Quotulatiousness

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:

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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.

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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.

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.

January 11, 2016

Vikings lose wildcard game to Seattle 10-9 on failed field goal attempt

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

It certainly wasn’t a pretty game to watch, and given the extremely low temperature at kickoff (tied for the third coldest playoff game in NFL history), nobody was expecting a high-scoring extravaganza. The game turned on two plays: a bad snap to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson that he somehow turned into a big gain and a missed field goal by Blair Walsh that ended the Vikings’ hopes. 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer:

They made the gap feel closer than 27 yards.

This wasn’t like any of the Vikings’ other five losses in the second season under Mike Zimmer. The same team that was thoroughly handled by San Francisco, Green Bay and Seattle proved to be the better defensive team in Sunday’s 10-9 loss and first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Seahawks. They were the better offensive unit up until kicker Blair Walsh missed a chip shot, shorter than an extra point, into the open, windy end of TCF Bank Stadium.

They showed signs of a potential NFC force turning the corner, giving traction last week to their shock-the-world mission by walking out of Lambeau Field with a division title. The first 59 minutes and 34 seconds through Sunday’s bone-chilling game put the odds in the Vikings’ favor — Walsh was 30-of-31 in his career from inside 29 yards.

But their shot at dethroning the reigning conference champions ended at Seattle’s 9-yard line, where Walsh pushed a 27-yard attempt wide left.

[…]

Though it was more than a missed kick that ended the Vikings’ season.

A botched fourth-quarter snap gave life to the Seahawks. Wilson chased the snap 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, recovered and evaded a duo of Vikings’ blitzers in cornerback Captain Munnelryn and linebacker Eric Kendricks. Wilson scrambled right, and the coverage followed. That left receiver Jermaine Kearse wide open in the middle of the field. Kearse outran cornerback Xavier Rhodes and picked up 35 yards to the Vikings’ 4.

“Honestly, I thought the ball still was on the ground,” Munnerlyn said of Wilson’s recovery. “He had a knee down and I’m like, ‘Man, is he going to get up and run with it?’ He picked it up and [spun] out and found the open guy. At that point, I wish I could take that play back and go up field…I didn’t know where nobody was. I was just trying to make a play and that’s one play I regret.

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January 9, 2016

Your get-on-the-bandwagon guide to the NFL playoffs

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:51

If your favourite team isn’t in the NFL playoffs (that’d be 20 of the 32 teams), Draw Play Dave is here to help you figure out which of the lucky playoff teams you should be supporting:

The 2015 NFL Playoffs ARE FINALLY HERE! Playoff football is the most fun part of the entire year, except if your team is actually in the playoffs, because then the stress is unbearable. But this isn’t for those fans of (twists face into sheer contempt) “good teams.” Not all of us were so lucky to have our team actually do well this year. For most of us, our team sucked, and we need someone to fill that hole for the remainder of the year. It’s time to sidle up and pretend to be friends with a winner so you can save what’s left of your sports emotional state.

This is a difficult process. Which team is so deserving of your love? Why should any of these teams win if your team had to sit at home? Which of these teams winning would piss off people you hate the most? Well, there are a couple of guidelines to follow if you need assistance:

  • Root for the underdog, unless they are a hated rival team
  • Root for the team with least amount of historical success, because those fans deserve some happiness, unless they are a hated rival team
  • Root for the team that annoys you a little less
  • If you are a glory seeking butthole who doesn’t care about anyone but you, root for the team with the best chance to win

With those guidelines in mind, let’s take a look at every team in the playoffs, with pros and cons for bandwagoning each team.

December 28, 2015

Vikings beat Giants 49-17 to set up showdown in Green Bay for NFC North title

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:27

Everyone knows the Vikings do not play well in prime time and even more so on national TV. They also don’t score a lot of points. Except when they face Eli Manning and the New York Giants, perhaps. Eli has had some terrible games playing against Minnesota, and last night might have been the worst of the lot:

And a few minutes after Judd posted that, Eli was picked off again, this time by Captain Munnerlyn who nearly got into the end zone.

Mid-game, the NFL decided to switch next week’s showdown at Lambeau Field into the prime time Sunday night slot. (See opening paragraph above…) Winner will host a playoff game in the Wild Card round, while the loser will play on the road. If the Vikings win in Green Bay, they’ll host the Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium. If they lose, they go right back to Green Bay (if Seattle wins) or to Washington to face the Redskins (if Seattle loses). While the Vikings have done well on the road this season, they’re still historically bad in prime time on national TV:

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December 21, 2015

Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 38-17 to go to 9-5 season record

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

Due to mundane concerns (starting to organize the household for a move), I didn’t get to watch the first half of Sunday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears, but I got enough worries from the text messages as the first half wound down … with running back Adrian Peterson leaving the game during the first half with a leg injury, among other scary updates). This meant that an offensive plan built around Peterson would have to be re-tooled on the fly to work to the strengths of second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. I’m on record as believing in Bridgewater as Minnesota’s quarterback of the future, but it wasn’t clear whether the current personnel grouping would allow Teddy to carry the team in the absence of Peterson. I probably shouldn’t have worried about it, as Teddy put in his first career five touchdown game (four passing, one rushing, with no interceptions).

1500ESPN‘s Judd Zulgad, not known as a Bridgewater fanatic, put it quite well:

Three weeks ago, there was growing concern among Vikings fans that Teddy Bridgewater might not be this team’s quarterback of the future. On Sunday, that same quarterback had to call a timeout in the fourth quarter because the crowd at TCF Bank Stadium was chanting his name so loudly and wouldn’t keep quiet.

This is why it’s never a good idea to attempt to write off a second-year quarterback based on a bad game, or even a series of subpar performances.

Bridgewater probably isn’t as good as the guy who completed 17 of 20 passes for 231 yards with a career-high four touchdowns and no interceptions in the Vikings’ 38-17 victory over Chicago, and he certainly isn’t as bad as the guy who hit on only 17 of 28 passes for 118 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in a 38-7 loss to Seattle two weeks ago in the same stadium.

In what he acknowledged was the best game of his pro career, Bridgewater accounted for five touchdowns, including a 12-yard dart into the end zone during which he got spun in the air, and had a 154.4 passer rating. That rating is the second-best all-time for a Vikings QB in a single game, second to the 157.2 rating Gus Frerotte posted in a 35-7 victory over San Francisco on Sept. 28, 2003. A perfect passer rating is 158.3.

“These past two weeks I’ve seen a different look in his eyes,” Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said of Bridgewater.

Peterson wouldn’t be the only one who has noticed his quarterback has responded impressively since a poor performance against the Seahawks in which no element of the offense performed up to expectations.

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December 17, 2015

The Minnesota Vikings wine club

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

For all I know, the Vikings may actually have a formal wine club (the NFL is always interested in leveraging their league and team branding for additional revenues), but this wine club is an informal group of cornerbacks and safeties:

The Minnesota Vikings, currently leading the pack for an NFC wild card playoff spot, have a top-10 pass defense that is built on tight cornerback coverage and an aggressive pass rush. And red wine.

In a move that is part health fad, part bonding exercise, the Vikings defensive backs have started dabbling as wine connoisseurs, with some believing that it may even be helping their bodies. “Whatever [you’re] doing, drink some red wine and you’ll do better,” said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

The Vikings’ taste for wine is the product of 37-year-old defensive back Terence Newman, who previously starred for the Cowboys and Bengals. Newman began exploring wine earlier in his career and has since emerged as the NFL’s answer to Robert Parker.

Newman began drinking Merlot four years ago, but found it too bitter and dry, he said, so he quickly dropped the habit. He later got into bolder Cabernets, which were more his style, he said. “I was married to Cabs for a while,” Newman said. “But then I had some Pinot Noir, and that’s when I said: ‘Wow, this is where I’m going to settle down.”

Over the years, Newman’s interest in wine has grown more and more serious. He orders cases of DuMol Pinot Noir and samples organic wines from Oregon. Before last season, he took a tour of the Pride Mountain winery in the Napa Valley. But this season, his appreciation for fine wine finally began to trickle down to his teammates.

Early in the season, Newman made a tongue-in-cheek reference to Pinot Noir as the secret to his remarkable longevity. His teammates drank it up. “They start joking ‘Oh, is that the key?’” Newman recalled. “But I promise you that night, five guys took pictures of a glass of wine they were drinking.”

December 11, 2015

Vikings lose 23-20 in Arizona

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

Before the game started, even the most fanatical fans were looking at this as a likely loss: the team got eight wins this season primarily due to the stout defence and the running of Adrian Peterson. On Wednesday, the team had already declared that their three best defenders were out (each ranked in the top 3 in the NFL by Pro Football Focus), and might even start a newly signed street free agent and a player just called up from the practice squad as their safeties for the game. On Thursday morning, Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan explained why a loss to the Arizona Cardinals might not be the end of the world for the Vikings:

It’s time like these that cause overreaction. Here’s the right way to react to three key issues:

1. Losing to Arizona won’t be disastrous, unless injuries mount.

If the Vikings lose tonight, they’ll be 8-5 with two winnable home game between now and their season finale at Lambeau Field. That’s about where any optimistic realist would have projected them to be before the season began. They still can reach 10 victories and make the playoffs for only the second time since 2009, and they might be better off finishing second in the division if that means a chance to play against the NFC East champion instead of Seattle.

In a theoretical world, you could argue that the Vikings would be best off resting as many important players as possible against Arizona and preparing for the final three games. In the real world, you can’t expect the Vikings not to try. For at least two or three quarters. Then they need to save their most important bodies.

2. Adrian Peterson is the kid who won’t eat his spinach.

Just as the Vikings are bound to try to win against ridiculous odds on Thursday night, Peterson will want to carry the ball 25 times. And like trying to beat Arizona, that’s a fine plan going in, but if this game turns into a blowout the Vikings would be right to again put him on the sideline.

Peterson hated missing 15 games last year, but that rest probably led to his remarkable performance this season. He hated getting only eight carries against Seattle, but that game became unwinnable and he and the Vikings might benefit if he’s fresh going into the last three games and the playoffs.

This might be a good time to develop Jerick McKinnon, who has played well and might be a bigger help than Peterson to the passing game.

(more…)

December 7, 2015

Vikings lose at home to Seahawks, 38-7 in blowout

Fortunately for me, I was unavoidably busy on Sunday afternoon and missed what sounds like the worst game Minnesota has played in the last two years. If there were any bandwagon fans left after the loss to Green Bay, they’re probably all gone now. The bad news started long before kickoff, as nose tackle Linval Joseph was listed on the injury report all week and then downgraded on Friday, so he and starting strong safety Andrew Sendejo were both out. Middle linebacker Anthony Barr and free safety Harrison Smith both started the game, but were standing on the sideline not long after the game started. Without Barr, Joseph, and Smith, the Vikings defence was a hollow shell, and Seattle took full advantage of the weakness. Usually, after a game I didn’t get to watch, I’ll read through the hundreds of Twitter posts in my Vikings list. Today, after looking at a couple of dozen of the most recent ones, I decided that I should just give the rest of them a miss:

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