I bet you an ounce

Categories: Vikings

Anyone who follows sports will know what I'm talking about. There is a weird, slightly delicious feeling of zealotry that comes over you when conventional wisdom flips you the bird. You're so sure about a player's ability (or lack of it) that you sense down to your bones that your opinion is the Absolute Truth, yet damn few people, if anybody, agree with you.

It's an odd jones to have visited upon you, and, alas, is not always accurate. For example, I was a byzantine champion of the Wolves' wayward forward Marlon Maxey once, staunchly defending him even after his teammates took me aside and explained to me he was dumb as a post, incapable of learning the team's offensive sets and defensive rotations. Sure enough, within a year or two, Max was out of the league, and I can't remember if it happened before or after he was caught toting a handgun in some alley. But even now, I can't let go of the feeling that he could have--should have--been something special.

Ah, Marlon. Before I wander off into memories of him challenging me about that "dumb as a post" quote and actually being mollified after I told him his teammates said it, not me; or about the time he deliberately fouled an opponent in the waning seconds of a lopsided Wolves' loss so that his team would get the ball back for one final chance to rack up the 100 points necessary to earn free chalupas for fans in the stands (my all-time favorite Timberwolves moment); let me return to the subject at hand.

Mewelde Moore is, by a wide margin, the best running back on the Minnesota Vikings.

Why doesn't everybody see this? Not Mike Tice; I understand that, aside from his take on offensive linemen, Tice is a consistently poor judge of talent. That's the logical explanation for why the Vikes have already awarded the starter's job to brittle, inconsistent Michael Bennett, and, even post-whizzinator, treat bad apple Onterrio Smith with more love than Moore.

As a rookie last year, Moore's per-carry average was nearly two yards better than Bennett's, 5.8 to 3.9. In fewer attempts, Moore picked up more first downs rushing than Bennett, and, despite Bennett's vaunted breakaway prowess, had more rushes of more than 20 yards. Moore is also a much better receiver than Bennett, with 27 catches last year despite just three starts, just ten less than Bennett's career-high for a season. Yeah, Moore lacks Bennett's blinding speed, but, like Bennett (or at least the Bennett before last night's butterfingers performance), he rarely if ever fumbles. Moore also has that intuitive knack of being elusive, that rare gift of almost organically slipping tackles and picking up an extra yard or two.

Can I get an amen on this, or is this another bout of Marlon Maxey-like mania? In any event, I'll wager an ounce of pride against anyone who wants the action that Moore's yards per carry will again exceed Bennett's this season, and likewise will top the production of the noble but aging Moe Williams.

Mewelde Moore is a nascent stud. You read it here first.


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