When I look at this team what I see is a bunch of egos. Egos don't win championships ... teams win championships. If you want an answer to last weeks loss you need to look no further than Toby Gerhart 1 carry for 1 yard. That in itself tells the lions share of the story.
Last night the "Dirt Patch" Jim Harbaugh gave the NFL a lesson by putting Frank Gore in the pistol. It's not like this franchise is signaling our intentions on every set. We put Ponder under center ... we're running the ball with Peterson ... fill the gaps. We put Ponder in the shotgun ... followed by an incomplete pass (Punt) ... or better yet and interception, or if we're lucky, the defender has hands of stone and drops it. In other words, Ponder's completion percentage could have been much higher ... darn defenders. Ponder doesn't have a chance against either the Bears or the Packers which feed off errant balls.
Again, there's no way we can run the ball on 3rd & 3 (or less). Hey, I understand it. Ponder sucks. He has his best chance of actually doing something by reading the defense from the shot gun. Problem is that Ponder can't read a defense to save his life. In the shot gun, either we get lucky, we get an incomplete pass or we get Schnelkered. Far be it from me to have Adrian Peterson in the Pistol, with Toby Gerhart as the side set in the protection scheme, bleeding out in the center if they don't blitz. No, nothing at all can be accomplished on a 3rd & 3 from that formation.
Sure, Ponder faced two rookie franchise quarterbacks. Problem is that he didn't get schooled ... as they say, which is something that I could deal with. Instead ... He got exposed. Ponder is quickly approaching that 20 game threshold. Last year he was 0 wins & 10 loses. This year is team is now 4 wins & 2 losses. That first game against the Jaguars should be a loss as it literally took a miracle to revive that one. Versus San Francisco & Detroit, Ponder had his best games as a pro however without that stout defense holding both of these teams to 13 points each, Ponder's ego might have been put at risk to once again lose us the game. The Titan's were just outclassed. We could easily be at a record of 1 & 5. Got that warm & fuzzy feeling about your boy Ponder. I don't buy it for a minute.
So Gerhart gets 1 carry, and Peterson & Harvin are both hobbled with nicks & ankles. Wow! Who didn't see that coming? It's not like the ghost writer issued warning after warning. Could it be egos blinding us from our ultimate objective.
As for Ponder's ego, he's trying desperately to become the face of this organization ... to be it's leader. Talk about an exercise in futility as there's a major difference between controlling the huddle and leading a team. To put this into perspective, think back to Sweetness & McMahon. Which one was the leader of the Chicago Bear's franchise and which one controlled the huddle. So when we get into the Red Zone, due to Ponder's overblown ego, he'd rather forgo the touchdown rather than feed Adrian Peterson the ball. Think back to a wide open Peterson jumping up and down in the end zone. You could say that Ponder just didn't see him but I'm not so sure. For every touchdown he takes from Peterson, he takes AD down a peg toward his quest to lead this team. I don't think I'm alone here.
Massaging egos is when two or more individuals get together to feed each others egos. It involves Ponder, Peterson & the coaches. Rub your hands together and huddle up ... this is how we are going to destroy ourselves. It is Peterson's history to chew up yards between the 20's, where he's motivationally driven toward crushing the rushing title. Is that a realistic goal, knowing AD's now nursing an ankle, along with his NFL nicks, as well as understanding that he suffered a major kneed injury just over 9 months ago (December 24, 2011). Peterson is clearly able to chew up yards BEYOND the gaps (The best 3rd down back in the league), like Frank Gore did last night from the Pistol formation, mixed in with runs. Let me say this directly ... Peterson will catch any ball you put into his vacinity and then the defense will pay.
Every time we get into a running formation on 1st down, they stack the gaps, and Peterson gets hammered because there are multiple egos messaging themselves in feeding him the ball. Are you insane? Think about it. You put Gerhart in a running set on first down and the defense has no idea what you're going to do. That's why yards are easier for Gerhart. Even if you run the ball with Gerhart on 1st down and you end up with 2nd & 9, it's about the same result with Peterson, especially early in the game, however by doing so it's a major victory. Why? Because you're holding your #1 elite force, with fresh legs and body, in reserve. Thus the question that unnerves defenses ... Exactly when are they going to unleash Peterson on us? As our most recent contest can attest ... games are not won in the first half.
As for Harvin, I don't believe that kid has an ego. What I do believe is that incredibly stupid ego's are mis-directing him. Ponder can't throw the ball down the field, as he has trouble with colors, so we'll throw a high percentage pass behind the line of scrimmage to Harvin. Harvin is then made to take the punishment of having to run through the paddles of the entire defense. As kids, we used to call this running through the torture track blind folded. Adding insult to injury, we then put Harvin in a running set. Let me tell you this unequivocally ... Joe Webb will hit Harvin on the field anywhere that you care to put Harvin.
Really, in regard to Harvin, it really comes down to a wish. Instead of taking that NFL pounding from week to week, I'd rather see Harvin in the shoes of Anthony Carter in the 1987 playoff contest versus the 49ers but again that requires a quarterback that can throw the ball downfield to the right color team. If the season were to end today, there would be 31 other franchises bidding for the services of Harvin, which means it's almost 100% certain that he'll be franchised. You have nothing to prove. There is a difference between running through tackles, securing yards after the catch, and taking an NFL punishment. You've already proved your toughness over and over again. Now it time to prove that you're one of the smartest players in the NFL. The question that you should now be asking yourself is after securing your second contract, which will be your most lucrative, how will you secure your greatest overall revenue. The answer lies in how you'd play the game at the end of your career, and that is to get your head & body down to survive to the next play thereby avoiding that NFL punishment. Maybe you didn't realize but they throw flags on late hits when you're on the ground. Live for the next play, or mark my words, if you don't, you'll end up a cripple.
Jamarca Sanford wasn't blessed with phenomenal Ed Reed-like skills but he certainly has heart. In this league, heart can take you a long long way. His ego is telling him to catch the ball. The incentives of an NFL contract tells him to catch the ball. The directives of Fantasy football tells him to catch the ball. His brain needs not to catch the ball but rather punch the ball. How do you know that this is the right thing to do? It's because Jamarca Sanford is a fighter and he certainly can punch the ball for the friendly swarm to feast upon. How much would you pay in ransom for a Jamarca Sanford punched ball interception? Again, team play wins ... egos lose. Hey, if catching the ball doesn't work, then something else might. There is no shame here as the average Joe, like myself, cannot catch an NFL ball no matter what we might think.
The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: October 19, 2012