Thursday, March 5, 2015

Monthly Archives: November 2011

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It’s pretty difficult to stay positive when your team is 2-8. You become a pessimist about everything: every decision the Vikings make is the wrong one, the team won’t be a competitor again in the championship race for years, management needs to be wiped out and rebuilt from the ground up, the team will never get a stadium built in Minnesota, and so on… Let’s be honest, lately, any news involving our beloved Minnesota Vikings has been bleak – at best.

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is a holiday where we pause from the hectic in-and-out of daily life (or in this case the ‘doom-and-gloom’ of being a Vikings fan) and take a moment to be thankful for everything we have. That is why I propose for one day, one day, we stop and acknowledge the good in this team and try to bring a little happiness back into our dark, cynical Vikings existence.

1. The Best Running Back In The NFL

Alright, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Minnesota Vikings have the best running back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson. There really is no debate about it. I could pull out stats, facts, etc… to further solidify this claim but, let’s be honest, there really isn’t a whole lot of contention over it. There used to be the whole AP vs. Chris Johnson thing, but considering CJ0K’s incredibly lackluster season this year, who else is there? It is a great feeling knowing that we have a guaranteed ground threat with Peterson in the backfield – regardless of how many people our opponent stacks in the box. Even this year, behind arguably one of the worst offensive lines in the league, he has held the spot for most rushing yards for multiple weeks. (Just imagine if #28 was lined up behind a great offensive line!) Peterson is a hard-working, team player who consistently leaves jaws dropped with his powerful, hard-nosed running style and I, for one, am thankful to have him be a member of our team.

2. A High Draft Pick

One of the great things that comes with having such a horrible season is the prospect of having an offseason in which great improvements to the team are made. And one of the primary ways these enhancements generally happen is through the draft. With a 2-8 record, the Vikings are almost a lock for a top 5 position in the 2012 NFL draft. I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve already made it a habit of reading about one mock draft a day. I am thankful that, this offseason, there will be ample opportunity for significant improvements to be made to our team.

3. Young Talent

Sure, our young, rookie quarterback, Christian Ponder has had a rough past two games. And, yeah, he’s made some questionable decisions to force the ball into spots that resulted in interceptions. He’s also been behind an offensive line though that literally gives him less than a second to make said decisions. I personally believe that Ponder is the Vikings’ quarterback of the future. He has shown glimpses of being great, is an exceptional (on and off-the-field) leader and an intelligent young man who seems to have his head on straight. The Vikings also have promising young talent in their rookie tight end, Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph has all of the physical traits of being a great tight end and has made some wonderful catches this season. The prospect of hearing “Ponder to Rudolph for a touchdown” for years to come is something I am thankful for.
4. The Vikings’ Secondary

The Vikings’ secondary has been one of the few highlights… Yeah…

 

4. Jared Allen

This year, Jared Allen has reemerged as one of the best (if not the best) defensive ends in football. He currently has 13.5 sacks this season and is only half a sack behind Demarcus Ware from leading the NFL. (Note: Allen has been leading the NFL in sacks most of the season up until this last week.) Simply stated, Allen is a beast. We all thought he lost his mojo last season as a result of losing his trademark mullet. As it turns out though, Allen is very much alive and I am very thankful he is on our team and in the nightmares of NFL quarterbacks.

See everyone!? Things aren’t as bad as they seem. Nevermind the fact that I had to brainstorm for ten minutes and only came away with four things to be thankful for!

All jokes aside, though – have a great Thanksgiving and try to enjoy the game this weekend. (The season is almost over for us.)

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In the Vikings’ 27-21 loss to the Raiders this past Sunday, everyone’s favorite running back, Adrian Peterson, left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. After having an MRI Monday, Mark Craig of the Star Tribune reported , “Peterson suffered a high left ankle sprain and will be in a walking boot through at least Thursday.” Frazier said the injury was a “Grade-1” type sprain and that the MRI showed there was a “little bit of ligament damage.” Much of the talk the rest of the week will certainly be about whether or not Peterson is capable of playing this Sunday when the Vikings travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Instead though, I propose we ask, not can he play but, should he play this weekend (or, for that matter, the rest of the season)?

Allow me to explain:

The season is over and everyone knows it. Even the most optimistic, “the glass is half full,” fans have accepted it. And with that fact now being universally recognized across the board, what does the team gain by keeping Adrian Peterson in at running back?  Not much. And I’d even go further to say that putting AP back in this season could not only hurt our franchise back but could also hurt the team in the long term.

The team, at this point, needs to focus on the development and observation of some of its younger players. Peterson’s injury gives the Vikings an opportunity to see what they have in our back-up running backs, Toby Gerhart and Lorenzo Booker. Can Gerhart be an effective back who deserves an increased share of the workload? What is Booker capable of? The Vikings know what they have in Peterson. They know he is worthy of the big franchise contract he just received. But if the Vikings chose to treat the rest of the year somewhat like preseason and have Gerhart and Booker handle the majority of rushing, I believe we may gain insight into their real potential.

Another issue to take into consideration is whether or not it’s worth putting more mileage on Peterson’s ‘life-span,’ so-to-speak, as an NFL running back. It is not uncommon for running backs to have shorter careers due to injuries and the overall wear-and-tear they take as a result of handling a higher workload. Especially someone who plays with Peterson’s physicality and power. Scott McDowell, a contributor at Bleacher Report, did a piece in 2010 about the decline in production after a running back hits the age of 30. He includes a chart that displays how overall rushing yards, yards-per-carry, touchdowns, etc… all begin to taper at that age. (The chart also shows the age of 26-27 being the strongest period.)

Peterson, who is now 26, and the Vikings may benefit by reserving some of his time and allowing him to remain on the sidelines; possibly acting as a mentor and coach to Gerhart and Booker.

There are a lot of uncertainties and issues that need to be addressed before this team can realistically be a contender for Superbowl Champion again. Everyone can agree though that, All-Day is not one of them. So, I pose the question to all of you:  Should (not could) Adrian Peterson play again in the 2011 season?

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When all is said and done, Minnesota’s 21-27 loss to Oakland will mean very little.  It is their eighth loss of the season and almost certainly will not be their last.

The remainder of this season can’t play out quick enough for those that are eager for the NFC’s worst team (okay, they’re tied for worst) to start the process of turning a franchise around. 

Questions need to be answered.  Who will they draft?  Who will be available on free agency eve?  Who might be jettisoned? 

First, however, one question will need to be answered before we can even begin to predict the rest of the offseason.

Should Head Coach Leslie Frazier be retained into 2012?

That question needs to be answered before anything else.  It will determine if Christian Ponder really is the quarterback of Vikings future.  It will determine if the Vikings stick with their 4-3 defense or decide to make a change.  It will play a major role into whether disappointing players like Chris Cook and Tyrell Johnson are afforded even more chances at success while wearing a horn on their helmets.

I’m a little surprised that we even have to seriously discuss a coaching change right now, but it is also hard to argue that the record might indicate that a severe reconstruction of the organization needs to take place.

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Yours truly has been a bachelor for about the last three weeks.  Mrs. Warwas and Baby Gates have been touring the country and are finally due to return home later on tonight.

Not surprisingly, I have missed the heck out of them both and am looking forward to their return.  That is why I am not hosting a live chat tomorrow, as I am hoping for the misery of watching another 2011 Vikings game to be a good father-son bonding experience.

I’ll make sure to have an “Open Thread” posted for all game time comments.

Have a great football Sunday everybody!

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Football is designed as a team sport, which is unfortunate for Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, the only two Vikings that are likely to make the Pro Bowl roster this season.

Peterson has the fourth most Pro Bowl votes, according to PFT, of all NFL players with 469,117.  Allen leads all other defensive ends in the NFC.

Following the bye week and a tough game against Green Bay, Peterson has dropped out of the NFL’s lead for rushing yards, and now sits at fifth with 846 yards.  Fred Jackson is in the lead with 917 yards.  Peterson is tied with LeSean McCoy for a league high of 10 rushing touchdowns.  Fans that are voting seem to notice that Peterson’s efforts are keeping the Vikings rushing attack within the top five in the league, despite some very poor blocking ahead of him.

Allen is currently the league’s leading sacker with 13.5 which puts him on pave for 24 sacks this season.  He also leads all Vikings linemen with 41 combined tackles and boasts a team high of three forced fumbles.  Three batted passes, one interception, and three fumble recoveries are icing on the cake.

Both of these guys are having outstanding individual seasons, making the fact that our Vikings are sitting at 2-7 right now all the more frustrating.

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