Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Monthly Archives: January 2012

What better guy to turn Chris Cook’s life around than Raheem Morris, the now unemployed coach of the Tampa Buccaneers that managed to whip Aqib Talib right into shape?

Wait, what?

All joking aside, Leslie Frazier has apparently made up his mind that Fred Pagac will not be the Defensive Coordinator of the Vikings in 2012 and beyond.

An ESPN report indicates that Morris will interview for a “possible high-level defensive coaching position.”  According to 1500ESPN, Morris has already interviewed with the Redskins to become their defensive backs coach.

Like Frazier, Morris comes from a Cover-2 background and this is a clear indication that Frazier would like to see the scheme remain a part of Vikings football.  Pagac wanted to incorporate a more aggressive style of defense, mixing in more blitz packages and playing closer to the line of scrimmage.

Yesterday, I voiced my opinion that Pagac’s ideas were not completely unsuccessful and that he deserves more credit than he is receiving.

Frazier, however, is seemingly of the opinion that a change would benefit this team. 

Just not a change to the scheme he endorses, that is.

Here is an interesting tidbit buried in a recent article over at 1500ESPN:

While no official announcement has been made yet, Leslie Frazier is apparently convinced that he and his staff will be coaching one of the teams at this year’s Senior Bowl, an annual event held in Mobile, Alabama that draws just about every scout, coach, and personnel guy in the business.

The game will be played on January 23rd, so it is highly likely that any coaching changes will be made prior to that date to ensure Frazier’s real staff of the future are the ones taking advantage of an up-close look at these prospects.

Frazier is so certain the Vikings will be coaching one of the two teams that he asked offensive line coach Jeff Davidson to postpone his scheduled hip replacement until after the Senior Bowl.

Now that the Tidily Winks have landed in their proper places at Winter Park, and it has been clarified that Leslie Frazier has control over who leaves and who joins the Vikings coaching staff, the next question that will need to be answered is, well, who leaves and who joins?

According to a lengthy report from Tom Pelissero, the changes are most likely going to be experienced on the defensive side of the football.

For starters, defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has reportedly told players that he will not be returning, although it is unclear whether that is by choice or otherwise.

Defensive backs coaches Joe Woods and Matt Sheldon have also been preparing for the possibility that they will not be welcomed back.

It is widely expected that defensive coordinator Fred Pagac will either be dismissed or allowed to return to his previous post as the linebackers coach which is currently occupied by Mike Singletary (I will get to that in a second).  Pagac was not allowed to run the cover-1 blitzing defense, which is his preferred scheme, and reportedly “lost the confidence of some players” and was stripped of his play calling duties for a portion of November.

I find the case of Pagac to be a mysterious one, and tend to fall out of the majority here in thinking he should not be fired.

It was Pagac’s play calling and defense that largely kept the Vikings in close contests for the first five weeks of the season while they tried their best to bail out a completely inept offense.

Later on, the excuses began to pile up for a defense that began to lose their punch.  Those excuses are just that, excuses, but it is hard to deny that the Chris Cook legal situation and numerous injuries in the secondary gave Pagac very little to work with.

Then, when Pagac was seemingly given permission to take the gloves off and run his cover-1 scheme in the final week of the season, the Vikings generated a ton of pressure against the Bears and allowed 17 points, the second lowest point total allowed by the Vikings all season long.  The defense hadn’t played better since week five (when they were healthier) against Arizona, but again the offense didn’t have the firepower for the Vikings to win the game.

I’m not saying the Vikings couldn’t do better than Pagac, I just think he needs to be given a little more credit for the job he has done in his first year as a coordinator.  If the Vikings let him go, I get the feeling he will succeed elsewhere.

Okay, back to Mike Singletary.

According to Pelissero’s report, the close friend of Leslie Frazier (and assistant Head Coach) made a complete ass out of himself this season.  There are apparently concerns about his intelligence and also his preparation for game day, both of which are not good things to have said about you, no matter what type of coach you are.

Singletary supposedly often left assistant Jeff Imamura in charge of position meetings, skipped meetings the night before December’s game against Detroit to attend a wedding, and “occupied himself much of the season with side projects” instead of preparing his players to win football games.

It is not completely known who will for sure be leaving, or who their replacements might be, but it does seem likely that Singletary will be asked to move along.

These are all answers we should get soon enough.

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As we mentioned yesterday, Vikings running back Toby Gerhart suffered MCL damage after being hit by Major Wright in the season finale.  This was sobering news considering fans of the Vikings are already wondering if Adrian Peterson’s knee injury will cause him to miss time in 2012.

Gerhart had a pretty positive message on Tuesday, however, and it sounds like he thinks surgery will be unnecessary for him.

“Swelling should go down with rest as my range of motion returns,” said Gerhart to the Pioneer Press.

This year, Gerhart saw more action than he previously had because of Peterson’s various injuries, but it may surprise some fans to learn he actually averaged more yard per carry than Peterson did.

Peterson averaged 4.7 yards per attempt while Gerhart ended the season at 4.9.

Of course, opposing defenses stacked less guys in the box with Gerhart standing in for Peterson, but he still showed some impressive ability to be an every down back.  He ran for 531 yards and one touchdown this season.  He also caught 23 passes for 190  yards and three touchdowns.

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The NFL is a machine that runs during the fall and the winter, and spends the spring and summer months refueling.

Now that the offseason has arrived for some teams like the Vikings, the process of refueling the fan base with optimism has begun, and nearly everyone has volunteered for the pit crew.  The owners, the general managers, the coaches, the players, and even the media all jump at the chance to renew hope in their organization and convince fans that the price of a ticket will be well worth it… next year.

Take Fran Tarkenton for example.  He is apparently now the Pioneer Press’s slightly less delusional (but slightly more outspoken) answer to Sid Hartman.  He recently published an article titled “Vikings have hope, thanks to leadership and talent.”

In the article, Tarkenton goes through a laundry list of things we have to be thankful for as Vikings fans.  Some of the items he listed are factual, some are opinion, and some are just downright goofy like this gem:  “Adrian Peterson will be back.”  That instills about as much hope into my purple heart as saying, “Adrian Peterson is not dead.”

Tarkenton does bring up some good points, including the fact that five of this year’s playoff teams had 10 or more losses last season, so teams can reverse course in a hurry.  One of the teams on that list, of course, are the Lions and he neglects to remind us exactly how many years it took for them to turn things around.  You know how long it has been since they have won a playoff game on the road?  Look it up, you will be amazed.

The Texans, another team on that list, will play their first playoff game since they came into existence one whole decade ago.

My point isn’t that cheerleaders, the kind with pompoms and the kind with pens, don’t have a valuable place in sports.  My point is that many of the ones with pens mistakenly think it is helping matters by getting our hopes up and raising our expectations for the next season.

The truth, of course, is that it is very, very, very hard to win in the NFL and the Vikings appear to be a long ways away from filling all the needs on their roster to do it on a consistent basis.  Rick Spielman could “hit” on all eight of his Draft picks in April, and I still wouldn’t be convinced the Vikings would be good enough to win the NFC North.

After a 3-13 season, it would appear the Vikings have nowhere to go but up, but appearances can be deceiving and I would recommend to any of my readers that they keep their hopes in check.

After one week, a few responsibilities have changed in Winter Park along with a few job titles, which is not enough to get me to believe this team is ready to make a playoff appearance next year.