The signal for Paul Revere’s famous ride in 1776 was the flash of a lantern. One lantern meant troops were moving over the land; two meant they were going over the water. In shorthand, this became the handy expression “One if by land, two if by sea.”
More than 235 years later, we have the occasion to update that just a bit to reflect the passing games of our local football teams, which were hardly revolutionary this weekend but seemed to be at war with themselves:
“One if by land, two if by sea, three if by air.”
Your Gophers and Vikings combined to gain just 251 yards through the air despite attempting 73 passes this weekend in a pair of futile offensive performances (against admittedly stout defenses, Michigan State and Chicago). That’s a combined average of 3.4 yards per attempt.
Both of these teams are attempting to build themselves similarly after three-win seasons in 2011 around a solid defense, a good running game and a game-managing passing attack. Both were missing their leading receivers this weekend – A.J. Barker, gone for good, and Percy Harvin, out again with an ankle injury. Both teams are relying on young quarterbacks to make quick decisions behind often-overmatched pass blockers.
When a team cannot even pretend to stretch the field with any success – Ponder’s longest completion to a wide receiver was 13 yards, while Philip Nelson had no better luck down the field – the game becomes painfully simple for a defense.
And while it won’t be like this forever, right not it is painful to watch.