Saturday, April 25, 2015

Monthly Archives: September 2012

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The Vikings had a few bumps and bruises resulting from their bout with the Lions on Sunday, but at this time no serious injuries appear to be added to this roster.

The Lions may not be as fortunate, pending the status of Cliff Avril, but the scariest moment for Detroit fans came when Chad Greenway knocked Calvin Johnson senseless.

Greenway led with his shoulder and hit Johnson while he was in the air, reaching unsuccessfully for a Mathew Stafford pass.  It was a classic example of what the NFL is trying to prevent, and Greenway immediately realized he had made a decision that would cost his team 15 yards and cost his wallet something in the neighborhood of $20,000.

Johnson had to come out of the game for a number of drives, only to return for the final drive of the game where he dropped an easy pass, and Greenway acknowledged his mistake following Sunday’s victory.  He says, however, that he never intended to hurt the star wide out.

“I don’t want to hurt Calvin. I don’t want to hurt anybody,” Greenway said Sunday. “I’m thinking he’s going to catch that ball 99 percent of the time. He didn’t that time. So when I go to try to break the ball up, my pad, it’s clear on the tape, it hits his head. What are you going to do? They’re going to throw the flag and I’m probably going to get assessed a fine. But my intent was not to hurt him.”

Greenway has a reputation as a hard hitting linebacker, but has never really been labeled as a dirty player.

Sunday’s lapse of judgment is likely going to be considered an isolated incident.

A month ago, most NFL observers wouldn’t have guessed that the Minnesota Vikings would be heading into week five with only one loss.  Those that believed it to be possible certainly wouldn’t have predicted an impressive victory over the Niners would have been a part of that win total.

So, with the Vikings in sole possession of first place in their division (for at least one day), what can we make of this team as they prepare to take on a struggling Titans team at home?  Let’s take a look at what clues can be taken away from Sunday’s win in Detroit.

1.  The Special Teams Were Special Indeed

Sure, Blair Walsh missed his first field goal and Chris Kluwe continued to struggle with a couple of punts.  Outside of that, however, the special teams of the Minnesota Vikings was fantastic.  Percy Harvin made a statement on the opening kickoff in the form of a 105 yard touchdown return and Marcus Sherels followed up by taking the first punt return of the second half 77 yards for a score.  Walsh hit two of his three attempts, including a 49 yarder, but was a beast kicking off as the Lions never even got to return the ball once.  The coverage team struggled a little more keeping Stefan Logan bottled up on Kluwe’s punts, but nothing disastrous took place.

2.  The Passing Game Still Needs Work

Everyone is waiting for Christian Ponder’s light bulb to go on, and despite the 3-1 start, there is no question that it hasn’t happened yet.  He just hasn’t shown the ability to put this team on his back and will it to victory yet.  Sunday he was 16 of 26 for a measly 111 yards and no touchdowns.  In fact, his offense was really only responsible for six points, as the special teams scored the other 14.  That type of special teams production can’t be counted on every week, so Ponder and the gang have to get their act together if they want to continue winning football games.

Jerome Simpson was relatively quiet against the Lions, but he did make an impact in his first game as a Viking.  He played the role of field-stretcher which resulted in four catches, 50 yards, and two important pass interference penalties.  He was the team’s leader in receiving, but that isn’t saying much this week.

3.  Peterson’s Comeback Couldn’t Be Going Much Better

Many of us, including me, have openly questioned the team’s wisdom in bringing Adrian Peterson back into a featured role so quickly after his devastating knee injury.  Four weeks into the 2012 season, however, Peterson appears more than capable of shouldering a hefty load and making this offense better.  Against the Lions he carried the ball 21 times for 102 yards and added four catches for 20 yards, and has shown no signs of being hampered by pain or discomfort.  If the Vikings are truly going to embrace the idea that they can remain on top of the NFC North, then Peterson will be a main ingredient moving forward.

4.  Young Defenders Provide A Spark

Jared Allen got a sack on Sunday and did his signature dance.  The real story here, however, is the impact made by the youngsters on defense that should make Vikings fans hopeful when it comes to dreaming about the future.

Rookie safety Harrison Smith was only credited with one tackle on Sunday, but his impact was greater than his stat line would suggest.  Smith was in on a number of pass break ups with the most notable coming on an end zone play in which he dislodged the ball from the hands of Megatron to prevent a sure touchdown.  Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson was penalized (wrongfully) for a suplex-like tackle that displayed his strength, but his other seven solo tackles (tied with Chad Greenway for the most) did not go unnoticed.  The kid can fly around and make plays.

Perhaps even more notable were the performances of two of the team’s youngest defensive linemen.  Letroy Guion and Everson Griffen each had two sacks, including Griffen’s sack on the final play of the game, denying Detroit a chance at another miracle hail mary.

Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley also had a solid game, playing a big part in the team’s success against the Lions running game.  55 yards is all that Detroit was able to gain on the ground.

5.  A Tale Of Two Third Downs

On one hand, the Vikings defense was able to force Detroit’s hand on 63% of their third downs (and 67% of their fourth downs).  On the other hand, however, the Vikings offense failed to convert on third down 75% of the time (3 of 12).

Christian Ponder was inaccurate and inefficient on third downs, particularly when rolling to his right, and the Bill Musgrave called plays in a way that made me question the trust he has for Ponder to not make big mistakes.  The Vikings coaching staff, at some point, will have to take the cuffs off and let Ponder win or lose football games as a 25% conversion rate on third down is not going to win very many more games.

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Howdy all!

So, the Warwas family (dog and all) is finally settling into a new life in Ohio after a very chaotic couple of months.  It was heartbreaking to leave Alaska, but here we are.  I found us some new digs, a set of wheels, and am settling into my new job.

The most significant development for you all, however, is that I finally have internet!  I never would have guessed that in the year 2012 it would have taken three weeks to get internet installed at my home, but that was indeed the case.  A huge thanks from me to Brett for keeping the site going in my absence, but I am thrilled to be back!

To celebrate, I am aiming to have a live chat right here at VT during Sunday’s game in Detroit.  Please, join me, and I will catch up with you all.

See you soon!

I can’t remember the last time there has been a more dramatic weekend in the NFL. Not even the Superbowl brings as much drama as there was throughout the day yesterday. And then to cap it off the way it was tonight? In-sane.

I had another post planned for tonight. I was going to dive into the deep end of some interesting Vikings stats and rankings through the third game (still may do that later). But honestly, how could I possibly talk about anything else after that?

There’s no doubt about it, the Seahawks played their tails off in that game. I was drooling at the prospect of having a secondary that even closely resembled the way they were shutting down the Packer’s receivers in the first half. The Seahawks played with intensity and were far more physical than the Packers. While they could never really seem to get going on offense, they were able to maintain a lead throughout most of the game because of the havoc they caused for last year’s NFL MVP (the man we all love to hate), Aaron Rodgers. It could be argued that, despite the blown call at the end of the game, the Seahawks were the better team tonight. And it sucks that no one will be talking about that.

Which game’s officiating was worse?

Before we were all talking about tonight’s officiating catastrophe, a lot of the criticism this weekend for the replacement officials stemmed from our very own Vikings game against the 49ers. (Which was amazing and incredible and beautiful and the best thing ever.) I would argue that the circus of officiating mistakes was worse in the Vikings game than tonight’s match-up between the Packers and the Seahawks. The difference? Our mistakes didn’t directly change the outcome of the game. As soon as the Packers and Seahawks were wrestling for that ball in the endzone, I knew it was about to hit the fan. That awkward moment where both referees ran up and kind of just stared at the two on the ground for a few seconds was intense. I can guarantee Roger Goodell was sitting somewhere just begging the ref through his TV, “Please don’t put your hands up! Please don’t put your hands up!… Noooooo!”

Had the 49ers came back and somehow won the game on Sunday after that series of blundered calls, the discussion everyone is having now would have happened 24 hours ago. Everyone knew this was bound to happen at some point.

This isn’t the first time blown calls have determined the outcome of a Packers game.

I know we’d all love to believe that these types of mistakes are exclusive to replacement refs. I’m here to remind you they are not. Let me take you back in time. In 2010, the Vikings lost to the Packers by four points at Lambeau Field. It was quite the controversial game because there were some very, very questionable touchdown calls that majorly affected the final score. Shortly after the game was over, the NFL admitted that the refs had blown two touchdown calls. One of them was a pass from Rodgers to tight end Andrew Quarless. The touchdown call should have been ruled an incompletion as Quarless bobbled the ball as he fell out of bounds. On another play, the Vikings tight end, Visanthe Shiancoe, caught a pass from Brett Favre that was ruled a touchdown on the field. Even though Shiancoe clearly maintained control of the ball, the ruling was overturned.

Now, I’m not trying to lessen the severity of the mistakes the officials made tonight, I’m just pointing out that these things aren’t new. Sometimes they cost you a game, sometimes they win you one… Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that it always sucks when games are decided by the officials.

Now will the NFL bring the real officials back?!

I’m not so sure… Immediately after tonight’s events I was convinced that this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The uproar from fans, the media, players, coaches would just be too much for the NFL to ignore at this point. But then I got to thinking… I wonder what tonight’s games ratings were? I wonder how many people are now currently reading about football when they may have not after your normal Monday Night Football game? Think of how many people are tweeting about the NFL right now, how many news stations are talking about the NFL and how many hours over the next week will be spent talking about nothing other than the NFL. NFL NFL NFL. Other sports will hardly exist the remainder of the week. Sure, the things being said probably won’t be good… But still, they say any publicity is good publicity.

You think people won’t be back to watch next week? Are you going to purposely miss the Vikings game against the Lions this Sunday? I bet you there are more people watching next week.

We love drama. And tonight’s game coupled with last night’s game between the Ravens and the Patriots are some of the most dramatic games in my recent memory. (That’s not including Vikings games, of course. Those are always dramatic.)

The NFL could very well move very quickly to save face and get a deal done with the referees union. They could understand that a lot of people are upset with what these replacement officials have done to the season so far. Or, they could say, “Holy crap. Our ratings have never been higher. Screw the integrity of the game,” and keep things as-is.

Your thoughts?

Personally, through my purple glasses, this shouldn’t even be an issue – it was obviously a beautiful touchdown catch by Golden Tate… Seriously, though – I am legitimately concerned about going up against the Seahawks defense. And is it too early to start thinking that the Vikings might be the best team in the NFC North right now? Our fellow divisional rivals have not looked as good as expected this season. (Sorry, I just finished a huge glass of purple kool-aid.)

What do you guys think? Does tonight’s game the screw-up that gets the regular referees back on the field? If so, how long do you think it will take? What are some other majorly botched calls that changed the winner of a game throughout NFL history?

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