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.

August 29, 2016

Vikings beat San Diego Chargers 23-10 in third preseason game

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

Sunday’s grand opening of the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis was carried on Fox, so I was able to watch the game between the Chargers and the Vikings from the comfort of my rec room, rather than just following my Twitter feed for live updates. As with all preseason games, there were good and bad aspects, but the third preseason game tends to be the one that teams take quite seriously and usually play their starters for most of the first half. The first round of roster cuts come up very soon — teams have to get down to only 75 players on Tuesday — so this is professional do-or-die time for a lot of players at the bottom of the roster sheets.

For the Vikings, a few starters were held out for the game, including current NFL rushing champ Adrian Peterson (who hasn’t had a meaningful preseason snap in several years), left tackle Matt Kalil, defensive end Everson Griffen, middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. In a bit of a surprise, the starting centre was Joe Berger instead of the veteran John Sullivan (Berger is also a veteran player, but played all of last season at centre after Sullivan was injured).

The first drive of the game was quite encouraging for Vikings fans as the team drove efficiently down the field before the drive stalled in the red zone and they had to settle for a Blair Walsh field goal. Teddy Bridgewater showed that he has some athletic moves on a 22-yard scramble and Jerick McKinnon got a 35-yard gain on the same drive.

The second Vikings drive came quite soon as Harrison Smith intercepted a Philip Rivers pass off a deflection by Trae Waynes, but the team still couldn’t capitalize and came away with only a second field goal.

On San Diego’s next possession, the Vikings dialed up a big blitz but missed running back Melvin Gordon who ran 39 yards for the Chargers’ first score. Backup middle linebacker Audie Cole hit Rivers just as Gordon got the ball and safety Michael Griffin whiffed on Gordon in the open field. After the game, head coach Mike Zimmer said the blame was on him for a bad defensive call.

The Vikings’ next drive ended prematurely as tight end Kyle Rudolph had the ball stripped after a nice throw from Bridgewater and the Chargers were able to recover. San Diego briefly increased the lead on a field goal with about 2:28 left to play in the first half, and then Teddy Bridgewater put on a passing clinic with consecutive passes of 19, 22, and 27 yards and a touchdown to Kyle Rudolph. The two-point attempt after that failed, so the Vikings took a 12-10 lead into the halftime break. Bridgewater finished the half with a stat line of 12-of-16 for 161 yards and a passer rating of 127.3 (down from his 158.3 rating from the first preseason game).

The next points scored were a bit of a mess as tight end MyCole Pruitt took a Shaun Hill pass close to the goal line and then fumbled the ball. The ball was advanced into the end zone by a Chargers player and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson recovered the fumble for a Vikings touchdown. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. First round pick wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught a pass from Hill for the two-point conversion, moving the score to 20-10. Later in the fourth quarter, Blair Walsh scored another field goal to make the final score 23-10.

In defensive action, former Clemson teammates Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse each secured an interception:

For the second time this preseason, college teammates Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse each grabbed interceptions. Kearse was in the right spot at the right time to take in an overthrown Mike Bercovici pass. Alexander, after dropping an INT opportunity two plays prior, made an impressive interception in the end zone on a pass from Bercovici to Rasheed Bailey. Alexander and Kearse both played for Clemson and both were selected in last May’s draft – Alexander a second-round pick and Kearse a seventh-rounder. Another young defensive back impressed, as well, with Waynes registering a pass breakup and also finishing in good position on other passes thrown his way.

Of course, after doing something really good on the field, Mac Alexander then went over to taunt the San Diego bench, drawing a well-deserved unsportsmanlike conduct penalty:

A dictionary example of a “rookie mistake”.

The Vikings will host the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday in their fourth and final preseason game, after which all teams have to cut down to their 53-man rosters (practice squad players can be signed 24 hours after the “final” rosters are announced). Even more than the second half of the third preseason game, expect pretty much the entire fourth game to be filled with players desperate to attract the attention of coaches in hopes of latching on with a team (their own or some other team … getting into the NFL on a roster is what matters). Translated, this means don’t expect to see any star players take the field for more than token efforts this coming week: no rational coach is willing to risk star players getting injured in utterly meaningless snaps this late in the preseason (and should be strongly criticized if they do).

Update: Tom Pelissero is reporting that the Vikings are looking to trade John Sullivan, and it now makes sense that he didn’t get into the Chargers game.

August 22, 2016

For newspapers, paywalls are (not) the answer

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

At Techdirt, Mike Masnick uses small, easily understood words to explain why your local newspaper is cutting its own financial throat by implementing a paywall:

For many years, while some journalists (and newspaper execs) have been insisting that a paywall is “the answer” for the declining news business, we’ve been pointing out how fundamentally stupid paywalls are for the news. Without going into all of the arguments again, the short version is this: the business of newspapers has never really been “the news business” (no matter how much they insist otherwise). It’s always been the community and attention business. And in the past they were able to command such attention and build a community around news because they didn’t have much competition. But the competitive landscape for community and attention has changed (massively) thanks to the internet. And putting up a paywall makes it worse. In most cases, it’s limiting the ability of these newspapers to build communities or get attention, and actively pushing people away.

And, yes, sure, people will point to the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times as proof that “paywalls work.” But earth to basically every other publication: you’re not one of those publications. The paywalls there only work because of the unique content they have, and even then they don’t work as well as most people think.

Not surprisingly, more and more newspapers that bet on paywalls are discovering that they don’t really work that well and were a waste of time and effort — and may have driven away even more readers.

In my case, I look at various newspapers for links to share with my tiny audience of regular readers. Once upon a time, I’d frequently link to the two big Minnesota newspapers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, mostly because I was reading their sports pages for information about my favourite football team, but fairly often when they carried other news of interest, I’d share the link with my readers. When the Star Tribune implemented a paywall, I pretty much stopped going there (they allow 10 free articles per month, and even if I only read the odd Jim Souhan column, I’d already be beyond my limit). Given the thriving fan community for the Vikings, I barely miss the mainstream coverage (but I suspect they miss me and the thousands of other out-of-state visitors they used to get in the pre-paywall days).

August 19, 2016

Vikings beat Seahawks 18-11 in second preseason game, without Teddy Bridgewater

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:41

Perhaps the oddest thing about watching last night’s Vikings-Seahawks matchup was seeing Shaun Hill take the start instead of Teddy Bridgewater. Teddy wasn’t hurt, but head coach Mike Zimmer “explained” it as being his decision not to play Teddy. No additional information was provided. Quite odd, but it did show what the backup and third string quarterbacks could do in real game situations. At 1500ESPN, Judd Zulgad describes the press conference exchange after the game:

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer surprised everyone on Thursday night by not starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and instead giving the assignment to veteran Shaun Hill.

Asked why Bridgewater did not start in the Vikings’ 18-11 preseason victory in Seattle, Zimmer said, “because I sat him.” Asked why he made the move, Zimmer responded, “because I wanted to.”

While Zimmer would not go into any detail, he did make it clear the move wasn’t for disciplinary reasons. “Teddy Bridgewater’s the nicest kid in the world,” Zimmer said, “there’s no disciplinary action ever with Teddy so it had nothing to do with discipline, it had to do with my decision.”

Zimmer became annoyed with follow up questions during his press conference. “It was my decision,” he said. “How many times are we going to go through this? It was my decision. Good enough?”


August 13, 2016

Vikings beat Bengals 17-16 in first preseason game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:51

Football is finally back in town … well, preseason football is back, with its usual assortment of splashy plays and mistakes/miscues/pratfalls. Last night’s game in Cincinnati wasn’t broadcast in my area, so I had to depend on Twitter updates and the game summary at Vikings.com to keep up with the action.

The first quarter didn’t follow the script from the inter-team practices earlier in the week (where the Vikings clearly dominated the scrimmages) as the Bengals kept the Vikings off the field except for a brief and inglorious three-and-out featuring the very worst characteristics of last year’s offensive line. Three snaps and three pressures on Teddy Bridgewater, including a sack by Geno Atkins, and the Vikings were done for the remainder of the first quarter. The Bengals took advantage of the Vikings defense, moving the ball with relative ease but not quite being able to turn that into points. No score at the end of the first quarter with a huge disproportion in yards and time of possession for Cincinnati.

Late in the first half, the Vikings finally got the ball back and Teddy Bridgewater and the first team offence did a much more creditable job of moving the ball and recorded the first points of the night on a 49-yard pass to Charles Johnson (but the Bengals had been pulling their starters by this point). Bridgewater ended the night completing 6 of 7 passes for 92 yards and the TD.

The Vikings extended their scoring after the Bengals tied it up with a 51-yard field goal from Blair Walsh and a rushing TD from C.J. Ham.

Mike Nugent brought the score to 17-10 with a field goal for the home team, and some terrible tackling on a punt return allowed Alex Erickson to run 80 yards for the TD. The Bengals elected to try for two points to win (and avoid an overtime period on a hot, steamy preseason night), but the attempt failed to keep the score at 17-16.

Update: One nice thing from that otherwise forgettable first offensive series was Teddy Bridgewater keeping a play alive by stiff-arming Geno Atkins and completing the (short) pass:

July 31, 2016

The Film Room Ep 16: Harrison Smith is the new Troy Polamalu

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

Published on 28 Jul 2016

With episode 16, I wanted to take a look at one of the more “overlooked” elite defenses in the NFL up in Minnesota. The Vikings are absolutely LOADED with talent on every single level of their defense, with perhaps the crown jewel of them all being their incredible young box safety, Harrison Smith. The fifth-year star plays a “do it all” role in Mike Zimmer’s pressure-filled defense, and as a result he’s often seen doing literally everything from enforcing his will down on the line of scrimmage, to covering slot receivers man to man, to even bracketing wideouts deep down field as a center fielder. With my beloved Texans slated to have an absolute brawl with Smith and company early in the season, there’s no better time to get acquainted with this ultra-talented beast that awaits them in week five.

July 29, 2016

Can the Vikings repeat last year’s success?

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

To be a Vikings fan is to know just how fickle the fates can be. Here’s Jim Souhan with his patented Debby Downer take on the Vikings’ chances of equalling or exceeding last year’s 11-5 record and a playoff appearance:

The perception within and outside the organization is that the 2015 season was the first major step on a ladder that will stretch to the Super Bowl, perhaps when Minneapolis plays host to the big game following the 2017 season.

The optimism is justified by analyses of a talented young roster and Zimmer’s coaching chops.

The optimism is not supported by Vikings history.

Since the franchise was born, the Vikings have won 11 games in a season 12 times, including last year. Ten of the 11 previous times, the team’s win total dropped the next season — the Vikings won 12 games in 1969 and again in 1970.

There are circumstantial reasons to wonder if the Vikings fan base may be setting itself up for another dose of chronic disappointment.

Winning NFL teams sometimes assume their success is caused by tangible, controllable factors, but luck plays a major role in a league where parity is promoted, if not always attained.

The health and availability of key players can be pivotal — especially the health of quarterbacks. Teddy Bridgewater started 16 games last season. His backup, veteran journeyman Shaun Hill, did not perform well when called upon. The Vikings might be one injury away from wishing they had Christian Ponder.

Referees wield great power, especially when asked to make difficult decisions on what is a reception and what is pass interference.

Then there is human nature. The Vikings are a confident bunch. They also are playing in a division featuring Chicago Bears coach John Fox, known as a fixer of struggling franchises, and the perpetually dangerous Green Bay Packers, who may again have the services of star receiver Jordy Nelson.

So, in summary, since the Vikings have never won the Superbowl, there’s no chance they ever will. Because nothing ever happens for the first time.


July 23, 2016

Former Vikings head coach Denny Green, RIP

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:33

Yesterday’s grand opening of the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium in Minneapolis was unfortunately also when the news came in that former head coach Dennis Green had passed away that morning.

Former Vikings head coach Dennis Green (photo from the team website)

Former Vikings head coach Dennis Green (photo from the team website)

Many former players, including Randy Moss, Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer shared their respects for Green.

Green became the third African-American head coach in NFL history and the second in the modern era when he was hired by the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 10, 1992. A decade earlier, Green became the second African-American head coach in NCAA Division I-A at Northwestern in 1981.

When Vikings.com interviewed Green for the “Celebrate Perseverance” Black History Month content series that launched in February 2015, he spoke about the appreciation he had for being “born at the right time.” He said he witnessed a period of substantial change that allowed him greater opportunities than generations before him were able to enjoy. He wanted to do well so that others would be extended opportunities.

“My generation laid a certain foundation,” Green said, “It’s up to the next generation to be able to recognize that really, it’s all about equal access and equal opportunity and all of us operating on the same and playing on the same earth.”

May 27, 2016

The secret to Mike Zimmer’s popularity in Minnesota

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

Jim Souhan analyzes the phenomenon of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s popularity:

Mike Zimmer is becoming so popular that someday he may be able to charge Vikings fans to clean out his garage.

It’s worked for Bud Grant. He holds an annual “garage sale” that is the modern-day equivalent of (Warning: Old-guy reference coming up) Tom Sawyer tricking kids into paying him to paint a fence for him.

Grant and Zimmer are of a like mind, and a like kind. Grant is a Minnesota hero because he wore short sleeves in freezing temps and used a subzero glare as his primary form of communication. Zimmer’s personality is a hybrid of Grant’s bluntness and Jerry Burns’ creative use of blue language.

Ask a Minnesota sports fan what they care about, and they’ll say “championships.” Yet Grant’s image survived four Super Bowl losses, and Zimmer seems to be the most popular Vikings coach since Grant even though he has yet to win a playoff game.

Grant and Zimmer are proof that when it comes to Minnesota sports fans, bluntness is revered above all else.

Zimmer is not a Minnesota native and did not attend a Minnesota college. He had no ties to the state until he took a job here. Anecdotal evidence suggests he’s wildly popular, and yet he has not established that he is one of us.

In our highly-provincial state, where being local is prized above all else, where natives spend most of their time with their former high school or college classmates, how did an outsider who cusses a lot and has yet to win big become so well-liked?

The answer: By not trying.

Minnesotans are highly suspicious of slickness, and salespeople. They mistrusted Norwood Teague long before they had evidence he was evil, because he always sounded as if he was telling people what they wanted to hear.

Minnesotans don’t want to be told what they want to hear. In our state, the best public relations tactic is not sounding as if you’re engaging in public relations.

Zimmer has become popular with Zen PR. By not telling people what they want to hear, he has given them what they want to hear.

May 1, 2016

Minnesota Vikings 2016 draft – third day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:53

Coming into the third and final day of the 2016 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings started the day holding the following picks:

  • Fourth round: 23rd (121st overall)
  • Fifth round: 23rd (160th overall)
  • Sixth round: 5th (180th overall, from San Francisco)
  • Sixth round: 11th (186th overall, from Miami)
  • Seventh round: 19th (240th overall, from Buffalo)
  • Seventh round: 23rd (244th overall)

And here’s how the last day of the draft played out for Minnesota:


April 30, 2016

Minnesota Vikings 2016 draft – second day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:20

After Thursday’s rather undramatic and non-suspense-filled first round pick, where the team did the predictable thing and selected the best remaining wide receiver, day two of the draft promised to be a bit more exciting. “Trader Rick” Spielman must have been just itching to do some wheeling and dealing by this stage of the draft. And yet…

With their actual second round pick (I can’t believe I’m typing this), the Vikings selected Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander. No slick trading. No fancy up-or-down-swapping. Almost like someone has forced “Trader Rick” to act completely out-of-character and use yet another draft pick in the original order …

Mackensie Alexander

Sorry, still in shock that we actually picked at the original spots consecutively…

Here’s what Sports Illustrated had to say about the Vikings’ second round pick:

Alexander has the best mirroring and transition speed of any cornerback in this class. Takes his receiver seamlessly from the first step throughout the route, and turns and flips on a dime to stay with them through quick-breaking and option routes. Has the chase and recovery speed to close in and deflect passes with good timing. Understands his movement in the deep routes, and gets his hand on the receiver and tracks the ball well throughout the throw. Great with angles and will use his body to cut routes to the quick. Transitions between man and bail coverage seamlessly, which is a process that many NFL cornerbacks find tough to handle. Excellent economy of motion allows him to play the entire field well.

Very contentious, competitive player who keeps the fight going all the way through—his battle against Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard last season is a must-watch. Plays wide and tall coverage as an outside corner out of necessity; Clemson’s schemes left him without help in curl/flat routes and over the top at times. Good musculature for the position and will throw his body around against the run. Takes it upon himself to bring his game to a different level.

Some see this pick as creating competition at the nickel corner position for Captain Munnerlyn. Including Munnerlyn:

In the third round of the draft, Trader Rick finally managed to throw off the restraints and swapped Minnesota’s pick (at 86th overall) to Miami, in exchange for Miami’s 6th round pick (186th overall) plus Miami’s 2017 third and fourth round picks. I’d say that was a good exchange for the Vikings. The Dolphins used the pick acquired from Minnesota to select Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Caroo. ESPN‘s Ben Goessling explains the logic of the trade:

“There were a couple guys that we liked — we had two guys targeted,” Spielman said. “But then as I kept staring at the board — which we have a tendency to do a lot — I saw there were still a lot of good football players that we can potentially pick up tomorrow. There was enough depth in the draft this year that you’re going to get quality players. So to still be able to get quality players tomorrow, and kind of look into the future, potentially where your roster’s going to be in ’17 and how valuable those picks are going to become, I felt the trade was the right move for us.”

The Vikings now have six picks in the first four rounds of next year’s draft, when they could have some spots to fill after possibly parting with players due to hit free agency after 2016. The offensive line, for example, has five players set to hit free agency after the season, and the Vikings could have more use for those picks next year. Considering how many of their in-house free agents the Vikings retained, it sounds as though they know this year’s roster might be harder to crack. That would inherently depress the value of draft picks this year, and the Vikings chose to parlay a third-rounder into more high picks next season.

“I think you just look at where your current roster is, but that’s also why we try to plan for the future as well,” Spielman said. “I want to make sure that we always keep a competitive roster. Depending on what happens in 2017, just projecting what our roster could look like, just to have those draft picks next year is going to be valuable.”

April 29, 2016

Minnesota Vikings 2016 draft – first round

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:45

At the start of the first round of the draft, the Minnesota Vikings held the #23 pick. Given how frequently the team has depended on the wheeling-and-dealing skills of general manager “Trader Rick” Spielman, few of us were anticipating that the team would actually use that pick (although the Vikings actually did use their original first round pick in 2015).

Laquon Treadwell

The most frequently mentioned wide receiver to be drafted by the Vikings was Josh Doctson, but he went to the Washington Redskins just ahead of Minnesota’s pick, so Laquon Treadwell ended up being the team’s first round pick at the #23 slot. Before the draft began, ESPN’s Ben Goessling had bucked the trend by selecting Treadwell in the NFL Nation mock draft, saying:

The Vikings brought both Treadwell and Doctson to their top 30 event earlier this month, and either one would fit a need for a big receiver on the roster. Either could be a viable option for the Vikings on Thursday night. But I leaned toward Treadwell for a couple of reasons.

First, while the Ole Miss receiver has slipped in mock drafts after his slow 40 time (4.63 seconds at his pro day), he still brings much of what the Vikings need for their offense. At 6-foot-2 and 221 pounds, he has plenty of size to deal with press coverage, and he has shown an ability to both be physical with cornerbacks and separate from them with his footwork. His size and mentality also should help him as a run blocker — no small part of playing wide receiver in the Vikings’ offense — and he has displayed an impressive understanding of positioning while competing against cornerbacks in the SEC.

Doctson is the better deep threat, and he’ll do a better job of plucking balls over the top of defensive backs. But Teddy Bridgewater might benefit more from a receiver who can box out defenders and present a reliable target in the red zone.

It’s also worth noting that Treadwell doesn’t turn 21 until June, while Doctson will be 24 in December. They typically haven’t taken players as old as Doctson in the first round; in fact, he’d be the Vikings’ oldest first-round selection since Todd Steussie in 1994. That doesn’t rule him out, but especially when the Vikings are looking for a receiver who can grow with their 23-year-old quarterback, it shouldn’t be discounted.


April 28, 2016

Vikings draft needs for 2016

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

As I say every year at around this time, I don’t know who the Vikings are planning to draft this year (because I don’t follow college football), but there are some positional needs that the team will probably address between Thursday and Saturday as the 2016 NFL draft unfolds. One position we can confidently predict won’t be high on the list is quarterback: the 32nd pick of the 2014 draft is still the incumbent starting quarterback and (most of us hope) Teddy Bridgewater will continue to develop in his third season in the league. Which leads to the first few draft needs most fans can readily identify:

  • Wide receiver. The Greg Jennings experiment didn’t yield the results the team had hoped for in 2014 (even though Greg Jennings is always open). The Mike Wallace experiment likewise failed to live up to eleven-million-dollars-worth of expectations in 2015. Will the (fill-in-the-blank) experiment finally energize the Vikings’ passing attack in 2016? The mock drafts this year are pretty insistent that the Vikings will draft TCU receiver Josh Doctson with the 23rd pick, unless Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) is still available … or (fill-in-the-blank).
  • Offensive line. Teddy Bridgewater apologists can reasonably point to the fact that the Vikings’ offensive line was … sub-optimal in 2015, which translated into Bridgewater being pressured more than any other NFL quarterback last season. Shoring up the line is a pretty good way to give the QB enough time to finally find his downfield receivers. Veteran center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt should be back from serious injuries that kept them off the field for the entire 2015 regular season. Free agent additions of guard Alex Boone and tackle Andre Smith provide depth and flexibility (particularly in allowing Brandon Fusco to return to his natural right guard position after a terrible season at left guard). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team add a high draft pick to the OL group this year.
  • Safety. While Harrison Smith has been establishing himself as one of the best safeties in the league, the team hasn’t been able to provide him with a complementary player to allow Smith to fully exploit his opportunities. While there’s still a chance that the “other” safety is already on the roster (Andrew Sendejo?, Antone Exum?, Anthony Harris? free agent addition Michael Griffin?), a number of players have rotated through that position without really establishing a legitimate claim. According to several stories, this isn’t a draft that is deep in potential safety help, it wouldn’t be surprising to find the Vikings drafting a safety during the first three rounds this week.
  • Linebacker. Much has been written over the last few months about the Vikings’ need for another linebacker, but with the team having used a first (Anthony Barr, 2014) and a second round pick (Eric Kendricks, 2015) on the linebacker position in the last two years, it would have to be a phenomenal player falling unexpectedly to tempt Spielman and company to draft yet another linebacker this high.
  • Defensive tackle. On first glance, this is a strength of the team, but injuries exposed some unexpected weaknesses in the depth chart in 2015 (Linval Joseph’s turf toe, Shamar Stephan went to IR, Sharif Floyd had multiple injuries, and Tom Johnson turns 32 this year). Adding a developmental player here makes a good deal of sense in this year’s draft.
  • Punter. It would not be a huge surprise to see the Vikings draft a punter this year. It would be a surprise to see them draft one before the sixth round, however. Incumbent Jeff Locke hasn’t been covering himself in glory since he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 draft.

April 15, 2016

Jared Allen returns to the Vikings

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

On Thursday, former Viking great Jared Allen signed a new contract to return to Minnesota. For one day, anyway:

Crediting the team for the fondest memories of his career and reflecting on the life changes that happened in six years with the Minnesota Vikings, Jared Allen signed a one-day contract with the team so he could officially retire as a member of the organization.

Allen, who played in Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers and announced his retirement two weeks after the Panthers’ loss, will finalize his retirement on Friday.

“In my heart, when it was all said and done, I knew I wanted to retire as a Viking,” Allen said in a conference call. “I’ve always kept in contact with [general manager] Rick [Spielman] and [vice president of football operations] Rob [Brzezinski]. It was one of those mutual things.”


“You go through life, and there’s a maturation process,” Allen said. “I made some mistakes early in my career, and you learn from those and you grow from them. Minnesota was a place that helped me grow as a man. … When I got there, I was in the process of changing some habits and growing up. To have guys that are doing it right around you is phenomenal.”

Allen left the Vikings following the 2013 season, when the team shifted its defensive scheme and began the search for a new quarterback under coach Mike Zimmer. After a difficult 2014 season with the Bears, Allen was traded to the Panthers last fall, and became a regular contributor to the league’s sixth-ranked defense. Allen has praised the atmosphere created by Panthers coach Ron Rivera — a former teammate of Frazier’s in Chicago — but said it would have been sweeter had he made a Super Bowl appearance with the Vikings, who lost the 2010 NFC Championship Game to the New Orleans Saints in overtime.

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