December 11, 2017

Vikings can’t overcome offensive line injuries, lose 31-24 to Carolina Panthers

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Minnesota Vikings visit the Carolina Panthers, hoping to keep their winning streak going and clinch the NFC North division title. Things started off badly, as the Vikings were already missing right tackle Mike Remmers (out for the fifth consecutive game) and centre Pat Elflein was ruled out with a shoulder injury, so the offensive line started with two back-ups (Easton moved to centre, and Jeremiah Sirles filled in at left guard, while Rashod Hill plugged in again at right tackle). During the game, left tackle Riley Reiff was injured, leaving only Easton and Berger of the starting OL still in the game. If nothing else, this showed how much the Vikings depend on their linemen giving the quarterback and running backs the time to set up plays.

And that doesn’t even get into the uncharacteristic penalties and miscues by ordinarily dependable players that kept the Vikings from their normal game plan.


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.


February 9, 2016

Cam Newton’s 198.8% tax rate for his Super Bowl “winnings”

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

Dan Mitchell explains how Cam Newton is being taxed at nearly 200% on his California income for playing in the Super Bowl:

When I give speeches in favor of tax reform, I argue for policies such as the flat tax on the basis of both ethics and economics.

The ethical argument is about the desire for a fair system that neither punishes people for being productive nor rewards them for being politically powerful. As is etched above the entrance to the Supreme Court, the law should treat everyone equally.

The economic argument is about lowering tax rates, eliminating double taxation, and getting rid of distorting tax preferences.

Today, let’s focus on the importance of low tax rates and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers is going to be our poster child. But before we get to his story, let’s look at why it’s important to have a low marginal tax rate, which is the rate that applies when people earn more income.


Now let’s look at the tax implication for Cam Newton.

    If the Panthers win the Super Bowl, Newton will earn another $102,000 in playoff bonuses, but if they lose he will only net another $51,000. The Panthers will have about 206 total duty days during 2016, including the playoffs, preseason, regular season and organized team activities (OTAs), which Newton must attend or lose $500,000. Seven of those duty days will be in California for the Super Bowl… To determine what Newton will pay California on his Super Bowl winnings alone, …looking at the seven days Newton will spend in California this week for Super Bowl 50, he will pay the state $101,600 on $102,000 of income should the Panthers be victorious or $101,360 on $51,000 should they lose.

So what was Cam’s marginal tax rate for playing yesterday?

    Losing means his effective tax rate will be a whopping 198.8%. Oh yeah, he will also pay the IRS 40.5% on his earnings.

In other words, Cam Newton will pay a Barack Obama-style flat tax. The rules are very simple. The government simply takes all your money.

Or, in this case, more than all your money. So it’s akin to a French-style flat tax.

December 3, 2014

Teddy Bridgewater update

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:20

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t set the league on fire, but he’s still learning and improving his game (with the occasional regression, like all rookie quarterbacks). He played well enough on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers to get a nomination for rookie of the week honours for 15 of 21, 138 yards, two touchdowns and a career high 120.7 passer rating.

ESPN‘s Ben Goessling looks at Teddy’s play in the game:

Whenever he’s talked about a need to get rid of the ball faster as a rookie, Bridgewater has known the key to making that happen was the ability to identify coverages sooner. The way he operated on Sunday, in a victory over the Carolina Panthers, suggested he’s starting to figure out some of quarterbacking’s nuances.

On his 17-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings, Bridgewater walked to the line to see the Panthers playing off receivers Charles Johnson and Greg Jennings, who were lined up in a stack formation to the quarterback’s left. Bridgewater could see from his pre-snap read that he’d have room to hit Jennings underneath since the Panthers were guarding against a deep pass with 23 seconds left in the half. He threw a 5-yarder out to Jennings, who had room to show why he’s still one of the league’s best after the catch. Jennings made Antoine Cason miss, got to the outside and beat Bene Benwikere to the end zone, gaining 12 yards after the catch on a TD that put the Vikings up 28-6.

“I made the decision before the ball was snapped,” Bridgewater said. “The offensive line did a great job of allowing me to sit back there and make the throw, play pitch-and-catch with Greg. Greg was able to make a move and score a touchdown. Each week, I’m trying to make quicker decisions and continue to trust those guys each week.”

Meanwhile, over at the Daily Norseman, the Teddy Bridgewater Underground discovers that things can get tougher after the revolution is over:

Once we had toppled the Old Guard, I don’t think any of us realized that the transition from Revolution to Legitimate Government would be as difficult as the Revolution itself. Man, it’s easy to rile up the masses, especially when they feel they’ve been cheated out of the basics of good quarterback play their whole life. It’s easy to get them to rally around The Cause, and even to go to war over it, if necessary.

The Cause.

It started more as an Idea, but quickly grew into something that grew even faster than the most ardent revolutionaries could’ve imagined. From the moment we heard that in other lands the people enjoyed quarterback play, and we tapped in to forbidden short wave transmissions and hacked in to foreign TV feeds to confirm this was true, The Idea became The Movement. The Movement became The Cause. And The Cause became The Revolution.

¡Viva la Revolución!

But once we took over, the transition to governance wasn’t easy, far from it. Look, it’s easy to topple a government that was practically begging to be overthrown (there’s a Josh Freeman joke here somewhere, I just know it), but once that happens…there’s no one to blame but you if things go wrong. So from those heady days of overthrow and victory parades, we had to figure out how to run a country, and we had to do it without too many things going wrong.

Because when things go wrong, an idea can form. And then transition quickly to a Movement, a Cause, and then the next thing you know you’re in a ‘Quarterback Re-Education Center’ watching 16 mm game film of Joe Kapp, Fran Tarkenton, and Tommy Kramer. And you’re trying to tell yourself that the Marcus Mariota Movement isn’t a revolution, just a couple of peasants in neon green pants made by Nike.

December 1, 2014

Vikings dominate Carolina Panthers, 31-13

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:35

Another game that wasn’t broadcast in the Toronto area … but this time they had a good excuse, it being Grey Cup weekend. In the Maple-flavoured game, the underdog Hamilton TiCats lost to the Calgary Stampeders by a score of 20-16. Well, #oskeeweewee guys and good luck next year!

In Minneapolis, the Vikings were the beneficiaries of not just one but two blocked punts run back for touchdowns. This is the first time the Vikings have scored on a blocked punt since 1986 … longer than almost all the current members of the team have been alive. It had been the longest ongoing span of games in the NFL when Adam Thielen blocked the punt, scooped it up and ran 30 yards to the end zone for six points and a Vikings record. The record — the longest TD scoring run off a blocked punt lasted less than 20 minutes before Jasper Brinkley blocked another punt which was run back by Everson Griffin for 46 yards to set a new record.

The special teams did so well that it pretty much overshadowed the improved performance at quarterback by Teddy Bridgewater: not record setting numbers, but two touchdowns and no turnovers along with a 120.7 passer rating. Derek Wetmore looks at the special teams heroics:

Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen etched their names into team history books, and they combined to pull off a rare feat.

First, Thielen blocked a punt in the first quarter and scooped it up with one hand as he returned to his feet and raced to the endzone. The Vikings already led 7-0 at that point, so the longest blocked punt returned for a touchdown in team history put Minnesota up by two scores.

But his 30-yard return didn’t stand as the franchise-long for very long.

With the Vikings leading 14-3, Jasper Brinkley got his mitts on a punt and Everson Griffen was there to recover it and take it into the endzone, setting a new Vikings record for the longest blocked punt returned for a score: 46 yards.

One of the weirdest things about the game is that even with the win, the Vikings are at the bottom of their division with a 5-7 record and only mathematically alive for a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Even with the loss, Carolina (at 3-8-1) still has a chance to win their division and host a playoff game!

March 23, 2014

Joe Webb signs with the Carolina Panthers

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

Sad to see him go, but happy he’s at least getting a chance to play quarterback for another team. He was never going to be a franchise quarterback, but it’s difficult to say he ever really got a fair chance with the Vikings. As Ted Glover puts it, “The Joe Webb Era Is Dead. Long Live The Joe Webb Era”:

The semi-legend, who became part super hero, part mythological woodland creature, and part mediocre quarterback and receiver, has a vocal minority of support as strong as any fringe roster guy in NFL history. Earlier this evening he was signed by the Carolina Panthers as a backup to Cam Newton. The Panthers find themselves in need of quarterback depth now that Cam Newton will miss most, if not all of the off-season, due to ankle surgery. According to NFL.com, the Panthers ‘love his skill set’, and like the idea of having another athletic quarterback in the mix behind Newton.

Wait, I could swear I’ve heard a coaching staff rave about his skill set before. I know I have. I JUST KNOW IT.

Of course, Carolina also released WR Steve Smith, and they suddenly find themselves in need of wide receiving depth, too. And with Captain Munnerlyn now on the Vikings, maybe the Panthers need a guy who can return punts, or kicks.

Joe’s done that before, too.

The Vikings installed what they called the “Blazer” package to showcase Webb’s wildcat skills, but it was a remarkably limited package that only seemed to work the first time … because it was totally predictable after you saw it run once: there were no significant variations or options. That’s not Webb’s fault, that’s the fault of the previous offensive co-ordinator and his lack of creativity (or unwillingness to trust Webb with more responsibility, perhaps).

MINNEAPOLIS – NOVEMBER 7: Joe Webb #14 of the Minnesota Vikings runs a route during an NFL game against the Washington Redskins at Mall of America Field, on November 7, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

Update: Arif Hasan says goodbye to Joe:

Reasons to cheer for him: Joe Webb is a fantastic person with a great attitude. I’ve never heard Webb complain about getting jerked around or being put in a poor position to succeed, despite ample oppurtunity to and didn’t just do what his coaches asked of him — he embraced it enthusiastically. It’s also difficult to forget his more amazing moments, like against Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago. In some ways, it’s always easy to cheer for a player that gave you so many electrifying moments. He was very probably misused and certainly hurt for not being able to develop as a player with one position. Perhaps sitting behind an offense built for a running quarterback in Carolina will help him better use his exciting skill set.

Reasons to cheer against him: He hasn’t been very good. In all honesty, the great moments he had weren’t sustainable or reasons you could count on him for the future, and he produced one of the worst quarterback playoff performances of all time. Despite a career completion rate lower than 50% and yards per attempt lower than even Christian Ponder’s, he somehow found himself in quarterback controversies a bit too often. Maybe not his fault, but definitely something that inspires some resentment.

Verdict: For. Unless you really, really dislike Carolina, it’s hard not to cheer Joe Webb on. If Cam Newton gets injured and Webb leads the Panthers to the playoffs (or better), that will give us confirmation that the old coaching staff was terrible, and it feels good to be right. For all of his faults, he was probably misused in Minnesota. That isn’t to say he was a good football player, but when he was on the field, the ways he was used were suboptimal. Last thing: it’s kind of cool that Spiderman and Superman are paired together.

March 14, 2014

Vikings replenish their cornerback pool

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:39

It was so common to read about the 2013 version of the Minnesota Vikings secondary described in terms of “awful”, “dysfunctional”, “disaster area”, and “dumpster fire”. Even with some good new players over the last couple of drafts, their impact was negated by the poor play of others. Harrison Smith missed the last half of the season due to injury, and Xavier Rhodes only got to see the field regularly late in the season. This situation had to be addressed either in free agency or through the draft. The team has addressed most of their defensive line weaknesses (re-signing DE Everson Griffin and DT Fred Evans and bringing in DT Linval Joseph), so the big needs were for competent-or-better cornerbacks.

The team has lacked a good slot corner since parting ways with the great Antoine Winfield, but hope that they’ve now got someone to fill that role:

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 15: Captain Munnerlyn #41 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown against the New York Jets during play at Bank of America Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 30-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings have signed former Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to a three-year deal, with details pending per Ian Rapaport.


Munnerlyn resolves arguably the biggest weakness from the 2013 Minnesota Vikings defense, which is pass coverage from the slot position.

Josh Robinson had the majority of the slot coverage duty for Minnesota and did a frankly abysmal job, competing with Robert McClain of the Falcons for some of the worst slot coverage in the NFL. No single cornerback gave up more receptions per snap in coverage or yards per snap in coverage, marking Josh Robinson with the singular distinction of being the worst statistical slot cornerback in the league.

To be fair, Robinson had never played slot in his college or pro career until last year, and he and the team would be far better served if he can move back to the outside.

Captain Munnerlyn is coming off of the best year of his career, and has had consistently fine play at the spot, although no one would mistake him for Leon Hall or Chris Harris, Jr. — perhaps the two best slot cornerbacks in the NFL today. Notably, Leon Hall played for the Cincinnati Bengals under Mike Zimmer, and perhaps Zimmer can turn Munnerlyn from good into great with some coaching.

The deal is relatively cheap, although a little more expensive than I like given that Corey Graham, a very good slot corner who played for the Ravens just signed with the Bills for an average salary one million dollars lower. Nevertheless, it is a team-friendly way to turn one of the biggest weaknesses on their defense into a relative non-issue.

Captain Munnerlyn’s Pro Football Focus grade was 11th of all corners last year, and he gave up league average statisics in yards per target, yards per snap in coverage and receptions allowed per snap in coverage. More importantly, he grew into his role after several seasons of relatively average play. A lot of that grade was due to his ability to stop the run, but it is more important to note that it was an outlier year for Munnerlyn. In coverage grades alone, Munnerlyn had struggled to beat the league average until this year (but was never significantly below average, maintaining consistency in reliable coverage).

But Munnerlyn wasn’t the only cornerback to join the team yesterday:

[Derek] Cox has five years of NFL experience and most recently spent last season in San Diego, playing all 16 games with them. He was a third round selection of the Jaguars in 2009 and was there for his first four NFL seasons. He has 13 career interceptions and appears to be healthy again after some injuries caused him to slump for a couple of seasons.

October 14, 2013

Vikings stumble to embarrassing loss at home to the Panthers

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:14

Yesterday was our family Thanksgiving dinner, so I didn’t even turn on the TV to find out if the Vikings game was available to watch in our area. I checked my Twitter feed every now and again, to see how the game was going … and became a bit more thankful I hadn’t tried to watch even part of the game on TV. As Jim Souhan posted to his Twitter account, “this is the kind of game that gets coaches fired”.

Carolina scored first, and soon put the Vikings in a deep enough hole that Adrian Peterson was not going to be a factor for the rest of the game. Matt Cassel, after a good performance against Pittsburgh in the last game, reverted to being inconsistent against the Panthers. Josh Robinson continued to be the opposing quarterback’s favourite target, while injuries started to pile up among the other defenders (Bishop, Smith, and Rhodes). There were few good individual performances to stack up against overall team inadequacies.

Christopher Gates:

I have no idea how a team coming off of a bye week, and with all the emotion that this week contained, can come out as completely flat and lifeless as the Minnesota Vikings did today. They just got throttled on both sides of the ball, with the Carolina Panthers dominating in time of possession for the afternoon, and just looked overmatched everywhere.

Matt Cassel is terrible. Whine about Christian Ponder all you want, but this team didn’t have a 10-point performance under his watch. Sometimes, a quarterback change can have a ripple effect on the team. . .assuming that you’re not changing to Matt Cassel. Ah, well, the Josh Freeman era starts next week, it appears.

Josh Robinson is the worst defensive back to wear purple and gold since the days of Wasswa Serwanga and Robert Tate. Seriously, rather than a #21, his jersey should just have a giant bulls-eye on it.

Update: Christopher Gates discusses the elephant in the room … the putrid state of the Vikings defence.

But Cassel’s performance today brought to light the gigantic elephant in the room, one that people were a bit reticent about during the first three or four games of the 2013 NFL season … and that’s the fact that this just might be the worst defense in Minnesota Vikings history.

Think I’m exaggerating or engaging in hyperbole? Well, I took a look back at the Vikings’ defenses over the years, particularly since the advent of the 16-game schedule. Since 1978, the most points the Vikings have given up in a full 16-game season (excluding years where there were strikes and/or games with replacement players) is 484. That was the figure given up by the 1984 Minnesota Vikings, generally regarded as the worst team in franchise history and a team that outright quit on their reviled head coach, Les Steckel, about halfway through the season.

The 2013 Minnesota Vikings’ defense is on pace to be worse.

The Vikings, through the first five games, have allowed 158 points, an average of 31.6 points per contest. If they keep up that clip for 16 games, they will allow opponents to put up over 500 points (506, to be precise) for the first time in franchise history. For some perspective on that, the record for the most points allowed since the advent of the 16-game schedule is 533, currently held by the 1981 Baltimore Colts. The 2008 Detroit Lions, the 0-16 outfit, allowed 517 points during that season. Such a pace would make the 2013 Vikings only the third team in NFL history to allow more than 500 points in a 16-game season. (The 1966 New York Giants allowed 501 points, but that was in a 14-game slate, which is even worse.)

Nobody seemed to want to discuss the defense very much when Christian Ponder was the starting quarterback … but we pretty much have to talk about it now, as it’s continued to be horrible. This defense is awful at every level, with only a few guys that should be allowed to collect their paychecks on a weekly basis. This team has allowed at least 27 points in every game this season (and, yet, was still in position to win a couple of those games if they could have made so much as one play), the defensive line isn’t getting nearly the pressure they should, the linebackers are at least a step slow, if not more, the secondary can’t cover anybody, and Josh Robinson has been so awful they should just give him a jersey that says “Serwanga” on the back.

October 31, 2011

Vikings hang on to defeat Panthers at home, 24-21

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:34

For what was billed as a team that couldn’t stop the run, Carolina certainly kept Adrian Peterson bottled up for much of the day — at least on the ground. Peterson didn’t break 100 yards of rushing, but he made up for that in receiving yards with 162 yards in total. Cam Newton did awful things to the Vikings’ secondary including a big completion on fourth-and-fourteen that kept the Panthers’ final drive alive. Christian Ponder put in a good performance at quarterback for the Vikings, making no serious mistakes and keeping the chains moving on third down, especially in the second half.

Carolina looked snake-bit early in the game, with several ugly plays that the Vikings failed to fully capitalize on. Their first possession lasted exactly one play as a strip-sack handed the ball over to the Vikings deep in Panther territory. Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson hit Newton forcing the ball out, and Jared Allen came up with the loose ball. Allen also had a sack later in the half, which also forced Newton to fumble. Allen set a new team record with a sack in ten consecutive games.

Percy Harvin, on the other hand, had a much more up-and-down game. He scored a rushing touchdown, but was also stripped of the ball deep in Panthers’ territory, and also drew a 15-yard penalty for what looked like a fistfight with Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn well off the playing field (actually at the Panthers’ bench).


October 30, 2011

Rookie QB matchup

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:52

This is one of those games that could attract a lot more attention than the (respectively) 1-6 and 2-5 teams would normally be able to get. The biggest reason is the head-to-head matchup of two rookie quarterbacks, the Vikings’ Christian Ponder and the Panthers’ Cam Newton. Jim Souhan points out a few parallels between the two rookies:

When Cam Newton scores a touchdown, which is often, he rips open an imaginary shirt, imitating Superman.

When Christian Ponder threw his first NFL touchdown on Sunday, he ran down the field firing imaginary guns like the Shooter McGavin character from “Happy Gilmore.”

While one channels a hero and the other embraces a parody, Newton and Ponder, two rookie quarterbacks who will meet today in Charlotte, share an intriguing set of connections and similarities.

They worked out together this summer with St. Paul native and former Florida State star Chris Weinke. They were both selected in the first round of the 2011 draft. Their fathers tried out for the Dallas Cowboys in 1983. They might have the four best legs this side of Secretariat.

What might be most interesting about them is that they have the athletic ability to alter the way the quarterback position is played, yet seem determined to prove they can win games with their arms.

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