Sunday, November 16, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Teddy Time!


Teddy Bridgewater's stats in his first career NFL start:
19 of 30 for 317 yards. ZERO turnovers. One rushing touchdown. 5 carries for 27 yards. Most importantly a WIN. It is offically TEDDY TIME in Minnesota.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2014 Minnesota Vikings Roster Breakdown


Even though it is early summer, it is always Minnesota Vikings time. Vikes minicamp is underway and Minnesota Vikings Training Camp starts with the first practice on July 25. It will be the Vikes 49th year holding Training Camp in Mankato, MN. I hope to be able to take off work and make it there again for a day or two this year with my oldest again.

Heading into camp, the roster is fairly set, but several key battles will be ongoing to determine who will be the starter. Here is a basic roster breakdown including the main spots up for competition.

Quarterback: Matt Cassel seems to be the likely starter, but rookie, Teddy Bridgewater (pictured) continues to dazzle and will likely push Cassel to be the Vikes starting quarterback when the regular season begins. Christian Ponder appears to either be the third string quarterback or possibly be traded or released.

Running back: This is a no brainer with the greatest running back in the NFL on the Vikes roster. Adrian Peterson will continue to be a work horse for the Vikes. Rookie, Jerick McKinnon will be playing the role of Toby Gerhart as AD’s backup. McKinnon is more of a blazer verses the power of Gerhart. McKinnon will be an interesting piece to the Minnesota offense. Jerome Felton will again serve as the lead blocker for Purple Jesus.

Wide Receiver: Minnesota actually has some depth at wide out. Greg Jennings will start and Cordarrelle Patterson, who took the league by storm last year after he was actually able to get some playing time (thanks Frazier and Musgrave), will start opposite Jennings. Jarius Wright will be the main slot receiver and Jerome “I Should Be Getting Paid More” Simpson will also see the field and backup Jennings and mainly Patterson.  

Tight End: Kyle Rudolph will be the featured tight end for the Vikes and many are speculating that Rudy will have a big year and thrive in Norv Turner’s offense.

Offensive Line: The o-line will likely be the exact same group as last year in terms of the starters. The Vikes need a bounce back year from Matt Kalil at left tackle. Charlie Johnson will start at left guard, although rookie David Yankey may challenge him for that spot. John Sullivan will be the anchor in the middle at center. Bradon Fusco (guard) and Phil Loadholt (tackle) will start on the right side of the line. Another interesting name to watch is undrafted rookie tackle, Tiny Richardson. Richardson has the size to be a quality NFL player.

Defensive End: Everson Griffen was re-signed to a monster deal to keep his athleticism in Minnesota. Opposite Griffen will be Brian Robison. Robison is a high motor player and the two of them will have some big shoes to fill with Jared Allen no longer with the team. Rookie Scott Crichton will likely be a heavy part of the rotation as well.

Defensive Tackle: Linval Joseph was one of the Vikes big free agent signings and he is expected to play the role of Pat Williams and be a run stuffer. With Kevin Williams gone, Sharrif Floyd will be expected to step in and be an everyday starter next to Joseph. Veteran Fred Evans will add good depth to the line.

Linebacker: Veteran Chad Greenway will play weak-side outside linebacker and rookie, Anthony Barr will be expected to hold down the strong-side. Barr is a player that I’m personally very curious to watch and see how Coach Zimmer uses him. I was not thrilled with the draft selection, but hoping Barr will prove me wrong. One of the biggest battles/question marks for the Vikings is who will play MLB for the Vikes. Jasper Brinkely is back with the Vikes and appears to have the inside track on the job. However, Audie Cole and Mike Mauti will be pushing strongly to win the starting spot. I’m hoping Cole is the man in the middle.

Cornerback: Xavier Rhodes had a fantastic end to the season last year and will hold down one side of the defense. Free agent acquisition, Captain Munnerlyn is in the Antoine Winfield mold (but WAY cockier) and will be the other starter. Another major battle will be to see who plays the slot/nickel and dime cornerback spots. Josh Robinson who in my opinion is the worst player on the Vikes seems the favorite to win the third corner spot. Veterans Derek Cox and Shaun Prater as well as rookies, Jabari Price and Antone Exum will all fight for the remaining three cornerback spots. Will be very interesting to see who wins those competitions. Corner has been arguably the weakest position on the Vikings (besides quarterback) over the past couple years. Let’s hope that trend ends in 2014.

Safety: A healthy Harrison Smith will be back as one of the leaders on the Minnesota defense. Jamarca Sanford, Robert Blanton and Mistrial Raymond are all three in a competition to see who starts opposite Harry. My guess is Sanford, but I have been reading a lot of Blanton praise lately.

Special Teams: Blair Walsh is back as the Vikes kicker and continues to appear to be one of the best in the league. Jeff Locke will need to have a better year than his rookie season last year as the Vikes punter and veteran long snapper Cullen Loeffler is back.

Overall: The Vikes roster is pretty solid. Obviously a ton will depend on who the Vikes starting quarterback is. Having Adrian Peterson and a good group of receivers, including Rudolph at tight end should give Norv Turner the tools he needs to put together an above average offense.

Minnesota had one of the worst defenses in the NFL last year. Coach Zimmer is a defensive guy and has focused heavily on this side of the ball. Many questions remain – who will be the MLB, third CB and SS, but I expect a much improved Vikings defense. Zimmer will demand it from his players. Some new faces both via free agency (Joseph and Munnerlyn) and via the NFL Draft (Barr, Price and Exum) will need to be quality players for the defense to improve.

I can’t wait for the Minnesota Vikings season to start on September 7, 2014. Skol Vikes!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Round Three: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern


With the Vikes second pick in the Third Round, instead of taking a defensive back, they decided to take a Joe Webb like player in Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon is a quarterback, running back, safety, return man that the Vikes will likely use as their third down running back. McKinnon is from Georgia Southern and was the last pick the Vikes received in the Percy Harvin deal. Again to me seems like quite an iffy selection.

Here is the CBS Sportsline review of McKinnon:


STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS: Looks the part of an NFL running back. Sports a powerful, well-built frame that provides clear evidence of time spent in the weight-room. Fluid athlete who changes directions easily and accelerates smoothly. Comfortable with the ball in his hands. Lowers his shoulders upon contact and runs with forward lean. Good vision. Reads blocks and shows impressive initial burst out of his cuts to separate. Physical and cognizant blocker. Showed his commitment to the team with his willingness to play whatever role asked.
WEAKNESSES: Very raw as he possesses virtually no experience as a traditional running back. Took most his carries as a read-option quarterback or after taking the pitch to the outside, therefore his ability to run between the tackles is a projection. Impressed in his toughness as a running quarterback but this role is a far cry from what will expected of him when running inside and when in pass protection (where he was not surprisingly inconsistent at the Senior Bowl). Accelerates smoothly but tops out quickly and defenders are able to catch up. Very little experience as a receiver in this run-heavy offense. Caught a total of three passes in 2013 (for 23 yards).

COMPARES TO: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints - Ingram hasn't been able to wrench away the starting role in New Orleans since earning a first round pick in 2011 but his powerful, downhill running style adds a degree of toughness to an offensive that is otherwise largely finesse. McKinnon is, of course, nowhere near as pro-ready as Ingram was when leaving Alabama but he offers a similar frame and running style and could also emerge as a valuable contributor once given time to adjust to his new role.

--Rob Rang

PLAYER OVERVIEW

A year ago, the Senior Bowl provided versatile Georgia Southern athlete J.J. Wilcox an opportunity to prove to scouts that he could handle the transition to safety and the Dallas Cowboys thought enough of his game to select the former Eagle receiver and slotback in the third round.
Like his former teammate, McKinnon was used in a variety of roles at GSU, starring at quarterback, slotback, fullback, defensive back and kick returner over his career. Used primarily as an option quarterback for the Eagles, he rushed for 3,899 yards and 42 touchdowns over his collegiate career and fared well against FBS competition, including running for 109 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia in 2012 and another 125 yards and the game-winning touchdown as a slotback to shock Florida last year.
Numerous players have successfully changed positions in the NFL and McKinnon appears to possess the frame, toughness and work ethic to handle the move. He is a fluid, well-built athlete who - like his former teammate - could earn a surprisingly high grade on draft weekend due to his upside.

Round Three: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon St.


With the Vikes first Third Round pick, instead of drafting a defensive back or a running back, they decided to draft a defensive end. Scott Crichton from Oregon St. is a high motor guy who sounds like was a Best Player Available on the Vikes board. I sure hope Mike Zimmer and the Vikes know what they are doing. We need some defensive backs, bad!

Here is the CBS Sportsline review of Crichton:


STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS: Possesses a well-built frame with good overall musculature. Times the snap well, showing good initial quickness off the ball to cross the face of offensive tackles. He uses his hands very well, frequently chopping and ripping through opponents' attempts to latch onto him and possesses good core strength, showing the ability to simply bull-rush would-be blockers into the pocket. Holds up well in the running game, showing the power to anchor, as well as lateral agility and balance to string plays out to the sideline. Good strength in his hands to grab hold of ball-carriers for the drag-down tackle. High-revving motor. Pursues laterally and downfield with passion. Time in the weight room has been obvious, as Crichton has added over 30 pounds to his frame since his high school days.
WEAKNESSES: While possessing an impressive build, Crichton's physique does not lend itself well to flexibility, however, making him a bit stiff when changing directions. Further, he does not possess ideal straight-line speed for the position and relies more on anticipation rather than closing speed to track down ball-carriers. As such, Crichton is limited to the schemes and roles in which he's likely to be successful in the NFL.

COMPARES TO: Brian Robison, Minnesota Vikings - Like Robison, Crichton isn't an elite athlete but he takes full advantage of the traits he does possess and plays with a terrific motor. At worst, he should emerge as a quality member of the rotation early in his career and could develop into a quite effective complementary pass-rusher.

--Rob Rang

PLAYER OVERVIEW

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Missouri's Kony Ealy have generated most of the early buzz regarding underclassmen pass rushers - and for good reason. Oregon State' Scott Crichton hasn't received as much fanfare from a national perspective but expect that to change as the draft approaches.While lacking Clowney and Ealy's extraordinary athleticism, Crichton (pronounced CRY-ton) has improved throughout his career with the Beavers and projects well as a traditional 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. Crichton's broad shoulders and stout frame, overall, allowed the Beavers to move him all over the defensive line in 2013. He typically lined up outside at defensive end but played inside at nose guard against rival Oregon in an attempt to slow down the Ducks' high-powered, up-tempo offense.

With 7.5 sacks in 2013 despite being the focus of every opponent's blocking scheme, Crichton earned Second Team All-Pac-12 honors. This was a drop from his career-high nine sacks in 2012 but Crichton showed improved strength and versatility during his redshirt junior season, complementing his impressive burst off the snap and terrific motor. These traits make Crichton a relatively safe prospect and one likely to experience success early in his NFL career.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Round One: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville, QB


After the Vikes unsuccessfully tried to trade back into Round One to take quarterback, Johnny Manziel (who ended up with the Browns at #22), Minnesota traded with Seattle for the last pick in Round One, #32 overall. With that pick, Minnesota selected Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.

I'm too emotionally torn to really evaluate this pick. Two months ago, Teddy was the possible number one overall pick, but he had a horrific Pro Day and his stock dropped. It plummeted.

I badly wanted Minnesota to take Manziel and after hearing they tried to move back up, but the Browns topped them, that was a tough pill to swallow.

Minnesota traded their 2nd Round pick (#40) and their 4th Round pick (#108) to move to #32 to select Bridgewater.

I still hope the Vikes draft another quarterback later in the draft and cut Christian Ponder. Thankfully the drafting of Bridgewater shows that the Ponder Era is officially over. Hopefully he never wears a Viking uniform again.

Here is the CBS Sportsline review of Bridgewater:


STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS: Comes from a pro-style offense at Louisville, and was among the nation's leaders in all passing categories when facing blitzes. Naturally steps through his progressions, and keeps his eyes focused downfield with defenders closing in on him. Can manipulate the defense with his eyes.
Shows very good weight distribution and passing mechanics. Steps into the face of pressure and delivers, showing admirable toughness on each snap to bounce back after big hits.

Smooth mobility to extend and move the pocket with the quickness to pick up yards with his legs if needed. Impressive accuracy and touch on throws to all levels of the field, and displays good accuracy while on the move.

Quick and efficient movements in his technique and does an excellent job with fakes, selling and focusing on the details. He is poised and with very good footwork in the pocket. Can keep defenses guessing with a sprinkling of read-option looks.

Mature and grounded individual who obviously loves football. Sharp-witted and retains information extremely well. Makes it look easy on the field and appears to "get it," elevating the play of those around him.

WEAKNESSES: Although quick, Bridgewater has a lower than ideal release point with the ball shooting passed his ear. Some durability concerns after all the hits he has taken over his career, specifically to his wrist and ankle, and lacks physical frame. He's mobile enough to extend plays, but isn't a true dual-threat quarterback.

Room to improve his touch and ball placement on downfield throws. Strong performances in big games including against Florida in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season, but played mediocre talent on a weekly basis in the American Athletic Conference.

Struggled with his accuracy during his pro day.

COMPARES TO: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks - NFL analysts often say that if Russell Wilson was 3-4 inches taller, he would have been a first round pick. Well, that might hold true with Bridgewater, who is a similar prospect as Wilson (smart, athletic, mature, accurate) except he is taller with more prototypical height for the NFL.

--Dane Brugler/Rob Rang

PLAYER OVERVIEW

Bridgewater arrived at Louisville as the No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in the nation by Rivals.com after an accomplished high school career in Miami that included setting the Dade County record with seven touchdown passes in a single game. He was second team All-State 6-A and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Bridgewater, who succeeded former Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris at Northwestern High School, also originally committed to Miami before ultimately landed at Louisville.

Bridgewater wasted no time in making a major impact at Louisville. He was the first true freshman to play quarterback for the Cardinals since Brian Brohm in 2004, and the first true freshman quarterback to start since Stu Stram in 1976.

He set the school freshman passing record with 2,129 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns in being named the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2011. Bridgewater completed 64.5 percent of his passes, although he did throw 12 interceptions.

Bridgewater continued his ascent as a sophomore, being named Big East Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns. He had six 300-yard passing games and two of 400-plus. Bridgewater was named the MVP of the Sugar Bowl after passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns in a win over third-ranked Florida.

With Louisville suffering its only loss of the 2012 season to Central Florida, Bridgewater was relegated to second-team all-conference honors. He finished the regular season with 2,309 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, and then tacked on another 447 yards and three touchdowns in Louisville's 36-9 romp over Miami in the Citrus Bowl.

While Bridgewater's arm is impressive, the poise, vision and touch he demonstrates could serve as a "how-to" video on effective quarterback play.

Critics will continue to point out Bridgewater's flaws. He is not as big or strong as Andrew Luck nor as nimble as a healthy Robert Griffin III. Among the quarterbacks potentially available in the 2014 draft, he's the most polished and accurate.

Round One: Anthony Barr, UCLA, LB


With the eighth pick overall, the Vikes traded down one spot to number nine. They swapped with the Browns and received a 5th Round pick (#145 overall) in exchange.

With Johnny Manziel still on the board, the Vikings decided to select Anthony Barr, LB. Not going to lie, I am NOT very happy with this pick. I wanted Johnny Football.

Here is the CBS Sportsline review of Barr:


STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS: Perhaps most impressive qualities are Barr's balance, lateral agility and acceleration, which he uses to break down in the open field as well as when exploding into ballcarriers for ferocious hits.
Freakish combination of size and athleticism. Possesses long arms, extraordinary burst off the ball and explosive closing ability -- a terrifying combination that gives him an immediate advantage over pass-blockers. Developing swim move to complement his speed, and possesses the strength and use of leverage to effectively bull-rush.
Followed up breakout junior season with another standout campaign despite facing constant double-team attention. Causes holding penalties due to his athletic motor and power to rip through blocks.

WEAKNESSES: Still developing as a run defender. Will be tested in coverage if working as a stand-up linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Raw as a two-year player on the defensive side of the ball in coverage, and will need to pick up NFL schemes quickly to be more than a situational pass rusher as a rookie.

Compares To: Demarcus Ware, Broncos -- To develop into the all-around performer that Ware has become, however, Barr will need to show better leverage and overall physicality, especially when offenses run his direction.

PLAYER OVERVIEW

During the recruiting process, the promise to keep Barr as a ballcarrier on offense swayed him to UCLA, but with head coach Jim Mora taking over in 2012 and a crowded backfield, Barr agreed to move to linebacker that spring. To say he flourished at the new position would be a vast understatement.
Barr's evolution from running back to outside linebacker and a potential top-five selection in the 2014 draft is one of the more extraordinary developments in college football over the past two years.

Powerful and athletic, Barr can be a terror off the edge. After racking up 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss as a junior, he added 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2013. He earned a cupboard full of awards in the process, including the Lott Impact Trophy, first team Walter Camp All-American and first team All-Pac-12.

Scouts feel that Barr is stout enough to handle strong-side duties in the 4-3 alignment but believe his best fit is as a stand-up outside linebacker in the 3-4.

A popular prospect with obvious athletic ability and some pass rush skills, but he is a no sale here. If Barr doesn't win foot-race with initial burst he appears all-to-easy to block and lacks NFL caliber tenacity and toughness. His fluid athleticism and speed are seductive, but Barr does not show innate read-and-react skills. In summary, great athlete who rarely shows effort to disengage blockers, is missing the ferocity of a top level defender and may not be effective in space.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vikes 2014 Regular Season Schedule


Sept. 7, Noon, at St. Louis
Sept. 14, Noon, vs. New England
Sept. 21, Noon, at New Orleans
Sept. 28, 3:25 pm, vs. Atlanta
Oct. 2, 7:25 pm, at Green Bay
Oct. 12, Noon, vs. Detroit
Oct. 19, Noon, at Buffalo
Oct. 26, Noon, at Tampa Bay
Nov. 2, Noon, vs. Washington
BYE
Nov. 16, Noon, at Chicago
Nov. 23, Noon, vs. Green Bay
Nov. 30, Noon, vs. Carolina
Dec. 7, Noon, vs. New York Jets
Dec. 14, Noon, at Detroit
Dec. 21, Noon, at Miami
Dec. 28, Noon, vs. Chicago

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vikes Free Agency Moves So Far



The Minnesota Vikings headed into Free Agency with many needs. Who will be the quarterback and what will the defensive line look like were two of the biggest. Minnesota re-signed Matt Cassel to come in and start for the 2014 season at quarterback and the Vikes shelled out big money to re-sign Everson Griffen at defensive end. 

The Vikes filled two other holes with the signings of defensive tackle, Linval Joseph of the Giants and Captain Munnerlyn, cornerback of the Panthers. Instant analysis of these two moves are huge “wins” for the Vikings. Joseph is a Pat Williams like defensive tackle and Munnerlyn fits the Antoine Winfield mold. Fat Pat and Toine are two of the best Free Agents the Vikings ever picked up so if Joseph and the Captain are anyone near that good then new Head Coach, Mike Zimmer, really is turning this team around. 

The Vikes made some other smaller moves, re-signing some of their own including Jerome Simpson (WR) and Fred Evans (DT). Minnesota also signed two role playing defensive players, Derek Cox (CB) and former Viking, Jasper Brinkely (LB).

Linebacker continues to be a huge need as the Vikes have Chad Greenway as a starter, but the other two spots are basically open. Some young options are currently on the Vikes roster, but it is unclear if any of them can be a solid NFL starter. Gerald Hodges, Audie Cole and Mike Mauti are all possible options.

Minnesota lost a couple of Free Agents as planned with Toby Gerhart (RB) to Jacksonville and Chris Cook (CB) to San Francisco. Jared Allen (DE) has not signed anywhere, but it appears clear he will NOT be back in Minnesota. Charlie Johnson (G) still remains a possibility for the Vikes to re-sign, but they are considering other options also. 

Although not the huge splash of Michael Johnson (DE) and Alterraun Verner (CB) that many fans were hoping for, the Vikes have had a solid first week of Free Agency. Incidentally, both Johnson and Verner signed with Tampa Bay and will be coached on defense by former Viking Head Coach, Les Frazier. 

Minnesota still has money to spend and holes to fill, so hopefully more to come!

Signed:
Linval Joseph, DT, Giants
Captain Munnerlyn, CB, Panthers
Derek Cox, CB, Chargers
Jasper Brinkley, LB, Cardinals

Re-signed:
Matt Cassel, QB
Everson Griffen, DE
Fred Evans, DT
Jerome Simpson, WR
Joe Berger, C/G
Matt Asiata, RB

Possible:
Henry Melton, DT, Bears (visited Minnesota)
Jameel McClain, LB, Ravens (visited Minnesota)
Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings
Charlie Johnson, OG, Vikings
Vlad Ducasse, OG, Jets (visiting Minnesota)
Daryn Colledge, OG, Cardinals (rumored as a possibility)
Vincent Rey, LB, Bengals (rumored as a possibility)

#skolvikes