It’s interesting how different coaches approach the preseason. Bud Grant couldn’t have cared less about whether his teams won preseason games. His starters would get a series or two in each of the (six!) preseason games and if their backups won, all the better. Denny Green took the preseason much more seriously. He felt winning in the preseason set a swagger and a tempo that would carry over into the regular season – despite preseason wins and losses being erased after they were completed.
Friday’s preseason opener for the Vikings at San Francisco is going to be a first test of what is the most important part of any season – setting the foundation for the regular season. If the first-team offense and defense start Friday’s game on a positive note, they will likely only see one series. You can bet if the first-team offense scores a touchdown on the game’s opening drive – one that isn’t an 80-yard bomb on the first play, but rather an eight- to 10-play drive that eats up six or seven minutes, they won’t come back. They went 1-for-1 and they’re done.
The same may be true for the 49ers, although Jim Harbaugh comes off as the kind of guy willing to throw a sucker-punch to start a fight. For that reason, the first quarter of the Vikings-49ers game may well be must-see TV Friday night.
Why? Because Randy Moss has a chip on his shoulder. No!?! Is that possible? Randy’s salty about something? Who would have thought? Unlike Peyton Manning, a Hall of Famer who was openly courted by a handful of teams, Moss drew no interest following the 2010 season in which he ran himself out of New England, was thrown out by Brad Childress after the Catergate scandal and was essentially in asylum in Tennessee.
The last time Moss was angry and unwanted was in 2007. The Raiders, desperate to cut their losses, traded Moss to New England for magic beans (a.k.a. a fourth-round draft pick). Moss had the most productive individual season for a wide receiver in NFL history. He showed up in San Francisco with a similar chip on his shoulder and, in his first game as a 49er he gets to face the Vikings – a team that quit on him twice.
Depending on how the first quarter plays out, Moss will likely have two drives in which he will be on the field. If what we know (for a fact) about Moss and what we think we know (from having eyes) about Harbaugh, one thing appears to be certain – they will take at least one deep shot to Moss to “stick it” to the Vikings. The Vikings are a vastly different team from the one that cut Moss – from Chilly on down – but that doesn’t matter much to Randy. His wounds don’t heal easily or quickly. He will be motivated to make a statement after a year off. Unfortunately, the Vikings defensive backs will be assigned to stop him.
If he was playing any other team, Moss would be a novelty act. But, he’s playing the Vikings. Even if it is only a preseason game – he may well have a different mindset when the teams meet “for real” Sept. 23 at the Metrodome – expect to see Alex Smith air out at least one (if not more) bombs Moss’ way. It may be the “go up and get it” type of rainbow bomb, but they will be coming.
Randy’s angry and you don’t like Randy when he’s angry – much less the one team that got rid of him twice.
Former Viking Tarvaris Jackson has to wonder if he should feel complimented or angry about the decision made by Seattle coach Pete Carroll for the playing time breakdown for Seattle’s first preseason game Saturday against Tennessee. Carroll announced that free agent Matt Flynn will start and play the first half and hinted that rookie Russell Wilson would play the entire second half – effectively leaving T-Jack on the sidelines looking in. The party line being given is that the Seahawks already know what they have in Jackson. However, if Flynn and/or Wilson tear it up, Jackson will drop in the estimation of coaches without even being given the opportunity to make his own case.
Is there such a thing as an Madden ratings curse? From the bizarro world of the video game elite, the “Madden NFL 13” video game would seem to rate Adrian Peterson’s recovery from a devastating knee injury as being complete. Peterson ranked a score of 97 out of a possible 100 – the same score as Maurice Jones-Drew, who is rated first among running backs. The Madden game prides itself on taking injuries into account and projected the role of players on their respective teams. The rest of the top 10 includes Arian Foster (96), LeSean McCoy (95), Ray Rice (95), Matt Forte (93), Frank Gore (92), Steven Jackson (92), Jamaal Charles (91) and Michael Turner (91).
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.