It's a big week here in Chicago as the 5-3 Bears host the 3-5 Vikings at Soldier Field for their first of two games this season. Both teams desperately need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, admittedly the Vikings more so than the Bears. So, to get an inside look at what's going on up in Minnesota (don't-cha-know), I had a brief chat with Vikings columnist Dan Zinski of The Viking Age:
Adam Oestmann (AO): Dan, first off, thank you for your time. I want to know the fan perspective on Old Man Favre. I think Brett has told us all what happened with Sterger by not denying reports when he's had the opportunity. How are the fans in
Dan Zinski (DZ): Favre never came close to losing the fans during the whole Sterger mess, and now that the Randy Moss mess and the 'Everyone Hates Chilly' mess have overshadowed that, I think pretty much everyone has forgotten Favre was ever in a pickle. I think most Viking fans - rightly or wrongly - believe the Favre circus is more of a media creation than anything, and never blamed him for all the over-coverage and ESPN fixation madness. If fans were ever worried about anything it was his health and some of the bad throws he's made, but after the
AO: Vikings WR, and former Bear, Bernard Berrian, was asked on Wednesday if some of the players do 'hate' Brad Childress. His response: "Hate is a strong word." I was listening in on the interview, waiting for that "vote of confidence" from Berrian but it never came. Sounds like an indictment to me. Has Childress lost the players? Is he definitely gone after this season?
DZ: I think Childress will probably be fired after the season. It's one thing for the players to say they hate you, anonymously, it's quite another for your owner to let you twist in the wind like Zygi Wilf is right now. It's obvious Wilf is mad at Childress, and in the end, that's all that matters. I think Wilf has his people calculating how long they should keep Childress to balance out the buy-out they'd have to pay him with the loss of revenue that would come if the season tanked and people stopped showing up at the Dome. If the team falls to something like 3-7, the accountants will probably tell Wilf now is the time to dump him and eat the rest of his contract. Either way, I think Wilf is tired of his act, and will boot him once the season is over. And then possibly hire Bill Parcells to remake the organization.
AO: It sounds like Sydney Rice is getting really close. Given the Vikings current record and the fact that this Sunday is a division game, I have to imagine that, if he's close, he plays. Any insight? What are the chances he plays Sunday?
DZ: I think they'll try to work Rice in, probably on a limited basis. The thing is, last week's game proved they don't really need a field-stretching type receiver to gain yardage. With no Moss or Rice, or anyone else who is a real deep threat, Favre threw for 446 yards. I realize that was against a dreadful defense but still, if you can put up those kind of numbers throwing nothing but slants, screens, quick hitches, you can live without the standard deep receiver. When you have guys like Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin catching the ball and making tacklers miss, those short passes become long gains pretty fast. Even Berrian got in on the act.
AO: Julius Peppers says he's expecting a playoff-type atmosphere this Sunday. Do the Vikings players share that assessment?
DZ: I don't know if the Viking players are worried much about the atmosphere, I think they're worried about getting off to a good start and not having to fight back at the very end. Hopefully they and the coaches learned a few things from the end of that game. What I don't want is a repeat of last year's second Bears game with that awful first half and then, in the second half, they come roaring back. A full start-to-finish good performance would be nice.
AO: Who you picking this Sunday? Be honest now.
DZ: I'm always honest. Vikings will win 27-24. I think they've found a groove. And I think Childress wants to keep his job, so he'll have no choice but to let Favre run the offense the way he wants. My only fear is Peppers torching McKinnie or Loadholt and knocking Favre silly.