Thursday, July 30, 2015

Monthly Archives: December 2011

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At the beginning of the month, I theorized that the Vikings could benefit from seeing some of the big name junior quarterbacks declare for the NFL Draft.

Today, USC quarterback Matt Barkley announced that he has decided to stay in school for another year.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it will likely drive up the value for a guy RG3, and potentially drive up the value of the Vikings top three draft pick.

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The Vikings haven’t been shy about making major mid-season moves this season in response to individual performances or serious injuries.

At this point, however, there aren’t many major moves to be made.  Few street free agents available will generate much excitement (Randy Moss!) and there aren’t many players left on the Vikings roster in danger of being cut.

Still, I am committed to reporting every single transaction this team makes so all of you Vikings nerds (don’t take offense, I would be the lead nerd) know this roster inside and out.

On Monday the Vikings deleted receiver Owen Spencer from the practice squad and Tuesday they brought back guard Butch Lewis.  Lewis had been cut last week.

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When the Vikings made their decision to help Chris Cook fight his domestic abuse case in court by providing him with both time and money, I argued that the Vikings were neither helping their team nor Cook in their handling of his situation.

As it turns out, according to Judd Zulgad of 1500 ESPN, the decision to provide Cook with paid leave has been an unpopular one in the Vikings locker room.

He writes that his source called the decision “highly, highly” unpopular amongst players.  After all, Cook is sitting at home collecting game checks of $23,824 to sit on his couch every week and eat up a roster spot that could instead be filled by a player capable of helping the team.

As I wrote back in November, I find it difficult to defend this decision that the organization made regarding Cook.  Either cutting him outright or getting him on the field would have been better decisions, in my opinion, and also would have sent a clearer message as to the direction of this franchise.

However, I have little sympathy for the players that feel they have been wronged by this decision.  They choose to negotiate as a collective union which, in turn, limited the options of the organization (they could only suspend him without pay for four weeks).  This is a “protection” that the players fought for, so I don’t think they are justified in complaining when it is put into effect at a time that negatively impacts them.

It appears obvious the organization is committed to Cook being on this team in 2012, and have hopes they can aide him in turning his personal life around.

However, Cook’s first year was marred by injuries that kept him off the field.  His first offseason was most notable for an off field incident involving a gun in which his case was dismissed.  His second season has been ruined by an alleged off the field crime.

In his third year, he had better come out and play some lights out football, or else he will likely be considered one of the biggest wastes of a second round pick in franchise history.

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Another week, another loss.

This week is somewhat different than previous weeks, however, as it is difficult to even find a “bright spot” to point out.  Nobody’s individual performances were really much to get excited about.  Toby Gerhart, Everson Griffen, and Benny Sapp would be candidates I suppose, but this 42-20 loss to the Saints was absolutely dreadful.

Veterans like Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen continue to express frustration after this loss, Peterson desiring more carries and Allen disagreeing with the fact that he was pulled late in the game.

In a week that featured a number of upsets, with the Colts getting their first win and the Packers getting their first loss, the Vikings continued to play a version of this game that only vaguely resembles American Football.

Fans can take some solace in the fact that this loss can only strengthen the Vikings draft position, with the number one overall pick again in sight.

The Vikings, as an organization, will be keeping a close eye on Christian Ponder over these last two games and there is more and more reason with each passing week to believe that he is still auditioning to be this team’s long term starter.  Ponder himself seems to recognize this.

I don’t know where I am going with this post, I’ll be honest.  I’m just simply out of things to write about this horrible team.  So, I’ll end it on an interesting note.

The Vikings 2012 opponents are nearly set, with 14 of their 16 opponents already determined, and here they are:

HOME:  Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Arizona, Tennessee, and Jacksonville.

AWAY:  Green Bay Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle Indianapolis, and Houston.

The last two spots will be filled by the last place teams of the NFC South and NFC East divisions.

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If statistics mean much, the Vikings might have the best kick returner in football right now and are constantly fighting the urge to let him return kicks.

Percy Harvin is averaging 37.1 yards on his 12 kick returns so far this season.  Harvin hasn’t returned enough kicks this season to qualify as a league leader, but if he did his average is 4.7 yards more than the current leader, Joe McKnight of the Jets.  The last two kicks Harvin has been allowed to return have gone for 47 yards and 104 yards.

So, why is it that the one of the NFL’s best kick returners is not allowed to return more kicks?  Well, here are a few facts that seem apparent:

  1.  Harvin is eager to get more chances to return kicks.
  2. Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer would like to use him on more returns.
  3. Leslie Frazier does not want to risk Harvin’s ability to contribute on offense by allowing the oft-injured receiver by putting him in danger on special teams.

Despite Frazier’s reluctance to use Harvin more than is necessary as a return man, Harvin is still lobbying for more touches 14 weeks into a lost season.  In fact, following last week’s loss Harvin couldn’t even wait to get back to Minnesota before hitting up the coaching staff.

“He got me on the airplane flying home from the game last week,” Priefer said of Harvin’s lobbying efforts. “You know, every time he touches the ball something happens and you are hoping that goes along with the kickoff returns like it has in the games whenever he has gotten those opportunities. Obviously, I have been saying this since Day 1: Whenever I have a chance to use Percy, we are going to use Percy.”

“Anything I can do,” Harvin said. “Any chance I can get for a big play, this team, definitely with our offense and our defense kind of struggling right now to get us to start the ball at the plus-40 or plus -50 is a must right now. It’s just something I feel is a need for the team right now.”

Of course, the worst case scenario to giving Harvin more returns in the final three games is the risk of an injury that could linger into the offseason or training camp.  This is a risk that Frazier is well aware of.

“We actually talked a little about that today,” Frazier said on Thursday. “We’ll try to find when it’s the right time. It helps that Adrian (Peterson) is back. You’re not as nervous about him being back there as you would with Adrian not in the lineup. We’ll see.”

I can’t fault Frazier for his hesitations, especially with all purple hope lying in 2012 and Marcus Sherels doing a decent enough job returning kicks in his own right.  Lorenzo Booker has pretty much been phased out as a return man of late, and after last week’s duo of fumbles I would suggest the Vikings should cut him loose early (he’s a free agent this offseason) and promote practice squad running back Caleb King to see him perform in game situations.

Regardless of what any of us think, Harvin seems confident that his efforts to persuade the coaches will get him some more opportunities over the rest of the season.

“I told coach if there are any kick returns that he wants me to get, then definitely I’m going to start taking a lot more,” Harvin said. “Like I said, we have nothing to lose at this point. We’re only three weeks away. I’m sure I’ll be in there.”

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