’ “wife”, Elin Nordegran is taking refuge at the Favre ranch to avoid the media spotlight, though personally I think the White House would have been more low key at this particular point  in time.

And, Tony Romo is going to replace Favre at the Pro Bowl. So that now means my chances of watching the Pro Bowl is about the same as me surviving 5 seconds of a Shakira record.

Until tomorrow…

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26/01/10 – The cold, hard light of day

Last night, with a kind of morbid curiosity, I sat down with my fiancée to watch the highlights from last night. Enough has already been written about the game, the mistakes, the fumbles, the interception, and the poor calls from the refs. All I’m going to say is that it still stings, and is going to for quite a while.

What I’m being forced to do is to try and take solace in just about anything, for example:

1) I’d much rather we lost this, than lost another Super Bowl. Really! If you look at Super Bowl losers over the past 9 years, with the exception of the Cardinals, and possibly the Eagles, all the other teams have faded into obscurity or are in the process of decline. The Patriots, Bears, Seahawks, Panthers, Raiders, Rams and Titans all lost Super Bowls, and out of this list, only the Titans are starting to recover. Now of course I am making the assumption that we’d have lost to the Colts, but judging by our apparent curse, this is a pretty fair assumption to make.

2) The team could be galvanised further by this loss. Like I said, it’s not a Super Bowl loss, and given the manner in which we played and the bad luck we had in the game, there are still a lot of positives.

3) At least I don’t support the Cowboys. I mean I’d have to bathe in bleach every day just to try and wash all that icky fail off my skin.

More mourning in the coming weeks I’m sure, but for now it’s time to move on, sort of…

The Minnesota Star Tribune is taking a look at all the talking points from the game, and for me the biggest factor in our loss, the 12th man on the field. In quite possibly the understatment of the century, Chilly said on Sunday night that “We just had a fullback in there and we changed up and broke the huddle with 12… You can’t call back-to-back timeouts, either. I thought we slipped up there.” Slipped up. Really? I think it was more like dipping your nuts in honey, walking out into the woods, and then acting all surprised that a hoard of fire ants have rendered you infertile. It was not a slip up, it was the mother, brother, any other sucker of all “slip ups”! It was walking straight into the lions den armed with an etch-a-sketch and a pen lid.

Now it seems that Tahi might have been the full-back who wasn’t meant to be there in the huddle, and he was understandably cagey when questioned yesterday during the final locker room media day, fending off questions with a “Coach Childress will talk about it because I really don’t know what happened or what was going on. They’ll know more about it than I do.” I can’t imagine what he’s going through if he was the one at fault, but what is more likely in my opinion is that it was one of the coaches who sent him out there. More answers could come today though during Chilly’s final presser of the season, so more on that tomorrow.

There is still no news on the extent of Cedric Griffin’s injury, though all signs are still that it’s a torn ACL. Also added to the injury list is Antoine Winfield, who re-injured his foot in OT. Hopefully these will all be cleared up by the start of the new season, but I’m particularly concerned about Winfield, who was a shadow of his former self when he came back from injury this season. With any luck the off-season break will do him the world of good.

So with the Pro Bowl coming up this weekend, and very few of our players who were selected actually going, the only things left to do are to wallow in the defeat some more, fantasize about next season, wonder whether we’ll draft a new star QB or the next Troy Williamson, and stay tuned in to…

FAVRE WATCH!

In today’s edition, the Wilf’s could offer the old man a mega contract to stay on next season, Darren Sharper reckons he should come back, and ESPN’s Ed Werder claims Favre told him it’s very unlikely he’ll be back. *

*All items in Favre Watch should be taken with water, after meals, and in the knowledge that 99 times out of 100 they are concocted by the Jagermeister Troll (a bit like the Absinthe Fairy, only 300lbs and sporting an overgrown handlebar moustache)