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 A Daunte-ing task 
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Post A Daunte-ing task
A Daunte-ing task
By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
August 3, 2005


More Robinson: Vikings season preview

MANKATO, Minn. ? Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Nate Burleson knows the insult before it can even pass through an interviewer's lips.

Take Marvin Harrison away and Peyton Manning would still be treated like one of the NFL's Roman gods. Brett Favre has had No. 1 receivers move on and yet still retained the title of supreme warrior. And Tom Brady, well, does he even need a go-to guy?

But subtract Randy Moss from Daunte Culpepper's career, and, well ?

"You hear 'the critics' wonder whether he's going to just fall apart or would have done the things he's done," Burleson said. "The thing is, Peyton had a great year [in 2004], and that kind of took some attention away from Daunte. He had a tremendous season, and that was both with and without Randy."

It can be a touchy subject, the idea that the Randy Ratio shepherded Culpepper's path to elite status at the quarterback position. There was a time when even the Vikings organization fretted over Daunte vs. Randy ? a chicken-and-egg quandary that had differing theories of which player was most responsible for the other's success.

Now that Moss is gone, the question has rippled outward. Some point at Culpepper's offensive struggles last season when Moss was sidelined or ineffective over a five-game stretch with hamstring problems as proof of a whispered revelation: That Culpepper couldn't be great without Moss.

"That idea comes from people who are too dumb to think outside of the box," Burleson said. "Look at it for what it is ? some people say things like pound-for-pound' ? and I don't think there's any quarterback in the league that can do the things Daunte does. Everyone knows he can throw the ball, but he can run and make people miss and is great at the line of scrimmage.

"I don't understand the idea that Daunte can't be great without great players. You watch, when he's done, people are going to remember him for his own talents. He's going to go down in history."

In truth, Culpepper already has. His 2004 stats gave him one of the top six seasons by a quarterback in league history ? 4,717 passing yards, a 69-percent completion rate and 39 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. His passing/rushing yardage total of 5,123 yards was the best in NFL history.

And consider what Culpepper has done through five years: Three Pro Bowl berths, the second-best completion percentage in league history and the third-best passer rating. Yet, while Peyton Manning is regularly mentioned in media essays about "greatest quarterbacks ever," Culpepper can barely sneak into the margins without some kind of scrutiny. And that was before he lost Moss.

"I feel like I've been watched every step anyway, because for some reason, we get a lot of visibility here in Minnesota," Culpepper said of the microscope treatment he'll receive this season. "I accept it, I love it and I thrive on it. I was born for this."

Whether he can handle a post-Moss hangover is another question. Surely, if Culpepper's play falls off just a little, people will assume it's because of what Moss "gave" him. Even now, the most generous remarks typically only go half way and the prevailing feeling, for now, is that Culpepper needed Moss, not the other way around.

"[Moss'] face was on a Wanted' poster in the defensive meetings when you played Minnesota," joked one defensive assistant from the NFC. "Not literally, of course, but I know everybody went to lengths to make sure guys knew where Moss was, and what that meant on every play. Even when you had a lot of confidence in your [No. 1] cornerback, Moss was the first thing everyone had to be thinking about."

And now?

"There isn't anyone [in Minnesota] that makes double-coverage necessary," he said. "The thing is [Culpepper] has got to live without an element of predictability. The pacifier is gone. There is no taking for granted [that] a defense is going to be rolling to his big guy. If things break down, he can't just fling it and have Randy Moss go get it.

"Knowing where Randy was gave Culpepper a damn good idea what parts of the field were vulnerable. How many guys offer that kind of luxury? I'd say nobody else. Not even [Terrell] Owens. Losing a guy like that, I would expect it is going to affect Culpepper's game quite a bit."

While there are few who will suggest Culpepper can't be a good player without Moss, there remains uncertainty over whether he can maintain last season's type of production. Critics were quick to point out Culpepper's last supposed offensive slump when Moss suffered his hamstring issues. But even those criticisms seem slightly off-base. Consider:

Of the three games Minnesota lost with Moss out or playing as an injured decoy, the defense had surrendered 54 points by halftime, forcing the Vikings to abandon the run and Culpepper to play in constant passing situations.
In the three losses, Culpepper completed 64 percent of his passes and threw for 763 yards, along with six touchdowns and only two interceptions. Meanwhile, Minnesota's committee of running backs contributed averages of 15 carries per game for 71 yards and scored four total touchdowns.
Two of the three teams that beat the Vikings were Indianapolis and Green Bay ? two playoff teams that had to go toe-to-toe with Minnesota's offense and had to kick game-winning field goals in the final seconds.
In the two wins without a healthy Moss, Culpepper was still remarkably good, completing 74 percent of his passes for 416 yards, along with three touchdowns and one interception.
"It was unfortunate that Randy went down last season, but when he did go down, guys stepped up," said Burleson, who had 1,006 yards last year and will take over the No. 1 receiver slot. "If you watch those games, watch the film and don't just look at some numbers, you would see that Daunte became even more of an incredible player than he was before. He carried us."

Now the rest of the NFL is waiting to see if Culpepper has the strength to continue hoisting not only his own numbers but the entire Minnesota offense. For now, Burleson, Marcus Robinson and rookie Troy Williamson are cutting into the spotlight, and new offensive coordinator Steve Loney has been harping on the receiving corps to run crisp routes and provide absolute reliability. But ultimately, the onus is going to fall on Culpepper to show that he can maintain his stature on his own.

While he may not show it, Culpepper knows the pressure has hit a peak. Maybe the most revealing moment of this offseason came when Culpepper got in touch with Burleson after the Moss deal was complete.

Culpepper's first three words: "Are you ready?"

Five months later, NFL observers are wondering if Culpepper himself is prepared.

Charles Robinson is the national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.


August 4th, 2005, 2:25 pm
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Post Re: A Daunte-ing task
Ferris wrote:
Of the three games Minnesota lost with Moss out or playing as an injured decoy, the defense had surrendered 54 points by halftime, forcing the Vikings to abandon the run and Culpepper to play in constant passing situations.
In the three losses, Culpepper completed 64 percent of his passes and threw for 763 yards, along with six touchdowns and only two interceptions. Meanwhile, Minnesota's committee of running backs contributed averages of 15 carries per game for 71 yards and scored four total touchdowns.
Two of the three teams that beat the Vikings were Indianapolis and Green Bay ? two playoff teams that had to go toe-to-toe with Minnesota's offense and had to kick game-winning field goals in the final seconds.
In the two wins without a healthy Moss, Culpepper was still remarkably good, completing 74 percent of his passes for 416 yards, along with three touchdowns and one interception.


I'm not trying to take anything away from Daunte, he's a hell of a QB and I would spot myself if he was the Lions QB, but look at what I bolded. Two of the three teams who beat Minnesota in GB and Indy had atrocious secondaries. GB's defense was terrible last season and was somewhat held up by Darren Sharper who went to Minn and Indy who had to draft two CBs with their first two picks. Daunte's a great QB, but the writer lost credibility IMO with that statement.


August 4th, 2005, 2:40 pm
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Quote:
I'm not trying to take anything away from Daunte, he's a hell of a QB and I would spot myself if he was the Lions QB, but look at what I bolded. Two of the three teams who beat Minnesota in GB and Indy had atrocious secondaries. GB's defense was terrible last season and was somewhat held up by Darren Sharper who went to Minn and Indy who had to draft two CBs with their first two picks. Daunte's a great QB, but the writer lost credibility IMO with that statement.


I agree with you Conversion. IMO, Charles Robinson never had much credibility in my book. Most of his articles do not seem to be well thought out or even researched that well. I think he just see's what other sports writers print and throws his own twist on it and calls it his own :roll: . Other than the main writers like Pasquerelli, King, etc., the rest of these guys just have the title and collect a paycheck. Heck, the writers on this forum are better than this guy, they just don't call it full time proffession.

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August 4th, 2005, 3:06 pm
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In truth, Culpepper already has. His 2004 stats gave him one of the top six seasons by a quarterback in league history ? 4,717 passing yards, a 69-percent completion rate and 39 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. His passing/rushing yardage total of 5,123 yards was the best in NFL history.


This is a truly awesome season, and it only got him 8-8??? I would be pissed

they may have a better record simply because there defense can keep them in games this year, but there is no way he could duplicate that kind of production without R. Moss


August 5th, 2005, 5:33 am
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TADOne wrote:
Other than the main writers like Pasquerelli, King, etc., the rest of these guys just have the title and collect a paycheck. Heck, the writers on this forum are better than this guy, they just don't call it full time proffession.


My favorite writers have to be Clayton and Pat Kirwan... especially Kirwan, he has some perspective on things that make you change your way of thinking. I think the biggest thing he changed my perspecitve on this year is how to rate players with their combine/pro day results.. he has some awesome formulas, and a unique way of looking at things


August 5th, 2005, 5:39 am
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Agreed Ferris, Kirwan writes interesting and well thought out articles, while this character up above wrote the title of the article, thought it was clever and decided to bs the rest. C02 ripped the words out of my mouth when he said the writer lost credibility with the "Two of the three teams that beat the Vikings were Indianapolis and Green Bay" statement.


August 8th, 2005, 10:24 pm
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