October 13, 2016

The wisdom of Zim Tzu, 5-0 edition

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The re-interpretation of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s weekly press conference with the local Minnesota media, as interpreted, expanded, and re-coarsified by Ted Glover of the Daily Norseman:

The Vikings warrior poet/head coach dispenses his weekly words of wisdom

Complacency. That’s a word you despise, a word you abhor, a word that is your mortal enemy. Complacency has no place in your life, and it is something you seek to destroy at every opportunity. Much like the football teams you play. Complacency is for the weak, the bloggers who spew their vile in their underwear from Mom’s basement, and the Green Bay Packers. You seek out and destroy complacency wherever you see it, much like the Kardashian family snuffs out good taste and decorum at every turn.

And that’s what the Houston Texans represented this past Sunday. A trap game, one that trips up complacent teams. Teams that think they’re better than they are. But you won’t let complacency creep into your team, or in to your psyche.

For you are Zim Tzu: High Septon Of Mankato, Eviscerator of Titans, Maître Fromager, Spinner of the Charlotte Web, Beanstalk Chopper, He Who Implodes The Lone Star, and Warden Of The North.

When you need discuss the latest mauling like a lion eating a gazelle on the Serengeti, you need to do it in a way that doesn’t offend the senses, because this is America, damn it, and we need safe spaces from your fucking trigger words.

Oops. My bad.

So, we here at The Daily Norseman would like to offer you our services, free of charge.* We will take what Mike Zimmer says in his weekly Monday/Tuesday press conference, translate it for you,** and give you the true meaning of those words, unfiltered and fresh,*** much like that homemade beer you have percolating somewhere in your basement right now.

* We provide no service at all. As a matter of fact, we legitimately waste the precious oxygen resource on this planet by breathing, and give you nothing in return. We’re basically killing you and destroying the planet with this piece of satire. You’re welcome, World.

**I just add swear words and stupid jokes. Literally. Killing. You. Nothing. Redeeming.

***Just like no one wants to hear about your fantasy team, no one really wants to try your homemade beer, because 99% of homemade brew literally tastes like shit. Including mine. But my fantasy team, though…

Hey, it might taste like panther piss when it’s fermented, but By God it’s raw and real.* Much like Zim Tzu.** As always, what Coach Zimmer literally says will be in block quotes, and what he literally means will be immediately below.***

*Seriously, I made beer once from one of those home brew kits. Worst shit I ever had. Gross, man. Much like Clay Matthews’ greasy ass hair.

**This is so fake.

***We do use his actual presser quotes. Everything else is fake and made up. Like Roger Goodell’s method of fining and suspending players.

October 10, 2016

Houston Texans come up short against the Zim Reapers, 31-13

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Going into an early bye week, the Vikings dominated the J.J. Watt-deprived Texans in every phase of the game until late when the Texans finally managed a first down (other than by penalty) and scored their lone touchdown of the day. In four total meetings between the teams, the Texans are still winless (they’re the only team in the league without a win against Minnesota). At one point, the Texans had more yards on penalties (mostly against cornerback Xavier Rhodes) than they did in combined offence, making this tweet rather appropriate:

Before the game started, Minnesota’s leading receiver was ruled out with a groin injury. Without Stefon Diggs, could the rest of the Vikings receiving corps step up to replace him? Yes, both Adam Thielen (7 for 127 yards) and Cordarrelle Patterson (4 for 39 yards) scored receiving touchdowns, along with a 79-yard punt return touchdown by Marcus Sherels (the fifth in his career, extending his team record), and a rushing touchdown from Matt Asiata. Tack on a perfect day from kicker Blair Walsh who made a field goal and all four of his conversion attempts, which at least keeps him on the roster for another week…


October 6, 2016

Your weekly Zim Tzu meditation

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 13:57

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover takes on the weighty task of interpreting the words of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as he debriefs the local media after each Viking game. Glover is perhaps the best suited of all Viking fan bloggers thanks to his many, many years of study of zen wisdom, middle-American profanity, and the many glories of Minnesota culture:

The Vikings warrior poet/head coach dispenses his weekly words of wisdom.

When you’re a warrior poet, you know one of the keys to victory is one that a lot of people overlook — psychological operations. When you can get inside an opponent’s head that’s covered by Ramen noodles, you make your job easier, and victory that much more attainable.

Because you live for victories, and don’t stomach defeat. You will do everything in your power to put your opponent at a competitive disadvantage, and if that means trying to make him cry on national television, you’ll do that, too. Because you are Zim Tzu: High Septon Of Mankato, Eviscerator of Titans, Maître Fromager, Spinner of the Charlotte Web, Beanstalk Chopper, and Warden Of The North.

And when you talk about making opponents cry, you can’t do it in your no bullshit, no nonsense manner. Well I mean, you’re Zim Tzu, and you can pretty much do what you want, but you don’t want to be fined by that pinhead Roger Goodell, so you have you use your verbal judo skills to tell us what you mean without telling us what you mean. Because Roger Goodell and his Magical Spinning Wheel Of Bullshit and Arbitrary System of Fines And Suspensions makes about as much sense as a fucking BronyCon. [ED note: seriously, I just heard about these things, where grown adults dress up as My Little Pony characters and go to conventions. It’s more terrifying than being stuck in Green Bay for more than two hours. Also, Aaron Rodgers is a Brony. I would bet money he is.]

And as the Officially Licensed Interpreter Of Zim Tzu*, this is where we come in** to make life simpler for you.***

*There’s no officially licensed anything. Although sometimes I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea, because if I could make money doing this it might be the best thing ever the next time my Dad tells me about excessive profanity never paying off.

**And by coming in, I mean I hope I can sucker you in to waste part of your day reading this nonsensical bullshit

***This simplifies nothing.

We take Zimmer’s weekly Monday/Tuesday press conference*, run it through the Fuckyougronifier,** and when it comes out on the other end we have what Mike Zimmer really said,*** if he could use swear words.

*We really do use his actual press conference quotes the day after games. It’s the only thing that’s legitimate in this whole piece.

**Look, you’ve seen Zimmer swear a lot. I’m just using it as top cover to write a lot of bad words and not get in trouble. Also, there is no such thing as as … whatever the hell that made up word is I wrote up above.

***Again, completely made up bullshit on my part. What Zimmer actually said during his presser is in block quotes, the not even close to authentic interpretation immediately follows.

October 4, 2016

Vikings defeat New York Giants, 24-10

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:26

The Minnesota Vikings finally developed something resembling an early-game offensive effort capped off with a Matt Asiata rushing touchdown. From that point onwards, the Vikings never relinquished the lead. The Giants’ vaunted receivers were widely expected to take control of the game, but were blanketed by the Vikings secondary until late in the game, while quarterback Eli Manning had his traditional bad game against Minnesota (25-for-45, 261 yards and an interception). The Vikings pass rush wasn’t getting to Manning but he frequently threw the ball to the turf when a defender got close to him, so even though there were no sacks in the game, the pass rush was definitely disrupting the Giants’ plans.


September 27, 2016

Bud Grant to be added to Winnipeg’s Ring of Honour

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Given that Bud Grant is a legendary coach in both Minnesota and Manitoba, I’m surprised this hadn’t already happened:

Legendary coach Bud Grant, a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Vikings Ring of Honor, is joining another distinguished group.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Monday announced Grant is the seventh inductee to the team’s Ring of Honour presented by the Insurance Brokers of Manitoba (IBAM) at Investors Group Field. He will be formally inducted on Friday.

Grant first came to the Bombers as a player in 1953, and played for four seasons before hanging up his cleats and becoming the team’s head coach at the young age of 29. In those four seasons, Grant was named a West Division All-Star three times (1953, 1953 & 1956), and set the still-standing league record for most interceptions in a playoff game with five.

“I enjoyed playing so much. I enjoyed Winnipeg so much. I enjoyed my teammates so much. I enjoyed the atmosphere around the Bombers, Canadian football… everything,” Grant said in a press release from the Blue Bombers. “The town, the people… It wasn’t only the football, it was the whole experience.”

Under his guidance, the Bombers appeared in six Grey Cups from 1957-66, winning four in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962. He racked up 102 regular season wins – still tops on the Bombers’ all-time list – and was named the CFL’s top coach in 1965.

“Bud Grant is not only a legend around these parts, but a legend in Minnesota and across both the CFL and NFL as well,” said President & CEO, Wade Miller. “After his career here in Winnipeg, he left for the Vikings and became an icon with that franchise, too. He is the first coach in history to appear in both the Grey Cup and Super Bowl. His accomplishments are truly incredible, and we couldn’t be happier to add his name to the Ring of Honour.”

Bud Grant - Winnipeg Blue Bomber coach

September 26, 2016

Vikings break Carolina Panthers home unbeaten streak, 22-10

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Very few prognosticators gave the Vikings a chance to win this matchup with the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers (the oddsmakers had the Vikings as seven-point underdogs), and for much of the first half, it looked like the bookies were right as Carolina ran up a 10 point lead. Then things started to go right for the Vikings, beginning with a safety for defensive end Danielle Hunter who sacked Cam Newton in the end zone and followed by a punt return touchdown by cornerback Marcus Sherels. Kicker Blair Walsh missed the conversion attempt, so the teams went into the locker room at halftime with the Panthers leading 10-8.

While the Panthers had looked unstoppable for the first two drives in the game, a combination of penalties and improved play by the Vikings defensive line and secondary soon had Newton under pressure and unable to consistently gain yards and keep the chains moving. It took rather longer for the Vikings to show signs of life on offense, however. Cornerback Trae Waynes snagged his second interception in as many games to snuff out Carolina’s attempt to score late in the half and the Vikings took a knee to run out the clock.

In the second half, it was almost as if they’d just been sandbagging the Panthers and waiting to spring the trap, as the Vikings suddenly discovered that they could get the ball to Kyle Rudolph, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen and took the lead on a Sam Bradford pass to Rudolph. Rather than risk another missed PAT, Jerick McKinnon ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 16-10. Two Blair Walsh field goals (with every Viking fan holding their breath during the kick) added six more points to finish the game.

As the game wore on, the Panthers offensive line wore down, exposing Newton to heavy pressure and ended up taking eight sacks on the day. Newton was also intercepted by cornerback Terence Newman and defensive tackle Tom Johnson, in addition to the first half pick by Waynes.

It seems like no game report is complete without yet another Viking injury and today’s feature was guard Alex Boone who had to be carted to the locker room with a hip injury. The good news is that he was able to return to the sideline, but did not get back into the game. He’ll get a full evaluation tomorrow, and hopefully won’t miss much more time. His replacement on the line, Jeremiah Sirles, wasn’t mentioned by the TV commentators … which is a very good thing for an offensive lineman. Also not drawing any attention during the broadcast was T.J. Clemmings who was playing at left tackle in place of Matt Kalil who was placed on IR earlier this week.


September 21, 2016

Vikings lose their starting running back and starting left tackle to injury

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 15:09

2016 is becoming more and more of a soap opera every week for the Minnesota Vikings. Before the regular season even started, we lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the season on a freak non-contact injury. In the second half of last week’s game against the Packers, running back Adrian Peterson went down with a knee injury. Today, we learned that Peterson needs surgery and up to four months recovery time, oh and get this: the team also announced that starting left tackle Matt Kalil is also being placed on injured reserve. Let’s be honest here … there’s a limit to how far this “next man up” philosophy will carry a team.

Of course, the Vikings fan base has been through this before, so they’re handling it with dignity and aplomb:

Last year’s right tackle, T.J. Clemmings, will replace Kalil and we’ll probably see the (rather successful) running back committee of Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata filling in for Peterson. Heretical personal opinion: through both of the games this year, I’ve actually been happier seeing Asiata in the backfield than Peterson: Asiata isn’t a 100-yards-per-game back, but he’s much better at blocking and receiving than Peterson and was no less effective running the ball.

Both Kalil and Peterson are very highly paid at their respective positions, and it’s possible that neither player will be with the team next year: Kalil is on the fifth and final year of his rookie contract for $11 million and Peterson will be owed $18 million next year unless he opts to renegotiate his contract. Kalil’s best year was his rookie season and Peterson had not gotten back into regular season form before his injury … in other words, the Vikings were not getting value for their investment on either of these players so far this year. Defenders were still honouring the threat of a Peterson break-out run by regularly stacking the box (which has benefitted Stefon Diggs in the passing game), but even that was likely to fade if Peterson didn’t demonstrate that he was still capable of his patented dagger runs.

But, y’know, everything’s fine in Vikingland.

This is fine

Update: On a much lighter note, here’s Ted Glover at the Daily Norseman with your weekly dose of Zim Tzu from Monday’s press conference:

If there’s one thing you can’t stand as a warrior/poet, it’s whining. You don’t tolerate it on your team, but you have to put up with it with other teams, because you have no control over their day to day activities. Now mind you, if you did, the whining would stop, immediately and forever.

Even if it is part of their DNA. Because you can manipulate DNA to suit your needs. Why?

Because you are Zim Tzu: High Septon Of Mankato, Eviscerator of Titans, Maître Fromager, and Warden Of The North.

Yet, when you cause other teams to wail and moan, along with their fan base as your team delivers the coup de grâce on national television, that’s music to your ears. It’s a song you want to keep singing all year long. You want to rub it in, and show your fans that you relish the victory as much as they do…only you can’t use the words drunken Vikings do while at the podium.

And this is where we come in, the professional* site that is The Daily Norseman. We take the profanity laden inner thoughts of Mike Zimmer** and bring them to life in a way that gives clarity to confusion, food to the starving, and water to the thirsty.***

*That word professional. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

**I have no idea what Mike Zimmer’s inner thoughts are. And I really don’t want to know what his inner thoughts are on this, if he even knows of the existence of Zim Tzu. Which I am sure he doesn’t. Because I’d hate for him to chew my ass over this…which admittedly, I’d probably deserve.

***LOLNOPE not even a little bit close.

As always, we take highlights of Mike Zimmer’s weekly Monday press conference, and break it down in ways that we can all understand.* As always, his actual quotes are first, and our 100% accurate** and literal translations*** immediately follow.

*There is nothing to understand. Unless you’re trying to learn the English language using this article. If so, I implore you to use a different source of reading material. Implore means I pretty please beg.

**And by accurate I mean 100% made up with no insight on anything whatsoever.

***And by literal translation I still mean completely, 100% made up.

September 19, 2016

Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 17-14 to inaugurate new home stadium

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:06

The Sunday night prime-time game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers came down to the last minute, with either team able to claim victory until Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes secured an interception of an Aaron Rogers pass to shut down Green Bay’s final drive and allow the Vikings to run out the clock to seal the win.

Newly acquired starting quarterback Sam Bradford quieted a lot of concerns with his performance in the game:

For a guy best known for his injury history when he arrived here 15 days ago, Sam Bradford sure earned a lot of points for not backing down from a beating in his Minnesota Vikings debut Sunday night.

“That dude is one tough (expletive),” Vikings guard Alex Boone told USA TODAY Sports after Bradford completed 22 of 31 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns (and officially took 10 hits) in a 17-14 triumph over the rival Green Bay Packers.

“There was a couple times he got hit – I thought he was dead. He wasn’t moving, so I had to pick him up. I’m like, ‘Sam, don’t be dead.’ Next play: bullet. You’re going, ‘Jesus, this guy’s a beast!’”

The Vikings needed that production and resiliency from their new quarterback on a night they again struggled to get star running back Adrian Peterson going before he was carried to the locker room in the third quarter with a right knee injury.

Peterson had minimal swelling and could extend his leg after the game, providing optimism he avoided a season-ending ACL tear – an injury Bradford is familiar with, since two of them are responsible for 25 of the 35 starts he missed because of health in his first six NFL seasons.

Bradford, 28, did go briefly to the locker room Sunday for an X-ray after taking a helmet to his left (non-throwing) hand on the Vikings’ first touchdown drive, causing nasty swelling from his wrist to his pinkie that was captured by NBC’s cameras.

“It was nice and fat,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said of Bradford’s hand. “But he’s gutsy. Just to stand in there and take hit after hit – it speaks volume of him as a player and a person.”

Equally impressive: Bradford outplayed two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers with all of two weeks to learn Norv Turner’s offense and about a half-dozen practices under his belt, including three last week getting most of the reps after veteran backup Shaun Hill started the opener.

Before his injury, Peterson was still struggling to find space to run, as the run blocking wasn’t opening up lanes for him and he was ending up with zero or negative yards on several attempts.

For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers didn’t have one of his better games: at one point, there were more pass interference penalty yards than offensive yards. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman was the goat on back-to-back PI penalties that moved the Packers down to the goal line, and Trae Waynes (starting for the injured Xavier Rhodes) was flagged multiple times (and as the TV commentators pointed out, usually he was in good position but being too obviously “grabby” and the officials were watching).

The accolades awarded to Stefon Diggs after his game last week will be redoubled after he put up career-high numbers last night:

After his 182-yard performance on Sunday Night Football, Stefon Diggs was quick to point out that N’Sync is just a band and not how he would describe the first time he and Sam Bradford. His game said otherwise.

In the Minnesota Vikings’ 17-14 win over the Green Bay Packers, Diggs proved to be the best wide receiver Bradford has ever had. He also showed the national TV audience that – for the first time since Randy Moss – a wide receiver is now the centerpiece of the Vikings’ offense.

“I wouldn’t say ‘in sync’ I don’t know too much about N’Sync [except] the band, but [Bradford] does everything the right way,” Diggs said. “He works hard, he comes in every day an we communicate. To get on the same page, you have to communicate. Throughout practice and games, he tells me what he sees, I tell him what I see and we try to make it work.”

Not only did he make a spectacular touchdown catch that turned out to be the game-winning score, but offensive coordinator Norv Turner called for a pass play toward Diggs on third down with 1:40 seconds remaining and the Packers out of timeouts. A pass interference call on Green Bay essentially ended the game. There is no bigger sign of confidence than that.

Diggs got open in every way possible against the Packers, finding holes in zones, turning short passes into long gains and going deep. He caught a 44-yard pass from Bradford on the team’s final drive of the first half that led to a Blair Walsh field goal.

Indicative of his mentality, Diggs’ first comment after the game was not about his nine catches on 11 targets, it was about an unsportsmanlike penalty he took in the fourth quarter.

“That won’t happen again,” he said.

September 18, 2016

What Sam Bradford and the Vikings offer each other

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:43

In Saturday’s Star Tribune, Jim Souhan looks at the Vikings’ newly annointed starting quarterback and says it can go one of two ways — “Two years from now, Bradford will either have proved he can lead a winning team, or he will be on his way to Ponder-osa.”

Sunday night, millions of Vikings fans and dozens of Vikings players will ask what Sam Bradford can do for them.

Just as important is the reverse.

What can the Vikings do for Bradford?

The answer will shape this season, and the next, and so will Bradford’s career, and perhaps his last chance to improve his reputation.

Bradford was the first pick in the 2010 draft. Which means he was selected by a terrible team.

Bradford did not singlehandedly elevate the Rams. Neither has anyone else. They haven’t had a winning record since 2003.

Bradford muddled through, putting up numbers not all that different from Teddy Bridgewater’s, for four seasons before being traded to Philadelphia.

Last year with the Eagles, while adapting to a new and complex offense, Bradford completed 65 percent of his passes, throwing 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for an 86.4 passer rating.

Last year, in his second season with the Vikings, Bridgewater completed 65 percent of his passes, throwing 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions for a rating of 88.7.

Bradford is on his third team and was asked to be a savior, so his numbers are considered disappointing. Bridgewater is younger and thought to be improving, so his very similar numbers are considered promising.

The question facing Bradford is whether, at 28, he is still a growth stock. While there is no sure way to predict his future, this is a good time to point out that even great quarterbacks need help, and that Bradford never has played for a winning team, or with a running back like Adrian Peterson.

Two years from now, Bradford will either have proved he can lead a winning team, or he will be on his way to Ponder-osa.

September 12, 2016

Vikings beat Titans 25-16 with defensive take-aways, but no running game to speak of

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Sunday’s game was cover-your-eyes awful in the first half (for Vikings fans — check my Twitter feed for examples), but the second half more than made up for the flaws in the opening 30 minutes. With the quarterback decision un-announced until game time, everyone including the Titans’ defensive co-ordinator was expecting the Vikings to be nothing but the Adrian Peterson show, starring Adrian Peterson. And that what the Vikings tried to do during the first half, with distressingly poor results (19 carries for only 31 yards). Whether it was issues with the run blocking or Peterson’s sudden hesitancy to attack the hole (or both), the Titans kept him firmly under control.

Tennessee opened the scoring with a first quarter field goal and made the vaunted Vikings defensive line look … ordinary.

At best.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was barely ruffled by the pass rush and seemed to have plenty of time when he chose to throw the ball or to keep it and run, while the Titans’ two new running backs were moving the ball very well on the ground. When the Vikings weren’t giving up chunks of yards, they still managed to find opportunities to commit infractions to give away more yards in penalties. While the endzone was still elusive, the Titans were able to move the ball pretty much at will all through the first half.

The Fox game announcers seemed to have Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway (no. 52) on the brain because they credited him with tackles on a couple of occasions that were clearly Harrison Smith (no. 22) … if only because Chad can’t move that fast any more. (I love and respect Chad Greenway, but he’s not the player he was and I hope for his sake this is his final season in pads. If he wants to go into coaching, I’d love to see him continue as part of the Vikings organization.)

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh had an awful-then-mediocre day. The awful started with a missed field goal from 37 yards, then followed up with another terrible miss from 56 yards and a missed extra point later in the game. <sarc>Other than that, though, he did okay.</sarc> This is how bad the first half looked:

Coach Zimmer seems to have gotten through to the team, because the second half was a very different story indeed, starting from the kickoff where Cordarrelle Patterson took the ball 61 yards to set up the first successful kick for Blair Walsh, finally getting the Vikings onto the scoreboard. After a second Walsh field goal, middle linebacker Eric Kendriks picked off Mariota’s pass and ran it in for the Vikings’ first touchdown of the game (but Walsh didn’t convert). Walsh made his next attempt, moving the score to 15-10, and then a fumble was scooped up by defensive end Danielle Hunter and run in for the score. Walsh made his final field goal attempt and the game was almost out of reach for the Titans at 25-10.

Harrison Smith picked off Mariotta to seal the game, but Everson Griffin was penalized for roughing the passer (well after the ball was out), and instead the Titans were deep in Vikings territory with a first down. DeMarco Murray caught the touchdown pass, but the two-point try failed, and the Vikings covered the onside kick to snuff out the Titans’ last chance to tie the game.


September 11, 2016

Jim Souhan explains why the Vikings are interesting (for all the wrong reasons)

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:42

Later today, the Vikings will kick off the 2016 regular season against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. The season hadn’t started before they’d already lost their rising star quarterback for the year, traded away a first round pick in the 2017 draft, and just generally been historically Viking-like … at least according to Jim Souhan at the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

On my first assignment covering the NFL, I listened to new Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gleefully discuss replacing legend Tom Landry with a brash college coach named Jimmy Johnson while promising to oversee every aspect of the Cowboys’ organization “from socks and jocks.”

Later that year in Dallas, Buddy Ryan made fun of Johnson’s hair and put out an unofficial bounty on the Cowboys kicker, and then Johnson traded Herschel Walker to Minnesota for a dozen players and draft picks and 5,000 lakes.

Then, I left Dallas for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and found out that the Cowboys could not match the masters of American sports drama. The Minnesota Vikings are the kings of interesting.

Two weeks ago, the Vikings were inspiring justified optimism while demonstrating organizational stability and unveiling a new stadium that reminds everyone within eyesight of downtown Minneapolis that the NFL dominates American sports.

Then Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee while making a throw during a practice and without getting hit, and the Vikings traded a first-round draft pick and another high pick for another team’s starting quarterback.

The events were shocking only if you expect normalcy.

Remember, this is a franchise that gave you the Love Boat, the Original Whizzinator, a kicker being accused and acquitted of drug smuggling charges, a coach threatening to sue his owners, Randy Moss’ Book of Memorable Memes, Moss’ Lambeau goalpost butt rub, a coach scandalized for scalping Super Bowl tickets, Brad Childress’ quarterback wars, helicopters circling above Brett Favre’s arrival, excruciating NFC title game losses, the Bounty on Brett, Joe Webb starting a playoff game, Adrian Peterson breaking records and wielding switches and Percy Harvin throwing a weight at a coach.

There are NFL teams that have been relentlessly uninteresting, like the Titans, and those that have attracted interest by winning, like the Packers and Patriots. The Vikings may stand alone when it comes to attracting interest while not winning it all.

September 5, 2016

Vikings sign 10 to their 2017 practice squad

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Twenty-four hours after the “final” roster cuts are made, any players who were claimed off the waiver wire join their new teams and players not claimed are eligible to be signed to a team’s 10-man practice squad. There were a couple of surprises, as the Green Bay Packers put in a waiver claim for running back Jhurell Pressley after his impressive two-touchdown performance in the final preseason game, and wide receiver Isaac Fruechte chose to sign with the Detroit Lions practice squad instead of the Vikings (he pointed out that Detroit only has four receivers on the 53-man roster, while the Vikings have six, and he preferred the odds of eventually getting on the field in Detroit).

Signed to the practice squad today were:

  • G Willie Beavers 64
  • WR Moritz Böhringer 81
  • TE Kyle Carter 86
  • G Isame Faciane 69
  • S Shamiel Gary (spent preseason with the Miami Dolphins, not yet listed on the Vikings roster page)
  • RB C.J. Ham 30
  • DT Toby Johnson 90
  • CB Tre Roberson 36
  • QB Joel Stave 2
  • DE Stephen Weatherly 91

September 4, 2016

Vikings trade for quarterback Sam Bradford

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:58

I was busy all day yesterday, so the uproar in the Vikings fanbase over the trade with Philadelphia for Sam Bradford was just background noise for me. I have to say I’m happy the Vikings didn’t bring in some of the other widely discussed options at quarterback, although the team clearly paid a high desperation premium (a first round pick in 2017 and a conditional fourth in 2018 that might escalate all the way to a second if the Vikings win the Super Bowl). I liked Sam Bradford when he was drafted, and I think he’d be in the discussion as a top-five quarterback except for his injuries.

Sam Bradford stats

As part of the trade, the Eagles have agreed to pay the bulk of Bradford’s 2016 salary, leaving the Vikings to cover less than half (I assume a contract renegotiation is in the cards for 2017, unless Bradford is able to stay healthy and shine on the field). Bradford is in a great situation for a quarterback with a quickly improving wide receiving corps, the best running back in football and a potentially top-five defence … but notice that I didn’t say anything about the offensive line he’ll be working behind. That’s where the “injury prone” tag meets the gambling odds.

Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery time may stretch into the 2017 regular season, so having Bradford available for the next two years is just plain common sense. If Teddy comes back as strong as he was before the injury, we’ll have a heck of a passing threat to offer, but there’s also the possibility that Bridgewater won’t be quite the player he was and if that’s the case, then Bradford is more than just an insurance policy (though it pains me greatly to even think that Teddy won’t be back as good as ever). That said, anything positive in all of this requires Bradford to stay upright and healthy: if he loses even a few games to injury, we’re back to where we were before the trade.

From Tom Pelissero’s column on the trade in USA Today:

The Vikings had flexibility, with extra third- and fourth-round picks next year from past trades. They have a solid young talent base, having made nine first-round picks in the past five drafts, all of them still on the team. They have an offense built around 31-year-old halfback Adrian Peterson, who doesn’t have time on his side. And they had an unexpected opportunity to make a big upgrade from Bridgewater’s presumed replacement, Shaun Hill, a 36-year-old career backup who’d be serviceable for a game or two, but has never started more than 10 games in a season and lacks the arm to push the ball downfield.

Bradford, 28, has famously battled injuries throughout his career but is healthy now and performed well in the preseason. One of his old coaches in St. Louis and Philadelphia, Pat Shurmur, is now the Vikings’ tight ends coach. And the Vikings felt Bradford would be a natural fit for Norv Turner’s Air Coryell derivative offense.

Another factor the Vikings liked: Bradford is under contract through 2017, giving them options next season if Bridgewater isn’t recovered from upcoming surgery for a dislocated left knee, torn anterior cruciate ligament and other structural damage.

The Eagles gave Bradford an $11 million signing bonus, so the Vikings are only responsible for his $7 million base salary this season. They’ll face a decision in March, when Bradford is due a $4 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year. His salary for 2017 is $13 million, with $4 million of it fully guaranteed and another $4 million for injury. There’s also a $1 million escalator if Bradford plays 90% of the snaps this season and $2.25 million in incentives available each year.

That’s all pretty reasonable if Bradford can plug the hole at the most important position on an ascending team, driven by Peterson and an excellent young defense, that’s moving into a new $1.1 billion stadium this season. The Vikings are betting a first-round pick and then some that Bradford can do it.

The blockbuster trade temporarily swamped news of the final roster, as you’d expect. I made my predictions here and I wasn’t too far off:

  • Tackle Jeremiah Sirles. I’d listed him as a likely cut, but he made the final 53. I don’t think he’s got a strong grip on the spot if the Vikings select someone waived by another team.
  • Quarterback Joel Stave. If the team hadn’t traded for Bradford, Stave was the only healthy quarterback on the roster after Hill. After the trade, Stave became expendable and will be eligible for the practice squad.
  • Defensive tackles Kenrick Ellis and Toby Johnson didn’t make the roster, which I found surprising, but my guesses were biased a bit toward the defence. Johnson is PS-eligible, unless he’s picked up by another team on the waiver wire.
  • Linebacker Kentrell Brothers made the final roster, and I’d not seen enough from him in the preseason games to expect him to do more than make the PS. I guess the coaches didn’t want to thin out the linebackers too much this year (or Brothers may be sacrificed for a waiver-wire pickup).
  • I’d listed cornerback Jabari Price and safety Michael Griffin as likely cuts, and both were placed on IR.

Those player who were waived are subject to being selected by other teams before they can be signed to practice squads. Teams have waiver wire priority in the same order as the 2016 draft for the first three weeks of the regular season. I’ve noted a couple of players who might lose out if the Vikings get anyone off the waiver wire, but the team is now mostly set to start the season.

September 3, 2016

Roster cutting, 2016 style

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

On Saturday, all NFL teams have to cut their rosters from 75 to only 53 players by 4pm Eastern time. That means hundreds of players, both rookies and veterans, all hit the waiver wire at the same time. Twenty-four hours later, teams are allowed to sign up to ten players to their practice squads. Few names that anyone outside the local area will be mentioned, but it’s worth noting that the 53 players who initially make the roster may not be quite the same ones who are on the roster for their team’s first regular season games. In most cases, the top 45-50 will be the same, but the poor guys at the end of the depth chart are still at risk of being cut if the team sees someone cut from another team as being potentially more valuable.

Here are my best guess at who will still be on the roster on Saturday evening (early cuts are listed as of 10pm Eastern time):


September 2, 2016

Vikings beat L.A. Rams 27-25 in final preseason game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:45

In a game where neither team played their starters for any significant stretch, the key to the result was turnovers, with the Vikings scoring most of their points as a result of Ram turnovers. Unsurprisingly, the game wasn’t telecast outside the two teams’ local areas, so I followed the play on Twitter.

Given the quarterback situation in Minnesota and the need to ensure that 36-year-old Shaun Hill was healthy for the regular season, the starter for the Vikings was Joel Stave and he was backed up by recently waived-then-re-signed Brad Sorenson. C.J. Ham and Jhurell Pressley got most of the work at running back, and the starting wide receivers were Jarius Wright and rookie Laquon Treadwell.

The Rams opened the scoring with an early touchdown that the Vikings didn’t answer until nearly the two-minute warning with a Blair Walsh field goal. On special teams, safety Jayron Kearse recovered a muffed punt that put the Vikings on the Rams’ 19 yard line. Midway through the next series, Joel Stave left the game with a reported hand injury (although he was also put through the NFL’s concussion protocol) and was replaced by Sorenson.

On the next series, Stephen Weatherly recovered a dropped snap by Rams quarterback Jared Goff to give the Vikings great field position near the goal line. Unable to punch the ball in, the Vikings settled for a second Walsh field goal to move the score to 7-6 before the half.

On the next series, Toby Johnson dived to intercept a tipped Jared Goff pass and puts the Vikings back in potential scoring position.

Jhurell Pressley takes a Sorenson pass 28 yards for the Vikings’ first touchdown of the night.

The Rams opened the scoring in the second half with a field goal to cut the Vikings lead to 13-10, but on the ensuing kickoff, Jhurell Pressley put on a great effort to return the kick 106 yards for a touchdown. He may not make the 53-man roster but he’s almost certainly going to make the practice squad (or some other team’s roster) based on his work tonight.

On yet another special teams play, Jayron Kearse hit the Rams’ punt returner forcing a fumble that tight end David Morgan was able to recover on the 6-yard line. C.J. Ham ran the ball in for the final Vikings score of the night. I almost shut down my Twitter feed and went to bed at this point, but the Rams did their best to make the game interesting, scoring a touchdown and two-point conversion to move the score to 27-18 in the fourth quarter. They added another touchdown with less than two minutes in the game, but that was their last chance to score. Given that the Rams gave up five turnovers, the score was amazingly close at the end.

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