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.

August 31, 2016

Teddy Bridgewater’s 2016 season is already over

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:58

The team confirmed that Teddy Bridgewater’s injury is a full ACL tear and a dislocated left knee, so he has no chance to return to the football field this season. Fortunately, there was no nerve or arterial damage so Teddy is expected to make a full recovery. The estimated recovery time for injuries like this ranges from nine months to a year, so the Vikings have to expect that he won’t be able to play until perhaps early in the 2017 season, so the team will have to ensure that they have enough quarterback depth on the roster to cover a month or more next year.

Tom Pelissero wrote this for USA Today:

As the Minnesota Vikings awaited test results to confirm what they already knew, that a gruesome knee injury had ended quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s third season before it began, coach Mike Zimmer promised that his team wouldn’t spend long mourning.

“We’re not going to stick our heads in the sand,” Zimmer told reporters shortly after Bridgewater crumpled to the ground in Tuesday’s practice, untouched, leaving teammates to curse and pray before an ambulance took him away. “We’re going to figure out a way. Everyone can count us out if they want, but I think that’d be the wrong thing to do.”

Are the Vikings good enough as a team to carry out their Super Bowl hopes with 36-year-old journeyman Shaun Hill in Bridgewater’s place?


There may be opportunities to add an experienced quarterback as final cuts approach Saturday, though probably not an immediate starter. The Vikings have another young QB they like, a first-year pro from Old Dominion named Taylor Heinicke, on the active/non-football injury list, and he could get a look down the line if Hill stumbles. But that’s in the distance for now.

Zimmer made clear his chief focus now is preventing players from believing their season just went down with their quarterback.

“Hey, my wife passed away seven years ago, right? It was a tough day,” Zimmer said. “The sun came up the next day. The world kept spinning. People kept going to work. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

Sports writers have been imagining scenarios for the Vikings to follow, including outright fantasies like the Chicago Bears trading their backup quarterback within the division for a price the Vikings would be willing to pay. Quarterbacks currently unemployed or about to be (the next round of roster cuts are due on Saturday) are proffered as the solution, but the problem is really that the supply of quality starting quarterbacks is much less than the demand. There are 32 starting quarterback jobs and 32 backup jobs, but there are not enough qualified players to fill the starting roles, much less the backups. Minnesota knows this all too well, having had mediocre quarterbacks galore on the roster over the last few decades. Aside from Brett Favre’s last great season, Randall Cunningham’s last great season, and the too-few glory years of Daunte Culpepper, the Vikings have not had even an above-average quarterback in a quarter century. Teddy Bridgewater was the answer to the team’s prayers. Until yesterday. And he still might be … in 2017 and beyond. But for this year, it’s Shaun Hill’s job to lose (at least until Taylor Heinicke gets off the NFI list or Fran Tarkenton gets a full-body rejuvenation).

Hill was brought in to be a mentor to Teddy, and perhaps play a game or two in injury relief. At his age, neither he nor the team was expecting him to play a full season as the starter and it’s unreasonable to expect he’ll be able to do that (unless the improvements to the offensive line really have been nothing short of miraculous). Heinicke won’t be cleared to return to practice for at least a few more weeks, and while he showed great things in the 2015 preseason, he’s never thrown a pass in a regular season NFL game and will need several weeks to get back into shape. Andrew Krammer reported that Heinicke is a few weeks ahead of schedule on his recovery and could be back as soon as three weeks from now.

Joel Stave is the only other quarterback still on the roster and was probably not going to make the 53-man roster. Now he’ll be the number two until Heinicke is healthy and ready to play. Brad Sorenson was briefly on the roster until he was released yesterday, and some sources indicate he’s on his way back to Minnesota to re-sign with the team once he clears waivers. But Sorenson is also inexperienced and can’t be the answer to the Vikings’ quarterbacking woes.

As for all the other available quarterbacks right now, Arif Hasan puts it best in his response to Adam Caplan’s suggestions:

August 30, 2016

Bridgewater injured in practice as Vikings announce first roster cuts

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 15:33

I began compiling this list of initial cuts the other day, but rather more disturbing news hit the wires a short while back: Teddy Bridgewater was injured during the afternoon practice:

The Minnesota Vikings canceled their practice Tuesday after quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered an apparently serious injury in a non-contact drill.

The Vikings asked reporters to leave the field area and to gather in the media room, where coach Mike Zimmer is expected to address Bridgewater’s injury.

Players removed their helmets and gathered around Bridgewater as the third-year quarterback was examined by medical personnel. An ambulance later drove onto the field.

If they called an ambulance, they’re clearly taking no chances with Bridgewater’s injury. The team obviously won’t have any definite information until the initial tests are performed — and head coach Mike Zimmer has been extremely cautious about sharing injury information with the media this year, so we may not hear anything concrete for a while. Zimmer will hold a press conference at 4 Central time to provide an update on Bridgewater’s condition.

Roster cuts so far…

All NFL teams have to reduce their rosters to 75 players under contract. As I mentioned in an update to the game report from Sunday’s contest with the Chargers, the Vikings are looking for a trade partner for centre John Sullivan. No trade offers materialized, so unfortunately Sullivan has been cut.

  • RT Austin Shepherd 74 – Shepherd was a bit of a surprise cut this early, but he’d clearly been pushed down the depth chart by off-season free agent signings and didn’t do enough in training camp to stick around for another season. He should be eligible for the practice squad, but going in the first round of cuts may mean the team is no longer interested in developing his skills.
  • RG Sean Hickey 66 (FA) – This wasn’t a surprise, as I hadn’t seen his name mentioned in training camp round-ups or game reports, so he didn’t catch the eyes of the coaches during the month he was on the team.
  • QB Brad Sorensen (FA) – Sorenson was a late addition to the roster, only being signed to the team nine days ago. His cut was one of the easiest to predict.
  • WR Marken Michel 9 (UDFA) – Another player who didn’t register in the coverage of camp or the first three preseason games, which is usually a strong indicator that they won’t find a roster spot. Arif Hasan’s take:
  • Michel looked good in spurts at camp, but his cut was easy to predict just from his playing time. He took two snaps on offense all preseason, behind the rarely seen Moritz Böhringer and Isaac Fruechte. His eight special teams snaps didn’t make up for the difference.

    An interesting athletic talent that looked good with the ball in his hands at Massachusetts, Michel couldn’t generate that same quickness as a route-runner and he doesn’t have the size or speed to hang his hat on another trump card.

  • LDE Theiren Cockran 67 (UDFA) – Cockran’s name came up a few times during the OTA sessions, but faded from view once training camp got underway.
  • DT Claudell Louis 74 (UDFA) – Louis was a long-shot, having only been signed to the roster in late July. Arif Hasan thought Louis had a good camp performance:
  • After recently having earned his U.S. citizenship, it would have been a nice followup for Claudell Louis to make an NFL roster. Unfortunately, without seeing a single snap in three preseason games despite being healthy, Louis couldn’t make his case in live play. It’s a shame, because I thought Louis actually had a good camp despite being a late camp signing who found himself on the roster after Heinicke found his foot in a door.

    Still, he was behind several rounds of defensive tackles — not just the starting pair of Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd, but Tom Johnson/Shamar Stephen, Kenrick Ellis/Toby Johnson and nickel rotations that included Scott Crichton and Zach Moore.

  • LB Terrance Plummer – Plummer has been through this before, as he was signed to the roster early in the off-season, released in April and then re-signed early in August.
  • CB Melvin White 31 (FA) – White’s release was announced on the August 25. The Vikings have a number of potentially very good young corners (Rhodes, Waynes, and Alexander), so White had too steep a hill to climb to make the roster.
  • TE Brian Leonhardt 87 (FA) – Another player who hoped to join a very good tight ends group, but was unable to show more potential than last year’s holdovers or 2016 draft pick David Morgan. Arif Hasan:
  • The gap between the top three tight ends in camp — Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt and David Morgan — and the bottom two — Kyle Carter and Brian Leonhardt — is enormous. Add to that the fact that Rhett Ellison is expected to contribute as early as week one (once taken off the PUP list in the offseason, one cannot be PUP’d for the regular season for the same injury), and it’s difficult to see how Carter or Leonhardt could have contributed.

  • WR Terrell Sinkfield 16 (FA) – Sinkfield was also competing at a crowded position and was unable to show enough to encourage the coaches to give him one more game where he might be able to show enough to stay on the roster.
  • C John Sullivan 65 – It’s sad to see Sullivan released after a very good career with the Vikings. He was drafted in 2008 and took over the starting centre position in 2009. After missing all of last year on injured reserve, he was unable to recapture the job from Joe Berger and the team was unable to find a trade partner before the cut-down deadline. Rick Spielman wrote of Sullivan:
  • “Our entire organization appreciates everything that John Sullivan has done for this franchise. Sullivan led our team, not only with how he played the game, but also with how he handled himself in our community. We wish John Sullivan and his family nothing but the best as they move forward.”

  • S Antone Exum Jr. 32 – Exum has all the physical gifts but never quite seemed to get the mental side of Mike Zimmer’s defence.
  • DT Scott Chrichton 95 – Much was expected of Chrichton, but he was never able to get on the field enough to show what he was capable of doing.
  • WR Troy Stoudermire 1 (FA) – As with Sinkfield, he was buried too far down the wide receiver list to get enough playing time.
  • G Mike Harris has been moved to the reserve/non-football injury list.
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