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.


December 6, 2017

Words of wisdom from Zim Tzu

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

At the Daily Norseman, ink-stained scribe Dan Glover does his level best to translate the words of Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer into words that ordinary mere-humans can understand and appreciate. This week’s entry covers the outcome of the Falcons game and looks forward to the Carolina game:


December 4, 2017

Vikings defeat Atlanta 14-9 to boost winning streak to eight games

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

On Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings visited Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta to play the Falcons. Many commentators were expecting a high-scoring game, but both teams’ defences played at a very high level, keeping the score low and the tension high. Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes may still be a bit hobbled by a leg injury he’s been nursing, but he still did a great job of taking away the other team’s top receiver — in this case the excellent Julio Jones. Jones ended up catching two passes of the six Matt Ryan threw in his direction for only 24 yards. Case Keenum had a down first half, but a much better second half to finish with 25 completions on 30 attempts for 227 yards and two touchdowns, one to Jerick McKinnon and the other to Kyle Rudolph. Keenum is now 8-2 as a starter since taking over for Sam Bradford in week 2.


November 26, 2017

The latest Zim Tzu meditations

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

After every Vikings game, the head coach has a press conference with local — and lately — national media. It’d be easy to just report on what Mike Zimmer said to the press, but the Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover can’t just do what the workaday sports guys do. That’s too easy. Too predictable. Too boring. He’s got to take it the extra distance, really provide additional value to Vikings fans, which is where the Zim Tzu posts come in:


November 24, 2017

Vikings defeat Lions 30-23 and move to 9-2 record

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

It was Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, but not for the Lions as the visiting Vikings ran up a 17-point lead that Detroit chipped away at, but could never quite catch up to. Adam Thielen became the first Viking receiver since Sidney Rice to gain over 1,000 yards in a season. Everson Griffin took advantage of being in the spotlight after sacking Matthew Stafford to “announce” the birth of his third child and invite fans to suggest a name for the new baby (he’ll almost certainly face a fine from the league for putting a message on his uniform). Except for the first drive of the second half, the Vikings didn’t seem to be able to get much of a rushing attack sorted out, although Latavius Murray ended up with respectable-if-not-gaudy numbers (84 yards on 20 carries) despite seeming to get stuffed on every other attempt — Jerick McKinnon actually did get stopped behind the line on most of his runs.


November 21, 2017

Keenum or Bridgewater?

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

If there’s anything that sportscasters love, its a quarterback controversy, so Minnesota’s fascinating quarterback situation is providing lots of hot takes, but sturdily resists becoming an actual controversy on the team. The Vikings started the season with Sam Bradford at QB1, Case Keenum as his backup at QB2, and Kyle Sloter, a hot-shot youngster snapped up after a great preseason performance for Denver, as the developmental QB3. Teddy Bridgewater was still on the PUP list and nobody knew when or even if he’d be medically cleared to come back to the team, and if he did return, there was no assurance that he’d be able to resume his career right where he left off before the 2016 season.

Life comes at you fast, especially in football, as Sam Bradford appeared in the weekly injury report after his excellent opening game against the New Orleans Saints, and did not get back onto the field for several weeks. Keenum stepped up and did his best to hold things together until Bradford’s knee could heal. Bradford was back on the field for game 5 against the Chicago Bears, but it quickly became clear that he didn’t belong on the field, if only for his own safety. Keenum came on in relief and Bradford eventually was put on the injured reserve list.


November 20, 2017

Vikings beat Rams 24-7 after a slow start

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

The Los Angeles Rams took the opening kickoff and marched down the field to score the opening touchdown of the game, and (probably like a lot of Vikings fans) I thought “Oh, no, here we go again.” Yet that was it for Rams scoring for the rest of the day. The Vikings were slow to start, but eventually reeled off 24 unanswered points (plus two missed field goals) to advance their record to 8-2 on the year.


November 15, 2017

Zim Tzu’s latest press conference, as “interpreted” by Ted Glover

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

One of my favourite things in weeks after a Vikings win is reading Ted Glover’s latest free interpretation of the carefully parsed words of Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Ted is … highly creative in his work:


November 13, 2017

Vikings beat Washington 38-30 in DC

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

The Vikings play Washington so frequently, this almost seemed like a divisional game. Case Keenum was having a really good game up until back-to-back interceptions allowed Washington to (almost) climb back into contention. Both errant passes were intended for tight end Kyle Rudolph, but both went instead to D.J. Swearinger. For a $2 million investment, Minnesota has had fantastic production from their backup quarterback, but this game showed why he’s never been able to lock down a starting role. When the Vikings defence is on their game, all Keenum needs to do is keep the chains moving and avoid turnovers — this wasn’t one of the times that the vaunted Vikings D was showing at their best (Everson Griffen was not active for the game, and demonstrated how much he provides to the team).

That said, I still hope that the Vikings offer Keenum an extension to stay with the team for at least 2018, but still as a backup to Teddy Bridgewater (or, if Teddy really can’t get back to his pre-injury form, Sam Bradford).


November 9, 2017

Fan reactions to the Vikings’ swap at quarterback

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

Yesterday’s news that the Vikings were activating Teddy Bridgewater and placing Sam Bradford on injured reserve got lots of reaction from the fan bloggers as well as the pro sports writers in the Twin Cities. 1500ESPN‘s Matthew Coller provided some background on Bridgewater’s early development with the Vikings:

Last year, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he never saw himself having another quarterback other than Bridgewater.

The question comes up often: Why are Zimmer and the Vikings’ players so impressed with a quarterback who only threw 14 touchdowns in 2015?

The first reason is that they don’t grade players on touchdowns. It’s really a bad measure of QB play. In 2015, Bridgewater only threw 42 passes in the red zone, while Blake Bortles tossed 95 passes and was one of the league leaders in touchdowns. Nobody would say Bortles is better than Bridgewater. The Vikings were third in the league in rushing touchdowns in ’15 and seventh in Drive Scoring Percentage. Bridgewater was leading his team down the field, but Adrian Peterson was getting the touches when they were in scoring position.

The second reason: Coaches and teammates focus on the game tape (and winning) rather than the box score.

Before we look at some of the things that made Bridgewater so popular – outside of his personality – it should be noted that we can’t know until he plays whether the former first-round pick will be back to his old self or how long it will take him to trust his repaired knee. For some players, they never make a full recovery.


November 8, 2017

Vikings activate Teddy Bridgewater, move Sam Bradford to injured reserve

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:03

One quarterback in, one out. That’s been the story for Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford over the last season. Bridgewater suffered a terrible injury just before the start of the 2016 season, and the team moved him to injured reserve for the year. Bradford was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, and was starting for the Vikings by week 2 of the season. This season, Bridgewater started the season on the PUP list, while Bradford had a career game to open the season against the New Orleans Saints. Bradford suffered what appeared to be a mild knee injury in the game, so Case Keenum got the start the following week. Bradford didn’t see the field again until the game against the Chicago Bears, where it became quickly apparent that his knee hadn’t fully recovered and he was mercifully benched for the second half, allowing Keenum to get the Vikings back into position to win the game and has been the starter since then.

Bridgewater was eligible to practice with the team after the sixth game of the season, and the team had a three week window to decide whether to put him back on the 53-man roster, or shut him down for the remainder of the year by moving him back onto injured reserve. Today was the final day for the Vikings to make that decision. In the meantime, Sam Bradford got arthroscopic surgery on his ailing knee yesterday and was looking at a minimum six-week recovery time, so it makes sense for the team to put him on the injured reserve list, where he could be brought back onto the roster if the Vikings make the playoffs (teams can bring up to two players back from IR after a minimum of eight weeks).

Teddy Bridgewater, according to all the media reports, has been looking good in practice and his team-mates have been quite enthusiastic to get him back, but he hasn’t played any football since August 2016 and it’s probably unreasonable to expect him to pick up where he left off at that point without at least a few weeks of re-familiarization and actual game reps. If he has no set-backs and looks comfortable on the field, he could take over for Keenum in a few weeks, or it might take longer and Keenum will be the starter for much of the second half of the season. Nobody knows until Bridgewater gets onto the field.

Teddy Bridgewater at Vikings training camp, 2014.
Photo by Matthew Deery via Wikipedia.

November 6, 2017

QotD: Bud Grant’s football philosophy

Filed under: Football, Quotations, Sports, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… you have to remember one thing: Football is entertainment; it’s not life or death. Once the game is over, you’re already talking about next year and the draft. It’s just entertainment. It’s like going to a play: When it’s over, you walk out the door and it’s over. There are no residuals to it. You’ve got to start all over again. If winning or losing is going to define your life, you’re on a rough road.

Bud Grant, quoted in “‘If Winning or Losing Is Going to Define You, You’re on a Rough Road'”, The MMQB with Peter King, 2016-02-01.

October 30, 2017

Vikings rally in the second half to beat Cleveland 33-16 at Twickenham Stadium

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

Early Sunday morning (North American time), the Vikings faced the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium in the last of four NFL regular season games to be played in the UK this year. Cleveland took advantage of an early break, scoring a touchdown after a Case Keenum pass was deflected and intercepted during the first offensive series (but they didn’t convert on the kick). As the TV announcers mentioned several times, this was only the Browns’ second lead of the season (the Browns were 0-7 coming into the game). At this point, long-time Viking fans may have suddenly started to feel that oh-too-familiar dread that the team had fallen into yet another trap game…

Minnesota took advantage of a muffed punt deep in Cleveland territory, but the drive stalled out quickly so Kai Forbath was called on to kick a field goal. Late in a sloppy first half, Keenum scrambled and passed the ball to an unmarked Adam Thielen in the corner of the end zone for the Vikings’ first TD of the game (the kick was blocked). The half ended with the Vikings trailing by 1 point, 13-12.


October 28, 2017

Case Keenum gets no respect PLUS rumblings from the Bridgewater Underground

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

Poor Case Keenum. The Vikings’ backup quarterback has done just about everything you could ask of a backup in the NFL: he’s stepped in when Sam Bradford’s knee started acting up, and he’s kept the Vikings competitive in most of the games he’s played. Yet he still gets no respect, as vividly shown here in a photo caption in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Um, guys, That’d be Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, not Case Keenum. The lack of a red practice jersey should have been a dead give away.
(Screen cap from the Star Tribune)


October 23, 2017

Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota: stout defence and field goals galore in 24-16 Vikings win

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

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford didn’t practice at all this week, so he was clearly not going to be playing against Baltimore, this meant that backup Case Keenum automatically became the starter for the game. Keenum didn’t show his abilities to their best during the game (20-of-31 passing for 188 yards and a passer rating of 67.7 and a pick), leading to placekicker Kai Forbath being the key scorer for Minnesota (six field goals from 52, 51, 43, 43, 34 and 32 yards, but a missed extra point to keep him humble), while Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker threatened to score from well outside normal kicking distances (48, 57 and 47 yards, yet the game announcers seemed sure he could make it from inside his own 20 yard line). Still, ugly games count just the same as awesome ones, so chalk this one up as an ugly win.

Both teams were missing key players: Baltimore was already down most of their top receivers (Breshad Perriman, Chris Matthews and Jeremy Maclin) when Mike Wallace took a hit from Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo early in the first half which put him into the NFL’s concussion protocol (Sendejo was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the tackle, which negated a fumble recovery by Xavier Rhodes). Minnesota was missing both Stefon Diggs and Michael Floyd, which gave rarely used veteran Jarius Wright an opportunity to shine, making some clutch catches to extend Viking drives. Nick Easton had been ruled out, so Jeremiah Sirles got the start at left guard, and both Sirles and starting left tackle Riley Reiff suffered injuries during the game, so backup tackle Rashod Hill and rookie guard Danny Isidora got into the game as replacements.


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