For some reason, the rest of the world is pretending Culpepper isn't the quarterback that threw 6 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the first 6 games of 2005. Or that he's the quarterback with 81 career fumbles in 81 career games (well, I guess not everbody--obviously John Bolster is aware of it of I would have nothing to link to there). Or that he's had 6 seasons as a starter and has 2 playoff wins on his resume.Don't get me wrong, Culpepper is one of the most gifted athletically QBs ever. I am a Vikings fan, I've seen probably every NFL game of his career. He has one of the 5 greatest NFL seasons ever on his resume.
But 18/37, 262 yards, and 2 INT? Being outplayed by Charlie Batch?
Now, I know the Steelers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but that's really a sparkling debut. Especially when, down 21-17, you throw 2 INT in the 4th quarter, including one that's returned for a TD. For Vikings fans, this seemed too familiar... bad game against a good team... it was kind of the story of a lot of Daunte's career.
These are probably some of the same ideas I would have dismissed a year ago, but let's look at some things:
- He has never really been successful without Randy Moss - Sure, it's a small sample size. But Daunte was absolutely atrocious before he got hurt last night, and he was pretty darn bad Thursday.
- He doesn't read defenses well - This ties back to the first point if its true, because he has seen many defenses where teams aren't geared up for Moss... it didn't even look like he saw Joey Porter on his 2nd INT.
- He's not as mobile as he used to be - Of course, even the fact that he's out there playing this soon after the injury is an incredible thing, and beggars probably can't be choosers, but Daunte is significantly less dangerous if he's not a big threat to run. He had 8 rushing yards in the opener, and didn't really even look to run.
Now, it's true that I did not like the trade at all when the Vikings made it... and I still don't... but I feel a whole lot better now after watching last night's game.
Do I think Daunte is as bad as he showed on Thursday? Of course not. He's always been an accurate passer, and he was playing a top-flight defense. But I think some of the questions remain... he will force some passes, misread coverages, but a lot of that was covered up by his athletic ability. If that's been diminished by the injury, how dangerous does that leave Daunte Culpepper?
One thing's for sure, I feel very comfortable about my pick of the Patriots to win the AFC East.