Thursday, September 07, 2006

NFL Gets its ROLL ON tonight

Tonight the 2006 NFL season kicks off featuring the defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers vs. the Miami Dolphins featuring new starting QB, Daunte Culpepper.

In my recollection I cannot think of any Minnesota sports figure who ignites passion in one direction or the other like Daunte Culpepper. Even months after being traded to the Dolphins you cannot go 2 weeks without hearing a radio referendum on the talent of Daunte. This guy was inconsistent for his first 3 seasons as the Vikings starting QB while showing flashes of incredible talent. In 2004 Daunte turned in of the top 5 statistical season by a QB in NFL History (4th highest passer rating in NFL history), but followed that season with a complete disaster of 2005 before injuring his knee and missing the last 9 games of the season.

My opinion is that Culpepper has taken WAY too much heat from the Vikings fan base. Fans have passionately cried for Todd Bauman and Gus Frerotte to replace him throughout his tenure as the Purple's signal caller and that is ludicrous. Daunte has his issues but when he struggled everything was blamed on him and when he succeeded he was only given partial credit. Here are my thoughts...

1. Daunte Culpepper is not a fast learner - I'll start with this negativity. Over DC's career he has shown that he is slow to learn a new offensive system. His first year under new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan (2003) wasn't spectacular by any stretch. But his 2nd year was outstanding. In 2005 the Vikes were too cheap to pay Linehan a legit salary for an NFL Offensive Coordinator and Culpepper had to learn a new system from the offensive genius that was Steve Loney. This is not giving DC a free pass because an NFL QB should be able to learn an offense, read a defense and be relatively successful or a new QB should be taking the snaps. But the previous Vikings ownership regime had any football saviness they should have made an effort to keep things the same for DC after his tremendous 2004 season. In 2005 DC was the one who failed miserably, but his team should not have set him up for it.

2. For the last 15 years the Vikings defense has been TERRIBLE - There are a number of losses and interceptions that are directly related to the poor play of the Vikings defense. DC takes criticism for not being able to lead a game winning TD drive late in the game. 2004 had back to back road games vs. Indianapolis and Green Bay when DC drove his offense to game tying TDs with less than 2 min remaining. Both situations ended with the defense allowing a game winning FG drive. Not DC's fault but you better believe he took the heat for it.

3. 2005 Vikings Offensive Line was TERRIBLE - Outside of Bryant McKinnie at LT the Vikings offensive line was in disarray. Both G spots were a carousel of personnel, Matt Birk did not play a snap at C and RT Mike Rosenthal was a free agency mistake. Brad Johnson did have more success, but that is also very much tied to the timely improved play of the defense. Culpepper had defenders in his face early and often and had to check down to his TE and RBs. Fans were outraged by this and wanted the ball to be thrown downfield which resulted in turnovers and sacks/fumbles. WonderBrad made a living out of checking down and completing a high percentage of passes. This was much more acceptable because the defense was decent and the team was in position to win more games.

4. Mike Tice was TERRIBLE - The Randy Ratio, lack of any team discipline, lack of any experience on his coaching staff and generally unprepared in every NFL game he coached. Culpepper was often set up for failure because of his coaching staff's lack of preparedness and transparent game plan each and every week.

Culpepper was terrible in 2005, no excuses for that. But not everything was entirely his fault in his 5 years as a Vikings starter. He absolutely is one of the most talented QBs in the league, but he also has his weaknesses. I really feel though that he was set up to fail in a number of situations and any success he had was in spite of a talentless defense and a moron for a coach. He isn't perfect and the bottom line for Vikings fans is that it absolutely was time for he and the new coaching staff to part ways. I also expect him to be success in Miami this year and will be even better in 2007.

So in conclusion...WE DON'T NEED HIM. Culpepper was terrible, a cancer and a bad leader. The Vikes are 10-3 when another QB starts over the last 3 years. Getting a 2nd round draft pick for him was highway robbery from the Dolphins and him just being in another state will automatically equate to 4 more wins for the Vikes!!!

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