One of Keith Olbermann’s most popular bits on his very good show is his naming of the “World’s Worst” in sports. This is typically a person or entity that has messed up in what he deems a particularly egregious way.
On Wednesday, as noted by the Star Tribune’s Casey Common, Olbermann got after the Twins for not battling their tails off in the marketing department.
Picking up on a tweet from Internet friend and recent cat enthusiast Aaron Gleeman, Olbermann ripped the Twins’ marketers for their survey question, “Currently, which one brand is most similar to the Twins’ brand?” There were 11 options, all of which were brands of vehicles.
Gleeman had already identified the survey as tone deaf considering the team is in the midst of another losing season, and Olbermann took it a step further.
“Wait, the Twins? All those cars run,” adding later that the Yugo is the correct answer to the survey question. “Boxy, underpowered, tough to watch, unsuccessful on the road and not bought by anybody in this country since 1992.”
Ouch. Here’s the full clip, and the Twins’ part starts around the 2:30 mark.
A few minutes ago, we received another sign that the NFL season is, indeed, just a few days away.
The Vikings released their first injury report of the season, and three guys did not practice today.
Linebackers Brandon Watts (knee) and Michael Mauti (foot) did not practice, nor did fullback Zach Line (ankle). Newly-acquired offensive tackle Michael Harris (shoulder) was a limited participant. Cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder) and wide receiver Rodney Smith (neck) were full participants.
It is also an encouraging sign that nose tackle Linval Joseph (calf) right tackle Phil Loadholt (ankle) and outside linebacker and top pick Anthony Barr (ankle) weren’t even listed on the injury report.
As for the Rams, cornerback Trumaine Johnson (knee) and center Barrett Jones (back) did not participate. Four players, including starting left tackle Jake Long (knee) were limited in practice.
Matt Cassel knows that Teddy Bridgewater is waiting in the wings. He knows that the Vikings didn’t draft the kid in the first round to hold a clipboard forever. But as Cassel prepares to start the season opener against the St. Louis Rams, Cassel says he can’t play well while looking over his shoulder.
“You can’t play the way,” the 10-year veteran said today. “You can’t worry that if I make a mistake, what’s going to happen next? You’ve got to go out and play the game to the best of your ability. I think Teddy does have a tremendous future, but hopefully, as long as I’m here, he’s not playing.”
Cassel didn’t falter with Bridgewater nipping at his heels early in training camp. He played well in the first two preseason games to pull away from Bridgewater, who struggled a bit in the preseason opener. Cassel completed 66.7 percent of his preseason passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 9.4 yards per attempt — nearly four yards better than what Bridgewater averaged.
Head coach Mike Zimmer knows he must walk a tightrope at quarterback. He wishes he could hold Cassel and Bridgewater to the same standard as he plans to hold the other positions, and go with whoever is playing best at that point in time. But he acknowledged that the ripple effect is more significant when changing quarterbacks than when changing out starters at other positions.
“That’s something you have to consider,” Zimmer said. “With every position, even with the middle linebacker or the safety, you don’t want to make, as you say, a knee-jerk decision just because they don’t play well one day or do the things you think they’re capable of. I think you still have to go on what you see every day in practice and what you see in the preseason.”
That’s why Zimmer said he doesn’t foresee the Vikings making a change early in the season.
“I know the fans are excited about Teddy. I’m excited about Teddy,” Zimmer said. “But we have to do what’s best for the football team at this point in time and what’s best for the future. … As you know, coaches’ futures aren’t necessarily very long. I’m always trying to try to think between the now and the future and what’s best for this organization as we go down the road.”
After weeks of being asked who his starting middle linebacker and strong safety will be, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer beat reporters to the punch at the start of his press conference this morning.
“I know you all want to know who the starting Mike linebacker is,” Zimmer said. “It’s Jasper Brinkley, so I don’t get that question asked anymore. At strong safety, [it's] Robert Blanton. OK? We good?”
Whew. Yes, indeed.
But this might not be the last time this subject comes up. Blanton received far less than a glowing endorsement and Brinkley was pushed hard by Audie Cole, a promising prospect with a different skill set than Brinkley’s.
“It’s a one-week deal; one week at a time,” Zimmer said when asked specifically about the middle linebacker job. “If they play good, they keep playing. So I think the defensive team feels comfortable with Jasper making the calls. He’s been lining up with the first group since the first day. In a game like this, it’s nice to be settling in. Everything nice and smooth and hearing the same voices and stuff like that.
Asked why he picked Blanton, Zimmer answered in a way that won’t hurt his image as a straight shooter.
“He probably made less mistakes than anybody,” Zimmer said. “He’s got some cover skills. And all those safeties, we probably didn’t see them enough because of injuries or whatever. But Robert is a good kid, a smart kid. We’ll see how he does. Hopefully, he’ll do well.”
Brinkley, Zimmer said, got the starting job this week in part because of his run-stopping ability. The Rams lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford to a torn ACL and probably will be leaning more on its running game when they face the Vikings at home on Sunday.
“Jasper is a little bit more of a thumper in the running game and I think this week,” Zimmer said. “[St. Louis] has got a good running game. So I think their offensive line does a nice job in run blocking. So I think it will be a good match for him.”
Zimmer also said he expects to use Cole in some defensive packages along the way this season.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “And just because these guys aren’t starting doesn’t mean they won’t be playing in some packages that we have in the game. We just have to put 11 out there to start with.
“Audie has made a lot of plays and does a lot of jobs. Sometimes, special teams come into play on these decisions, too.”