November 29, 2015

Does Teddy Bridgewater hold the ball too long?

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

Over at Vikings Territory, Brett Anderson endangers his health, eyesight, and even his sanity by exhaustively tracking, timing, and analyzing every throw by Teddy Bridgewater in last week’s game against the Green Bay Packers. A common knock on Bridgewater is that he’s holding the ball too long and therefore missing pass opportunities and making himself more vulnerable to being sacked. It’s a long article, but you can skip right to the end to get the facts distilled:

What The Film Shows

It became clear pretty quickly that plays with larger TBH [time ball held] had a lot happening completely out of Bridgewater’s control. There were only a couple of plays where it clearly looked like Bridgewater held the ball too long while there were options downfield to target or that he hesitated to pull the trigger on guys that were open. And consistently, there were three issues I kept noticing.

  1. Receiver route depth – The Vikings receivers run a ton of late developing routes. I don’t have any numbers to back that up – we’re talking strictly film review now. But on plays ran out of the shotgun with 5-step drops or plays with even longer 7-step drops, by the time Bridgewater is being pressured (which happens about every 2 of 3 plays), his receivers have not finished their routes. And I know that just because they haven’t finished the route doesn’t mean Bridgewater can’t anticipate where they are going to be but… We’re talking not really even close to finishing their routes. It seems that a lot of the Vikings play designs consist of everybody running deep fade routes to create room underneath for someone on a short dig or to check down to a running back in the flat. So, if this player underneath is for any reason covered (or if the Vikings find themselves in long down and distance situations where an underneath route isn’t going to cut it, which… surprise, happens quite often), Bridgewater’s other receiver options are midway through their route 20 yards downfield. What’s worse? Not only are these routes taking forever to develop and typically only materializing once Bridgewater has been sacked or scampered away to save himself, but also…
  2. Receiver coverage – The Vikings receivers are typically not open. It was pretty striking how often on plays with higher TBH receivers have very little separation. (Make sure to take a look through the frame stills linked in the data table above. I tried to make sure I provided a capture for plays with higher TBH or plays that resulted in a negative outcome. Red circles obviously indicate receivers who are not open while yellow typically indicates receivers who are.) The Packers consistently had 7 defenders in coverage resulting in multiple occasions where multiple receivers are double teamed with safety help over the top. But even in plays with one on one coverage, the Vikings receivers are still having a difficult time finding space. So now, we have a situation with Bridgewater where we have these deep drops where not only are receivers not finished with their deep routes but they are also blanket covered. And why are teams able to drop so many players into coverage creating risky situations for a quarterback who is consistently risk adverse? Because…
  3. Poor offensive line play – The Vikings offensive line is not good. And it may be worse than you think. It’s no secret by this point that the Vikings offensive line had one of its worst showings of the year against the Packers. More often than not, simply by rushing four defenders, Green Bay was able to get pressure on Bridgewater within 2-3 seconds. This is a quick sack time. And more often than not, Bridgewater is having to evade this pressure by any means necessary to either give his receivers time to finish their routes or give them time to get open. (Or more frequently – both.) As a result of this, what we saw on multiple occasions against the Packers is Bridgewater being pressured quickly, him scrambling from the pocket and dancing around while stiff-arming a defender once or twice and ultimately throwing the ball out of bounds or taking a sack. Are you starting to see what the problem here?


Bridgewater is not holding the ball for a length of time that should reflect poorly on his play. The data shows that Bridgewater is about average when looking just strictly at the numbers. The tape shows a quarterback who really doesn’t have a lot of options other than holding on to the ball. When Bridgewater is presented with a quick 1- or 3-step drop and his receivers run routes with lengths complementary to the length of his drop, it typically results in Bridgewater finding a relatively open receiver, making a quick decision and getting the ball there accurately. When Bridgewater is faced with longer developing plays behind an offensive line that’s a sieve and receivers who are running lengthy routes while closely covered, he tries to make a play himself. Sure, there were a couple of plays during the Packers game where it may have been a better decision for Bridgewater to take a sack when initially pressured and saving the yards he lost by scrambling backwards. However, it’s difficult to chastise him for trying to create plays when they aren’t there when it doesn’t work and applauding him when his evasiveness, deadly stiff arm and surprisingly effective spin move result in a big play.

Bridgewater has been far from perfect this season. But after this extensive exercise, I can comfortably say that the amount of time Bridgewater is holding on to the ball should not negatively reflect on his performance considering the above mentioned external factors.

November 23, 2015

Vikings struggle against Green Bay, give up NFC North lead

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

The Vikings held the NFC North lead for only one week, as Green Bay came to Minnesota and got lots of help from Minnesota to take control of the game. While Teddy Bridgewater did just about everything he could (he would have thrown for over 300 yards if Mike Wallace had caught anything thrown his way), the running game never got going and Bridgewater was under pressure for much of the game, absorbing six sacks (second most of the season after the Denver game). A critical Adrian Peterson fumble put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. One of the deciding factors in the outcome was penalties, particularly ill-timed penalties at critical moments on the guys in purple. The Vikings entered the game as the least-penalized team in the NFL, but you’d never have guessed that watching the first half of play … yellow flags seemed to fly after every other play, uniformly against the Vikings.


January 15, 2015

Reasons to hate every surviving team in the playoffs

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:31

At Football Savages, “Draw Play” Dave Rappoccio explains why it’s okay to hate all of the NFL teams left in the hunt for this year’s Lombardi trophy:

So only 4 teams are left in this year’s quest for the Lombardi trophy. The Seahawks of Seattle, the Colts of Indianapolis, the Packers of Green Bay, and the Patriots of Boston New England. I hate all of them. I wish for fire and brimstone and chaos in this final 4. I want the winners to limp into the final confrontation in Arizona and die on the field halfway through the first quarter. I hate them. Here’s why I think you should hate them too:

Colts – 2 Super Bowl Championships
Packers – 4 Super Bowl Championships
Patriots- 3 Super Bow Championships
Seahawks- 1 Super Bowl Championship, but it was won just last year

All 4 teams have been to the Super Bowl since the turn of the century. Outside the Packers, all have been there multiple times, and the Packers still won their appearance. The Patriots have the longest Super Bowl win drought, at a measly 10 years, and they’ve been twice since ’04. There is no underdog this season. There is no plucky team that could. There are only spoiled rich kids. The kids in your school who would get the new video games as they came out. The kids who would get dropped off in BMWs. The kids who had pools and pool parties and never invited you. The kids who would get A’s for participation because social interactions are easy when you are the kid everyone adores. Meanwhile the Detroit Lions sit in the back corner of the classroom and have a reputation as the smelly kid.

But championships aren’t the only reason to hate a team. Lots of teams have won championships, many of them multiple championships. But those teams aren’t here. The Steelers are sad and old. The 49ers are literally on fire. The Broncos have been taken behind the shed and Old Yeller’d. The Giants are sitting in the basement eating glue. The Cowboys are running around the lawn with no clothes on covered in filthy mud screaming obscenities. No, we need more to hate these 4 rich kids. We need to add real depth to our hate. So lets go over this, team by team.

November 24, 2014

Vikings fall short against Packers, 24-21

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:44

I didn’t get to watch yesterday’s game, as we were visiting friends for the afternoon. From the overall comments, it sounds like the defensive scheme worked very well against Aaron Rogers and the Packers, holding them to about half the scoring they’ve managed in the last few games. Unfortunately, Teddy Bridgewater got off to a slow start and wasn’t able to get into a rhythm until the fourth quarter. Although he wasn’t sacked too often, the pass protection was allowing the Packers to disrupt the passing game and Teddy was missing his targets a fair bit during the first half.

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover presents his weekly stock market report:

Blue Chip Stocks:

The Vikings Secondary: Yes, there were a couple of breakdowns, but the bottom line is that the Vikings held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers explosive passing attack to 209 yards. All in all, you can’t ask for a performance much better than that, and Xavier Rhodes led the way with I would argue his best game. He blanketed Jordy Nelson early, breaking up two passes, and although I’d have to go back and re-look, it seemed the Packers quit throwing his direction in the second half. Rhodes was the guy that stood out the most, but this was a team effort, and one where everyone deserves recognition. It’s a complete 180 degree turn for this unit from this time last year, and it’s largely the same guys.

Mike Zimmer: One of Zim’s mentors is Bill Parcells, who famously said ‘you are what your record says you are’. The Vikings are 4-7, but is there any question in anyone’s mind that this team is better than they were last year? And had this been last year, there’s no doubt in my mind this game would have been over by halftime. There’s still a ways to go, but I like this coach, and I like the attitude he’s bringing to this football team. Good things are coming, that I firmly believe.

Solid Investments


Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Teddy had some ugly throws early, but he also made some very good throws, and wasn’t helped out by a receiving corps that dropped at least four passes that I can think of off the top of my head. His backfoot throw that became a pick was terrible, but damn it, the kid never gives up, and is pushing the ball down the field. He’s also doing a much better job stepping up in the pocket, and running the ball and getting something out of nothing. All in all, I’ll take it, and he’s getting better.

October 3, 2014

Vikings visit to Green Bay goes Ponderously

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:13

To say last night’s game was ugly is to sugarcoat the truth: last night’s game was a shitshow. For those of us on #TeamTeddy, the news that Bridgewater would be inactive came as a knell of doom for any hopes we had for the eventual outcome. Before halftime, Twitter was starting to see calls for Christian Ponder to be benched in favour of Chandler Harnish, who’d just been elevated from the practice squad (and who’d only just joined the team this week).

All through the preseason, I expected the Vikings to trade Ponder for (at best) a mid- to late-round pick. When that didn’t happen, I thought they were just going to hold on until a team’s starting quarterback got injured and then they could get a better trade … I didn’t think the Vikings would be on their third starting quarterback of the season by game 5! Now that Ponder has shown he really is who we thought he was, I doubt that anyone in the league is likely to call the Vikings and make an offer for Ponder’s services. As Jim Souhan says in his Star Tribune column today, he’s still the same old Ponder:

They could have called.

They could have gone to Hallmark.

They could have Instagrammed or texted or Facebooked or Snapchatted or beamed telepathic messages west.

Instead, the Vikings franchise turned an entire game on “Thursday Night Football” into a get-well card for Teddy Bridgewater, who will ever more be known as Not The Ponder.

Bridgewater has played six full quarters in the NFL. He has proved himself a franchise quarterback with his presence. He proved his value even more with his absence.

His presence made the Saints game competitive, and brought the Vikings an upset victory over Atlanta.

His absence may have destroyed what was left of Christian Ponder’s career, and the horrid tradition of “Thursday Night Football,” otherwise known as “What Time Can We Flip to ‘Scandal’?”

Without Bridgewater to engage Vikings receivers and TV viewers, another edition of TNF turned into a reason to take night classes on fall Thursdays.

In a performance that conjured images of Josh Freeman and Spergon Wynn throwing knuckleballs and sabotaging their careers on Monday night games in 2001 and 2013, Ponder proved that you can believe some of the people some of the time but never football coaches when they’re trying to protect the feelings of a former first-round quarterback or the man who drafted him.

When the Vikings kept saying nice things about Ponder during training camp, you had to figure they were hoping to trade him. When they kept saying nice things about him while keeping him on the roster, you had to wonder whether offensive coordinator Norv Turner had rewired Ponder the way some made scientists can turn a toaster into a short-wave radio.

Thursday’s 42-10 loss was a reminder that in politics, parenting and sports, what people do always counts for much more than what they say.

January 2, 2014

Green Bay playoff game at risk of TV blackout in home market

Filed under: Business, Football, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:39

For some reason, I had the impression that NFL blackout rules didn’t apply in the post-season, but Dan Zinski says there’s a real risk that the Green Bay Packers may not sell all of their tickets for this weekend’s game against the San Francisco 49ers:

Packer fans are the greatest, most loyal and diehard fans in the world. Which explains why, as of Wednesday afternoon, there were reportedly still 7,500 tickets available for Sunday’s home playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.


Yes it’s true. Amazingly, the Packers are struggling to sell out their home playoff game. Despite their fans being better than everyone else’s fans.


The tickets must be sold by 3:40 PM Thursday to avoid a blackout. But if history is any indication the NFL will give the Packers an extension.

If the Packers still can’t sell the tickets and the blackout goes into effect? Look for a mass exodus out of Green Bay and Milwaukee and into all the towns where the game is on television. That will be a bad time to be traveling anywhere in Wisconsin.

And just wait until Sunday night when everyone is driving home, totally wasted. In the name of public safety, maybe the state government should buy up the tickets.

My guess is that the nightmare scenario won’t come to pass, that the tickets will get bought up and everyone will be able to see the game. And what an enjoyable game it will be…for people who hate the Packers.

On the other hand, I’ve seen predictions that the game-time temperature could be as low as -15F, which would be the coldest game in NFL history (the current record is -13F at the “Ice Bowl” in 1967). I wouldn’t blame the fans quite as much for not wanting to be part of that kind of historical event.

Update, 3 January: Earlier this afternoon, the Packers announced that they’d sold all the tickets to the game (a local business apparently stepped in to buy the remainder), so the game will be available on TV in the Wisconsin area. The weather reports are looking worse, however, as the temperature could go as low as -18F (or -25F) with a potential windchill of -53F. Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

December 20, 2013

The NFC North and the inexplicable Detroit Lions

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

Remember that highly accurate cartoon Draw Play Dave Rappoccio drew a few weeks ago, showing the true state of the NFC North:

DrawPlayDave - The NFC North

He’s got an expanded version of that up at his site as a full strip, and provides this additional information:

The NFC North is like wacko world these days. The Bears lose Jay Cutler, have a terrible Defense, and then Josh McCown opens up the McOWN ZONE and suddenly the Bears are on top. The Packers lose Aaron Rodgers for the year, tie with Minnesota, have a terrible defense, trot out the likes of Scott Tolzein and Matt “around the league in 80 games” Flynn and they have managed second place and have a chance for the division. The Vikings are a pile of trash with an aging defense and no good option at QB. Yet they just blew out the Eagles. And AP wasn’t even playing. Not even Toby Gerhart was playing.

But the biggest WTF has been the Lions. When Rodgers and Cutler both went down and the Vikings being bad and the Lions in first place, it was like the football gods visited Detroit and said “Here. I’m sick of those cheese mongers in Green Bay. Chicago is overrated. Nobody wants to live in Minnesota. Here Detroit. You never have nice things. have the division. On us. Silver Platter. All you gotta do is win a few games”

And Detroit was like “Nah, I’m good”, then took a big steaming dump and started rolling around in it. They were basically handed the division and are now in third with 2 games left. How can a team with as much talent as the Lions have just crap the bed like this? I know, I know, “Lol lions, lol Detroit” but step back and look at them. They have the best WR in the game. They have a very competent though not elite QB in Stafford, who has stayed healthy. Their defensive line is absurd. Reggie Bush has been doing things. How did this happen?

November 25, 2013

Vikings blow large lead, settle for tie in Green Bay

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:49

A tie is an uncommon result in the NFL. The last time the Vikings tied a game was in 1978 (and that was also a game against the Packers) — and their oldest player on the roster is defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who was born in 1980. It’s been a long time. As Arif Hasan notes, this was a very odd week for the standings in the NFC North, as the Lions and Bears both lost their games:

It wasn’t a particularly exciting game for casual football fans, but there were some aspects of interest. The Vikings started middle linebacker Audie Cole for the first time in his career and he responded very well, notching a sack on the first defensive series, three quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, and leading the team with 13 tackles overall. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was having a very good game until he was injured late (as with most defensive players, you don’t want your name coming up too often with the broadcast crew, except in a positive context: all Rhodes got was praise from the announcers).

Dan Zinski at The Viking Age described the game as a 26-26 loss for the Packers:

That headline is not a typo. The final score was a tie but in the grand scheme of things this goes as a loss for the Packers. Vikings had nothing on the line, Packers are still fighting for the playoffs. With a win the Packers could’ve crawled — and I believe “crawled” is the right word, the way they’ve been playing — into a three-way tie with Detroit and Chicago. A tie keeps them out of first and still in a lot of trouble headed into a showdown game with Detroit.


Watching the game swing back toward the Packers in the second half was sort of like watching an old rusty gate slowly swing shut. You sort of figured the Packers would finally lock the gate but they were never able to do it. The game slopped into overtime and both teams just sort of zombie-walked through it, tacking on a field goal each before finally petering out.

It wasn’t what you would call an epic performance by either team. There was lots of mediocre offense and frankly bad defense. The Packers struggled trying to stop the run — they almost gave up 100 yards to Toby Gerhart for gosh sakes — and the Vikings just committed too many dumb penalties. It wasn’t really a game either team deserved to win, so it’s sort of fitting that it ended in a tie.

November 24, 2013

Jim Souhan welcomes Packer Nation back to reality

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:05

One of the most remarkable things about the Green Bay Packers is how long in their recent team history they’ve had a top-flight quarterback to depend on. Unlike more mortal teams like the Vikings (or Bears, or Lions, or …), Packer fans aren’t used to the notion of uncertainty at the most important position in the game of football. After Aaron Rodgers was injured, Packer fans suddenly had to discover what it’s like being a fan of a team without a superstar under centre:

Not all Packers starting quarterbacks were named Starr, Favre or Rodgers. You could look it up.

There was a time, children, when Packer Nation not only wasn’t called Packer Nation, because nobody back then conferred statehood on people because they wore the same-colored hoodies, but also because it was embarrassing to admit you followed a team that called Randy Wright its starting quarterback for an entire season.

Bart Starr started at least one game at quarterback every season for the Packers from 1956 through 1971. Favre became the NFL’s most admirable iron man from 1992 through 2007 before beginning his Sojourn of Revenge. Aaron Rodgers pried Favre’s cold, live digits off the baton in 2008 and, until suffering an injury on Nov. 4, didn’t require a backup, much like Starr and Favre.

In the three weeks since Rodgers’ injury, the Packers have been reminded what it’s like to hold open tryouts at the most important position in sports. They have learned what it’s like to be the modern Vikings — and the Packers of 1971-1992.

This is how shoddy the Packers’ quarterback play was in their Dark Years: In 1989, Packer Province believed a mullet-headed unknown named Don Majkowski was a savior.

The Pack won the Super Bowl following the 1967 season. They would not win another postseason game until Favre took them to the conference title game in 1995. Between the tenures of Starr and Favre, the Packers would win 10 games in a season only twice.

Scott Hunter quarterbacked them to a 10-4 record in 1972. Majkowski led them to a 10-6 record in 1989.

Before Majkowski arrived, the Packers existed only as a vehicle through which to celebrate the ghost of Vince Lombardi. Lambeau Field, now a manicured shrine, was nothing but a dump. The team actually played some of its regular-season games at decrepit Milwaukee County Stadium.

Update: 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer illustrates the difference at quarterback between the Packers and the Vikings:

The next chapter in the Minnesota Vikings-Green Bay Packers rivalry will be the first since 1992 that doesn’t feature either quarterbacks Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers in green and gold.

Quarterback Christian Ponder will start his sixth consecutive regular season Vikings-Packers contest since being drafted in 2011, but is the 14th Vikings’ quarterback since 1992 to do so.

What appeared to be another uphill battle at Lambeau Field suddenly became a winnable game with Rodgers on the sideline. Running back Adrian Peterson vows he will play again through an injured groin, much like he did to the tune of 65 rushing yards last week at Seattle.

Peterson racked up more than 500 rushing yards against the Packers in three games last year and will need some of the same magic to overcome Ponder’s deficiencies. The Vikings gave Ponder his fifth consecutive start this week over Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman despite his 1-6 record this season. Ponder’s also accounted for 13 of the team’s 22 turnovers and threw back-to-back fourth-quarter interceptions before his benching last week.

October 28, 2013

Cordarrelle Patterson vs Green Bay

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:24

We were supposed to see the Vikings play Green Bay last night, but it almost appeared that the only Viking player who showed up was rookie WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson, who opened the game by tying the NFL record for the longest kick return TD (109 yards). All the distressing symptoms from earlier games showed up this time: the defence couldn’t get off the field on third down (Green Bay scored on every possession), while the offence couldn’t stay on it past third down. Time of possession was grossly disproportionate, with slightly more than a 2:1 ratio in favour of Green Bay (40:54 to 19:06). You can’t score if you never get the ball. The final score (44-31) was inflated by garbage-time scores for the Vikings as the Pack went into prevent mode to finish the game.

The plan for every team the Vikings face for the rest of the season is simple: kick away from Cordarrelle Patterson and do everything to shut down the running of Adrian Peterson. If you can do those two things, you’re guaranteed a win.

Ted Glover says it can’t get much worse than last night’s debacle:

Ohio State icon Woody Hates once said that nothing cleanses the soul like getting the Hell kicked out of you. If that’s true, the Vikings are ready to enter the Afterlife with as clean a soul as anyone who’s ever crossed over.

The Green Bay Packers pretty much ran 7 on 7 drills against what we must technically call the Minnesota Vikings defense. But make no mistake, they offered as much resistance to the Packers offense as the Kardashian family does to reveling in being trashy. The 44-31 final score was nowhere near indicative of how non-competitive this game was, as the Packers offense dominated the Vikings defense so thoroughly I thought I was watching an NFL snuff film.

I’ve watched the Vikings for a long, long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a defense so completely and thoroughly whipped. At every position, the Vikings were manhandled, and it was very early on that the Packers realized they couldn’t be stopped. They converted just about every third down, a few fourth downs, and didn’t have to punt all night. They ran and passed with impunity, and it was as awful as one could imagine.


Seriously, start over from the top on down. The coaching staff needs to go. Frazier will hang around until the end of the year, simply because there isn’t anyone capable of running an offense or defense, much less an entire team. As to the players, seriously, trade what you can, stockpile picks, and just start from the ground up. After tonight, there isn’t one player on this team that’s worth keeping, with maybe the exception of Adrian Peterson. And at this point, if they can trade him to a contender, do it. I’d hate to see him end up with a Barry Sanders career. I thought at the beginning of the season this team was just some decent quarterback play away from being a pretty serious player in the NFC. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The worst part of this season for me is that my Vikings Twitter feed is starting to fill up with speculations on how high a draft pick the Vikings will end up with and which potential superstar college quarterback will be playing in Minnesota next year … and I don’t follow college football at all.

October 27, 2013

The Green Bay Horror Show

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:57

After the horrible performance last week in front of a national TV audience, this week the Vikings will face divisional foe Green Bay in the last match-up between the two teams at the Metrodome (which will be demolished at the end of this season). Most Vikings fans will already be worried about the game … despite a rash of injuries, the Packers are a much better team than the Giants, and this is another national TV game in the Sunday Night Football slot. Dan Zinski goes with the Halloween theme for his pre-game post:

It’s fitting that Packer week should coincide this year with Halloween season and its endless television horror movie marathons. What could be a more apt metaphor for this year’s Viking season than an unending parade of scary movies? And with the Packers coming in this week things are only going to get scarier, or at least that’s what traumatized Viking fans seem to believe.

The Vikings have had some success against Green Bay in recent years, but for the most part the Packers have been Jason to the Vikings’ screaming half-naked college co-ed. This year’s first Packer-Viking match-up figures to descend into slasher movie carnage again, with the Packers on the relentless machete-waving march and the Vikings stumbling bloody and blinded through the wilderness.

The Viking fan looking for a glimmer of hope amid the darkness might turn to the Packer injury report, which currently features such big names as Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb. But of course we know the injury report doesn’t mean diddly poo when it comes to the Packers. Like some hideous creation of a horror movie mad scientist, when the Packers lose one of their vital parts they just grow a new one to replace it. And keep on coming after you.

August 9, 2013

Greg Jennings trolls the Packers yet again

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:40

Greg Jennings was Minnesota’s big name signing over the offseason. He was brought in from the Green Bay Packers (who have a surplus of good receivers) to at least partially fill the hole in the roster from the departure of Percy Harvin. Since he arrived in Minnesota, Jennings has been a veritable cornucopia of media-worthy gems of casual abuse directed at his former team (and Aaron Rodgers in particular). Jim Souhan says this is a good thing:

It began as a strange and unnatural occurrence, like one of those unverified online photos of a chimp hanging out with a bird. Now it’s threatening to become a bizarre tradition, or, as the kids so eloquently put it, “a thing.”

Every four years or so, the Vikings should steal one of the Packers’ best offensive players, just to create the kind of sideshow that can make even training camp interesting.

In 2009, and 2010, and into 2011, Brett Favre turned the already fascinating Vikings-Packers rivalry into something it had never before been on any meaningful level: incestuous.

In 2013, Greg Jennings is one-upping Favre, not in terms of existential angst and passive aggressiveness, but with new-age, self-aware, YouTube-able, Twitter-ready, Facebook-enflaming, border-crossing Scud missiles designed to invoke an emotional response even if they miss the target.

Jennings, the new Viking and former Packer receiver, is, as the kids say, “trolling” his former team. If you’re too young to know what “trolling” is, just listen to Jennings a few times, and you’ll get the idea.

In July, in an interview with the Star Tribune’s Dan Wiederer, he poked holes in the flawless image of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, raising or confirming questions about Rodgers’ ego and leadership skills.

This week, Jennings told KFAN that the Packers had “brainwashed” him into believing that Green Bay was the land of milk and honey-flavored cheddar, that operations such as the Vikings were inherently flawed.

If true, that’s fascinating. If not, Jennings is fascinating.

July 6, 2013

Dateline 1972 – Nixon tries to “fix” NFL blackout policies

Filed under: Football, History, Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:52

The St. Paul Pioneer Press raided the National Archives to find this clip of President Nixon talking to his attorney general about the outrageous NFL TV blackout policy:

Football populist Richard Nixon was furious at the NFL and wanted to flex his political muscle to end television blackouts.

At 2:06 p.m. on Dec. 18, 1972, Nixon met with Attorney General Richard Kleindienst at the Executive Office Building and railed against the league’s policy that prevented fans from watching their team’s home playoff games on TV.

The 37th president of the United States wanted to intervene because the Washington Redskins-Green Bay Packers postseason game at RFK Stadium on Christmas Eve was going to be blacked out in Washington, D.C., even though it already was sold out.

In a conversation secretly recorded by the White House bugging system that helped doom his presidency, Nixon threatened to sue the league if it did not lift blackouts for the playoffs. The devout Redskins fan ordered Kleindienst to “get busy with your lawyers” and take the fight to NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and Redskins owner Edward Bennett Williams.

March 16, 2013

Greg Jennings signs with the Vikings

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:01

The Minnesota Vikings have signed former Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings. There was no puff of smoke — white or purple — from the head office of the team, but many reports went for a Latinesque title, like Christopher Gates at the Daily Norseman:

Habemus Packem: Minnesota Vikings Sign Greg Jennings

After letting the initial rush of free agency settle down a little bit, the Minnesota Vikings finally made a move at the wide receiver position on Friday, signing Greg Jennings.

(That promo headline and the headline that you saw on Twitter was all Ted, by the way. Have to give him credit for that one.)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, there’s white smoke coming from Winter Park. And since Percy Harvin is in Seattle and I think Jerome Simpson is out of town, that can only really mean one thing.

We have a new receiver.

The five-year deal Jennings accepted was for $47.5 million with $18 million guaranteed. It is not quite as rich a deal as he was offered by Green Bay, but the opportunity to be the number one receiver was probably the difference maker (he’d be third or fourth receiver in Green Bay).

Also at the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover explains the Vikings’ painful recent history with their wide receiving corps:

A mercurial wide receiver wears out his welcome, but not before his team makes a playoff appearance against Green Bay. After the season, which ends in an early playoff exit, the superstar receiver finally pulls out the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and he’s traded to the West Coast for a first round pick, giving the team two first round picks and a golden opportunity to upgrade the roster.

No, I’m not talking about Percy Harvin. The year was 2005, and the receiver was Randy Moss. Moss wore out his welcome with the Vikings (maybe specifically Red McCombs), and the Vikings were able to trade him to Oakland for their first round pick and LB Napoleon Harris. Harris wasn’t the big catch in that trade, it was the Raiders first round pick, #7 overall.

The Vikings infamously used that pick from the Raiders to draft Troy Williamson, who has been the biggest bust in recent Vikings draft history not named Demetrious Underwood. I remember writing at the time that the Vikings needed to draft any position other than WR with that pick, because no matter how good that player might have been, he would always be compared to Randy Moss.

Williamson moved fast to make sure those comparisons would never had to be made, though. And other than a Pro Bowl season from Sidney Rice in 2009, the Vikings receivers as a group haven’t really recovered since then.

Which is why, on the heels of the Harvin trade, Greg Jennings is such a big deal for the Vikings. He’s been a top NFL wide receiver for several years, and his signing might be the first step in replenishing what has historically been a position of strength for the Vikings.

January 6, 2013

Vikings lose in Green Bay

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:48

Yesterday, I said “Everyone is expecting Green Bay to romp over the Vikings today“. That became an even more likely outcome just a few hours before game time, as the Vikings announced that starting quarterback Christian Ponder would be inactive with an elbow injury suffered in last week’s win. Backup Joe Webb would be the Vikings quarterback for the Green Bay game, not having thrown a pass since the preseason. After the game, it was made clear that the problem wasn’t pain, it was range of motion: Ponder couldn’t move his elbow enough to make the throws.

The Vikings got the opening kickoff and put on an entertaining drive that ended with a Blair Walsh field goal. Webb didn’t complete a single pass on the drive: it was all Adrian Peterson or Joe Webb running the ball. After the first drive, however, the Vikings went away from what had worked in the opening drive and were unable to move the ball consistently.

Jesse Reed at Bleacher Report:

Maybe we all took Christian Ponder for granted in 2012.

Joe Webb proved an invaluable lesson on Saturday night: The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and it doesn’t matter if you have the best running back in the world; without one, you won’t win in the playoffs.

Webb started the game because Ponder couldn’t overcome an elbow injury he suffered in Week 17, and the Minnesota Vikings offense was a hopeless mess without Ponder.

That’s right.

As much as many (myself included) have ripped Ponder for his flaws, his value to the Vikings was made apparent in the worst way against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday night.

Webb was simply atrocious.

1500ESPN’s Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero:

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